8 – labo
At a baptist college, there are strange requirements such as attending chapel, which is a weekly worship service during the day, as well as bible classes on the old and new testament. Chapel was generally pretty boring, but I found out that if you have a job that conflicts with chapel time, you don’t have to go. This was all the motivation I needed to find a job as a runner at a local law firm. Side benefits were that it paid money and gave me some exposure to my chosen career.
I couldn’t get out of Bible class though, and I admit that I didn’t try, because I was honestly interested in it. However, it was the first class after lunch, and I had quite a struggle with staying awake in it. Although I slept through a significant portion of that class, I remember learning some about the Council of Nicea and the Council of Carthage. Its all fuzzy at this point 28 years later, but I know that I heard just enough to think hard about whether man made the Bible, or God made the Bible. This was the wedge that, driven into the crack already created by high school death and prayer issues, caused my faith to break open.
I realized here that if my parents had raised me as Muslim, or Atheist, or Rastafarian, or turnip-worshippers, then that’s what I would have been as a young college student. That was unsatisfactory. So I threw it all out and began my own search for the Truth.
Where to start on a quest to find such a large item? You can’t expect to find huge things in small spaces . . . so mentally, I backed up and looked at civilization and history. I was taking classes on those things as well, at the time, so it wasn’t especially hard to find this perspective. What I discovered was that most of mankind believed in a higher power. But my logic class called that a fallacy of popularity. I shouldn’t accept a premise as fact just because most people were fooled into it. On the other hand there were some ethical points that just about everybody on earth seemed to agree on, whether civilized or not. For example, it is hard to find a culture or tribe that embraces the abuse of the elderly or children. There are other points similar to this, but taking just this one, if so many people across the globe, who have never convened on their common mores actually have found common more’s, it could be that those values were given them by a common factor. Some sort of god, perhaps creating people with these common ideas. This was at least worth entertaining. The more I thought about it, the more I found reasons to accept this entity or entities above all. Intelligent design of the earth was concomitant with this idea. It was easier, frankly, to think of this than to imagine that all this universe, earth, civilization, and biology and personality happened by chance.
So I embraced the concept of one or more supernatural gods. Now I had multitudes of gods from which to choose. I began a systematic study of the choices: Buddha, Hallie Selassie, Allah, Jehovah, and an array of gods in Santeria, Hinduism, animistic religions, and on it goes.
Perhaps I was just hungry from all the studying in addition to my college courses, but I began to imagine all the characteristics of most of these separate gods as slices of a giant pie. Allah was a strict god that was intolerant of non-believers; Hallie Selassie was all about love and against hate of any sort; Buddha stressed wisdom, and the Hindus had a god for each and everything one could imagine. But the Jewish god Jehovah stood out. Yahweh. This seemed to be all the characteristics of the others wrapped up into one. This was the whole pie, rather than any individual slice. I wanted – I needed – to learn more about Elohim. All the other religions seemed to be picking the characteristics they were comfortable worshipping, or simply sticking to a belief because that’s what they were taught, or subscribing to whatever religion would get them the furthest in their social circles. As I started looking into Jehovah, I surmised that many of even his followers were taking their favorite piece of the pie and discarding the rest, but those pieces did not measure up to the Jehovah of the old Jewish scriptures. He was angry, jealous, loving, and strict, but he didn’t force himself on anyone. If someone chose not to accept him, he would allow it as their exercise of free will. To me, this seemed to be a real entity, and if accepted in his totality, did not smell of man’s creation so much as he looked like a Creator himself. I accepted him. Once I accepted him as God, my Creator, He began to reveal Himself to me.
The Jewish scriptures supported the idea of the Trinity that I had been taught about as a child. As I read it, it was the Trinity that appeared to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The more I read in Jewish scriptures, the more I was interested in the New Testament. As I read the Gospels and the letters of Paul and others, I bumped up against the canonization issue that drove a wedge in my crack in the first place. Doubt. But at this point I had little doubt of a supernatural God – Jehovah. I liked some aspects of him and I very much disliked other aspects, but I felt I had no choice but to accept all of Him as my God and my Creator. The sources of information on Him seemed to be the Bible, but also the writings of others who knew Him. So I went back to the study. I wasn’t a christian yet – just a deist. Now I had something in common with several of the founding fathers.