There are three categories of people I can’t associate myself with:
• The people who believe they were evolved from monkeys
• The televangelists who seek money
• The self-righteous (legalists)
That’s not the full list but these three comes on top. To be honest, I dream of a world without them. These people make me angry. I know I know I am not responding the right way, but I can’t help it. I just think they are foolish, doesn't matter how much skills, education and knowledge they possess.
There was a time in my life when the teacher at my school showed me a series of pictures explaining how a monkey slowly transformed into a hairless, tailless creature and eventually became a full man (It’s interesting to note that the tail is fully gone today but the hair part not fully 'evolved' yet!). Those pictures showed only males. I am not sure about the women though, I think the assumption is women were evolved from female monkeys and men came from the male monkeys. But anyways, the next Sunday I would go to the Sunday school and there the teacher narrated a totally different story, that we were created by God out of mud. But the interesting thing is, though these two concepts were totally contradicting, I kind of believed both the accounts. I think I was dull and brainless. It seems like there was an unwritten rule that whatever comes from a 'printed media' is believable and unquestionable, especially those comes with the support of so called ‘science’.
About 5 years ago, I read a book called ‘Fearfully and wonderfully made’, written by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. In the book the authors try to portrait a wonderful picture of the complexity and creativity found in human bodies. They went into the interesting details of four different components of human body: cells, bones, skin and motion. Dr. Brand was a missionary doctor, working among leprosy patients in the parts of India. In the book, the facts that were most fascinating to me were about the cells and the skin. The book also have the analogies between the biological and spiritual body, but that part I cared only less.
It was one of my sick days and I was alone at home. I had flu and could hardly sit up or stand. So I brought a comforter to the living room, spread it over, put two pillows on one end, lied down comfortably and started reading this book. When I came to a portion where it says how our body responds to a simple touch on our skin, it kind of blew me away. The 'touch' is such a simple, common thing to us but the things happening behind the scenes are just incredible. The number of cells (probably millions) involved in the action, and how they concentrate to the area where something touched our skin, the message it sends to the brain, brain responds and then we feel the ‘touch’. Feeling a simple touch on our skin itself is a way too complicated process, though it doesn’t appear that way. Dr. Brand worked among leprosy patients and one of the major symptoms of leprosy is that the patients lose their sensitivity to touch and their ability to feel pain on parts of their body. Apparently, even if you stick a knife to such parts of their body, they wouldn't feel the pain! No wonder these patients eventually lose parts of their body. The authors did an incredible job explaining how 'pain' itself is a gift of God - they call it gift of pain.
Not to mention the complexity of our eyes, brain and other organs. There were moments where I couldn’t get off the goose-bumps I was getting from all these. At times I had to get up, stand on my feet and raise my hands to praise the incomprehensible creativity of God. I was filled with awe and wonder. The interesting thing is that the book didn’t particularly talked about the love of God or any such sentimental sides, but still I couldn’t stop praising Him seeing how wonderfully he has created us. The book didn’t even argue against evolution or any of that thing, but on that day I completely, without a tiny bit of doubt, ruled out the foolishness of evolution and it never bothered me ever again. Today I call such 'sciences' foolishness because Bible does so: The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." - Psalm 14:1
Some of the televangelists make me laugh today, and some of them make me want to throw my remote control onto the TV screen and yell. I am talking about the sow-and-reap and Word of Faith breeds. I used to watch a lot of TBN during the days after I became a born-again Christian. I thought Paul Crouch was doing an incredible job through his ministry, reaching millions all around the world. But for some reason, the asking for money (sowing a seed), selling of miracle spring water and hand-kerchiefs etc didn't really resonate well with me. Also, I didn't like the fact the women who came on the screen wore at least 6 layers of make-up and some heavy jewelry and that kind of stuff. I thought something wasn't right.
During that time I used to listen the 'Bible answer man' broadcast on the radio. One of Hank Hanegraaff's books intrigued me and I went ahead and bought it. The book is called 'Christianity in Crisis', which was an end-product of Hank and his ministry's study and research into the secrets of some televangelists, exposing their faulty teachings. To be honest, that book really impacted me. That was the first time I was introduced to some Christian heresy and it made me depressed. As a person coming from a Orthodox background, I thought all born-agianers' were super nice and they believed and taught only biblical truth. I even wanted to give up Christianity when I came to know some of the so called famous Christian evangelists, their teachings, and the way they bend Bible, God and Jesus for their own financial gain. [BTW, I am not a big fan of Hank (based on where I am today in my understanding of God's grace and love) , but that one book really helped me to re-think religion]. I stopped watching all that crap on TBN. Today, if I am in a comedy mood or something, I do watch sometimes, and when I sense the feeling of depression by listening to them, I would change the channel to CNN and watch Larry King live or something like that.
So that book 'Christianity in crisis' really gave me a kick-start of my journey out of the junkyard of religion. It was that time that I listened only to Christian radio and Christian music, ate only Christian sandwiches and drove Christian cars. One day I was on my way back to home from work and I heard a tail of 'People to People' broadcast on the christian radio station I was listening to, where this guy called Bob George speaking arrogantly against a caller who claimed that we are still under the obligations of the law, cutting the conversation out, talking against the Holy Law of God, asking people to quit church, and that kind of thing. At first, I was offended and wondered why this guy was still on the radio, that too on a Christian radio! Anyways, the next few days, I heard bits and pieces of his broadcast, and something in it hooked me up with it and I eventually changed my work time so that I could catch the entire 30 minutes broadcast on my way back home.
It could be my frustration towards religion what attracted me to that broadcast, the religion wasn't really working for me. I knew something was wrong but didn't know how to spell it out. You know, they keep preaching about the fruits of Holy Spirit and I even memorized those verses, but honestly, I had none of those fruits in my life. Anyways, I ended up buying Bob George's book called 'Classic Christianity'. I eagerly started reading it from the first page where he starts with a story in which he was crying in his car one day since there wasn't any joy in his life although he was so busy in his ministry. I was shocked and I thought to myself it was my own story. I used to cry in my minivan on my way to work, crying out to God to fill me with His peace and joy (especially on Mondays). I worked for God tirelessly on Sunday, but Monday I was empty, tired and dry.
That book shook my world. The first time I heard the words such as legalism, mixing of law and grace etc. It also introduced to me the truths of finished work of Christ, finality of the cross, total forgiveness in Christ, unconditional love of God, Grace of God, our identity in Christ and it simply started replacing the many errors I had subscribed to for so many years.
And today, I can hardly stand legalism and it's proponents...