A little over 50 years ago (when I was 17) I began my
so-called Christian journey with that very same fundamental idea. As a 17-year-old
I really had no confidence that my gut instincts were worthy to be followed. It
seemed as though the large mass of church authority figures, who surrounded me
in my home city, had to be right. They were so much older than I was and had
studied for decades and I had only began to inquire into the teachings that
were originally provided by Jesus.
I served a two-year mission for the church. I worked
exceptionally hard and subsequently advanced within the paradigm of the mission
field. This position allowed an opportunity for very detailed study, because we
had to travel a lot and I studied often while my companion would drive.
After about 20 months, I began to notice an ever increasing
disparity between what was actually taught by my church leaders and what was
actually originally quite clearly expressed by Jesus, time and time again.
The internal conflict grew from mild to severe. I expressed
my troubling doubts to the mission President, but even then (at about 20 years
old) I always maintained that I must just be having what we called “a challenge
to my faith” and that my doubts would pass. After all, the church leaders had
to be right, I thought.
To make this post a bit shorter, let me just sum it up.
After fulfilling my term as a missionary, I was looking forward to coming home,
meeting with church leaders and having my doubts intelligently corrected. If the church were
true, it would after all, be very advantageous for me. I had already become considered
a young leader within the church. That meant better employment opportunities, a good position within a broad broad social environment and basically just a privileged life. I live in
the city that is the capital and home of the church.
After meeting with many authorities, my doubts only became
larger. Within a few months I requested excommunication from the church. I did this
because I wanted to clearly convey to all the people I had helped bring into
the church, that after more maturation I had realized that the church did not
convey the original intent of the teachings of 1st century Christianity. When I was finally granted excommunication, it was very hard on my social life and family.
The most fundamental disparity was the recognition that
Jesus went far, far, far out of his way to mainly express the gracious nature of our relationship to the Creator, not the sin ladened, hell, fire and brimstone, archaic
teachings that the church conveyed.
Though I searched for many, many years and even traveled half way around the earth in an effort to discover a community which supported my own intuitive
understanding of God’s grace, I never really found one that was rooted and grounded in the simple truths expressed by Jesus, not only by his actual words but by the way he interacted and treated people.
I have meet several
people who I highly regard that have the same views as myself. A wonderful former Carmelite
Cloistered nun, a Trappist Monk and Priest, and many, many ministers who found
themselves in the same boat as myself.
It has been good.
The most fundamental idea that Jesus worked hard to convey was the
nearly inconceivably gracious nature of that which created us. People who interpreted the gospels and letter in the new testament certainly created a great disservice to the human race, by superimposing on them their own very limited and fear-based complexes upon the scriptures. Meister Eckhart
(13th century German theologian and mystic) expresses this very
cleanly in his sermons. Of course, the church accused him of 39 counts of hearsay. Strangely he just all of the sudden came up missing soon after the charges. No one knows the details of his sudden death. Similarly,
the church authorities cut the Tongue out of Maximus the confessor, for
teaching such gracefulness. When he didn’t let that stop him, he wrote out his
teachings. That is, until the church authorities cut his hand off.
Course it was the church leaders who so to it that Jesus was
killed, because of the threat he posed to them and the church. Many schoolers today
recognize that Jesus was no friend of religion.