Tuesday, 7 May 2013

HOW TO UNDERSTAND WHAT FAITH IS.

This five-letter word seems to have so many different shades of meaning. Depending who you talk to, it could mean belief, credulity, or some sort of religious thing. My own personal definition of faith has undergone major changes throughout my life. I detailed them in my recently-published book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity/i>.


Before I gave my life to Christ at a vacation Bible school in 1969, I thought of faith as believing that God existed. I thought that if I believed what the Sunday school teachers taught and if I was a good boy, I'd go to heaven when I died. To me, God was some distant person who we prayed to whenever we needed help.


Nobody told me about having a personal relationship with Jesus until that home-based VBS. I didn't know if that was possible since everybody I knew taught me the usual doctrine of good works. After pondering this for five days, I decided to give my life to the Lord. As a result, I knew that his sacrifice on the cross paid for my sins. My idea of faith then was that I was going to heaven because of what Jesus did.


Since nobody mentored me, I listened to radio preachers. This led me to The World Tomorrow, a program hosted by  Garner Ted Armstrong. His idea of faith was based in what people did rather than in Christ's atonement. Though I didn't observe the Sabbath and the feasts of the Old Testament, I felt proud of the supposedly advanced things I had learned.


This made me easily swayed by a house church which I attended in 1971. Their leader claimed to receive revelations from God. Furthermore, he taught doctrines which I found out later were blasphemous. One of those was that if we had enough faith, we could get what we wanted from God. His idea of faith was like a voltage applied to a relay. When it was high enough, the relay would close and let a far greater current flow. No matter how much I worked up my faith and squelched any doubts, my poor vision was never healed. After fifteen disappointing years, I gave up believing in God.


Since there was no fault or blame in evolution, I adopted that belief. It seemed to make sense in light of the dismal failure in believing in my own faith. I didn't realize later that if we were just the product of random selection, nothing could be considered wrong or right.  Ethnic cleansing and destroying less-fit human animals would have no moral consequence and couldn't be censured if that idea was true. In fact, many American states and Canadian provinces used eugenics legislation to sterilize mentally-challenged children so their defective genes wouldn't corrupt future generations.


Once I came to my senses and repented of my rebellion, I found out what faith truly is. Rather than mental ascent or a force to be built up, faith is trust that we place in God. Just as children trust their parents, so we learn to rely upon the Lord to help us through life. I used to wonder why I wasn't healed. Now I know that God is working through my disability to build my character. I've been told by others what an inspiration I've been to them. It's really the Lord renovating my character that these kind people applaud.


How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity shows how God led me out of ignorance and into the wonderful knowledge of his truth. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm Publishers stock the paperback edition.

Bruce Atchison, faith healing, name-it-and-claim-it, downside of evolution, exegesis