“If Jesus is so wonderful…”
Who am I and why do I care about these things? I started life in a family of atheists. I grew up thinking all religion was superstition and that only Charles Darwin and Karl Marx really had it right. My life then was profoundly repulsive and my household full of insanity and immorality. At the age of 18 I discovered what seemed like an escape from the dreariness and ugliness—mind-altering drugs and the occult. I was in essence what would now be called a postmodern man. All this happened in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but now I would define myself as I was then as a neo-pagan. Read a testimony of how my wife and I got saved in 1976.
Entering the body of Christ was a shock. I knew almost nothing about Christianity. I had encountered Christ but not through formal Christian terminology. I had no idea that I’d been born again, and since we’d been saved in the context of a liberal Episcopal church, I got the impression that being born again meant you were ignorant and uneducated. This question plagued me: “If Jesus is so wonderful, then what is wrong with the church?”
Lessons learned in the fire of the Church
During the following 28 years God led us through profound trials, sometimes with joy, sometimes with sorrow and great heaviness. We always continued to attend church even though it was sometimes very vexing. Our first church was particularly vexing because not only did they not preach the gospel, they also advocated homosexuality as a positive lifestyle and had a large community of active homosexuals. Did God make a mistake putting us in that church? I don’t think so because for one thing we grew a lot. This growth was not a direct result of the church’s teaching but rather the teaching of the Holy Spirit who sometimes used church as a medium of conveying truth and sometimes as an example of what not to do. For example, knowing almost nothing about Christianity I assumed that all Christians read the Bible. I felt I needed to catch up so I started reading it, not realizing that Episcopalians traditionally do not read the Bible personally. It’s read in the services and that’s the end of it. So in my ignorance I started reading the Bible and found myself gripped by the Word of God. I believe now that it was the Holy Spirit gripping me through the Word and teaching me even though the church teachers had a low regard for Scripture.
Another great lesson, learned in the fires of that liberal Episcopal church, was that God was not pleased with the disunity in the body of Christ. The idea and vision of the unity of the whole church as portrayed in Scripture was belied by the way that liberals put down the fundamentalists and vice versa. I’d begun reading books by C. S. Lewis when I first started attending the church. He was of course an Anglican, and his vision and unity attracted me deeply at that time. Since inconsistency always bothers me, I was drawn to study church history to see if I could answer that question, “If Jesus is so wonderful, then what is wrong with the Church?”
Since that time we’ve been in many different churches: Pentecostal, Lutheran, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Calvary Chapel,