Over the last year plus I have wandered far and wide in my mind and spirit. I have gone from Lutheran to "Atheist" to Roman Catholic to wanting to be a "Generic Christian" and finally back to Lutheran again, back to where I began my life and where I intend to end it.
I can't go into all of the details of my thinking because it was not very logical at any point in the journey. I did not actually go through a reasoned examination of my faith and make each of these rapid moves. Instead what happened was that I got confused by the issues of creation and the first few chapters of Genesis. In my confusion I first "felt" that I couldn't be a Christian if I found the first part of the Bible to be scientifically irrelevant. So, following that feeling I sought rational reasons to reject theism. Of course, if you start with the conclusion it's easy to find the supporting "evidence" you are looking for.
God did not abandon me to this though. I "felt" Him pulling me back, I couldn't deny what I know so deeply in my heart to be true. But what could I do? I still knew that I did not find the creation account to be plausible as science. I searched for alternative explanations and when I found that the Roman church is just fine with evolution I decided to figure out a way of getting around all of the crud that I knew (and know) obscured the real pure gospel in that church. Again, starting with the conclusion I wanted I reasoned backwards until I convinced myself of what I wanted to be convinced of, that the Roman church is the one real true church established by Jesus Christ. I joined up. The Romans have the best franchise system, they are literally everywhere and you can go to mass every day if you want to, and I did. Yet I found myself praying more to Mary and the other saints than to Jesus Christ the Son of God. This felt odd, and wrong. Which it is. The gospel was obscured by the idea that my salvation depended on my making a "good" or "perfect" confession of all of my sins, and it depended on my following the magesterium of the Roman church, it insisted there was no salvation outside of the Roman church. I limped along with this for some months. Finding it less and less satisfying. I think God was working on me in all of this still.
Things came to a head when Lora insisted that Max be baptized by Pastor Ledic at Messiah Lutheran Church in Danville. I had tried with no success to just take him to the local Roman Catholic church for this, but she was firm and refused. I didn't want to go. But it was my grandson's baptism and I didn't want to seem to be a jerk. Even though I was being one. So I went. What happened then? Well, I heard the pure gospel preached clearly by Pastor Ledic. Inside I said "Oh my God! I had forgotten what it was like to hear the Real, Pure Gospel." Instantly I was finished with the Romans. I searched around for some church where I could hear the gospel and have the sacraments and still not have the conflict with interpretations of creation. I didn't find it anywhere I looked, and I did look for some other place than a Lutheran church.
I finally recalled, or perhaps the Holy Spirit reminded me, that a pastor I knew was nearby here in the valley, Kevin DeHope in Oakville. I wanted to talk to Pastor Ledic about all of this but Danville is a long drive and he eventually suggested I just talk to Pastor DeHope. We had a long talk, Pastor DeHope and I.
In spite of what some seem to think, that without a literalistic
interpretation of Genesis 1-12 the gospel is lost, I see around me
sufficient evidence of the fallen nature of man, of sin and evil,
especially within my own heart, to convince me of the need for Jesus to
save me and the world. But I allowed the issue of how God created the heavens and earth to obscure the essential heart of the Gospel. That
I am a sinner who desperately needs salvation that can only come
We discussed my take on creation, that God used evolution, guided by His hand, to bring about what he wanted to create. That he used the big bang to bring everything into existence. I didn't convince him that I was right of course. But he did admit that I was not denying that "God the Father Almighty created the heavens and the earth." He asked if I had any problem with anything in Luther's Small Catechism and I was able to say, having just reread it in advance of our meeting, that I don't have any hesitation on any aspect of that little book.
Since then I've been going to the Oakville church as often as I can, for bible study and for the Eucharist as well. I am home once again.
I do find it sad that so many in the Missouri Synod are so very adamant about "Young Earth Creationism." This is nearly as bad as the Romans with all of their crud obscuring the gospel. To make acceptance of YEC a prerequisite for salvation is just plain wrong. All we need to know is that we are sinners in desperate need of salvation. That Jesus Christ's perfect life, death and resurrection has brought us that salvation. That the forgiveness of sins won for us through Christ is delivered in baptism and given to us in the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. It is terrible when people are turned away from Christ because they are told they must believe the earth is 6,000 years old, in spite of all of the vast evidence to the contrary. I don't mind if you want to believe that, but please don't make it a part of the gospel because it's not. That God created the heavens and the earth is a basic foundation of the gospel, the time frame and methods aren't. There are many ways to read the first chapters of Genesis, the fact that I don't read them as attempting to provide a scientific explanation for creation doesn't mean they are not still true.
Well, that's enough for now, I've begun to wander and babble again. I hope this explains how and why I'm right back where I started again though :-)