Image by badlogik via FlickrWell, it finally happened. I couldn't take it any longer. I BLEW! Some of you told me to try this approach, some of you offered a different one. Many told me to give up. I don't know if I was right or wrong, all I know is that it felt good to 'Let it ALL Go'! I think I was speaking to all of the ignorant, arrogant Fundies, who throw up the 'Not a True Scotsman' argument.
So, for better or worse (you be the judge), here is our last exchange. My cousin makes it clear, in his response, that he wants no more to do with me. I guess Jesus changed his mind about me!? LOL
It does still break my heart, but as Barbie-Brains says, "I can't understand it for you!"
Ex-Pastor Dan wrote:
Dear T. -
Shame on you! You have stooped to a place that I thought (hoped) you would not. Your ad hominem replies to my heart-felt, gut-wrenching honesty to you... well, I'm appalled and disgusted.
Your words are so typical of Christians when they run out of things to counter REASON.
You said, "I am left with the conviction that you knew 'ABOUT' Jesus Christ, but you never deeply experienced what has marked my life for nearly four decades. You never 'TRULY KNEW', deeply KNEW Jesus. But your lack of faith in Him, and your present state of "intellectual attainment", cannot explain away THE JESUS CHRIST WHOM I KNOW AND LOVE AND WORSHIP AND SERVE AND ADORE. You profess happiness and even excitement over your intellectual discovery of truth, as you speak against God's Word, the Word I love, The Word which God has exalted above His very Name.
If I never deeply experienced Jesus, If I never TRULY knew him, whose fault is it? Mine or God's (Jesus')?
Here is a condensed Litany of my life. I can honestly say, as Paul said "I was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of Hebrews!" (In my case, I was a Christian of Christians!) In the Law (what I understood from Bro. M. & the church), I was Blameless (at least I was striving to be). When I failed, I would be at the altar the next service, repenting and swearing to not fail again!
Born into Christianity. My earliest memories are of looking up at my dear mother's face as she cried and prayed in tongues (in the prayer room of the old 4-Square church, in Ventura, CA.). Mom had me dedicated to the Lord (as Samuel) while I was still a little child. I knew nothing else; God, the Church and Jesus were my REALITY... MY LIFE.
I asked Jesus into my heart as a little boy. I was Baptized in water at 8
years old. I wrote my first gospel song at 9. I was filled with the Holy
Ghost (with the evidence of speaking in tongues) at 12.
I wrote gospel songs and sang in numerous groups around Southern California. I went on mission outreaches to Mexico and the Rescue missions around So.Cal. I felt the 'CALL' to the ministry at 16. I asked my brother T. (my hero) about knowing God's will and how did he know he was called to the ministry. I went out, door-to-door witnessing, going to Nursing Homes and Rest Homes, singing and preaching the Gospel.
I went to ministry classes at Church. I went to Ventura College and majored in Music so I could be a better Minister of Music for Christ.
I went into the Army and became a Chaplain's Assistant. I Baptized soldiers in the Mekong River in S. Viet Nam. I led Bible Studies and Prayer meetings. I led men to the Savior and led them in the sinner's prayer. I led our Methodist Chaplain to an understanding of the Holy Spirit and he was
filled (he even saw a vision!)
I came home and went to work for the church. I wrote a song, 'For me to Live is Christ', at T's house in N.Y. (It became Brother M's Favorite Song, they asked me to sing it at his funeral....I declined).
In the late 1970's, I lived in Lancaster, CA. where I was involved in ministry with one of our CEA churches (music and Youth ministry).
I went into the ministry (full time) in 1982, in Salem, OR. I can't tell you the dedication and zeal with which I sought God! Fasting and Praying. Writing songs of Worship and Praise. Singing in the Spirit. Being Slain-in-the-Spirit. Teaching God's word. Memorizing whole chapters of the Bible (I wanted to be like M. Smith & memorize the whole New Testament)
I studied (got a Master's Degree in Bible Subjects & wrote my Doctoral Dissertation on Latriology, 'The Study of Worship'), I PRAYED, I BEGGED GOD FOR LEADING AND UNDERSTANDING! I would spend all night, face down, in the Sanctuary, praying and seeking God. Worshipping, Pleading with God for direction and power, that he would make Himself KNOWN, FULLY TO ME! ... "Christ in me, the Hope of Glory!"
I gave messages in Tongues, I interpreted, I prophesied. I LOVED JESUS WITH ALL OF MY BEING!!!!!!!! I tithed and gave of my time, my money and my LIFE!
My dear wife and I counseled and taught in the Christian School. We (me and my family) were the Church Janitors on the side (we had to eat). I had to leave during the summer and find work (the church wouldn't pay me through the summer). I spent one summer in Ventura, CA. with my furniture stored in a garage in Salem. Luckily, one of our members owned a Garbage Co. and I was hired to pick up garbage for two summers. How I praised God for his provision!!!! Thank you God for letting me pick up garbage so I can continue in the ministry (no sarcasm intended, I was TRULY grateful)! I sacrificed, my family sacrificed, for God's Work!
You have no right, no basis in saying, "you didn't TRULY & DEEPLY know the Jesus that I know". How POMPOUS, how VAIN, how JUDGMENTAL, how ridiculously WRONG you are. I have more respect for my brother's response, when he said, "I guess you are just not one of the chosen!" (at least that lays the blame where it should go... ON GOD)! I sure was accepted, loved and respected by all whom I met, back in the day, when I still professed Christianity, even by you! Where was your discernment then? Why didn't you and my brother tell me to stop trying so hard, "you'll never REALLY KNOW Him, you are not one of the Chosen!"
How pathetic, shallow and hollow your so-called 'Love in Christ' really is. You are just like every other Religious person in the world. When someone leaves a particular fold (faith), they become the enemy, to be castigated and maligned for their 'un-belief'. Or worse yet, KILLED (figuratively or literally) because they have become apostate! I equate you to the Muslims who flew the planes into the twin towers. They were convinced that they knew God and that He wanted them to KILL the infidels. They were martyrs for their belief, just as you say you are willing to be!
How do you KNOW that you are right and they are wrong?
I feel deep pity for you. You poor, mis-guided, BLIND, man. I am disgusted with your attitude and your religion.
Now, think on those things. No, I said THINK, don't just react with emotional fervor.
Write me back when you can display some real caring and understanding. Are you capable of understanding? Do you have any part of your brain left that has not been completely saturated by mis-truths and delusion?
Please prove me wrong. Come back with something genuine and truly loving.
************** My Cousin's loving reply.......
When I wrote my first letter to you, it was never my heart to anger or offend you. Too many years have passed without our having enjoyed ongoing relationship. Only at the first of this year did your brother open to me with any detail concerning you. And after your last letter you just sent... I am profoundly sorry our words have escalated the way they have, and I realize in spite of my intentions, nothing I say, or you say, will help. Perhaps I was in the wrong in writing you, but I was only doing so on the basis of what we once enjoyed so long ago. After reading your "concluding four brief paragraphs" in today's letter, I realize in spite of my best intentions, the exchanges between us must end. Perhaps it was just your anger and resentment toward me that would compare "this Christian patriot" to the terrorists that destroyed 1000's, but I will not entertain those kind of words or comparison. So this will be my last reply. Even in choosing this final reply I risk only offending or angering you further, which is not my intent.
All my best to you, to your wife, and to your precious children and grandchildren....
Looks like those who said "Give Up, he's hopeless" were right. To think, I was once that Blind and Judgmental.
To the Whole World I say....... "Please forgive me for what I was when I was a Christian!"