Part Three–The School
In order to explain anything else further, let me back up about five years. In 1981, my parents enrolled me in Tabernacle Christian School in Hickory, North Carolina. Tabernacle was also sponsored by a Baptist church, but not a Southern Baptist church. Tabernacle was “independent, fundamental, Bible-believing,” and although they did not mention it on their sign, legalistic. I was sent home one time with a note on my Dukes of Hazzard coloring book explaining to my parents that this show does not represent the values of the school as they promote sex and rebellion against authority. Rebellion was always a big sin with them. Since they were legalistic, they viewed anybody that strayed outside the ideals of their church as rebels. Thus, at the young age of five, my parents, and I was considered rebels. We were part of the “liberal Southern Baptists” and were not considered holy enough. I lived with this strange dichotomy almost my entire childhood. I had one set of values presented to me at home and another presented to me at school. Both were “Christian.” But they seemed to stand at polar ends of each other. It was about the same time that I made my first profession in the Christian faith. I was only five years old and I had a friend who was going to be baptized and I wanted to be too. I know that the pastor of my church talked with me and we prayed the sinner’s prayer, but that was all that I remember.
Shortly after my father died, I made a second profession of faith. I remember that a person came to our school and showed a rather large picture of a fetus that had been disfigured because the mother has smoked marijuana. I was scared, I had just lost my father and I was grappling at anything. I was “saved” again.
I must pause here and explain something. Most Baptists do not believe you can “lose” your salvation. They believe that if you make a second profession of faith, you were not saved to begin with. It is one of the problems that I perceived in the Baptist church that took the more “Calviminian” approach to Christianity. Another aspect of this is the emphasis on emotion. Decisions regarding issues of religion should never be made strictly on the basis of emotions. In other words, to feel like you need Christ is not enough. You need to be able to understand that there is a need there and that Christ is the only One that can fill that need. This has nothing to do with your emotions. With that being said, there is, granted, a strong emotional component to weighty decisions like this, but if the decision is made strictly out of an emotional response, then there is much smaller chance that the decision is genuine. Emotion played a large role in another profession of faith that I made in the eighth grade. I was at a Christian camp with my school and I made an extremely emotional response. When I look back on it, I can recognize it as genuine guilt. Right after my father’s death, the lack of a father figure in my life began to rear its ugly head. I was beginning to assert myself and ask questions. Many of them were about the lack of consistency and the lack of love I saw from my school. At the same time, I saw a lack of holiness in my church. Of course, not all of these thoughts were conscious. But I did begin to wonder if the faith of my father was one of hypocrisy or one of legalism.