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Doctrine in dialogue format
Confess your faults one to another.
In today's episode we find Pastor Leo in his living room talking to Charlie Beadle. Listen:
"I don't plan on making it a lifetime career Pastor Leo. But as I see it the money's good, and there isn't much to do but give a speech once a week. That would leave me plenty of time to learn a good trade and to study for more advanced subjects. I sent in applications to several colleges, but the only one that would accept me was a Christian college. That's why I decided to follow this course of action. So Pastor Leo, will you sign my application as a reference or not? If you don't, I just won't be able to get the education I want so I can get out of the house and get married."
"Yes, I heard that you and Suzie Philistine were considering marriage after graduation, but I didn't know how serious you were seeing that you both are still in High School. But tell me Charlie, your parents are elders in my church. You were baptized when you were young and you grew up with Christian parents and in this church. Why do you not believe in God?"
"I can't say I don't believe in God Pastor Leo. What I mean is, I just don't know. But I'm not an agnostic or anything like that. What I mean is, I want to believe, but I haven't had anything happen in my life to show me that God exists. I mean, you talk about miracles happening in your life, both to you and to others you've worked with. I can see why you would believe in God. But all I have is some words said to me by you and by the Bible. And besides, you know my parents. They're my example of what being a Christian is all about. That kind of Christianity I don't need, if you know what I mean."
"Yes Charlie, I do believe I understand your situation. And to be honest with you, I think many of my parishioners feel as you do but they don't realize it or know how to express it. Because you've considered this doubt, and understand where it comes from, I believe that some day the Lord will give you your experience that will set you on the road to faith and dedication."
"I hope so Pastor Leo, I really do. But about your recommendation. Will you give it to me?"
"I would like very much to recommend you Charlie, but you must realize that in signing this I am saying you are a Christian in good standing with the Church, and that I believe you will make a good minister. Since you tell me you don't believe in God, how can I say with integrity that you will make a good minister?"
"Well Pastor Leo, you know me real well because I grew up right here in your church. And you know I'm honest and a good person. And I think I could do like you do and give sermons and visit people in the hospital and things like that."
"I'm afraid you have the wrong impression of a Pastor's job my boy. It's not surprising that you do since most people have no idea the work a pastor must endure or the pressures from many sides placed upon him. You're looking for an easy job, one to give you time for yourself and your own pursuits. I can assure you Charlie, my time is not my own, and I am on call twenty five-seven. And it appears that everyone needs my help at the same time. As for the hour sermons you hear, you must understand that I spend an hour at least for every five minutes of sermon, finding references and preparing notes. I don't merely stand behind a pulpit and begin to speak, nor do I use prepared notes from books. Also, my guidance comes from the Holy Spirit through whom I am able to serve those in my parish. You don't believe in the Holy Spirit, so where would you expect to obtain your guidance? You don't believe the Bible is the true Words of God, so where would you go to find material for your sermons? How would you expect to pray for the sick if you don't believe God heals? Have you considered these issues at all?"
"Yes I have Pastor Leo. I'm not jumping into this thing blindly. I did a lot of research on it from books and over the web. I've found web sites that have prepared sermons, so that will be no problem. Lots of people use canned notes, and I found out that lots of people are like me, who have their doubts, or don't believe at all, but they're still good pastors. And you know I know the words of the Bible and how to study the Bible because you taught me most of it since I was a baby. I learn well. And I pray all the time. I pray before I eat, and at bed time, and I pray when you pray in church. So I know how to pray."
"You know the actions Charlie. And you know the words. But who do you pray to? You don't believe the God you pray to is really there for you. You don't believe He will actually heal. So where do you think your prayers go? And why do you bother to pray if you don't believe there's anyone on the other end of your prayers?"
"It's not that I don't believe God's there Pastor Leo. I believe He is there, at least for some people. I believe He's there for you and Mrs Bach, but I don't see Him here with me or with my parents. Like I said Pastor Leo, I'm confused. I just don't know what to believe. Maybe a Christian college will be the thing that will give me the faith I need to be like you. What do you say Sir? Will you sign for me?"
"I would like to ask you a question before I answer your question Charlie. Please tell me how you see God. By that I mean, who is God to you?"
"Well, I hadn't really thought about it, not like that I mean. But I guess I might describe God as a giant man with a beard. But that doesn't sound right. I know He's not that. Or I might say He's a ghost or something, like Caper. But I know He's not that either. When I read the Old Testament and Revelations, I see God with a big lightening bolt looking for someone bad to throw it at. But you say He's a loving God and only wants good for us. How can all these things be? I only know I believe you when you talk about God. And I know I want to believe in the God you believe in. But I don't believe in the God my parents believe in, because I don't see God in them. They're your elders and they supposedly know God like you know God. But I don't see it in them like I see it in you and Mrs Bach. I don't know Pastor Leo. I guess the God I believe in, if I believe in God at all, is a mixed up psychopath who changes all the time, ready to kill everyone with water and fire, and yet tells them He loves them and wants only good things for them, all at the same time. I guess that's the God I believe in Pastor Leo. Yeah, that's God. And that's why I just can't believe, because I know God isn't that way."
"Well Charlie, I must confess that I believe you've given me perhaps the most honest and realistic view of God as seen by most people. And I must say also, that the God you don't believe in, I don't believe in either."
15But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:)
15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Rev 3:)
16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:)
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