Introduction and Getting Started

Some goals for this blog, how this will be an online journal, and how one person challenged me to once keep a journal. And some of the topics I plan to pursue in the next year or so.

So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in them, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31-32

My life has been filled with scars…a majority of them coming from religion. However, in about 2008 I started to deeply struggle with doubt, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the lid came off and those doubts overwhelmed me. From 2009 until about 2013 I pushed back from Christianity and explored atheism, and proclaimed myself to be agnostic. I reacted in anger as much of what I was taught imploded. Plus life threw me some wrenches while this was ongoing. It wasn’t until 2013 that I started to emerge from my faith crisis.  My religious background is very diverse…by my mid thirties I’ve been exposed to a lot of differing faith traditions. Those include Catholicism, Mormonism, differing sides of evangelicalism and even atheism/agnosticism. (I think atheist and agnostic are used interchangeably by many people)

My faith crisis was challenging, traumatic, and difficult. You can read about my story at The Wartburg Watch here, here and here. I would venture to say that my faith crisis was the most difficult thing I endured in my life. It was during this time that I discovered the blogging world and found havens on the internet that allowed me to vent, ask questions, or explore the issues with which I struggled. During this time I shut out most evangelical Christians out of my life as I didn’t trust them. However, 5 or so individuals were involved in trying to help me during this time, in my story you can read about James, Danny, Scott, Dee and Andrew. However, during this time I had a Care Group Leader from Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington, a former Sovereign Grace Ministries church, who tried to recruit me. During one of our many interactions this military officer met me once in a Smoothie Shop in Arlington, Virginia and gave me a journal in trying to get me to express my emotions on paper. In the opening of the journal he wrote:

To: Eagle
From: Andrew White
Date: October 22, 2012

 

Eagle, I hope and pray that this journal can be a practical tool to capture your journey wrestling with God, face-to-face. May its privacy be encouragement to be brutally honest with God as you try to find peace.

 

Thank you for the friendship
Andrew White

In a number of months Andrew committed a horrific betrayal and made a false accusation against me. He caused great pain to me and my family and he still needs to repent for the pain, and own his false accusation. Andrew White is the only Christian out of 136 people where there is not full reconciliation today.  I’m honestly puzzled given my past why I am not a raging atheist. Some of the ugliest things I have seen in life have come from those who claim they are Christians. Honestly, the situation baffles me the more I’ve thought about it. Andrew’s behavior was the most disturbing thing I saw a Christian do, and he did it while boasting that he was in the “healthiest church he has ever been in”.  I must also state in the desire to be honest that I made mistakes in interacting with him which also cause me deep grief. I remain hopeful that I can repent in detail to Andrew of the pain I caused him and own my part of the mess from my faith crisis. In every other way I have owned my mess having approached nearly 136 people and receive freedom and forgiveness from them. The point I want to make is that both Andrew and I made a mess and we are both responsible. Like I said earlier this situation today remains in conflict and it’s the only one of about 136 people between 2 Christians where the situation remains unresolved. I’m still praying that we can be at peace. What compels me to not let this go? 95 to 97% of the people in my life who represent the past two decades forgave me or worked things out, and I find it hard to believe that the only unresolved situation is from someone who boasted of how he was in such a healthy church, and how serious he was about his faith. That said we can both redeem and fix this mess, but he needs to repent of his mess and sin. I did so much with nearly 140 people who I am willing to do whatever it takes to bring peace and closure to this mess.

Having explained all that I have decided this blog will be my journal. It will be open, and I will share my thoughts and concerns with the world. And I will allow those who have differing points of view to participate and engage. I hope others do become involved. I’m not afraid of questions or being challenged. I actually want to encourage difficult questions. I have a lot that I would like to blog about including atheism, Mormonism, Sovereign Grace, Neo-Calvinism, doubt, cognitive dissonance,  fundamentalism and so many other issues. I am not scientifically inclined but I will touch on a few issues but will not wade too far into science. With all that said these are some of the brief issues I would like to blog about over the coming year:

  1. I would like to explore the theological scene in our nation’s Capitol – Washington, D.C.
  2. I would like to explain why atheism can be a faith system.
  3. I would like to share how many atheists are created from bad church experiences, or bad theology, and how this can be an opportunity for the evangelical church to repent and own its sin.
  4. There are thoughts and feelings I have on differing articles, video clips from Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Greta Christina, and Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) that I would love to discuss.
  5. I would like to explain what attracted me to explore atheism and its intellectual capabilities.
  6. What I appreciate and cherish from atheism today.
  7. Mormonism and why I came close to converting in college is another topic I would like to pursue.
  8. I would like to discuss how I dealt with cognitive dissonance as a result from my experience with Mormonism.
  9. I would like to study the Problem of Evil, Problem of Prayer and other challenging issues to faith. This includes what happens to those who never heard the Gospel, to looking at Old Testament Genocide, and the Second Adam.
  10. I would like people to know why you can be both a Christian and a believer in Theistic Evolution simultaneously.
  11. I would like to explore why doubts can be a sign of faith and healthy for your growth.
  12. Someone needs to explain why John Piper is a bad theologian, poor teacher and why he should NOT be teaching. I would like to use his teaching on disasters, domestic violence and rape to make my point. Too many people give John Piper a pass, I would like to articulate why he’s just as bad as Pat Robertson. Or better put…why he’s the “Reformed Pat Robertson.”
  13. Why are evangelical Christians subjective about what is sin? Why is sin for many evangelicals always what the other person struggles with – never themselves?
  14. Why don’t evangelicals speak about the sin of domestic violence, child sex abuse, gluttony, greed and so many other sins?
  15. I would like to explain the problems with prosperity theology and how it is firmly entrenched in modern evangelical Christianity. And how prosperity theology increases someone’s pain and suffering.
  16. I’d love to write about what I admire about Roman Catholicism.
  17. On the flip side I would like to state some theological concerns I have about Catholicism to include Mary being without sin, closed communion, and why it took the Catholic Church a little over 400 years to admit that it was wrong in how it treated Galileo Galilei?
  18. I’d like to explain why I admire amillennialism from Calvinism and my concerns with dispensational theology.
  19. I would like to ask why don’t Christians repent of their sin today? I would like to use Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney and Andrew White who gave the journal I referenced above to make my case.
  20. I would like to explore why “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” as espoused by Mark Dever is toxic theology, legalistic, and should be rejected by many evangelical churches.
  21. How does a person become a prosperity theologian like Paul Crouch or Benny Hinn…? They weren’t made overnight, they developed in time. How and why did some people follow Paul Crouch and Benny Binn? I would like to make my case how history is repeating itself and the next Paul Crouch or Benny Hinn will be Mark Driscoll.
  22. Why evangelical Christians in the Washington, D.C. area should be deeply concerned with what happened to Paul Petry, Bent Meyer, Rob Smith, and Mars Hill Seattle.
  23. I would like to explain why church covenants should be rejected as being un-Biblical.
  24. My fears of why I am going to become one of the “Nones” one day…not by choice, but because of how the current evangelical culture operates.
  25. Why do many pastors’ feel entitled and a sense of entitlement? How can we keep bad pastors and wolfs like CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll away from the sheep? Is it possible?
  26. Have you heard how cognitive dissonance was proven? And its origins with a UFO cult in the Chicago area in the 1950’s? I would like to explore cognitive dissonance in Mormonism, Sovereign Grace and modern evangelical Christianity
  27. I would like to explore theological articles from differing Neo-Calvinists and discuss the occasional good things I see and discuss the problems with their theology.
  28. Why the sovereignty that Neo-Calvinists teach is nothing but determinism.
  29. Why I will avoid a church affiliated with The Gospel Coalition, and how the Gospel Coalition is exporting deep corruption which calls into question why the Protestant Reformation even occurred.
  30. Why Jonathan Edwards is not that great as a theologian, and the problems of Edwards being a slave owner. Given my educational work in history I would like to compare and contrast Edwards being a slave owner with Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. I would like to explain why you should be more disturbed about Edwards being a slave owner than the author of the Declaration of Independence (as disturbing as that is…) I would also like to discuss why Edwards is more a project of his culture and how many people make him an idol, and worship him instead of God.
  31. I would like to touch on how I learned that child sex abuse is an issue in modern evangelicalism. I would like to discuss an incident in Elmbrook Church (in the Milwaukee suburbs) in 1999 and how that taught me why evangelicalism struggles with pedophilia.
  32. I would like to discuss the problems with charismatic theology after my exposure to Third Wave theology.
  33. In the last communication from Andrew White before he shut me out he wrote, “My forgiveness doesn’t erase the hurt, which will take a lot of time to heal.” I would like to explain why Andrew White has a poor and false view of forgiveness. Is his view of forgiveness corrupted by being involved in Sovereign Grace? I would like to write a couple of pages on what he wrote in that sentence and respond in a challenging way… In this blog I will be writing a lot about Andrew White.
  34. I would like to ask the question and explore the following situation…how healthy is a former Sovereign Grace Ministries Church plant who broke away from SGM proper? I would like to pursue this issue as I was unsuccessfully recruited into Redeemer Arlington. (Now an Acts 29 plant)
  35. I would like to explain why I hope I am wrong in my posts and how evangelicals and churches will change course and prove me wrong. Trust me as I write this…I want to be proven wrong. If I am proven wrong that will help grow my faith substantially. Being proven wrong, is an opportunity for me to show humility.
  36. What is forgiveness? What did I learn in approaching 140 people?
  37. Why evangelical Christianity needs to become more intellectual if it’s going to engage those outside the faith. I would also like to explore why individuals like Philip Yancey or CS Lewis are exceptions instead of the norm, and how the current evangelical culture is preventing the creation of incredible apologists. Why?  Because questions in many evangelical churches or movements are discouraged, prevented or viewed as a threat.
  38. My concerns about Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I would like to express and state my concerns about indoctrination and more of an approach of teaching people “what to think and not how to think.” I would like to make my case that Trinity’s indoctrination of people into Neo-Calvinism is the same kind of indoctrination that the Taliban does in radical Islamic Madrassas in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
  39. My concerns with Rachel Held Evans and the mess with Tony Jones, how its almost the SGM Scandal in reverse, and how that is hurting people hanging on to their faith by a thread.
  40. I would like to discuss why are some people leaving evangelicalism and converting to Catholicism or Eastern/Greek Orthodox faith.
  41. I would like to make a case as to how evangelical Christianity needs to reclaim a strong middle ground if its to become healthy again. I would also like to explore why is modern evangelical Christianity diseased and sick? Someone needs to inject anti-biotics in it if its going to be able to fight infection.
  42. I would like to reflect on how the emergent camp is not the only camp espousing heresy, bad teaching and doctrine. I would like to write about how heresy has moved into evangelicalism from the extreme right and the problems it has created.
  43. My concerns about the ESV Bible will be discussed in this blog. I am concerned about the translation and the agenda behind it.
  44. There are many people who I would like to discuss and explore. That includes articles and writings from Greg Boyd, Matt Chandler, Tim Keller and N.T. Wright.
  45. I would like to explore why Neo-Calvinism has a warped view of man, and what a man is and how a true man cleans up his mess; and I will use Mark Driscoll to make my case.
  46. I would like to explore and write about differing denominations from the Evangelical Free to Assembly of God. I would like to explore how some of the garbage on the national scene is affecting the local church.
  47. Are many Neo-Cals modern day Jonah’s? I would like to make my case using the way Mark Driscoll fled Seattle leaving a mess in his wake. How CJ Mahaney and his “run away church” plant fled Gaithersburg, Maryland for Louisville, Kentucky. And how Andrew White fled his sin in Washington, D.C. and left for an Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In all three examples all the people involved left pain in their wake and have refused to own their sin. They must not believe in their own depravity.
  48. Why don’t many churches have good or thriving men’s ministries? I’ve noticed this as I explore a number of different churches?
  49. I would like to explore why its so hard to get involved in an evangelical church. I would like to pose some questions and explain why it was easier to get involved in the atheist movement than it is to be involved in a church.
  50. And in closing I would like to explore theological themes in movies I have seen or do see. The other night I watched Gladiator and I was contemplating the theological implications in that movie and lessons that can be drawn from it. From “Into the Woods”, “Unbroken”, “Adjustment Bureau”,”Inception” and so many other movies. There are so many good conveyors of Christian theology that are outside the faith.

Really these are some of the many issues I would like to pursue and discuss. And I am just scratching the surface in what I write above. If you’re a doubter I want this place to be your home. If you were burned by fundagelicalism, I want you to take refuge here. Harmed by Sovereign Grace? A Care Group Leader at Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington brought great pain into my life and made my 78-year-old Mother weep and wail in a painful way. I want you to know that you are not alone in dealing with the Sovereign Grace movement. If you are hanging on to your faith by the skin of your teeth…I empathize. The evangelical scene in the United States is a mess. That said, I really hope everyone enters into discussion, all across the spectrum. From atheists, to members of Redeemer Arlington, McLean Bible to so many other churches and traditions all across the spectrum; I want to discuss and explore differing theological issues. We need to have these discussions…the walls need to come down. Plus if you are an atheist or agnostic feel free to engage here. I remember what it was like to engage online and avoid many churches. Overall I hope this can be a place to have these discussions. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area I would be happy to met and discuss some of this over coffee. But I want this to be a place safe for people looking for answers. Plus I want the confused, or those licking their wounds to find comfort here. It’s hard in the evangelical world, I get that and it shouldn’t be; that said let’s commence on the discussion of fundagelicalism! Due to a busy life I will probably post maybe about once a week.

6 thoughts on “Introduction and Getting Started

  1. **EDITED COMMENT**

    #35) I would like to explain why I hope I am wrong in my posts and how evangelicals and churches will change course and prove me wrong. Trust me as I write this…I want to be proven wrong. If I am proven wrong that will help grow my faith substantially. Being proven wrong, is an opportunity for me to show humility.
    ————————————-
    (Eagle), (edited 2/22/15 9:20 PM) in reference to your statement above…from your writings and what little I know about you in small group it is not clear to me if you have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and Life. Everything else flows from that place of relationship with a personal God – revelation, discernment, renewal of the mind, understanding, spiritual context, the problem of good and evil, freewill, etc. God may not give you all the answers to your questions but a great many doubts and confusion will be cleared up if you pursue God relentlessly as a person. He will be faithful to respond back to you if you are sincere in seeking Him more than seeking answers. So much of your writing is focused on other frail humanity and institutions while you are going through a faith crises. The only way out of a faith crisis is to turn back to Jesus Christ if you have received Him or receive Him if you haven’t.

    My challenge to you is to go to that deep place in your heart and ask God to give you the gift of faith to believe in Him for everything you need. Unconditional surrender first – then the peace of God comes, and by His grace understanding especially if you get into the WORD. Do you want a personal testimony of how this works? I would be happy to share with you my story and how Jesus has manifested Himself to me so that I don’t have any doubts about my faith in God. It has taken me over 20 years but God is patient. It may not be practiced perfectly by other christians or the christian church – but it doesn’t need to be for God to be real and for faith in God to be real. It doesn’t mean the issues you raise are not real either – they are, but they don’t have to be the source of your doubt and reason for staying in a faith crises.

    God bless,
    Jim

    Like

    • Jim-

      Wow! What a comment I didn’t know you are the main author of the Book of Life in determining who is and who is not a Christian. I could not determine in return your salvation state as that would be uncalled for. I’m sorry you feel like that way Jim. As for doubt can I recommend you spend some more time in your Bible. The scripture is full of people who dealt with doubt. For starters look at John the Baptist, Jonah, Thomas, Peter, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, etc… Then there was Jesus who doubted God during his crucifixion.So doubt is a natural and normal part of faith. The person I fear the most is the Christian who has all the answers figured out.

      Like

      • **Edited** 2-23-15 6:47 PM

        (Eagle),

        You missed my point completely, and you are being sarcastic in your response. You twist around my responses for the sake of argument. Play nicely? Practice what you preach, please. Believers are allowed to judge a tree by it’s fruit, not the heart, and that is what I am referring to. I can’t tell from your behavior and words if you have accepted Christ or not. That is the starting point for everything.

        My questions to you are: Have you ever accepted Christ as your savior? Are you sincerely seeking to know God for the first time or once again, or do you want to have theological and philosophical arguments online hiding behind a keyboard where you can be brash? How about having a respectful conversation in person not for the sake of debate but with an open heart to know God?

        My offer stands – If you want to know how I moved from doubt as an unbeliever to faith in Christ to drifting away to coming back again I would be glad to share my personal testimony with you.

        Also, we can know Jesus personally as the bible says His sheep know His voice. I have no doubt that God loves me and that He is good. You can know this, too. I believe God wants believers to have that confidence and assurance. Don’t confuse this with omnipotence. I have nothing to feel ashamed about or feel sorry for as you say. I’m so grateful to know this and feel sorry for those who don’t know this like yourself – that’s why I offer to share my story with you. Jesus didn’t doubt God during His crucifixion – He struggled with obeying God’s will in the garden before the crucifixion but ultimately obeyed – for you. I think you need to spend more time in the bible instead of in your atheistic teachings. A little dose of humility and respect would serve you well also in your blog.

        As for me – I’ve made my point. I’m done with your blog. If you want to talk you can reach me by email.

        God bless,
        Jim

        Like

  2. Jim

    You said:

    “Believers are allowed to judge a tree by it’s fruit, not the heart, and that is what I am referring to. I can’t tell from your behavior and words if you have accepted Christ or not.

    Frankly, I am a bit surprised that you claim to have spent time with Eagle in a small group and this is your response. My husband and I have spent hours and days getting to know him. There were many 11PM conversations as we worked through each of his questions until those questions were answered. Those nice little books on “how to witness” often overlook that time and comprehensive approaches to addressing the problems of evil and pain are necessary, especially if one is dealing with someone who is well educated. It needs better response than “The Bible says it and that is that.”

    The Bible is quite clear on the issue of judgement. We can judge actions. For example, adultery is a sin and it will indicate that the person’s faith is weak. However, we cannot, and never should, judge the state of salvation of an individual unless they tell us point blank that they are not a Christian.

    Let me show you how your “fruit judging* breaks down. King David had an affair and got a woman pregnant. Then he arranged to have her husband killed. He ignored what he knew to be the truth and he knew the truth because he was a follower of God. David was judged as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, during that time in his life, he fell in a mighty big way.

    First of all, I do not and never will judge the salvation of another. I leave that in the hands of one who has a much higher pay grade.

    Secondly, if someone tells me that they are a Christian, I make sure they understand and accept that Jesus died for their sins. If they do, then the Bible tells us that such a person is a Christian.

    Doubts and questions are part of any honest Christian’s life. Years ago, I went through a faith crisis when I found that the story of the woman caught in adultery was not in the earliest known manuscripts. I began to wonder if I truly understood my faith. My willingness to address my doubts and fears led me on a journey to a much deeper faith.

    I am glad that you have no doubts. But, if truth be told, you are in the minority within the faith. It is very difficult to address the slaughter of people groups in the OT, especially the killing of both infants and cattle. I have read many books by well known theologians on the subject. I don’t have answers that would satisfy most unbelievers. As was said in Mark: “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

    Finally, Eagle is answering you from the bottom of his heart. I read your comment and do you want to know what I thought? You will not like it. I thought “Gee, isn’t it nice that God has someone to help him judge the heart of another.” Eagle wasn’t the only one who felt that way and I am sure others had similar responses.

    This I know. After spending hours and even days answering and debating questions and answers with Eagle, both my husband and I, who have close to 80 years of being Christians between the two of us, believe that Eagle is a man after God’s own heart. God loves those who dig deep and are not afraid to confront their concerns and issues. He is a big God and He can take it. Eagle is our brother in Christ and we would rather speak to a man who is humble and honest as opposed to one who is absolutely sure that they *know* the answers.

    Like

Comments are closed.