Atheists and freethinkers alike celebrate liberated minds but for different reasons. I had said in my page where I explained about All My Mentors Are Dead Online (about iAMMAD) that there was a very strong Christian influence in my life and therefore it will follow that there will be a Christian viewpoint influencing everything I discuss here in this website. Albeit much of what I discuss here will not settle well in the craw of many in religious circles who view free thinking as somewhat of an enemy to faith. There are many in some religious organizations that will monitor and control everything their people watch, listen to, and read. If they do not directly control what is consumed, or forbid what they feel should not be entertained, they will strongly urge their people with fear inducing tactics. This sort of thing does not work in secular organizations for the most part but sadly it is very effective, and might I add damaging to faith and hope, within institutions of religion.
I am not angry as some might suppose (or as my acronym implies) but I have a very low tolerance for bullies especially those who use doctrine as a whip and ideas of loyalty as restraints strapping their follower’s minds to a proverbial whipping post. I am not angry now although at one time not too long ago I was ripping mad. I was almost once among what Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, former Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Irvine in Irvine, CA, called the ‘mad alumni’ of Christianity in his lecture entitled, The Gospel for Those Broken by The Church. At that time I read eagerly the twenty written pages of his oral presentation or lecture. At that time it was exactly what I needed (as God would have it) to unravel tangled ideas of obedience and sanctification in order to usher in floods of amazing grace.
Dr. Rosenbladt speaks about the “sad alumni” of the Christian church who after having been saved “by grace through faith” begin to believe, through much teaching to this effect, that they somehow have to maintain their walk by their own power and will. If they are not taught this directly it is implied by the continuous therapy and self-help preaching that is imposed. Many pastors are simply trying to help the people with the issues of the day or the prevalent struggles (they identify as sin) in the church. But this leaves the hearer feeling unfulfilled and unloved unless they throw themselves at the altar weekly. This is something that I came to refer to as “my Baptist penance” when I realized that this was basically what I was doing. To appease the guilt induced by the preaching (not conviction from the Word); but to appease the guilt I would run to the altar leaving perhaps lighter in spirit but remaining unchanged.
Then Dr. Rosenbladt talks also about the “mad alumni” of the faith who leave angry and never return to an organized community of faith. He speaks of several paradigms: A strictly Law focus. Then the ‘Law – Gospel’ perspective of which many add a paradigm of ‘Guilt – Grace – Gratitude’ where those who struggle with the whole gratitude thing (as do we all because of self-focus); those who struggle with the gratitude begin to wonder if they were ever really a recipient of grace. Then lastly he speaks of the ‘Law – Gospel – Law’ paradigm that is likely responsible for both the sad alumni and the mad alumni. I do not want this explanation to be too lengthy because as it was very life-changing for me at the time it may be of little interest to many who venture this way. But to summarize a little further I will comment on the paradigms he spoke about. Feel free to go read Dr. Rosenbladt’s entire 20 page lecture here if you wish.
The ‘Law’ paradigm is strictly works based religion. Christian churches that fall into this category are woefully close to those reproved and rebuked by Paul in the book of Galatians. With the condemnation of the Law there is only guilt and shame and fear. There may be things the adherent can do to appease these feelings but ultimately there is little hope.
Law – Gospel
The ‘Law-Gospel’ paradigm always begins by showing the condemnation that the law brings and the inability to undo ‘crimes’ against the law. There may be guilt. There may be shame. And there may be fear. Assuming the mind fully comprehends condemnation there is likely to be all three of these at some level. But then there is the amazing, wonderful, grace-filled message of the gospel that all of this – the guilt and shame that brings about fear – was taken care of once and for all at Jesus’ cross.
Dr. Rosenbladt shares further that often there is a ‘Guilt-Gospel-Gratitude’ idea of what our progress should look like. One of the problems with this, however true it may be, is that looking for the proof of gratitude (a self-focus as mentioned above) will always hinder the actual ability to walk in gratitude.
Dr. Rosenbladt did not mention this as I think of it now but the progression of ‘Law-Gospel’ should always be ‘Guilt-Gospel-Grace’ and Grace continually. Some churches that do not teach grace, and promote grace, and practice grace continually refrain because of fear of being considered soft on sin. They often only constantly teach ‘Law-Gospel’ in hopes of seeing many saved, preaching salvation repeatedly to the saved in their services. They perhaps see rapid short term growth but never see deep lasting individual growth within the church members. This emphasis on ‘Law-Gospel’ only, apart from grace teaching, is a shameful disservice to a grace-needy people.
Law – Gospel – Law
There are two forms of this paradigm.
First the more obvious of the ‘Law-Gospel’ message for salvation which is followed by a works based sanctification thereafter. This places the redeemed into a bondage relationship to the law from which they had been freed.
Then there is that which was mentioned above. The ‘Law-Gospel’ message that demands a response of gratitude. If there are not evidences of gratitude after a very short time then the whole authenticity of the persons conversion is called in question. The problem of course is the self-focus that was mentioned above. These two aspects of ‘Law-Gospel-Law’ will always inevitably produce despair in some, the “sad alumni”, or disillusionment and distrust in others, the “mad alumni”.
For me personally, I walked in despair for only a short time before it produced in me deep anger, not toward God, but toward those who repeatedly provided hope and then repeatedly snatched it away. I knew enough to know that this was not as Jesus would have it. And I read Galatians through enough to know that we were not on the right path. But I was at a loss as to how and why we got so far off the path of grace to begin with.
When we left the place we had called our church home for nearly two decades it was the most difficult thing we had ever done. But at the same time it was the most liberating thing we had ever done. We grew quickly in ways that we had only struggled to grow before. The fruit of grace toward others began to blossom in our lives. The desire to do good for and toward others for no reason other than their benefit was truly liberating. This whole website is in a way a continuation of that mission to extend grace to every man. There is no ulterior motive to gain your attention and then wallop you with some profound course-altering concoction of my own.
My only desire is to be a blessing and help to those struggling under thought-stopping bondage. It is a desire to constantly affirm free thinking and self-directed personal growth. My Christian readers will agree with me that a man chooses his path but God directs his steps. And believing that God is sovereign, and that truth in principle and practice is universal, I have to believe that this applies to everyone. As we grow independently but inter-dependently with others we become more deeply aware of our supreme need of Him. My non-Christian readers will likely agree that we need others. And a charitable attitude towards others is vitally important. This charitable attitude towards others, in our quest to grow personally, is what I hope to promote in these pages.
If there is anything here in this post that you can relate to, anything at all that I can help you with please feel free to contact me at Carl@AllMyMentorsAreDead.com. Comment below if you wish. Message me here. Or email me.
Honestly, I am not concerned if you are an atheist, a pagan, a member of either the sad alumni or mad alumni, or if you are presently where I was years ago and are looking for answers. I am not concerned with exactly where you are at except that I may meet you there. I am not asking you to meet me half way. I am only asking that you allow me to connect with you and to be a friend to you.
I mean that in the most sincere way.
Best wishes to you friend and
kind regards always,
Carl J. Dill