A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter 13 – Saved by Grace

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M. Osborne's picture

Luke 15:10
"Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

God is good.

 

 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Bert Perry's picture

....but I suspect that as I try to reach out to people who are in the straits you were in, John, I might do well to try to understand.

John E.'s picture

I'm curious what you mean when you write, "I don't get it."

Just so you know, I have some writing concerns about the series that were made more apparent to me in this final chapter. I'll leave it at that for now, because I don't want to "poison the well," so to speak, for your critiques (and the critiques of others, too).

Also, while this is the final chapter, I'm planning an epilogue that will briefly recount how God grew me in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ during the next few years after my conversion and that will hopefully tie up some loose ends, too.

Bert Perry's picture

Looking forward to the rest, thanks for the sneak preview.  What I mean by "I don't get it" is that while I understand everything happened, I can't clue in as to why.  I've got a number of friends who've been through Teen Challenge drug and alcohol addiction treatment, and beyond "life is tough" and a few other things, I just don't get why someone would get stinking drunk or shoot heroin into his veins.  

And in my mind, there's something of a problem there when I have to encourage these friends.  Sure, we can say "just say no" like Nancy Reagan, but if I've not dealt with the whys, then the problem is going to come back with a vengeance.  Make a bit more sense?

M. Osborne's picture

Two very different books I happen to be reading at the same time brought home to me the role of imagination in getting us to sin.

  1. I'm reading C. S. Lewis's Perelandra to my children. For those not familiar, it includes a reimagining of Satan's temptation of Eve, played out with the first lady on another planet., with a man from our world trying to thwart the temptation. One of the ways the tempter attacks the lady is he drowns out the simple facts of God's prohibition with grand stories about the kind of person this lady could be if only she were to violate the prohibition. He appeals to her imagination as a noble pioneer, gets her to see herself playing a role. He lays out a picture of what life could be.
  2. I'm also skimming through Esther Perel's The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. One of the questions she looks at is why people who are otherwise happily married would engage in adultery, even when rationally they know they're risking a good and secure life with their spouse and family if they're discovered. One thing she offers is that people begin to imagine themselves in the role of the transgressor, someone who can go beyond the rules. Also, they imagine what life together what their paramour could be like; and that life can look really, really good, because of course it's not real as long as it's out of reach. That's why, as she observes, when the adultery is discovered, and the marriage is ended, and the adulterers get married to each other, that new marriage is rarely what they expected it to be, and often collapses itself.

All that to say...the imagination of what's out of reach seems to be a powerful motivator that drowns out what we actually know deep down.

I'll let John speak for himself though.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

John E.'s picture

I believe that Michael is correct when he points to the role of imagination in our sin. In the introduction to the series, as well as the first chapter or two, I wrote a little about how I was given an identity (a story) without ever really having been consulted in the matter. I was labeled a "Christian" without any real evidence that I was actually a Christian. Because my heart was in such open rebellion against God, I resented that. And, so, as I grew I became aware that for my authority figures a certain lifestyle represented the exact opposite identity (story) than the one I had and didn't want. I gravitated towards that lifestyle because in my imagination it was the best way to prove to everyone that I was not a Christian.  

As far as why did I do drugs even though I knew they were bad for me? Well, I was child and children think in the here and now. For me, the immediate benefit of proving to others that I wasn't a Christian far outweighed the consequence that, frankly, were too much in the abstract for me at the time. When you're in your early twenties, you think that you're going to live forever. The possible long term negative effects had a hard time making inroads into my imagination. 

That's an abbreviated answer, Bert. This is the fourth time that I've attempted to respond to your comment. I've been unable to figure out how to answer without writing an entire article. 

Bert Perry's picture

John E. wrote:

<good stuff snipped>

That's an abbreviated answer, Bert. This is the fourth time that I've attempted to respond to your comment. I've been unable to figure out how to answer without writing an entire article. 

One might assume that, beyond the obvious categories of rebellion and despair, that "it depends" and "it varies".  I'm OK with that.  Don't let me monopolize your whole day here.  :^)

John E.'s picture

Today is one of my writing days for PJ Media in my weekly schedule. When writing, I tend to write a few sentences, do something else, write a few more, do something else ..... until I somehow manage to finish an article. Invariably, whenever I start to do something else (wash dishes, mow the grass, write something else, etc.) how to say what I want to say pops in my head. I've learned to keep pen and paper on me in case I'm somewhere or doing something that keeps me from the computer for longer than fifteen minutes. If not, I'll forget, and that's frustrating. Responding on SI is a good way to get my creative juices flowing for my writing job without leaving my computer.  

kirkedoyle's picture

John, 

I had the chance to see Sight and Sound's presentation of 'Jesus' last week.  (Which was tremendous, btw - I was hesitant at first but they did a great job.)There was a scene on a boat where the disciples were questioning Him as to where they were going, to which He related the parable of the 99 and 1.  After they reached land He left the men to begin searching for the demon possessed man.  Several of the disciples began to complain about the diversion from their plan.  John then sang a song, the gist of which was "You were once the one He left the ninety-nine for" as Christ diligently worked to reach the man.  My thoughts immediately went to you and the immense love your savior has for you. And for me.  Your story connected on many levels and I want to thank you again for sharing.

 

God bless.

John E.'s picture

Thank you. Like all of us, I have much to praise God for. 

Ron Bean's picture

Thankful for The Hound of Heaven that pursued us.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan