The religion I am accustomed to and grew up in, which has nuanced in different seasons, is Christianity. I didn’t care much for it as I went through my phase of Roman Catholicism. That most likely was due to it coinciding with my childhood where I didn’t care for much nor took much seriously.
As I came back to the Protestant church, for the first time in a sense, in my late high school years and then continued on this confusing journey into my college years, I met a lot of great people who welcomed me in, heard my questions, stood by me in my times of loneliness, and found the girl who I would later marry.
I definitely went through philosophical phases in this ongoing journey. My times in college and with various girlfriends guided me in a conservative manner. I remember strongly disliking Barack Obama, Islam, and found myself reading from evangelical authors. It wasn’t until MJ and I started dating that I switched tracks and started to ask more questions, chose love over guised loathing of the “infidel”, and had MJ’s academic religious approach rub off on me.
For MJ and I’m sure others around me, there was a fear of me just being influenced by those around me and not making decisions for myself. I would be kidding myself to say I have not been influenced by MJ, just as she has been influenced by my political views on, for example, military spending. The difference between me now on this track compared to my college days is that my thoughts, views, and questions do not stay within the safe confines of post-19th Century Western Christianity.
The questions I ask, along with the thoughts that stream through my head, scare me. This all can in part be due to the influence of the inordinate amount of hardcore hip-hop music I dumped into my ears growing up. The questions, however, relate to life and often come because I am not fully sure about the answers I’ve heard or even the idea of having to have answer.
The good question comes up: Is Christianity the only religion that leads to heaven, God, and real life? Of course it does, goes the crowd, because Jesus is the way, truth, and life. I ask myself this: would the God of our whole universe only make himself known to His humanity through one religion? Is the author of the Gospel of John following the incarnation model of his Gospel when talking about Jesus being the way, truth, and life, therefore describing Jesus as the only God who has been sent by God into the world, into flesh, to live?
These questions, along with other academic questions surrounding religion, scare some of the people I started my journey with. These question breed uncertainty of the church, of Western Christianity’s (and the Bible’s) infallibleness, and can often take smear labels, depending on the topic, as heresy, social gospel, unpatriotic, unbiblical, or secular humanism. I have no fear of these labels. I may have a different definition of who God is than some, but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing this confusing life one small step at a time.