Thursday, March 11, 2010

Try Jesus

During my free time if my nose is not buried in a book (currently reading The Truth by the Oracle Institute) then I'm busy scouring the net for religious documentaries. Yesterday I happen to stumble upon one from January 15,1998 (yeesh, I was 13) on Fundamentalist Christianity. Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends was a documentary series on BBC 2, which ran from 1998-2000, which presented the lives of groups and individuals the viewer wouldn't normally come in contact with on a daily basis. Fundamentalist Christianity may not be as prevalent in the U.K. (if existent) but if you live in the Bible Belt it's the norm. You can watch the entire program here.

There really isn't an easy way to interview a conservative or Fundamentalist Christian without either offending them or being put in an awkward situation. Louis, unlike other documentary filmmakers, not only respectfully tiptoed around potentially heated conversation but willingly put himself in dreadfully awkward situations for the experience. He interviewed Marcus and Joni Lamb of Daystar Television Network, witnessed with members of The Family (now known as Family International) in Deep Ellum entertainment district, and concluded by going to hear Marcus Lamb speak at a revival. All throughout the documentary you can tell Louis, who's a non-christian by the way, wanted to say more but held his tongue. His mission, in part, was to see if he could be converted, and not 4 minutes into the program and Louis was already asked if he wanted to be born again. He just didn't get IT, and you can see how badly the Christians wanted him to understand how easy it was to accept Christ.

Growing up as a Christian I never felt the anxiety Louis felt towards the end during the altar call because I had IT. Whatever IT was, I had IT. It came naturally and I didn't have to struggle to understand IT. I didn't have to make a choice to accept Jesus into my heart because he was already there. But as I came to learn more about the world, other religions, as well as the history of Christianity (which the version of Christian history I grew up with was extremely sugar coated) I had lost IT. Was I thinking too much? Did I choose not believe? Did I allow the evils of knowledge and science to overwhelm my faith in Christ? No, I never made any conscious effort to leave God nor do I believe that using the fullest potential of our minds is cause for loss of faith. I just didn't feel IT, and nor did Louis at the revival. He wanted to believe, to feel something, the intent was present but there was nothing. So what happens to Louis, or more importantly, what's going to happen to me? Did we fail because we chose not to believe, or did we fail because we didn't feel the Spirit? Does choosing to believe come before the entrance of the Spirit, and if our salvation is dependent on that initial choice what governs the process of making that initial choice? Our heart, our mind, or something else?

Reading through the comment section at Documentary Tube I came across an interesting comment. Here's a snippet.
"Yet, he had not the courage to even try an altar call…hmmm, must have scared him. Curious, if it has that power, then it has substance, no?"
I don't believe it was fear that kept Louis from "trying" the altar call but he wanted to be sincere about accepting Jesus. If he tried Jesus, tried the altar call, he would essentially be lying if he didn't feel anything. If you want to be cynical about it you could say his nervous appearance was merely theatrics, a show, and this is very possible. But for the everyday person seeking the Divine and struggling to find it within a particular belief system, this may be a dire realistic situation for the seeker. They may choose to seek and reach out but if they do not feel the connection the seeker is blamed.

It seems as if it all boils down to choice, but if given the choice to be with the Divine or become eternally separated from IT, who in their right mind would actually choose the latter? And if we do make the wrong choice, based on whatever reasoning, how can anyone label an eternity of suffering as divine justice for making a wrong choice as fallible creatures? This is why I can not accept that the Divine is accessible through only one avenue of revelation. What works for you may not work for me. This does not dilute the value of your connection because it STILL works for you as mine works for me. As long as the connection is there, it doesn't matter how you approach the Divine.

1 comment:

Don said...

Being from DFW, I am very familiar with Marcus & Joni Lamb, and Daystar. A friend of mine worked there for quite a while. I really enjoyed Louis' documentary. Some Southerners would be incensed by his film. However, I recognize the participants so well. The sincerity of Mr. James is apparent. He's a good man, even though I feel he's deceived by many of his and other's ideas. I live 20 miles from Cleburne and had never heard his ministry. I am always amazed at how the folks in England have never been exposed to the things I grew up with. Many of us assumed everyone "knew" the stories and heard "the word". The number of programs dealing with this subject (religion in America and elsewhere) is truly limitless. Thanks for doing the research!

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