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One of the great things about this nation is the religious freedoms we enjoy when compared with empires of the past and countries even in the present. So, we will have a faith-based category under the Pursuit of Happiness since faith is a large part of many individual’s pursuit of happiness.
As a part of that I want to share with you all a brief synopsis of my own journey in this regard however I will share with you that this doctrinal journey has been more of a domino effect than a specific intent to follow any particular belief system. I’ll explain what I mean by this statement. I grew up in a Baptist church (several actually due to various moves but all of which had a similar approaches) and as most Baptist church’s do, adhered to a partially Calvinistic view point of the scriptures and God. However, in the final two years of my high school education I attended a non-denominational private Christian school and had the opportunity of fellowshipping with students from a number of Christian denominations to include Catholic as odd as that was as Protestants and Catholics have a history of not getting along. In any case, this situation brought opportunity for me to begin the attempt of what I now consider to be true apologetics, not simply following talking points based on often unproven pre-suppositions, but to wrestle with the scriptures in an objective manner to defend this or that idea/doctrine/belief system since as I’m sure you know many of the proponents of various mutually exclusive doctrines all claim their preferred belief system is “Biblical” effectively casting the not-so-subtle “Heresy” label on the adherents of the contrary opinion.
So this did a lot to open my eyes to the fact that Christianity as a whole is not at all unified (which flies in the face on John 17:21) yet for the most part each faction considers their way of approaching the Scriptures to be the correct path. Now, mind you I still thought the Baptist way was the correct way at this time and it wasn’t until I was specifically challenged on the nature of the Rapture that the domino effect began, however I mention the latter portion of my high school years as this set the stage for the realization that it was possible for other people to consider themselves Christian (and quite probably really be so) who weren’t of the same position as myself. So on to what I see now as the primary catalyst.
One day in late 2008 a member of my extended family brought up the possibility that the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture may not have originated nor be found in the scriptures. Well immediately my emotional “heresy” alarm went off and I began to go to the various memorized verses of scripture where my pastors and teachers have told me that the rapture doctrine is located, which of course I never before questioned. Oddly enough, as I poured over the verses, chapters and books I could find absolutely no solid evidence to counter the claim that someone other than God made up this idea of a pre-tribulational rapture. In fact, I could find no evidence at all that didn’t seem to be twisted to support or simply forced into the text where the timing of a “rapture” that was pre-tribulational in nature.
I was shocked.
So being naturally analytical and by this time in my life being taught professionally how to audit information systems, I went over this topic with a fine toothed comb and the results shocked me to the core. Naturally this led me to ask the question: What else had I been wrong about? What else am I missing? After discussions (or lack thereof) with various pastors, evangelists and teachers with several churches I had previously attended only to be met with answers such as “it doesn’t matter” or “I’m just casting pearls before swine so go away” I became disillusioned and realized I needed to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” And so here started the doctrine dominos, one by one by one until here we are, no doubt in the middle of this with more dominos to follow desperately attempting to discover and contend for the “mother-faith”. So far, this journey has allowed me to meet with individuals who I wouldn’t have dared to take seriously before and in several instances have developed into very real friendships. On the other hand, I have also been shut out and demonized for daring to ask questions that challenge the very pre-suppositions some doctrines are built upon.
But enough of the 10,000-foot view and on to some specifics. I now believe the lens with which a person views scripture (and life) is more important than any specific tenants they currently adhere to and this is why, because eventually the color of that lens is going to shape their thinking and beliefs which ultimately affects how they conduct themselves. I’ve come to see that one’s system of beliefs drive one’s very actions. I know that is certainly is the case with myself. Ultimately, that lens affects each of our own Pursuit of Happiness.
Do you agree, does it affect your own Pursuit?