A Post-Christianity Christian
Moving Back to Jamaica, as I have mentioned before, entails dealing with spiritual matters – or at least, in my case it does.
One thing I am fairly sure of is that a Christian who has lived abroad and moves back will find it at least a little challenging to fit back into the mould from which they came. For me, a born-again Christian who was baptized at 12, and one who willingly evangelized from door-to-door as a teenager, that change could not be more dramatic.
I no longer fit the mould of a Jamaican Baptist (JBU) type of Christian. In fact, I am not sure that I fit any mould.
In another post, I shared the details of how I went from one point to another, but what I can say now is that what originally drew me to respond affirmatively to an altar call as a pre-teen, is the same force that makes my particular and peculiar brand of Christianity unrecognizable to most people.
For example, I no longer believe in many of the basic tenets: Jesus did not die to pay for anyone’s sins, and he is not to be worshipped any more than any other man is to be. I could go on, but… you get the point. When I gave up believing these basics, I disqualified myself from most Christian denominations.
However, I think the apostle Paul was right on the money when he said “When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child… but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Well, those beliefs went the way of Santa Clause in my case, but in a good way.
When anyone makes a mature choice to follow a religion, be converted or accept a new way of living there is a process of thinking that they undergo. They weigh the argument in their minds, they examine the evidence, look at the facts, perhaps study some pros and cons.
That certainly is the process that I went through when I was 12.
However, I remember vividly a later turning point when I was about 15: my father told me that he believed in evolution.
I was appalled.
How could he? I had thought he was “one of us!” Christians did not believe in evolution – how could we?
To his credit, and to my lifetime benefit, he explained to me why he, as a scientist, had examined the evidence and made a decision. One his own, with his own mind.
I thought about it for months.
Little did I know, it was a seminal moment, because I realized that he was doing his own thinking… just as I had done at the moment when I was first converted. In fact, I had asked my friends (and my ride home) to wait for me while I responded to the altar call, so I was not just thinking, but I was even willing to create a bit of a problem in order to respond to the urgings of my heart and mind.
When I moved to the U.S. I was again forced to do my own thinking, because the religious landscape was so very different. All the churches were …different from what I knew and none of them were doing things the right way.
When I started working at AT&T the same thing happened again. I started reading self-help books to try to figure out which way my life would go (and how to get back to Jamaica in once piece) and I discovered Marianne Williamson, A Course in Miracles, Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer, among others.
They made sense, and my questions took me deeper and deeper into other thought-systems that made even more sense than the one I happened to grow up in. I kept asking questions, and answering them, which only led to more questions – few of which could be answered in the bible.
In other words, I have been lucky to maintain the original process that started with my decision to accept Christ as saviour at 12. What I have been able to do (with plenty, plenty hiccups) is to keep that original process alive. The only difference is that the data, evidence and facts are different, as are the final decisions.
Recently a saw a movie called “Luther,” chronicling the life of Martin Luther, leader of the reformation. He, and others, are the reason why Protestant religions exist today – they questioned the Catholic Church and, under penalty of ex-communication, founded their own churches that embraced the radical idea that the bible could be read and understood by the common man.
Luther, Calvin, Galileo and others clearly followed a process of thinking for themselves, and were willing to go against the grain and live their lives accordingly.
Today, as in the Catholic Church of old, many Christian churches are unwilling to have their members ask too many questions, especially about the central tenets of the faith. Anyone who stops believing them is doomed to hell, according to most.
That would include me.
So, if you are reading this and thinking that I am “playing with fire”… I would make that “hell-fire…”
You also may not think this is a joking matter, and that I have condemned myself for all eternity.
Whether I have or not is not all that important to me, but what is important is keeping the spirit of that original conversion alive. When I look back, I see that what was important was not the particular decision I made, but the fact that I was able to do my own thinking, deciding and acting... for myself, and on my own.
Hopefully, that will never go away.
Today, I joke and say that I am a post-Christianity Christian, because I think that anyone who follows the process of thinking, deciding and acting ends up in the same place – being a Christian who does not fit into any recognized church’s beliefs and a misfit with respect to mainstream Christianity. In other words, being a post-Christianity Christian.
I truly thought that I was alone.
While we were dating, my wife invited me to a church in Miami called the Universal Center of Truth for Better Living.
I was shocked to find that almost all of my (non) beliefs were accepted by the members, and delighted to discover that a branch existed in Jamaica. It is a VERY non-traditional church… but a good home for now for this particular post-Christianity Christian.
It is a wonderful gift to have in the life of this Jamaican who has only recently Moved Back.
The church meets on Sundays at 10:30am at The Little Theatre in Kingston. It is a member of a group of New Thought Christian churches.