Wednesday, June 01, 2005

But This Pilgrim Is Making Progress

Let me share another letter. JB writes:

Please accept the following comments in the spirit in which they are sent. Not anger, just an interest in another human being, who seems to be bewildered: so many questions. Where will they end? One just seems to lead to infinitum. (home-made Latin

I am sorry if my site leaves the impression I am bewildered. For I have found a wonderful life, and I love to share at my site what happened to me. Perhaps JB should read my site again. Perhaps he would get a sense of the purpose I find in life and in my writings.

He continues:

May I suggest you are a person that falls into one of two categories.
1. If you are a Christian, you may have, like Christian of Pilgrim's Progress, relied so much upon your own observations, that you have been lured into Doubting Castle, and are the prisoner of Giant Despair.
2. That you have never known forgiveness of sin, and Christ as personal savior.

"A prisoner of great despair"? Gosh, no. What would ever make JB think that? My mind has been set free. Why would that lead to despair? Has JB even been reading my site?

Also, may I assure JB that there was indeed a time in which I had accepted Christ as my personal savior, was born again by his grace, and had set out daily to live for him. But I have had a change of mind.

He continues:

It would appear, from the size of your website, that almost every waking moment is now centered upon bringing down faith in God. While yours is a most sophisticated program, it really has no better purpose than to destroy faith, which of course cannot be destroyed, as is evident by looking at the history of the "Covenanters" of Scotland. If you fall into the second category, it is impossible for you to believe Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." If a true Christian cannot explain such a seemingly incomprehensible statement, how can an unbeliever possibly hope to get a grasp of it? You will always see it as just another inconsistency in the Scriptures, as do most of your bservations.

No, of course I do not spend every waking moment working on my site. In fact, in the past few months, I have done very little on this project, basically just a few comments here on the blog.

And, no, my purpose is not to destroy faith. My purpose is to explain to other people why I have changed my mind. If JB would read the introduction, he would see what my purpose is.

I am not telling people they must leave their faith and follow me. But, if anyone is interested, I share with them why I have changed my mind. If JB is not interested, he may surf on to another site.

He continues:

Have you heard of the old blind lay[sic] who remarked on how brightly the sun was, that day? When asked how could she possibly know, as she was completely blind, and therefore was not able to see it, she replied; "Ah but I feel its warmth." Perhaps faith is a little like that.
Okay, so JB has tried faith and felt the warmth. I too had tried faith and felt the warmth. In fact, I had used this same argument when I was a Christian--"I 'feel its warmth', therefore it must be true." Later, I would find that many other people had tried many other faith systems, and each of them had "felt the warmth" of their system. Did this prove that they are right? Of course not. So I could not say that the warmth I found proves that I am right.

Recently, I have felt the warmth of secular humanism. Does this prove that I am right and JB is wrong? I would guess that JB can see right through that argument. Just because someone "feels the warmth" of a religion, it does not prove that the religion is true. So why does JB use this argument?

He continues:

BTW. I once read that Darwin attended an evangelical Sunday School when he was young. Perhaps the truth of HIS sin did penetrate his mind, and was the reason for his search to find a supposed reasonable alternative.

Evolution as "a supposed reasonable alternative"? Goodness, has JB ever read Darwin's book? The Origin of the Species presents the data and shows the reasons for his conclusion. The book has nothing to do with wanting to find a way to get away with sin. It does not involve "supposed" reasoning. It involves solid reasoning. Don't believe me? Read it for yourself.

I think JB would search long and hard to find a better explanation for the available data then the Theory of Evolution.

He continues:

If you have a few moments, take a look near the beginning of Pilgrim's Progress, where the pilgrim is in contact with the man in the iron cage. Very sobering.

But I am not in an iron cage. I have been set free. Why does JB think I should read this?


I have received the following relpy from JB. His message practically oozes with the thought of hell. Has it not occurred to JB that there may be no life after death, no hell, and no future benefit to a particular belief system? Is he sure that his worries are justified? I will post his reply in full and then respond:

This will possibly be the last communication I have with you, but please let me make you aware of a few considerations.

Your utter refusal to believe that you are in any despair, makes me understand that the possible # 1 category, (a Christian who has gone astray,) definitely does not apply to you. You plainly stated that you at one time took Christ as Saviour, but have since changed your mind. Well, as you feel free to use Bible quotations sometimes, I claim the same liberty.

There is a vast difference between believing that Christ died for sinners, and believing that one IS a sinner, and accepting that death in place of one's own. If a man who is a fair swimmer has a life buoy tossed to him, while he is in a pool, or close to shore, he may accept the ring to please the person who threw it out, but soon finds it impedes his swimming, chafes under his arms, and restricts his view of the beautiful shells on the bottom. In short, it is a hindrance to what he wants to do: enjoy himself. IF, however, this man realizes that he is miles from shore, the chaffing would not be an issue, nor would any other inconvenience. That ring would mean LIFE. He would not trade it for a billion dollars.

Just consider, Merle. Is it possible you never really understood what you are in God's sight? If this is so, I can certainly understand what an absolute bother all this "Christian living " would be to you. What a sham to try to live something that, (like the writer in your website said, "There was a part of me that never really believed.")
Romans 10:10 says "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." It would seem plain that at one time you made a great deal of the second part of the verse, but without the heart-change that the first part brings. Thus, the second part chafes and is not acceptable to the mind, because it, by itself, is a lie in your life.

Your observation that many beliefs have felt the "warmth" that I used in an illustration, is simply not true. No religion that I know of can spawn a hymn like "safe in the arms of Jesus." Only an eye-opened understanding that "Jesus LOVES me," would cause such a response from a heart set free.

"Islam is a religion in which God requires you
to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in
which God sends His Son to die for you."
Former US Attorney General John Ashcroft

I certainly fail to detect any "warmth" in the hearts of adherents to the first group mentioned. Just a terror that one is perhaps not pleasing his god: (whatever god that may be.)

Thank you for the courteous treatment of my first letter to you.

First I find it quite odd that he accuses me of having an utter refusal to believe that I am in despair. Can he not see how ridiculous his argument sounds from the outside? Here I am living a happy, fulfilling life and am thrilled to share it on the internet. Along comes a perfect stranger who knows nothing about my inner feelings who announces I am in despair! When I inform him that I have a wonderful life he accuses me of an utter refusal to believe him! Can he possibly be serious? If he wants me to believe I am in despair, then doesn't he need to give me a reason for believing him?

Next he proceeds to attack the sincerity of my former faith. Once again, let me assure JB that, in the past, I believed in Jesus with all my heart. Let me assure him that I was mortally afraid of hell. Let me assure him that I spent many hours crying out to God that I was a poor lost unworthy hell-deserving sinner needing his grace to deliver me from hell. Let me assure him that I pleaded for the blood of Christ to save me from the horrible stench of my sin, and the hell I thought I so fully deserved. Let me assure him that I turned to Christ and was born again just like others have done.

But I later changed my mind. This is what JB is apparently having difficulty understanding. I changed my mind. There was a time when my mind was dominated by what I thought was the reality of hell. Now I no longer believe in hell. And I have found a much better life.

But JB informs me that the possibility of having been a Christian in the past "definitely does not apply" to me. Why not? Muslims and Jews can change their minds, can't they? Why can't a fundamentalist change his mind? Surely JB must understand that some people change their minds when they get new information. Why is he having trouble understanding that I changed my mind?

Jb speaks of a swimmer who would never let go of the life buoy, for he knows the water is deep and he knows he would drown. JB seems to say that the buoy represents salvation, and nobody would ever let go of salvation, for he would surely know he would drown. But what if the swimmer gets new information? What if he found out the water was only 4 feet deep and the shore was not far away? Though he had clung desperately for safey when he thought there was danger, he would let go when he saw he was safe. Can not JB see that the same thing happened to me? Can he not understand that I once feared a danger that I now think is non-existent? And can he not understand that I left fundamentalism and found a new and better life?

JB says that God sent his son to die for us. Why would God need to do that? Why would he not simply forgive us? I can forgive. Why can't God? How can the dead body of his son possibly make forgiveness easier for him? Wouldn't that make it harder?

JB speaks of Islam and informs us he fails to detect any warmth in the hearts of adherents to that group. I find that sad. True, some Moslems may have little warmth is their hearts, and be filled with horrible desires. But others have found a warmth in their religion. I am sorry if JB cannot recognize that some have a sincere comfort in aspects of Islam.

I wonder what JB would do if they had diversity training at his workplace. Would he object and state that his coworkers of another religion find no warmth in their religion? Would he state that these coworkers deserve to go to hell? If he believes they deserve hell, how can he possibly show respect to coworkers of another faith? How could he respect someone who is so horrible that he deserves to be rejected and abandoned to the tortures of hell forever?

Some of my readers may find JB's writings refreshing. But my guess is that many Christians are embarrassed at what he writes.