Monday, March 2, 2009

A stitch in time saves nine...and maybe even a soul or two.

' I should have paid closer attention in Temporal Mechanics class at the Academy, Number 1. Just once...maybe we could avoid this kind of trouble!'

I took a trip back in time last night. No, I’m not flashing around through the time/space continuum like some of the characters on Lost or what seemed like every episode of Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation…my time travel was more an empathic journey back to a time in my life often referred to as the Dark Years in my writings.

After church services last evening, I was drawn to an open discussion among a group of 6 or 7 about the defined Biblical roles of women in the church. The discussion, however, took a drastic sharp turn when the central, commencing pperson began to question the validity of the Bible. The ‘If the Bible is written by man, and man is fallible…’ argument surfaced rather quickly and steered the exchange onto a completely different path.

My history with this person is fairly deep. I’ve known the young lady for most of her life, and I’m very good friends with her parents…best of friends. She is going through that period in life where, mostly as young adults, we begin to question things…seek answers on our own. I have a very healthy respect for this often troubling period in life. I could clearly see evidence of her internal strife…and it began to weigh very heavy on my heart.

Let me back up…I stated ‘mostly as young adults’…but that may not be accurate. There are a number of credible studies showing the drastic drop off in church attendance when young people get to a certain age, but I’m curious how the hypothesis applies to older adults in a period of spiritual struggle too. Today, there are far more sources of antagonistic information pertaining to Christianity. Some are subversive little digital invaders into our very homes. Although there are many, I believe one of the more inconspicuously dangerous sources in also one of the most popular…The History Channel.

(GASP)…’But I love The History Channel!’ Well, you’re not alone. Many Saturday afternoons have been served (or wasted depending on your point of view) by yours truly taking in several episodes of Modern Marvels or a Dogfights marathon. The shows I finding troubling, however, are the ones like Banned from the Bible, How the Earth was Made, and The Universe. There was also a lengthy fascination on The History Channel with The Da Vinci Code as well. The placement of these programs among shows of hard-fact, historical events lends a deceptive credence...though the shows are unfounded and opinionated.

For mature Christians rooted well in their faith, such shows rarely present a challenge, but for a person at a point of struggle in their spiritual walk… programs like these can be extremely undermining and dangerous. Yes…as Christians…we have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help with discernment, but never underestimate the power of our enemy. Satan is powerful and uses moments of insecurity to plant seeds of doubt. Seeds that can eventually grow and completely disrupt the balance in our personal spiritual garden…okay that metaphor was a little too much on the Zen-ish side…sorry.

Faith can be hard enough without the constant tug of the world wanting us ‘to come out and play.’ I called this young lady after we left church and offered her a few words of encouragement. ‘You are not alone in what you feel. Doubt is something all Christians experience. You will work through this and be a stronger Christian.’ All of these came out…as you would expect…but maybe a few you wouldn’t.

I encouraged her to go back and look at how the Bible was canonized in depth, the processes involved in translating the versions we have today, and even the events around the Protestant Reformation (she seems to be struggling with differences among church denominations too).

I also steered her away while she struggled from the New Age thought that ‘we can all be right’ and prosperity gospels like Olsteen and Dollar with their ‘little gods’ messages. I warned her of the dangers of websites and television programs that could either be misleading or just malicious in nature. ‘Know your source’…that might have been the best advice I gave…unfortunately, I found that one out the hard way on my own.

Please pray for my friend…but also for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling with their faith. And thanks… to those of you who prayed for me… during my Dark Years. My love and appreciate for you could never be overstated or enough. God is so great.


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Good job in a tough situation. I have a hard time keeping my cool when someone says something like that. But those people need gentle loving guidance.

Z said...

I've recently gone through a huge growth spurt in my faith and feel on more solid ground than ever before in my life but I sure can sympathize with your friend's youth and her search. I think you said the right sowed the seeds. Nice job.
I will pray for her...
I'd say "let us know!" but these processes can take thirty years....I know. Trust me.

dons_mind said...

hello tony - - i'm just passing through - - found you on another blog and click click - - you know how that works....

anyway, i agree with your post totally and i think your advice to your friend was spot on...

but i have to ask you - - because you never did address the central question -- why exactly do you think that the Bible - inspired by God and written by man - - is infallible and not subject to exageration? were these men selected by God to record these inspirations somehow less sinful than the rest of humankind?

Beth in NC said...

Hey Tony, great advice to this young girl.

And thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you'll visit often.

Many blessings!

David said...

All good thoughts. Love your blog!

I have had many roles in the church, but being an old rock n' roller, I tend to hang out with the younger (pierced and tattooed) versions of me 30 years ago. Here is what I am hearing from them. We need people that really care (like you), when most of our parents don't, we need people that are not just religious, but live what they tell us to do, and we want to see God in action.

I often think of doubting Thomas... you know he saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead!

It's important to be well grounded in the Word. But we all need mentoring, and to be part of what God is doing. I am working on a rock out night on Saturday... amazing how many will show up for music and let you be the Gospel. More importantly I am letting them play...

I'll be praying.

~ Lori ~ said...

Prayers out.
You are correct, every Christian goes thru phases where they doubt. In this day and age with all the temptations surrounding us it is very easy to do. Very easy to question what is right and what is wrong. My advice? Sit in peace and pray to our Heavenly Father to give you guidance. He is always there, always listening.

Pistolmom said...

We've been down that road also; God bless!

Lula! said...

Oh, we need to talk. Seriously. 'Cause I am having this EXACT SAME DISCUSSION with 2 twenty-somethings right now. Over and over again. They're Obama gals who got "cool" after graduating Christian college, and are now living a very "carefree" lifestyle. It's been my biggest prayer request for the past month...these two gals...and their faith.

I love that you mentioned Dollar and Osteen. I could just watch Joel all day long...he's so soothing and comforting, and makes me feel so good about myself. Isn't that what God is all about, anyway?

(You know I seethe with sarcasm!)

p.s. I will be at Ft. Henry Mall (or whatever that place is supposed to be called now) Saturday night. Seeing "Watchmen." And I'll be sqeeeeeeeeing like a total fangirl. Amen.

katdish said...


Hey there. I believe that all scripture is the inspired Word of God. Yes, it was written by men, but it is the Word of God. I would continue to pray for this young woman and others that are doubting. I would also encourage her to read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (or re-read them, whatever the case may be). I recently re-read them. In case anyone has forgotten, Jesus was the coolest, most righteous dude EVER! I had some dark years myself. Not suprisingly, in my 20's.

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

It's often constructive to have a crisis of faith. It forces us to re-examine, and that's a good thing.

By the way, those guys in the Star Trek photo look way gay.