Posts Tagged With: beliefs

We Were Wrong…

We Were Wrong…

Marion Aldridge

As I matured as a Christian, I reflected, long, often, and sometimes sadly, even painfully, about much of what I believed as a youngster, and into adulthood. Because my doctrines, my ethics, and my habits have sometimes undergone enormous changes, there may be those who are presumptive enough to wonder if I lost my faith.

Quite possibly, I lost your faith. I found my faith. The Bible calls these transformations “repentance.” Here are some of my confessions:

WE WERE WRONG to believe that science and God could be enemies. Truth is truth wherever we find it.

WE WERE WRONG to assume uniformity in thought or action was better than independence or creativity.

WE WERE WRONG to accept what our culture taught us about racial segregation and the supposed inferiority of black people.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that we could somehow obey the Great Commission by paying for and praying for missionaries to go to Africa while ignoring the Great Commandments, disrespecting the African-Americans who lived down the dirt roads from our churches. We were either unaware or didn’t care that they often drank polluted water, had leaky roofs, and had no indoor plumbing.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that a glass of wine on Thanksgiving would send someone to hell but that it was okay for the preacher to be 100 pounds overweight and continue to stuff his face with fried chicken.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that people in other denominations who paid attention to the Christian calendar (Pentecost, Maundy Thursday, and Ash Wednesday, for example) were somehow less spiritual than Baptists who built their church calendar around secular holidays (such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and July 4).

WE WERE WRONG to believe we could be comfortable and Christian at the same time.

WE WERE WRONG to believe the primary thing that Jesus or the Christian faith cared about was Heaven and Hell.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that somehow America was the Kingdom of God.

WE WERE WRONG to believe the assumptions of our secular society, that bigger is better, that might makes right, that getting is better than giving.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that highlighting a few isolated verses could sum up the Bible, as if God could be contained in a bumper sticker.

WE WERE WRONG to trivialize prayer, as if getting all the things we want is the point!

WE WERE WRONG to believe God intended to silence the female half of the human race.

WE WERE WRONG to assume other people could practice the Christian faith on our behalf: pastors, missionaries, youth ministers, and social workers. When was the last time you got to know a welfare mother or a drug addict?

WE WERE WRONG to say there is only one biblical way to focus on the family. The family of Abraham looks different than the family of Jesus, which looks different than the family of King David, which looks different than the family of Mary and Martha, which looks different than the family of Esther and Mordecai.

WE WERE WRONG to think that Roberts Rules of Order, rather than the Bible, is the primary guide for working out disagreements in our churches.

WE WERE WRONG to teach (or imply) that talking, telling, and preaching, was more important than listening. The great sin of the Old Testament, according to Roy Honeycutt, was “They would not listen.”

WE WERE WRONG to let bullies, blamers, gossips, and other spiritually unhealthy people dominate the conversations and the decisions in many of our congregations.

WE WERE WRONG to think that repentance was primarily for non-Christians outside of our churches instead of for those of us inside. The more I know about Jesus, the Bible, the Christian faith, and the Holy Spirit, the more I know I am called to change, to repent.

WE WERE WRONG to believe that any tradition, law, bible, preacher, program, building, doctrine, convention or any other part of creation—even if God made it and blessed it—could possibly be as important as the Creator.

This, by the way, is the short list. I could write a book!

I have always been a loyal kind of guy. For decades, I hung in there, as much as possible, with the ecclesiastical world I inherited. I knew racism was wrong, however, and one by one, I began confronting the errors and inadequacies of my childhood experiences. I am grateful for the church of my childhood, for my family, for the appropriate lessons from my South Carolina culture. But I am also grateful I had permission to continue to grow, to get un-stuck from the habits, behaviors and beliefs of my childhood and adolescence.

(Four years ago, I wrote this column for the newsletter of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina.)

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Holiday, Lists/Top Ten, Race, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

At one time in my life, I believed each of these statements…

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  1. Dogs were males and cats were females.
  2. Pregnant women had eaten a watermelon seed, and the watermelon was growing inside them.
  3. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were real.
  4. My mom and dad were better Christians than our pastor and his wife because my mom and dad only had two kids which indicated they had had sex (whatever that meant) twice, and the pastor had four children which showed they had had sex four times.
  5. Saying the word “pregnant” was wrong. If the “condition” required a word, “expecting” was preferred.
  6. As a young entrepreneur, I thought I could sell two pieces of penny bubble gum for 3 cents. I learned I was wrong when I sat in front of our house on a busy street all day long and sold none.
  7. All Russians were bad.
  8. All Americans were good.
  9. Black people were somehow inferior to white people.
  10. You can trust people to do what they say they will do.
  11. Having an “official” forum (radio, television, pulpit or print media) suggests you must be right. People would say, “I heard it on the radio. It must be true.”
  12. North Augusta, South Carolina, was the capital of the world, and its geographical center.
  13. Schoolteachers do not curse.
  14. All families have a mother and a daddy.
  15. Powerful and important people (especially those in the church, the school, politics and the military) are good and are right and are to be respected and obeyed.
  16. People who drink alcohol are immoral, wicked people.
  17. Marriages should forever be full of romance and continuously happy. If married people argued, something was wrong with the marriage.
  18. My religious heritage provided the only right way to be in good standing with God.
  19. Foreigners or Immigrants who have difficulty with the English language are not as smart as “normal” people without accents.       (It did not occur to me, until embarrassingly late in my life, that the person who was struggling with English was at least bi-lingual—many immigrants speak or understand three or four languages—and I was the dolt with limited linguistic skills.)

(From Chapter 9 in my book, Overcoming Adolescence)

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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