16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
I realized while reading Colossians 2:12 that I need to be baptized again. I didn’t fully grasp the meaning before. I may do it at the church in Broken Arrow. I like the pastor and all, but it’s an hour drive and my brother’s van is already pretty crowded. I don’t know where to go, so this is yet another opportunity to rely on God.
I read Bob Larson’s “In the Name of Satan” but better yet, I also read “Just Like Jesus” by Max Lucado and “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges. I’ve been striving to live a holy life lately and I haven’t done too badly (well, better than most), but it’s harder when I’m actually out in the world.
But Jesus took my sinful life and I want to take His holy life (and I will on that great day) to the best of my ability now. Help me, Lord.
— December 10th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
If I recall correctly, you got baptized when you were 13 because the people at church encouraged you to. They said baptism was a symbol of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and that people who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior should be baptized publicly in order to profess their faith to the world. I remember because it was explained to you multiple times. What makes you think you didn’t fully grasp the meaning before? Granted, you weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about your faith at 13 as at 18, but I think you knew what you were doing. Oh well, you’re not the first Christian to be baptized more than once.
Where are you finding all these strange books? Bob Larson? Really? This guy claims to have performed thousands of exorcisms, and someday he will ask for $295 to do them over the Internet. Here’s a question: Why do exorcisms take so long? Some of them last for hours while he yells “I torment you!” and thrusts crosses in people’s faces. If God is omnipotent, why isn’t the exorcism instantaneous? Why is there a struggle between demons and the power of Christ, and how exactly does that work?
Like many Christians, you are accepting everything this author says simply because he’s a Christian. You don’t believe in witch doctors or voodoo dolls or other such nonsense, but you have no trouble believing in demons and exorcists just because Bob Larson claims to be doing the Lord’s work. So naive. Someday you will learn there are “good Christians” and “bad Christians.” The good ones are smart, sincere, and generally reasonable people (except when it comes to their religious beliefs), but the bad ones are either liars out to make a profit, batshit crazy, or just plain stupid.
Speaking of stupid, “The Pursuit of Holiness” is a bunch of feel-good pablum that will set you up for failure. The entire premise boils down to this: Try to be perfect, and ask God to help you. Well you’re never going to be perfect, and every time you fail you will blame yourself for not letting God help you. Notice how God never has to shoulder any of the blame. It’s all on you, and it’s hopeless. And again, you are accepting everything this author says for no reason other than that he’s a Christian.
I urge you to read more than just Christian books. Read “The Psychology of Religious Behavior” by Michael Argyle or “On Human Nature” by Edward Wilson. Don’t limit yourself to authors whose specialty is theology (the study of nothing). Also, stop asking for help from imaginary spirits and start helping yourself.
— Matt, December 10th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.