A Little Farther Down the Path: The Great Spiritual Migration

I am not the same person I was twenty, fifteen, or even ten years ago. Neither are you, although for some of us, the differences are more stark, more startling, especially when they involve, as they do in my case, changes in fundamental beliefs arising from a change in many of the presuppositions that underlie my worldview. As I’ve written so often that it almost sounds cliché (at least to me), if you change your underlying presuppositions about life and reality, your belief structure is bound to change, and you will draw significantly different conclusions about priorities, meaning, and how you should live your life. Continue reading

On The Threshold Of A New Year

Over the past decade, I have made a lot of changes in what I believe about life and faith and how I evaluate truth claims and worldviews. Like so many others in similar situations, I changed my mind about essential matters when I found that, at the most crucial times in my life, my previously-cherished beliefs simply did not work for me; they promised far more than they delivered.

When I looked more deeply, I found that the superstructure of my belief system crumbled because the foundation on which it rested was riddled with cracks. In philosophical terms, my presuppositions were flawed, so the conclusions based on them turned out to be flawed as well. You don’t have to agree with my assessment here; I’m just putting it out there. Continue reading

The Consequence of Meeting God Again for the First Time

Look, if you want to point out how far I fall short of the qualities and traits I admire and write about, you’ll need to take a number. It’s a very long line, and I myself am at the head of it. If you would prefer that I not constantly draw unfavorable comparisons between the beliefs and convictions I used to hold and those I have come to embrace in recent years, again that’s a big club, and I’m actually a charter member.

It is possible, if you follow me on Facebook, that your finger has frequently been poised to press the “unfriend” button beside my name. So far, however, you have demurred because either you believe I will eventually self-destruct, or you still cherish some flickering hope that I will come to my senses and recant my ill-advised excursion to the dark side. Since neither is likely, our continued association may be short-lived. And again, that is an ever-expanding fraternity. Continue reading

Yes, I Am a Flawed Messenger. Then Again, Who Isn’t?

For a person with such strong opinions about, well, almost everything, I have an incredibly thin skin when it comes to criticism. I could have set that sentence in quotation marks, changed the “I” to a “you,” and attributed it to one of the scores of people who have said that to me over the years. I didn’t do that, because I want to make it clear I know it is true.

I can deal with certain kinds of criticism. (I won’t like it, but I can deal with it.) For example, people sometimes point out what they believe are logical inconsistencies or non sequiturs in my writing. I can deal with that because, most of the time, I can explain my thinking to show that the perceived gap in consistency was more misperception than reality. Moreover, when the critique is sound, and my logic really has been faulty, I can show genuine, if sometimes grudging, appreciation.

I have greater difficulty with the more subjective criticism of my character or my motives. In the first place, it is almost impossible to defend oneself against a critique that points up a flaw in character or motivation, whether or not the critique is true and accurate. In the second place, the critique is far too often both true and accurate. Continue reading

I Believe in God Because I Believe in Jesus (On the Road to Easter, #3)

Dear Mr. Lough, thank you for your last note which included the piece you had written on the periodic need for change in our lives. I agree with you that change can be both necessary and difficult at the same time. I think that its difficulty makes it easier, in many cases, to avoid change altogether. That is a helpful insight. Now, here’s my next question. Would it be possible, this early in our conversation, for you to provide me with a list of themes or issues or topics on which your thinking has most substantially changed over the past ten years? I’m not asking for a comprehensive summation; just some examples. Then, perhaps, you could explain how you came to make a change in each of those areas. In any event, I am enjoying this exchange a great deal. Thank you for consenting to do this. I look forward to hearing from you. Cordially, Kathryn

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Change: Difficult But Necessary (On The Road to Easter, Part Two)

Dear Kathryn:

Even before I hear from you with your next question, I’d like to say a bit more about the notion of change in general. To do that, I’m including here something I wrote a few years ago in the subject. I call it, “Change: Difficult But Necessary.” I hope you find it helpful. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best,

Arthur

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The Reason I Lie About What I Really Believe

One of my former students once wrote on his Facebook page that I was one of the most courageous people he had ever known. I was flattered and humbled, but I also knew that I didn’t feel very courageous most of the time, especially by comparison with so many whose acts of courage cost them dearly.

That friend might also be surprised to hear me say that the reason I lie about what I really believe is mainly fear. More than I want to admit, I’m afraid of the consequences that would likely result if I shared publicly what has really been going on in the deep recesses of my mind over the past six or eight years. Continue reading

In Over My Head: Another Facebook Status Update That Ended Up Being A Blog Post

About ten years ago, I had an epiphany of sorts. It dawned on me that, although I had made a few changes in my catalog of basic beliefs, most of my worldview, along with its attendant beliefs and convictions, I had inherited from my parents and the community inQuote (1) which I grew up. Was it really logical to assume that the belief system into which I was born was absolutely correct in every particular—that I had been blessed with the right ideas about everything (political, social, and religious) by accident of birth? Continue reading

My Chronology of Costly Change

Last Friday, I inadvertently happened upon the Facebook page for the Bible college I attended in the late 1960s. I noticed a picture there, from one of last year’s chapel services, and the speaker was a man I knew very well when we worked together in the same church more than forty years ago. I loved and respected him then, and I still do.

The caption for the photo included a link to the college website’s archive of chapel service audio recordings, so I clicked on it. For the next several hours I listened to excerpts, ranging in length from two to twenty minutes each, from a dozen or more preachers who had spoken in chapel over the past five years, some more than once.

Many of the speakers, like the one I mentioned above, were men I knew personally from my years as a student. One was a classmate who had “competed,” along with me, for the school’s first annual Award in Expository Preaching back in 1970. (I won’t tell you which of us won the award, but it wasn’t him.) One of the speakers had actually been my roommate during our senior year. Continue reading