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My Journey: A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Heaven
By GR Gaudreau
From Catholic to Full Preterist to Skeptic
In the beginning
In the '60s, we had what some have come to call "The Quiet Revolution," a mainly political movement, which finally broke the power of the Roman church over us. We started getting rid of the priest's heavy-handed influence on our society. By the same token, religious groups like Jehovah's Witnesses and various Evangelical and Fundamentalist sects began to spread their "gospel" in Québec, having now the freedom to do so, because of the Quiet Revolution.
By the time this revolution had happened, I had given up on religion, having seen its nefarious hold on my people. In my mid-twenties I began exploring other religious systems, such as Taoism, Buddhism, and other eastern religions. I liked some of their ideas and incorporated them in my own worldview. I was then basically an Agnostic/Atheist.
A fateful day in school
One day, at the end of a math class, this young man asked me what I thought of Jesus of Nazareth. I answered that I thought he was ok, but no more. I had had a personal indoctrination into the world of religion by my former "spiritual keepers" and thought that was sufficient. Little did I realize the influence this young man would have on me. His name was Mark.
The gospel I had never heard
Mark's courage in the face of adversity impressed me and the strength of his arguments against the background of that courage were a powerful incentive for me. I longed to find the answers to the "mysteries" of life. From an early age, I had asked why was I here? Where did I come from? Where was I going? That last one held a particular interest for me.
I had been tought that hell was the destination of the rebellious and since I was a rebel, the thought of hell often predominated my thoughts. In any event, after four years of "debating" with Mark, I finally "asked Jesus into my heart."
Oh Happy days!
As time went by, I noticed still more discrepancies. It began to dawn on me that perhaps they were, after all, wrong about certain things, so I began to question them and to argue with them as to the various meanings of the texts on which we didn't see eye-to-eye. I began to attract attention as being a rather rebellious fellow who was "contentious" and always looked for the proverbial "fly in the ointment".
Troubled waters ahead
Sure as shootin', I was eventually disfellowshipped and shunned. That was a tough year for me. This was the church I had been "born again" in and I considered it as my spiritual mother. Of course, I have to admit that I gave my "mom" a hard time, sometimes being stubborn and prone to a bad temper and a quick response: They weren't to blame for all my troubles.
This experience was a good one for me as it opened up new horizons I had not previously explored. I went to a Reformed church for a while and got a taste of the "Calvinism" I had so often read about and studied -- my beloved sotereology. Little did I suspect that these folks were of the same mind as those I had previously been with. They also didn't appreciate dissent, so it was back to another Baptist church for me, when I began to question infant baptism and their Covenant Theology.
Back to the fold
I eventually left that Baptist church and went back to my original church -- yep, the one that first kicked me out. They had gotten another pastor and he seemed to be more reasonable than the former pastor, so I decided I'd give them another try. I was glad to be back there, as I'd missed my first spiritual family.
It was during my stay there that I got myself an Internet account and began to browse the cyber routes of spirituality. That was quite a shocker for me. As time went by I saw that there were a thousand different opinions out there and that some of them were pretty wacked out.
It was during this time that I came upon Preterism. This is a teaching which basically stated that Jesus came back during the last third of the first century, according as He gave His word to His disciples by saying: "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." (Matt 24:34) These "things" were all the things He'd told them about in the Olivet discourse, in the 24th chapter of the gospel of Matthew.
Welcome back to Hereticville -- population: ME!
I began getting letters stating that I was destroying the true faith, that I was attacking a fundamental doctrine that the church had traditionally taught for centuries. In short, I simply wasn't being orthodox. Preterists were later labeled (get a load of this fancy term) "Hymanean-Hyper-Preterists" by the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS). Now that's what I call a label!
Well, it was back to Hereticville for me; but then again, I was used to that, having been labeled a heretic and a rebel long before I had entered the ranks of Preterism. I liked Preterists, on the whole, I thought they were honest researchers who were not afraid to challenge traditions for the sake of truth. Unfortunately, they weren't as anti-traditional as I first thought.
Tradition is alive and well in Preteristville
I saw that those who yelled the loudest in favor of Sola Scritpura, "The Scriptures Alone", were very often those who would take the hardest stand where tradition and so-called orthodoxy were concerned, thus denying in the same breath their beloved doctrine, Sola Scriptura.
However inconsistent this may seem, whenever anyone questioned the authority of the Bible, there were always those who would be ready with a word of warning. One day, a lady on a Preterist discussion list I had subscribed to, posted a reply to a previous question, stating that she thought the apostle Paul had been misguided in his teachings on the resurrection. Needless to say, all hell broke loose.
Condemnation came in fast and furious and in no uncertain terms and this lady was branded a wolf and ordered to recant forthwith. She didn't and got more of the same. During this troubled time, another man posted a list of errors he'd found in the Bible.
Innerrancy challenged, challenge ignored
He, of course, got a few well chosen reprimands from those who held to the inerrancy of the Bible. In fact, I was one of the people who wrote him to ask "if the Bible is so full of errors, then how can we ever trust it? Where would we go to find truth? And on what rock would we stand?"
I then determined to find answers to his list of so-called errors and began to study them in earnest, as I wanted to "bring him back to the fold." To my great horror, I found even more errors. I was, as you can imagine, shocked. I had always firmly believed that the Bible was the "inspired and inerrant Word of God." I kept studying this and kept trying to find solutions to these problems.
I found a few solutions to problems that one could consider copyist and translation errors, that really didn't affect any important doctrine. This, of course, assumed that the original autographs were inerrant. I found that some of the errors were simply verses that were taken out of context by the Sceptics. Such is life.
The other errors, however, simply wouldn't go away. In fact, the more I tried to explain them, the less I could justify them. I tried going to various inerrancy websites, but found the answers to be unsatisfactory. I found a lot of "this could be interpreted", or, "this is a possible solution," but the real answers were not to be found. The "big guns" of Bible inerrancy just couldn't still my spirit.
I then posted some of the errors I had found and asked my Christian brothers on the list to help me with them. I really wanted to believe in the doctrine of inerrancy. I kept telling myself that it was me that was wrong. It was my faith that was weak. The Word of God couldn't be wrong!
The cavalry does not ride in
That's when it began to finally sink in. The doctrine of inerrancy was just not true. My heart was broken and my soul plunged in a mire of uncertainty. I posted a letter to the list telling people how I felt about this. Some were very sympathetic and told me they "felt" for me and would pray that God would give me light and bring me back to inerrancy, but none of them offered to help with the errors. In fact, I got letters from some telling me that they had already been through this and had settled the issue in their hearts and had no wish to rehash it. So much for compassion. Besides, I was told, this was a Preterist list, not an inerrancy list. It was suggested that I join an inerrancy list for help. I think the problem was that they were scared.
A light begins to shine in the darkness
There are insuperable errors in the Bible; errors that are, to quote a Christian I know, "ungetoverable". I eventually found error after error that simply couldn't be justified. There were counting errors, errors in historical data, biological data and scientific data of all kinds and a host of others too long to name. So many in fact, that I was amazed I could ignore them for so long. My conclusion is that when a man really wants to believe, the facts won't make any difference.
The years of doubt culminate
Furthermore, what about the problem of evil? Why was there so much suffering and senseless violence in the world, when an omnipotent and benevolent God could put a stop to it? It just didn't make sense. We are often told by some Christians that God doesn't want suffering and death. Well, if he doesn't want it, why does it happen? And why did he cause so much of it himself? Why did he command the slaughter of women, children, suckling infants, the elderly and the crippled? How did the slaughter of infants, for the sins of their fathers, ever satisfy "divine justice?"
Preterism was a watershed for me. It brought all the different problems and doubts into one place and put them into focus as never before. It forced me to see that the church could be wrong about a major doctrine and that it had been wrong for a long time. This really bothered me. It was in October 1996, when I came to Preterism, that I started having these very serious doubts and I just couldn't get rid of them. I kept trying to bury them, but they just kept coming back.
The straw that broke the camel's back was when I started investigating inerrancy. Preterism had opened the door to recognizing that "the ground and pillar of the truth," the church, was wrong about the second coming and the resurrection. I saw how much tradition held sway in the church and that its cry of "The Scriptures Alone" was just a smoke screen. The reality was that the emperor had no clothes.
The various denominations held to their traditions, despite what the Bible said about them. Beliefs set in and the hard questions were frowned upon. When I took a hard and honest look at the inerrancy problem, everything began to unravel. It was quite disconcerting. I was troubled as I'd never been before, because I just couldn't bury the problem anymore. I had to deal with it. And if Preterism had been the watershed, inerrancy was the floodgates opened. It was the most difficult decision I had ever had to make, but it was unavoidable.
I'm glad I found these errors and I'm grateful to that man who first posted the list of errors. He had a lot of courage. He met with a lot of opposition and stood his ground, because he knew he was right. He could not, would not, ignore the evidence. Though he was accused and often treated unkindly, he stood for what he knew was right. He was an inspiration to me. I can't say I agree with all of his conclusions regarding the truth, but he was a boon to me in my search for truth. Thank you Dave.
What do YOU think ?
Date: 09 Dec 2006
So what do you place your faith in now? What do you think about the man Jesus? Who was He? Do you believe in sin?.. in atonement?.. Forgiveness?.. Universalism?..Annihilation of all at death?.. No purpose?..Some purpose not yet revealed?.. possibly from aliens?..Or do you just simply not know?
Do you hold to some kind of form of Christianity?
I'm curious because this letter almost reflects the way I've felt for quite some time as well.
Date: 25 Dec 2006
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