Where it all began. 3 Defining moments.
If curiosity killed the cat, then I’m glad I wasn’t a cat. I have never been a rebellious type, but yet I have always wandered ‘why’? It was built into me to want to know the reasons for everything. Naturally, I questioned my faith. I wanted to know why we believed what we believed. This curiosity led me to the first step of my spiritual journey.
I was a senior in high school and looking forward to graduating and going to Bible college to train for the ministry. Before I did – I wanted some questions answered. The primary question was: Why do we believe that the King James Version is the only acceptable version of the Bible? I knew so many good Christians who used other translations – and wanted to point them down the ‘right path’. But WHY was it the right path?
So I set up a meeting with my pastor to ask him why we only believed in the King James. He gave me a book to read on the subject – a book I still have today, Let’s weigh the Evidence by Barry Burton. I couldn’t wait to dive into the book and find the answer. Two things went wrong. First, the book was written like a chick track (It was published by them) or comic strip. I just didn’t set right with me then as a High School senior that a scholarly work would be written and supported by cartoon illustrations. Second, I checked the facts that were written – mostly allegations about what new versions of the Bible had omitted. It was all spin and sometimes down right misrepresentations of the truth. The lack of convincing evidence lead me to question more – propelling me to research the origin of the languages and translation. It didn’t take long for me to abandon the King James Only camp. That was just the beginning.
Why are you wearing shorts?
In East Tennessee, where I grew up, women’s basketball is big. The Lady Vols, the preeminent women’s basketball program in all of history, drew larger crowds than the men’s team. Our youth group planned a trip to go see them play. I was inclined to reach out to my fellow students who I went to high school with, so naturally I invited members from the girls basketball team to go see the Lady Vols in action. The only instructions I gave the invitees was what time to show up at the church.
It was in the middle of the winter, temperatures in the 40s. Sarah, one of my friends who I invited showed up dressed for a cold day. She had on jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. When she walked into the church she spotted two girls from school who played with her on our basketball team. They were wearing long shorts in the middle of winter. I can remember as if it were yesterday – Sarah blurting out, “Why are you wearing shorts, it’s freezing outside!”
The two girls, flush with embarrassment, informed Sarah that they were not allowed to wear pants to church activities. Sarah was completely bewildered. What captured my mind though – was the embarrassment of our church kids – they were ashamed of their Christianity.
There is Christian music, then there is Church music
Finally, one of my best friends and one of the finest Christians in our school was Lori. She went to the local Church of God, where they we MUCH more free with their musical styles and expressions of worship than I ever imagined being. I was conditioned by the teachers in my church and youth ministry that ‘Contemporary Christian Music’ was bad. It was counterfeit, shallow, weak and worldly. I would discuss it with Lori occasionally and then in class one day she wrote out the lyrics to Shout to the Lord on notebook paper (I still have them), and convinced me to listen to it. I was shocked. The song wasn’t about God, but rather written to God. It was like Psalms. She was authentic – her worship was so real, mine wasn’t.
These three defining moments all took place in a short span of time. They caused me to question more and more what I believed to be true. I went off to Tennessee Temple in search for my spiritual identity – though I wasn’t aware of it.
In my next post I tell of how the walls of Christian Fundamentalism began to fall around me.