Monday, November 26, 2012

Raised Evangelical: Bob’s Story - VII

We proceed with our response to the "Raised Evangelical" series on the atheist blog "Love, Joy, Feminism."
Section 9: Coping
Question 1: Does having been raised evangelical or fundamentalist make you feel "different" from the rest of society, or like you stick out or don't fit in in some way? Explain.
    Well, I should certainly hope so! Christianity is supposed to be more than just being a nice, respectable, middle-class American. It is supposed to be an inward transformation that changes you and makes you different. If you are a genuine Christian you "march to a different drumbeat" than the rest of society.
    It is supposed to be a life of discipleship. It is fascinating to see how Jesus dealt with inquirers – He would actually turn people away. He did not say "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Just say this little prayer and everything will be taken care of." What He actually said was, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24; NKJV).
    Bear in mind that the central issue here is salvation. The problem is our sin and our guilt, which we share with all of humanity. To come to Christ we must acknowledge our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and place our trust in Christ as our Savior. This is accompanied by the New Birth – an inward spiritual renewal that results in a transformed life. If you have genuinely repented, and your life has been changed, then you will be different – different from what you were before, and different from "mainstream" society now. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . ." (Rom. 12:2). You cannot live with one foot in the world and one foot in Christ, although many professing Christians try to do so.


Question 2: What do you think is the biggest way being raised in an evangelical or fundamentalist family and church community has influenced who you are today?
    Well today, by God's grace, I am still a Christian, and I would not to have it any other way. This is not to say that it has always been easy. As a Christian you often feel a little bit like a fish swimming upstream, because your priorities are often different from others around you. Sad to say, even other professing Christians will sometimes disappoint you and let you down. But I have a sense of purpose in life, the Lord has met my needs, and I have peace within my heart. That is really all a person could ask for.


Question 3: How did you perceive your childhood and evangelical or fundamentalist religious upbringing at the time compared to how you see it now?
Question 4: What do you think were the most beneficial things about being raised fundamentalist or evangelical? What were the more problematic things?
    The Christian life is an ongoing process of spiritual growth. As you learn more your perceptions naturally change. As a general rule I am probably more conservative now theologically than I was then, but politically more liberal. I am probably a combination of John Calvin and William Jennings Bryan, if such a thing were possible!
    As a historical movement I think that Fundamentalism has had its pros and cons. On the positive side there was a heroic stand for historic Christian truth; on the negative side there was often a bitter divisiveness that left a black mark on the entire movement. History has certainly borne out their assessment of the situation in the mainline denominations. One could only have wished that they could have combined the courage of their convictions with a gentleness of spirit. Fortiter in rem; suaviter in modo!

    I think that aside from the opportunity of hearing the gospel, the most valuable practical lesson I learned growing up was how to resist peer pressure. Just because the herd is rushing headlong over the cliff does not mean that you want to go there too. Being able to say "no" has spared me a lot of heartache and grief in life.

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