When I decided to register for the Religious Studies program at WKU, I was looking for classes on other religions. In my somewhat arrogant opinion, I knew all I needed to about Christianity. I did register for a class called Christianity last semester, thinking it would be an easy A. When the main subject matter turned out to be about the writings of the early church and the format mostly group discussion, I dropped it. The readings were difficult and time consuming. I have a strong dislike for group projects. I decided I wasn’t going to get enough new or important information from it to be worth the time it was taking. I am 70 years old. I’ve attended church all my life. As a child, our family didn’t just offer thanks at the dinner table. We had a daily devotional time before we ate every evening. When my children were growing up, I taught Sunday School and Bible School. I haven’t memorized the Book. I cannot quote chapter and verse for random scriptures, but I know what Christianity is all about. Do you see where this is going?
Recently I decided that I wanted to make this blog about my spiritual journey. Not exactly a theological thing. Not a preachy thing or a missionary thing….more like a witness to the world kind of thing. I feel I have something to say. You can agree or disagree, I won’t get upset. I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone else to see God the same way I do. I do feel called to try and explain my own experience and where it has led me.
As a part of the process, I had begun reading Bishop Spong’s, Sins of Scripture, but I got sidetracked. I began to research the differences between the mainline denominations. As a result, I have come to the humbling conclusion that I know very little about Christianity. I know about my own denomination, the church where I grew up. I know what I’ve come to believe over the years through various study groups and my own personal Bible study, but I know very little about other churches and what they preach. I know a little bit of the history of the church. Maybe more than the average person, but not all that I should.
So, this summer, I am doing independent research and study. I have purchased several books and I’ve been doing a lot of reading. At the moment, I’m working on The Dovekeepers, a fictional story about Masada that I borrowed from the library. I had heard about the refugees from Jerusalem who barricaded themselves into Herod’s stronghold and held off the Roman Army for three years. Who chose, at the end, to die rather than surrender. It’s usually thought of as a Jewish story. The thing is, in 70 BC, Christianity was considered a minor Jewish sect. So some of the people at Masada were probably Christians, they just weren’t answering to that name yet. In any case, those early Christians definitely lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and fled as refugees into the surrounding deserts. To understand ourselves, we need to understand the founding fathers. Understanding them, requires learning about their history.
I also have The Life and Times of Jesus by Michael J. Ruszala and I plan to review Zealot by Reza Aslan, (a different look at the Historical Jesus) and Kissing Fish by Roger Wolsey both of which I read earlier this year. But I’m also looking at the differences between Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. My Disciples of Christ denomination has roots in all three of them. I didn’t think there was much difference between the four of us, not like Catholics, Mormons, Pentecostals or dozens of other versions of Christianity. Maybe there isn’t, but what there is seems critical. I knew there were people who believe in predestination, but I didn’t know they think God has condemned some of us to hell even before we were born. These people think there is no hope for the rest of us. No matter how good we are or how sincere our faith, we cannot be saved.
I will be delving more into things like this during the next couple of years. Whenever I have some time to spare. I also plan to read more of the textbook from the Christianity class I dropped. At some point in the future, I must also take The Life and Teachings of Paul, although he is not one of my favorite people. He took over the mission of spreading the word at the foundation of the Church. Even though I disagree with him, at times, there is no way to understand our roots without taking his viewpoints into account because of his widespread influence.
This is my journey. I began my courses so that I could speak with authority regarding the connections between all religions. Before I can accomplish that, I feel that I must come to terms with the disconnects in my own faith family. I promise to make, at least, one post a month on where I am along the path. I hope you will find it an interesting trip.