Brain Food

Everyone approaches Jesus a little bit differently. Some approach him with the heart, others with the head. Many of us use a combination of both, which is important, I think. The most important part of God’s law, after all, can be summed up with “Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.”

I can appreciate those who search for and find Jesus with their heart. I, however, am not one of those. That’s not to say I’ve never felt God’s presence, or that he’s never comforted my heart when I needed it. He most certainly has. Yet I still seek him with my head first. I long to know him as much as I enjoy feeling his presence. I want him to teach me all about himself, and for him to show me all of his creation and how it works.

So when I saw the book at my church by Lee Strobel called “The Case for the Real Jesus,” (Zondervan, 2007) how could I, in my insatiable intellectual curiosity, not pick it up?

This one addresses five attacks on Christ’s identity, namely that the resurrection never happened, Jesus never considered himself the Messiah, the early church suppressed other, equally valid and important gospels, that scribes tampered with the Bible, and how Jesus dying on the cross for our sins is a “barbaric concept that would make God guilty of cosmic child abuse.”

I’m on page fifty-three so far, and it’s feeding my brain. Hence the title of this entry. Lee Strobel, like me, approaches God with logic, rational arguments and digs for concrete, verifyable evidence for Jesus. His approach is similar to Dennis Prager, another one of my favorite biblical/religious scholars, but that’s a side topic…

Strobel takes nothing on faith alone. Everything he believes—or chooses to believe—must be verifiable. Like his other books, he brings us along on his journey of discovery, to ask the difficult questions knowing that such a journey could end up changing all his notions of who God is. That’s a hard road to travel, because few people want their beliefs—especially long-held beliefs—to be proved false.

It’s often a matter of pride, that fear. Who likes to admit they’re wrong or perhaps been deceived? I know I don’t.

Yet I also know, like Strobel, and even in Matt Walsh’s book I discussed in a previous entry, the truth matters more than anything. It does not change or become a lie simply because we chose to ignore or disbelieve it.

So do any of the above attacks against Jesus and Christianity have merit? You’ll have to take that journey of discovery yourself. As of now, for me, my brain is full. It’ll be hungry for more in the morning, I’m sure. Luckily, unlike real food, brain food doesn’t add literal fatty pounds to my belly.

7 thoughts on “Brain Food

  1. If you are consistently questioning your beliefs about God, how am I to know what your beliefs, as a Christian, are? I’m not saying it is wrong for a Christian to question his or her beliefs, because questioning your beliefs should hopefully lead to having a stronger, closer belief in Jesus. My problem is that, when supposedly Christians disagree with what it means to be a Christian, are we, as Christians, simply not living up to our responsibilities of being disciples of God by providing proof to the non-believers that not even the people who claim to be Christians agree on what it means to be a Christian. As you may already know, given your position within the church I attend, that church recently permanently barred me from serving in any leadership or volunteer position with the church, after at least 8 years of prior stellar service by me, and I use the word “stellar”, based on how the people from the church for whom I directed my services described my services without any request from me for their opinion. The word “best,” may have been the word that actually was used most by church members. As I indicated in one of my earlier comments to your Blog, I was and remain concerned about how most churches do not preach correctly about God’s Biblical expectations for each Christian to judge: (1) how each Christian lives his or her life, including the private parts of their lives; (2) whether their pastors are preaching the whole Bible, not just part of it; and (3) frequently must judge themselves to determine whether adjustments are needed to be a better Christian. After more than 3 years trying to resolve a dispute with the lead pastor from my church about my belief that he was not preaching all of the Bible at the church and not receiving anything from the pastor in return that did not support my position, I sent him my thoughts in writing with quotes from the bible, a couple of articles in support of my position written by others, who I assume have some expertise in the area given the facts the articles are published, the names of people, like you and a former pastor, who I believed had previously indicated they too favored my position. The church’s initial response, without giving me any notice, was to strip me of all my leadership and volunteer positions with the church, with an offer to restore my privileges, if I were to agree to go through a recertification process they would design for me and, based on their judgment, pass it. I then agreed to undergo the recertification process and asked that you and Pastor Kermit be put on the team that would help design and determine if I pass the recertification process. Two days later I received an email from the church notifying me they decided to withdraw the recertification process option which made their decision barring me of all my leadership and volunteer positions permanent. They based their position not to proceed with the recertification process on conclusionary statements like they do not think they can change my mind because I do not hear what they say in their sermons only what I want to hear. The only thing I can think of that relates to that statement is when the lead pastor gave a sermon on the training of Methodist pastors that is designed to preclude a Methodist pastor from committing a major sin. At that point in my life I was personally aware of at least two Methodist pastors who had committed adultery, one of whom actually admitted to it and the other still not willing to admit to it. The sermon suggested a result that which my live experiences proved was not true and the manner in which the sermon was delivered suggested the pastor was very proud of his untrue statements. I simply requested the pastor clarify the sermon to the church members the following week to make sure that they understood the training is not a guarantee. More importantly, the church never provided me with a single article or argument on the issue of whether the church’s emphasis in its sermons on God’s mercy and love was a correct rendering of all the Bible verses on how sin will affect a Christian’s relationship with God, other they are right and I am wrong. I have never heard a sermon from the church that adequately addressed the many Bible verses on God’s expectations of Christians and the effect of intentional committing the same sin over and over again has on a Christian’s relationship with God that I had cited in the writings I had previously submitted to the church. I do not understand a number of things: First, how can the leaders of the church bar me from doing anything the Bible instructs me to do?; and, Secondly, is it okay for any Christian to treat me the way the leaders of our church have treated me and still claim to be a Christian. Sorry to involve you in this, but the questions are a very important to me in my journey with God, and I know of no one else on this earth whose opinion I would respect more. I, however, understand, the pressures of life and the time you have committed to this church, so if you want to stay out of this, which is my earthly problem, my faith in God is strong enough for me to handle it on my own, with only God at my side, if you were to elect that route, because if you take that side, given how they have treated me, it is almost a certainty they will respond the same way to you. If you want to see all the email exchanges between me and the church on this matter, I am more than willing to print all of the exchanges and share them with you (and your bloggers, if you are okay with it), to allow you to see all the exchanges before you make you mind up on whether you want to get involved in this matter.

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    1. First off, you once again violated my first rule that no comment should exceed the length of my blog… I tease!

      I know where it’s coming from, and I don’t mind that you needed to vent. I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to share what is an obvious and open wound. I’m also humbled that you respect my opinion enough to involve me in what’s going on. I’m happy to read the email exchange to give you my thoughts. You’re welcome to email everything to me at andra(@)almarquardt.com (sans parentheses).

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  2. Unlike you, I am not very good at being concise in my writings, particularly when there is no word limit. 🙂 With my paying work, it will likely be the middle of next week before I can print out all of the emails and scan them into one attachment and email them to you. Thank You for agreeing to do this! I am only a decade or so into my being reborn a Christian, so I know I have a ways to go on my journey with God and from what I have read and seen at the church, you are probably, in my opinion, one of the most devoted Christians at the church. Given the number of false prophets out there, we need people like you who have dedicated their life’s work to exposing false prophets. God Bless You!

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    1. I’m reminded of Paul in that the more he grew in his faith, the more humble he became. That’s how big God is—the more we discover about him, the more we understand just how vast and incomprehensible he is. I can’t say I’ve reached Paul’s point of humility. Not even close! Because of that, I will pray the Spirit will work through the both of us to help you best get through this.

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      1. Thank You again! And, though I too want to appear humble, your previous blog about there are somethings that just need to be said by a Christian and then the Christian needs to move on, without the need to say more, likely served a large part in my decisions to proceed with my inquiries and then complaints to the church. I love reading your blogs, as they inspire me in ways you may not even thought possible when you wrote the blog. The reason I got involved in this in the first place is because a member of the church, who I believe is a truly good person, came up to be and laughed about his sins. We were in a private place where no one heard our conversation, and, since I believed the church was and is wrong on that point, I quickly told him I do not believe that a Christian committing a sin or sins is something to laugh about, and that in my opinion, when a Christian sins and needs to confess and repent, there has to be some actual grief expressed and a desire not to commit the sin again in your repentance, before you are forgiven for a sin by God, and God not you decides if you are forgiven. And then left it at that, but God would not let me leave it at that. It got to the point were I could not leave it at that, because it appeared to me most of those who attended the church were treating their sins as trivial, even funny matters, even to the point that most who attend the church would openly admit it is fun to attend the church and the church was proud of those statements. Though being a Christain can be fun, particularly when you are doing things for others to live God’s will, there are also times you need to be serious, like when you are repenting your sins to God. It got to the point that I believe God asked me to take this matter up with Brandon, so I now find my-self were I am. I want to help Brandon to become a better pastor, since it my understanding he has complete control over the contents of the sermons that are given at the church, but it appears to me now, in my opinion, that Brandon, as a relatively young pastor, does not and does not want to understand the extent and strength of the false prophets that are out there. I seek no credit for the good that may come about of this matter, and will take any blame for the bad that may come about this, though I can only see good coming from this, otherwise I would never have started it in the first place. Sorry, this reply has got to be twice the length I had intended when I started. Please give me a word limit the next time you send me any kind of blog or comment that you think I might respond to. Again Thank You or your words, prayers, and time. It is good to know there are people like in this world!

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  3. My comment about word limit at the end of my last post, was an attempt at being funny. It is kind of hard to be funny, when you you are talking about your faith, as to me it is very serious, actually the most serious stuff in my life. Maybe this time around, my attempt at humor will work… Sorry, I just missed the word count limit on this one. 🙂

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