I grew up Southern Baptist.
Looking back on it, I sort of chuckle. Ladies with big hair setting up the potluck, men always in suits that would say “AMEN” at the end of songs that the choir would sing. But no clapping for some unknown reason. Drinking was for the Catholics, dancing was from the devil, and that heavy metal music on the radio would hypnotize the young folks and cause them to have sex. I’m just picking on you if you’re currently a Southern Baptist and being very stereotypical, so please don’t send me hate emails. It’s ok to laugh at yourself sometimes. I do it daily.
But I grew up in the Baptist church, and honestly, my memories are good from those times. Yes it was constricting, but maybe that was good for me as a young wildman. As time went on and I grew and moved out into my own life, I transitioned to more of the whole “EV-free” environment (evangelical free). I suppose this descriptor is that it’s less defined by certain sects of religion, but instead, focuses on the overall messages and lessons from Christ. Music was pretty rowdy, the dress is casual, no more big hair, and wine is served at the Sunday evening group bible study in someone’s home.
As I’ve continued to grow and mature, I have cooled to this methodology of church also. In fact, I’ve just sort of cooled to “church” as a whole, but that’s not really the point I want to talk about.
Sometimes I wonder how many of us ever actually challenge the things that we believe. Frequently we grow up in a certain religion or spiritual foundation, we are groomed from when we could first walk to believe what we are told, we go out into life with this frame of thought, and we spend the entirety of our lives living out this faith. We teach it to our own children, we expect them to teach it to our grandchildren, and on and on we go.
I’m not here to imply that this is “bad” at all. Living a continuous life of faith and giving the entirety of our lives to this study is admirable, though, I don’t think that it’s healthiest. Let me explain.
If I told you that the earth was round from the time you were in kindergarten, you’d probably trust that the earth was round. You’d see the photos from NASA, you’d be told about the science behind a sphere shaped globe, and you’d probably spend little time wondering if the earth was, in fact, not round. But what if I told you that there is an entire counter-culture that believes the earth is actually flat. This movement actually seems to be growing. They have some other scientific reasons for their belief, they actually base much of their belief on Bible verses, and they are dead certain that the earth is actually flat as a pancake. At this point, please don’t make fun of me and think I’m making an argument for this – I’m really just trying to make a point.
While you might think they are crazy, what if you looked into it? What if you read their journals and their data, what if you talked to a few of them, and what if you studied up on the subject to reach your own conclusion? You’d probably come back to the table even more certain that your faith in a round globe is the correct one and the one that you are pleased to believe.
Christian science teachers all over this country walk into their classrooms and teach evolution to students. This debate is always super touchy, so I’m not going to debate, but the same analogy applies. The “creationist” folks (typically Bible believers) are dead certain that God waved his giant finger and POOF, the earth was created instantly. Evolutionists believe that they possess mountains of scientific data that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the earth is 6 billion years old and evolved from a cosmic piece of dust or something. Creationists scoff at this data and claim that they are just a bunch of atheists out there trying to brainwash our children, and the Christian science teacher having to teach evolution is just trying to keep his/her job.
So where’s the truth?
I’m not going to claim to know what to tell you to believe. That’s up to you. AND THAT IS MY POINT.
We are all told “the truth” as we grow. We are told what to believe and what it should look like. We are told who is on the “good team” and who are just a bunch of “trouble-making atheist devil-worshippers” for not believing as we do. Those that question things are “lost” and those that drift from a particular way of thought are troubled, or confused, or adrift. Maybe they are to a certain extent, but maybe it’s not all that bad.
Whether it be organized religion and its many fragmented sects, or the creation of the earth via evolution or creation…there are some wildly differing views on things. Baptists recoil at the sight of alcohol, and Catholics have it with breakfast (I’m kidding). Evolutionists think I’m part monkey and Creationists think Noah’s flood was real. Who is to know the truth?
There’s only one person to know the truth: YOU.
From my earliest beginnings as a good God-fearing Southern Baptist, I suppose I asked enough questions and sought enough answers for my own beliefs to slightly change. Yes, I believe the earth to be round, but not because NASA tells me, it’s because I can see the other rounds stars in the sky. I have taken the time to defend my own faith and beliefs, and I think we should all take some time to do exactly that. Perhaps in order to strengthen one’s faith, he or she must actually question it. Prove it for yourself. I’m not saying that he should be trying to disprove God exists necessarily, but if that’s where your heart is, then have that discussion.
It beats an inauthentic faith.
If you can find the truth, it requires less faith and produces more action. And regardless of which sect you identify or belief you hold – I’m sure that we could all agree that God would want us to believe what we believe with all that we are…in the truest and most authentic pursuit of Him.