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COMMENTS WRITTEN SHORTLY AFTER MY CONVERSION IN 1988
by Dennis Carroll
Has the "Church" lost the "Gospel"? I believe it has. I haven't always believed so. In fact, until 1988, I wouldn't admit to myself it had. Why? Because I grew up in the Church. It was central to my life. I attended and graduated from Bible School. I was ordained. I pastored. I got married. I evangelized. I struggled with the issues. I struggled with my Sin. My Sin won. I left the ministry. I got divorced. I kept struggling with sin. I wrestled with the apparent contradiction between what was presented as the Gospel-- and the miserable lives of "Christians".
I often concluded that no one believed the Gospel. I bought into the ideas that the reason the church was losing its influence and was not evangelizing the world as God said it could was because the Church wasn't "relevant" any more. That is to say, that the songs, music, building, style, clothing, etc., were outdated to a past "time": and today's people couldn't relate to it. All the discussions focused on everything that needed to change except the message. When in fact, that which HAD changed was the message. I read. I read more. I read still more again. The more I read, the stronger became the currents of my circular thinking until it all seemed to be drawn to some theological "black Hole" into which all ideas and theories would be sucked and be lost.
I read more, and I found light. I found the Gospel. I found the "GOOD" news. I was forced by the weight of Truth to humble my mind and think the unthinkable: "I didn't know the gospel", and even worse, "No one else had shown it to me either.
I knew "a" gospel, but not THE Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Several Key theological assumptions which I had, and had built upon all my life, were really traditional assumptions--"sacred cows"--of my Protestant "Orthodoxy".
I read more--much more. I searched History: Church History, theological history, biographical history. My humbling needed to go lower. Up to then, I knew my gospel understanding had been "all wrong", and since it conformed to traditional Protestant "Orthodoxy", I knew many others were wrong too. And many others in the past had been wrong. Oh, yes, it was "orthodoxy", by traditional standards. But then by traditional standards, so were indulgences, worship of Saints, worship of Mary, purgatory, meritorious works, among others, in Martin Luther's time.
And this "orthodoxy" left me with a Biblically "unorthodox" life: Sin Reigned as my Master. And that, too, was accepted traditionally, as "Orthodoxy". For centuries, with minor exceptions, the "Orthodox" Christian life consisted of a dichotomy of contradiction. On one hand, it is said that our forgiveness in Christ is for all past, present, and future sins. On the other hand, it is stated that all Christians will live a life where sin continues, regularly, with great struggle and sometimes momentary victories. So, we had a GREAT INDULGENCE SYSTEM. Why, just believe in Jesus, and all one's sins, continuous and vigorous, will be continually forgiven. At least the Catholics charged money for such a service. Not so the Protestant. It's indulgences are all free, by grace, that forgives, but gives no change. And to believe that the Gospel promises a great and radical change is "heresy" they say. That, they say, contradicts the Romans 7 experience of Paul. Poor souls. If they only knew what they say. And I said it too. What excuse it gives for sin. But darkness can't see the light. One has to leave the darkness, by coming to the light, even if one's deeds and heart become manifest by it.
But thank God, my heart was changed. Radically changed. When my heart bowed before the truth and let go of my "orthodoxy", what the truth promised was fulfilled. My war was over because I surrendered. Because the war was over, so was the struggle. And then the Peace came. So calm. And Such JOY. Joy that I couldn't give to another, but could only weepingly talk about, and promise to others. But they didn't seem to have a clue of what I was talking about. Just like I had not had a clue of what the gospel really was. I had been deceived, and didn't know it. And that's what deception is. Because if you knew it, you wouldn't be deceived.
But I did hear the real "GOOD NEWS". It was the truth. And it was different than what I had believed before.