Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Conversation With My Pastor, Part 3

I have been posting a series of emails between my former pastor any myself, discussing my unbelief. Last week, I posted part 2. Here is the 3rd installment:

If you are new to this conversation, I recommend you start with part 1.

Lance's reply:
Eric - 
Hey buddy. Clearly my plate has been full if it took me a billion years to get back to you. I’m very sorry about that, but I knew you understood. I wanted to set this email aside until I had a quiet moment. Well, give months later I got one, unfortunately it’s short. But here I am in a Starbucks, reading what you wrote and pondering.
I want to continually affirm my love for you through our discussions. Whether you believe what I believe or not, it’s crucial that you realize that I care about you because we share a past and share friends and experiences and that’s kinda what ends up making family and friends. So, you are one of those friends in my life that kinda has ‘family’ status, because you are fused into my world early on.  I don’t talk to my brother or sister very often, but we are family nonetheless.

Please allow me to ‘push back’ on some things (I think that is healthy, but please let me know if you don’t want that type of dialogue).

In reading your thoughts a few things immediately came to mind:

1.) Your clarity of writing. I really, really appreciate you making this honest and clear when you communicate. I think that’s awesome. I’d call it a gift but that would only reveal my bias. :-)

2.) My heart is sad.

Perhaps my frustration is that you were led away with all the best intentions in the world, and a beautiful heart. You are a not a bad guy, in fact you are a great guy. You are very, very smart in so many ways. You have examined both sides and in your heart you found one of them wanting.  You slipped on one side of the fence, while I live on the other.  That’s entirely allowed in our world.

I’m sad because of what you lose in this process. From my limited perspective: Although you feel tremendous freedom, you have lost purpose.  Although you have gained openness and knowledge, you have lost value. Although you have gained a form of peace, you have lost a future.

But behind all of this I must share a core belief of mine: I am not a Christian because it works for me. I’m a Christian because it makes sense of my world. 
In the end we are all going through this life and analyzing from inside the bubble. We are examining and turning over in our hands, life as we see it.  My experiences and ‘facts’ (if there are any), have revealed the world to be quiet different from what you have come to in your conclusion.

In my world there is supernatural. I have walked in it. I have seen it. I have engaged with it. I have lived in it. Although my world can contain all that you believe now (natural), your world cannot contain mine (supernatural). 
My worldview allows for possibilities of billions of years. (although I view it differently). My worldview allows for evolution. (although I view it differently). My worldview allows for extreme/majority natural happens and seeming chaos that is patterned. (i.e. ‘miracles’ are natural occurrences that seem random, but in fact are not). My worldview allows for most of what I ignorantly believe that you believe (I don’t fully know what you believe, so I’m assuming which of course you know what ‘assume’ does...). However, your current worldview makes Christ to be a liar. No one will convince me that Christ didn’t purport to be God, so either He’s right or wrong.

Please forgive me for being so blunt and rude sounding. I truly mean these things in a soft voice and with gentleness. I am not offended in the least by your thoughts or your process. I merely want to be transparent with you, because it matters to me. You matter to me.

With all of life we have to make determinations on who and what to trust. The majority of our world cannot be scientifically proven (i.e. Love, connection, faith, God vs. no God, etc.), so we have to make some ‘faith’ moves. I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ that He is right and good and that what He says is truth regardless of the opinions of others.
You have placed your faith in men like Russell, Dawkins & Sagan, or in your own ability to reason life. They could be right. Indeed all that you believe could be right, and I could be a fool. Your view would have to allow expansion into defining the supernatural that I have engaged with, and others have engaged with in a cohesive explanation, but ultimately we may both be wrong and the answer is somewhere in the middle. I am not foolish enough to think that I’m not a fool.  I am highly limited.  My knowledge is capped by my experience. I am woefully unqualified to make many of the determinations.  So, therefore I must put my trust in someone or something.

The fabric of my reality is woven into people.  Woven into God concepts. And yes, admittedly to remove those values, I am undone. Would that be freeing for me?  Absolutely not. I see no freedom in knowing a truth of nothingness. If I ultimately have an ‘a-ha’ as I realize that I’m heading into a pit of dark nothingness, I am not free, I’m just sad. Knowledge and being right is not so important to me as to risk losing a sense of purpose. Does that mean that I will deny facts in the fact of clinging to something I desperately need? Perhaps. I don’t think so, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

No matter what value you can dream up for a life without a God (or outside force from this system), it cannot have any ultimate value in my mind.  It can have limited value, i.e. Makes something more or less pleasant.  But if there is no greater scheme/theme/reality, then all is meaningless. I appreciate that there are other worldviews that give value to this world without God, I just don’t buy it. Advancement of a species isn’t compelling. Life isn’t compelling. Existence isn’t compelling, it just.....is.

I appreciate that you have gone on a journey where things have unraveled for you in Christianity. I have not walked your walk in Christianity. I don’t know what you believed for didn’t believe deep in your heart. I don’t know your experiences. I do know your walk had an awful lot of head knowledge in it and craving for ‘answers’. That will walk you down a road where you will be ‘out-gunned’ with more brilliant minds. I guess I would rather be the poor village idiot whom God is pleased with, than the man who has his name on the plaque and the world adores as brilliant and lives in a reality of achievable fact.  But not everyone has my view.

Along my journey, I have had huge questions about pieces of Christianity. I have had huge questions about the activity of God. I have had huge questions about what I do, why I do it and what’s really right.  But deep within my spirit I cannot walk the road of meaninglessness. I can see myself some day walking apart from God in anger, rebellion, disinterest, bitterness, apathy, wickedness, etc. But I will always know that I’m walking apart from God, not just alone.  I appreciate challenges to faith. I appreciate strains to my reasoning. I appreciate that people are smarter than me. I appreciate that there may be enormous gaps to my faith and understanding of my reality (i.e. Does prayer really work like I think it does? Is the Bible accurate to the degree that I hold onto?  Is God as personal as I believe Him to be? Do miracles really exist?).

Perhaps some of it comes down to a question of which side of the fence do I want to dwell in. If both are equally impossible to affirm, and both demand a need for faith, where do I choose to live?  You are currently on one side. I am currently on the other. Maybe that’s what makes me sad, because that has dramatic ramifications (either I’m a fool, or you are lost).

Perhaps all of what I have said is putting words into your mouth, and beliefs in your heart that you do not in fact affirm. I’m so sorry if I did that.  I really did assume a lot. Please feel free to correct my thinking and set me straight.

Regardless, I love you brother.
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Anonymous said...

It seems that your former pastor is, in fact, a fool.

Chris said...

I'm not sure if I would have been able to get past the fact that he thinks you have no purpose, value or future. At least he said it gently...

This email is just one big version of Pascal's Wager. Thanks for sharing, man.

DagoodS said...

Lance: No one will convince me that Christ didn’t purport to be God, …

Does that mean that I will deny facts in the fact [sic] of clinging to something I desperately need? Perhaps. I don’t think so,…

I wonder if Lance understands the incongruity of those two statements? I once read an internet person state, “The search for truth is not like picking a football team because one likes their jersey and stick with them regardless of the score.” I am always reminded of that when I hear Christians claim they could never be atheists because they don’t think they would like it.

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