Road Travels of a Convert to Skepticism!

Road Travels of a Convert to Skepticism!

It didn't happen in just a short period of time -- in fact, it took a while because I had been used to taking a lot of things in life for granted. Some were things of eternal consequence such as the assumption that I would end up in heaven when life for me on earth had reached its conclusion. And I guess that if you had asked me about it, I would have said that just about everyone would go to heaven after death -- well, maybe an exception or two. I had heard about Adolph Hitler when I was very young and saw pictures of him. I learned enough about him to know that he was a very bad man. So it was likely that Mr. Hitler would not make it to heaven because he had done a lot of very bad things in his lifetime and never expressed any regret at having done so.

The years rolled on -- high school graduation at age 16 -- a year of college at Clarion State Teachers College in Clarion PA -- a job -- and then enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps during a time when something called "police action" was being carried out against the country known as North Korea.

While at home I was in church and Sunday School every Sunday. Our little country Methodist Church was located about 6 miles south of Clarion PA on Route 68. Average attendance at worship and Sunday School was about 130 and consisted of complete families -- fathers, mothers, and children. And if you had asked me what I believed at that time, I would have replied something like this: "I believe in God and that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world." And I could quote John 3:16 as a back up to that statement.

In boot camp at Parris Island SC I went to church every Sunday morning during the weeks I was there because it was the one place I could get away from the DI's for a little while!

But after boot camp I quit going to church on a regular basis. There were a few Sundays I attended while stationed at Jacksonville FL. A few months later Jean and I were married but we didn't go to church while living in New Bern NC during my tour of duty at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station.

Finally the day of discharge came and we were back home, but still not going to church -- by this time we had an infant son and discovered that in a few more months another child would enter our world -- in fact the second one arrived 1 year and 4 days from the birth of the first one!

Soon after the birth of our second child I began to feel very uncomfortable and troubled. I soon discovered that God was speaking to me -- this eventually led to my repentance from sin (I had chalked up quite a record in my rebellion) and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord into my life. As a result we began to be involved in our home church again.

A few months after Jesus transformed my life I answered God's call to enter the ministry and preach His word. This involved doing studies for a license to preach, an appointment to serve 2 Methodist churches in New Castle PA, enrollment at Geneva College, graduation 3 years later, enrollment at Asbury Theological Seminary, and graduation 3 years later.

It was during the early years of ministry and school that I began traveling down the road of skepticism and continue on that road at the present time. It's been a journey over quite a few years in terms of time.

Allow me to explain the many "villages" through which I have passed on the road of skepticism:

Village 1 -- the issue of beginnings -- I am skeptical of the massive effort to persuade us in these United States that we are merely products of an evolutionary process -- that is, human life has evolved from a lower life form over extremely long periods of time.

Actually, this is quite a well organized indoctrination (or brainwashing) program which holds an iron grip on the educational experience of millions of children, youth, and young adults at any given time. There is never ceasing conflict when efforts are made to "balance" the curriculum with the teaching of "intelligent design" or "creationism." So far the "evolutionists" with their damnable theory have the upper hand.

So I continue to be skeptical of any and all efforts and all persons behind those efforts which attempt to tell me that if I go back far enough in time in tracing my ancestry I will find an organism wriggling around in a pool of slime!

I choose to believe the statement of One Who holds a position of far greater authority and knowledge than all evolutionists and their pseudo-science put together! Actually, He is the One Who made a lot of things out of nothing a long, long time ago:

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. -- John 1:10 NKJV

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. -- Colossians 1:15-17 NKJV

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." -- Matthew 19:4-6 NKJV

Village 2 -- the issue of Bible reliability -- I am highly skeptical of "pastors," "theologians," and "scholars" who try to tell me that the Bible is not really trustworthy. For that bunch the Bible is just a human produced series of writings filled with error and contradiction. Because of this we are forced to sort out that which may help us a bit in our faith experience, but in the end we can't really be sure of much of anything, except the old quote which informs us that there is nothing certain in this world except "death and taxes!"

I have chosen to take the statement in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 very seriously:

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NKJV)

To this very day, and after nearly half a century of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, I have never been disappointed or let down with a big thud in regard to my extensive experience with the holy Scriptures on a day by day basis!

The aforementioned renegades also have difficulties with the many miracles recorded in Scripture.

One of their favorites which they claim to "debunk" is that of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. The "explanation" which the apostates give us is that there really was no dividing of the Red Sea and the Israelites actually traveled through a swampy area! But for those who have come to know God in a very close and personal way through Jesus Christ, the dividing of the Red Sea and the drying up of the land beneath it presents no difficulty whatsoever.

In fact, if God should choose to split the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and create a path 10 miles wide in them all at the same time with a dry base upon which to walk, He could do it -- after all, he put those gigantic bodies of water there in the first place by a simple spoken command!

Village 3 -- the issue of the Person and accomplishments of Jesus Christ -- I have become very skeptical of church leaders (and not a few church pastors) who express their unbelief regarding Who Jesus really is, why He adorned Himself with human flesh and came into this fallen and sinful world, where He is now, and what His plans are for the future.

What all this boils down to is:

    questioning or denial that Jesus was born of a virgin and is really God revealed in human form.

    doubt that He really did the miracles attributed to Him in the Gospels.

    doubt that His sole purpose in His short life on earth was to sacrifice Himself and atone for the sins of the entire human race -- every single sin committed by every human being ever born -- and this includes those of all the other religious expressions in the world such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and of course the savage in a remote jungle who drinks chicken blood out of a human skull as an act of worship!

    questioning whether He really was literally resurrected 3 days after the crucifixion and whether He is really alive now.

    questioning whether we should literally seek to fulfill Jesus' command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature -- that is, to call all people, including those of even prominent world religions, to repentance and the acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives!

    common denial that He will literally and personally return to this planet to put down all governing authorities, take complete control, and rule this world in righteousness and truth!

One United Methodist bishop is really notorious in this matter of rejecting much of the Biblical revelation about Jesus' life and accomplishments while He was here on earth. But the bishop in question is not the only rotten apple in the theological barrel at the present time!

The Barna research group which is continually doing surveys that relate to subjects involving the Christian faith found that nearly 1/2 of pastors do not have a Biblical world view -- this translates into the fact that nearly 50 per cent of pastors do not believe all that the Scriptures reveal and then they proceed to teach their congregations how to doubt the Scriptures!

Little wonder there are serious problems in many churches across the United States which profess to be Christian in faith. If the pastor is floundering in regard to His faith due to swallowing a big batch of theological garbage in the process of his "education" then how can his/her church make much progress -- especially when it comes to helping people come to repentance and the personal knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives?

Village 4 -- the issue of engaging in "dialog" -- I am also highly skeptical of church leaders and pastors who insist that we must enter into ongoing "dialog" experiences in order to avoid divisions and conflicts in our culture.

There are 2 main areas where "dialog" has been focused for quite some time:

    Religious - there is a false assumption that all religious expressions in the world are legitimate -- that is, all have their ways of identifying deity or deities as the case may be, and addressing life's purpose, responsibilities, and eternal destiny. There are those church leaders and pastors who claim to identify with Christianity but who also take the position that Christianity is but one of many religious expressions in the world and it is in no way superior to any of the others. Therefore we should "dialog" and share out of respect for each other, learn from one another, and mutually contribute to the quest for peace and understanding in the world. The result in the muddled minds of those riding the "dialog" band wagon is that we will have a more peaceful and loving world -- just don't get radical and insist that Jesus Christ is exclusively the only way of forgiveness, salvation, and hope, because that is the reason for division and conflict!

    Moral - within Protestant circles and mainline denominations "dialog" is taking place between those who are pushing the sodomite/lesbian agenda and those who say that sodomy and lesbianism are morally wrong -- well, at least they "claim" those practices are wrong!

    As in "dialog" sessions involving various religions there is a heavy emphasis on "respecting" other points of view and the deliberate avoiding of the narrow minded "I'm right and you're wrong!" approach which generates hostility and division.

    Advocates of "dialog" philosophy stress the need to work together for the common good of all even as there are differing points of view on an issue.

My skepticism on the "dialog" approach to resolving differences is grounded in the fact that there is not one single incident where God took the "dialog" approach when He and humans were at odds over issues -- the issue was always over rebellion and sin, and whether God's way was the only option and the only right way to go if His full blessing and approval were to be experienced!

In the case of Jesus, it is always an issue over His sacrifice for human sin and the fact that He is exclusively the way of salvation and hope -- no other religion in the entire world can provide the experience of peace with the living God, assurance of sins totally forgiven, and rock solid confidence of a place in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ forever!

Those involved in "dialog" with various world religions would never ask the question, but it is the only question to ask while sitting at the table and directed at all non-Christians -- "Do you repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life?"

God's revelation about the basic problem of the human race which is sin, the basic remedy for that problem through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His call to live holy lives as a witness to His love and mercy are unmistakably clear. God has never offered to negotiate and enter into "dialog" over these matters. Nor has He ever remotely suggested that humans can establish legitimate positions when they are at odds with positions God has taken on ethical, moral, or spiritual issues.

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?" -- Amos 3:1-8 NKJV

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. -- Matthew 5:11-14 NKJV "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. -- John 15:18-21 NKJV

Village 5 -- the issue of authority and "self esteem" -- I am extremely skeptical when exposed to mass media presentations of psychologists/psychiatrists as the final authorities on human behavior and relationships. Sometimes such people have their own talk shows or programs and expound on how people with their various hang-ups in life can resolve their problems.

Then there are times when incidents of violent behavior erupt -- someone goes on a shooting spree and a number of people are killed or someone intentionally drives a car into a crowd and a number of people are killed or injured. Psychologists and/or psychiatrists are interviewed about such incidents and why the perpetrators did what they did. The "authority" then proceeds to enlighten us as to why such acts happen.

Counseling in the fields of psychology and psychiatry does not really come to grips with the root problem resident in each human being. If anything, the "counseling" experience feeds the ego (the self) in one way or another and seeks to bring the person to what is known as a "high sense of self esteem" -- that is, the goal is to have the person feel good about himself or herself! And presumably, if they feel good about themselves, they will feel good about everyone else too, and eventually we will have a much better world as a result -- I'm OK and you're OK too!

The greatest Authority on the human race and human behavior made this statement:

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. -- Luke 9:23-26 NKJV

An avid follower of Jesus and one through whom God worked in a number of different ways said:

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. -- Galatians 2:20 NKJV

The latter statement was made by the Apostle Paul and it is quite obvious that he was not the least bit concerned about having a high sense of self esteem. And likewise Jesus sure shot the idea of "self esteem" full of holes, did He not?

Every person who has repented of his or her sins, by faith has received Jesus as Savior and Lord, and has lived in compete submission to Jesus Christ on a daily basis has recognized that the self is our own worst enemy and when it is left to express itself unrestrained in any way, all hell literally breaks loose!

To deal with the self as stated by Jesus and as testified by Paul is to experience what Jesus revealed when He said,

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." -- John 10:10 NKJV

I have been wonderfully blessed on my travels down the road of skepticism as I passed from village to village -- from the day that Jesus turned my life around 180 degrees and gave me a peace that defies human description -- from the day He began to enlighten and teach me from His holy Word through His Spirit -- and from the day He gave me the undeserved privilege to stand behind church pulpits and proclaim His eternal truth -- from those days until now I have never had reason to doubt Him, His promises, His calling upon my life, or the hope He gives me for time and eternity!

If I had agreed with and joined up with the persons and/or groups previously mentioned whom I have encountered on my journey, then I would have become a skeptic of another kind, traveling a broad road that leads to destruction and taking a host of others with me -- so, never forget that in this world there is a kind of skepticism which is wise, healthy, and very confident when it comes to eternal destiny. It is that kind which I have chosen and which I have attempted to describe. I rest my case!

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." -- John 10:27-30 NKJV

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. -- Romans 8:11-18 NKJV

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. -- 1 John 5:10-12 NKJV

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. -- 2 John 1:7-11 NKJV

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty." Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. -- 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 NKJV

A Significant Selah Moment!

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk 1:2-2 (NKJV)

Hey! Look at the Number
of Unborn Children Brutally
Mutilated & Murdered in USA

since the USA started "liberating" Iraq
from the brutality of Saddam Hussein!

March 19 2003

Watch this for about 60 to 90 seconds
and see what happens!

NOTICE > The counter for unborn children being murdered is no longer
functioning. You can get the most recent number of murdered unborn victims
at the following location: Number of Abortions The up-to-date numbers here
give not only the number of victims in the United States but also for the world!

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness....

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

Romans 1:18; Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

November 3, 2005
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, PA
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA

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