Growing up, I was a pretty loyal church-goer, involved in and leading youth group activities. When most people look at me, they probably cannot imagine a time when I was considered “religious” or “devout,” but really, it’s true. My belief in God has gotten me through some very tough times, especially while I was growing up when life at home and otherwise was not exactly a picture perfect paradise. Toward the end of high school, I began to grow very disillusioned with the church and the sometimes hateful message that Christians can promote in the name of God. So, over the past seven or eight years, my church-going has dwindled and to the naked eye, people may think I’m just a sinful pagan.
However, I still believe in God and I probably live a better life now than I did when I was practically living at church. Perhaps because how I live my life is no longer about the hard and fast rules dictated to me by my pastors and Bible Study teachers, but marked more by an overarching responsibility to be kind, generous and honest. I can just see my old Bible Study teachers wagging their fingers at me and clucking their tongues at how I’ve lost God because my whole life is not consumed by the idea of Christ as savior. But I find it very hard to believe that even if Christianity was the “right” religion, the God of the Bible, the Jesus of the Bible would turn away people who are kind, generous, and honest, but don’t happened to believe in Christ. All those countless people who never heard of Christianity, who simply grow up where Christians are a voiceless minority, who turn away from Christianity because of all of the ways Christians hate and condemn others– how could God turn away all those good people? If anything, the biggest enemy of Christianity seems to be Christians themselves– they fail to get up and spread the word of the Gospel and when they do, they do it in a way that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, showing us how hateful and unjust human beings can really be.
This was a big argument I used to have with many of my Bible Study teachers and since they themselves were usually only a few years older, college students helping out at church, they had little to offer in the way of answers. I would always ask, if we believe in the concept of being “saved,” how is it fair that a serial killer could confess and be reborn minutes before his execution and go to heaven while presumably, a man like Mahatma Gandhi, simply because he did not believe in the Christian God and did not repent and atone for his sins in the particular way Christians say we should, would not? Or if the doctrine of predestination is true (since I grew up in a Presbyterian Church), what is the point of evangelizing, converting? What is the point of anything if we were already hand-chosen so long ago?