By Jason Pound
In the past months, many of my former faith family have questioned me in regards to the recent updates to my belief system. Some have shunned me, some have accused me of taking the easy road, some have informed me that I am following a deceiving spirit, yet others have supported me, while others have just been there for me, without attempting to influence me. The great thing about it all....they are all sincere...for that I am grateful.
However, the one question that is never asked: "How did you arrive at where you are today?" It hurts when people think that I am dumb enough to make such a huge decision without some prayer, fasting and study involved. Yet the majority of my concerned counterparts jump straight into their tirade of two or three partially memorized out-of-context scriptures as if I have never heard them in my life. So, with a closed mind they (the ones attempting to influence me) approach me with infinite wisdom that must be heard, rather than truly listen to why (sales 101, listen) I have made certain decisions. Yet, I can't be too critical...I used to be the same way...however, one day I made the mistake (in some people's eyes) of listening rather than talking...and WHAM!! Truth needs no defense; it stands on its own. Truth landed on me.
So for the 1.5 individuals out there who are interested, here is my short story made long.
Over time I began to notice my pastor/father's lack of teaching and preaching in certain areas that seemed very important to a third generation licensed minister/fourth generation UPC saint. So doing what any responsible person of such lineage would do, I tactfully confronted him.
"If you go in the direction I think you are, you are going by yourself. I will take the portion of the saints that want to be holy and you take the ones that want to be carnal." He replied, "You are a man...you will have to make your own choices." In my mind I thought those are pretty bold words.
So I set out to show him the error of his ways. For some weird reason I had never actually studied the "holiness issues". Sure I had read a few books, taught a few lessons, and dropped a few points in some sermons. After all, it had to be in there. Why else would we be preaching it? Besides, it always got handclaps and amens. But I was always reciting the ideas of my spiritual mentors mixed with my zeal for the things of God. I had never sat down and read the passages and asked myself, what are these scriptures saying to me?
Well, if I'm going to do something, I do it right. I grabbed every book in my library, my parent's library and my grandparent's library, then I went out and bought some more books. However, I was approaching my studies with an incorrect mindset. I was approaching the bible with: how can I use it to prove my point? I was going to show him! It was when I quit twisting and debating and manipulating scriptures that the light bulb came on.
I took it one issue at a time; e.g.: makeup. I searched all of my "propaganda" and came up with a list of scriptures that were used to enforce the "make-up ban." I read each scripture without any preset conclusions, and strove to execute proper biblical exegesis; who wrote it, to whom, when was it written, why was it written, etc.
To my surprise, none of my "holy" stands were supported by the scripture. It hurt. It sent me into a mental tailspin. I EXPECTED to find it in there. I WANTED to find it in there. I TRIED to find it in there. I just couldn't.
What do I do? This is my identity. This is who I am. This is what I believe. I now felt like all the poor little Trinitarians that I had cornered in their living rooms with my Search for Truth bible study. You mean I've had it wrong all these years!?
Luckily I figured out that it isn't about right and wrong, but it is about your personal relationship with God. Those particular areas of faith are personal issues between God and the individual, not heavenly mandates that will help you escape hell-fire. As Paul said, what is wrong for you may not be wrong for me. Contrary to what most have said, this has not been the easy way.
In response to the sincere ones who say: he's taking the easy way out, he's being deceived, he just hasn't studied it enough, or he set out with a made up mind to disprove "true holiness":
I'm bucking four generations of tradition on both sides of my family. I'm bucking three generations of licensed, indoctrinated, passionate sincere ministry. My father is a preacher, his brother is a preacher, their father was a preacher, his father was a deacon, and my uncles are preachers and district board members, and general board members. Trust me....this hasn't been easy. Family pressure, church pressure, organization pressure, peer pressure. Pressure, pressure, pressure. Definitely not easy.
Deception: I have no way to defend against that argument, yet I know that I know: God and I are close, the anointing is more powerful, the vision is clearer, and the passion for the things of God is stronger. If this is deception, I wish it on everyone.
To the ones who say that I set out with a made up mind to disprove: that is true. I set out to disprove weak, carnal, milk toast, unholy Christianity. Only my mind was changed. To those crediting my "faulty" decision to a lack of study...let me send you the bill for my newly acquired books, commentaries and other study resources.
In conclusion, now you know WHY, and I feel better.
This writing is the copyright of Jason Pound and was posted with his permission. Jason Pound is a former UPC minister. He was an assistant pastor at Turning Point, formerly North United Pentecostal Church, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and is now a hopeful skeptic. These articles were written while he was a believer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to write. View all of his available articles here.
Page added November 13, 2006
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