My heart and mind have been so stirred lately by a couple of books I have read….books that I will not be naming here, as I do not want to get a firestorm of e-mails. I really don’t even want to discuss it all that much yet. I am still researching, formulating opinions, obsessing about content, and wondering if it is worth all the effort.
You see, the problem is that these books are best sellers, expertly written, engaging. They are humorous and full of heart. They are about faith. “Where is the problem?” you are, no doubt, asking. Well, the thing is, I am not sure they are about my faith...at least as I understand it. That wouldn’t bother me much, generally speaking. People can write about whatever they want. What bothers me about these particular books (did I mention they are best sellers?) is that they discuss ideas that sound so similar to my faith at times that it is confusing. There is such an element of what I believe to be truth that, catch me in a less self-assured moment, and I might just dive right in. (This less self-assured me, coupled with the me that doesn't ever like to appear naive makes for a scary combo) I love witty repartee and I love new ideas (I love them both in a discussion about faith) but I don’t want to get so caught up in witty repartee about new ideas that I just take them in without respect for what is old, timeworn truth.
To some extent, it is a gut reaction. These books rub me the wrong way because I feel like they make Christianity a little too comfortable for those who don’t commit. (Comfortable enough to make them best sellers…did I mention that?) They make it a little too, “This is what I believe about it all and you probably feel a little different and that’s okay.” In some respects, I am sure that it is okay. In respect to some discussions of faith I am known to say, “that isn’t a deal breaker for me.” For instance, if it was proven that God didn’t create the world in seven literal days, it wouldn’t shake my faith. It is not, “a deal breaker.” (Please don’t e-mail about this!) I have to hold on to certain beliefs loosely because I know that my understanding is limited by my humanity. I actually take great comfort in that. But, there are other tenants that I grab tightly to. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, the justification for our sins, and the only way to God. This is, to me, non-negotiable.
I guess what bothers me is that there seems to be this idea, about who God is and who we are in relation to Him, floating around that I am now gonna call a “soft conversion” (I might have just made up that term and if anyone knows how I can make some money off of copyrighting it, then let me know). This is probably not even an accurate term because I don’t really believe there can be such a thing. What I mean is, there is this idea of God and an encouragement of tapping into Him, minus a good part of the humility I believe to be necessary for salvation. Humility that causes you to believe that, without him, you are desperately incomplete, not merely unenlightened. To me, this is just an affirmation of the scripture that says, “Narrow is the gate that leads to salvation.”
In the end, here is what I do know. I know that as I sat up, way too late one night, researching one of the authors I just read and obsessed with knowing whether she had a true conversion experience or not, God, in his illuminating way, said, “Amanda, what does it matter to you if her conversion was real? Why would you research her for hours trying to figure it out? Instead, pick up my book. Here are the words of eternal life. This bible will tell you all you need to know. Obsess over it.” So, I will because, as my husband put it in our wonderfully vigorous discussion, "my job is not to argue against somone else's belief, it is to argue for truth." And I am certain of where to find it.