The Sin of Certainty

“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6)

I was raised right-wing, conservative, Baptist. And one thing I remember in particular from those days was the complete sense of doctrinal certainty that went with the territory. Not just Baptist territory, but in any overly conservative denomination. We had the in with God and were safely headed for heaven—why? Because we had the correct theology. We thought we had all the answers and knew exactly how to interpret the Bible: with a “plain reading of scripture.”

We didn’t openly wrestle with difficult questions or admit to feeling insecure, for that would require being honest about our doubts and fears, which would likely be seen as a sign of weak faith at best or rebellion at worst. If we ever experienced the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, we knew to suppress it and dissociate. Doubt was the Enemy and the Seducer.

Any questions or red flags regarding doctrine were viewed as traps to be avoided: “don’t read that author, read this one instead!” If our heart or our ability to reason led us to a conclusion that didn’t square with fundamentalism, that was the Devil successfully having deceived us (especially if we were women—Eve). So not only did I learn to distrust my own opinions, I also learned that I was even more likely to be deceived due to my gender.

Continue reading The Sin of Certainty

Share

The Vanity of Enlightenment

When we believe that our particular tribe holds the greatest and fullest truth, the temptation is to pride ourselves on it: becoming self-righteous and arrogant. In a word, bigotry.

I first became aware of this a couple of decades ago when as an evangelical Christian I left a stoic Baptist church to attend a legalistic, charismatic denomination. After a couple of bewildering years in that church I extricated myself and returned sober to mainstream Christianity—only to realize that what I’d experienced in that cult was merely evangelicalism on steroids. The problematic base doctrines were still the same: no women in leadership, male headship (the husband has the final say), “eternal conscious torment hell” for the unsaved, and the exclusion of LGBTQ Christians.

A couple more years of church-hopping followed and my husband and I unwittingly landed in a conservative denomination that allows (and affirms!) the ordaining of women as pastors. Scandalous, I know. 😉 This challenged and changed my beliefs regarding gender roles, and we’ve been attending this church for more than a decade now. Labels don’t leave much room for nuance, but today you might call me progressive, or a left-leaning conservative.

Having journeyed this far throughout Christendom (dissecting/comparing the gamut of Calvinism, Arminianism, Open Theism, Annihilation, and Universalism along the way), I’ve now had ample time to experience many levels of dogma from opposing angles. And what I’ve found is that both sides (left-wing, right-wing, and everything between) are saturated with pride and self-righteousness. Continue reading The Vanity of Enlightenment

Share

The Jaguar

A Short Story by Bekah Ferguson.

Three panthera onca cubs were born in a rock den deep within the Amazon basin. Amias was the middle cub and his little sightless world, though simple and soundless, was a happy one. For the first few weeks he did nothing but snuggle up to his brother, sister, and mother. A mother who nursed and nurtured them all, nuzzling and licking their fur with great gentleness and care.

It wasn’t long before Amias began to see and hear. He learned that his mother’s name was Genoveva, his older brother was Eduardo, his little sister, Pabiola. Their den remained dark at all times, save for the green-tinted sunlight peeking through the cleft opening. Amias could only make out the contours of his siblings and an occasional glint in their eyes. His mother he knew to be sleek and black, however, for sometimes the sun glistened on the fur of her back when she exited the den.

After a few months had passed by, the cubs had learned to walk around without falling. Each dawn and dusk, while their mother was away hunting, the three siblings stayed put, dreaming about the mysterious outside world as the cacophony of birds and insects continually filled their eardrums. Eduardo was the boldest of the three, being the oldest by merit of birth order, and he often went to the cleft opening to stick his head out and look around, even though their mother had told them it wasn’t safe to do so. Amias contented himself with the information his brother imparted, being too timid to go near the opening himself. One day Pabiola joined Eduardo’s side, which was a great comfort to Amias, for she assured him that what Eduardo saw was what she too saw. Like their mother, they both had gleaming black fur, visible only when they stood in the entrance of the den.

Soon Eduardo and Pabiola wanted to do more than just stick their heads out. So, they stepped fully outside one morning, disappearing from view.

Amias’ heartbeat quickened and he slinked toward the opening, not wanting to be left behind. He summoned all his courage, took a deep breath, and stepped halfway out. His brother and sister weren’t far ahead yet, picking their way through ferns and bromeliads. He let out a yelp and they looked back at him, gasping in tandem when they did. At first he thought they were surprised because he’d been brave enough to try and follow, but their stares were so wide-eyed, he looked down at his paws to see what was the matter. When he did, his own breath caught in his throat.

Continue reading The Jaguar

Share