“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” (Mt 24:10-11)
Disillusioned by the Church
I was raised in the evangelical church. I “accepted Christ” at a Billy Graham crusade when I was twelve years old. For years I was content with my beliefs. But then I fell on hard times. My son was molested by a fellow missionary at a camp I directed in Japan. When we moved back home, he suddenly became very violent. He began doing and dealing drugs. He would come home with pockets full of cash, though he had no job.
His mother let him do whatever he pleased. When I tried to impose some discipline, she undermined me. She would buy him expensive gifts and clothing whenever he got in trouble in order to appease him. Eventually, he got so out of control that he tried to strangle his mother. She was having an affair with her boss at the time, so the two of them decided to send him to an expensive boarding school for troubled teens. I was not consulted.
When I received a bill for $4000 for the first month of tuition and expenses, I objected. After all, that exceeded my total monthly income. So I went to court to petition the judge. The administrators of the boarding school conveniently provided a letter stating that my son was too unstable to be moved. But I was able to get my portion of the payment reduced so that I still had about half of my salary left.
Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck at this point. I was having panic attacks at work. I couldn’t do presentations because I would literally come unglued in the middle of my speech. I was afraid I would lose my job, and I eventually did.
Re-examining The Church
I learned a lot about the evangelical church and evangelical Christians during those days. First, the missionary organization which employed the child molester denied my son’s allegations. They said none of their missionaries had ever molested a child. But then I was able to get in contact with another victim whose father was one of their missionaries. He and his two brothers had all been molested by the same man. With this information in hand, I was not only able to get an admission of guilt from the mission, but they produced an entire chronology of his sexual predations. Still, they refused to take any responsibility for his conduct. They said that if I wanted help with any of the exorbitant expenses for my son’s rehabilitation, I would have to get it from the pedophile. They would not be “blackmailed.”
I turned to my own church for help, but they would not break ranks with an organization that they supported. I asked my parents to intercede with my ex-wife on my behalf to get her to back off her incessant demands for money, but they refused to help. In fact, they sent her money to help with her expenses and then befriended her lover to avoid jeopardizing their relationship with their grandchildren.
Discovering Reformed Theology
About this time I left the church. There was obviously a major disconnect with what these people claimed to believe and what they actually practiced. They would condemn immorality but condone it within their own ranks to avoid endangering their “ministry.” Other churches closed ranks with the mission rather than confront them for covering up sexual immorality. My parents would rather accommodate adultery than risk losing connection with grandchildren. They would not help me when I was in desperate straits but freely offered assistance to those who did me serious harm.
It was many years before I would darken the door of a church again. By that time, I had done some serious soul searching, and here is what I found. I found Reformed Theology through the preaching of a man named John MacArthur.
He saw the same things in the church that I did. He explained that the sickness in the evangelical church is due to a lack of sound, Biblical preaching, preaching that confronts sin, calls for repentance, and transforms behavior through the action of the Holy Spirit. He said the evangelical church had replaced the ministry of the Holy Spirit with pragmatism, i.e. man’s methods. Evangelistic techniques have produced many false conversions, filling the church with people who think they are Christians because they have prayed a prayer but who have never been born again by the Holy Spirit.
I learned that no one makes a decision for Jesus Christ unless he has already been born again by the Holy Spirit and that God chooses those whom he decides to save. We can do nothing to effect our own salvation because we were born dead in trespasses and sins. Dead men don’t choose. Only after they are given life by the Spirit of God can they respond to Him. When I realized that God had chosen me before I ever chose him, I was deeply humbled and grateful for his saving grace. I didn’t really know what grace was until I realized that not only was I incapable of meeting God’s standards on my own, but I wasn’t even capable of forsaking my sins without God’s help. This is what theologians call “Total Depravity.“
It was then that I understood why the evangelical church, though called to be separate from the world, still has to screen their workers for potential pedophiles and is filled with dishonest businessmen, cheating spouses and all the other evils that eventually drove me away. Very simply, it is filled with professing Christians who have never been born again by the Holy Spirit.
So why was I drawn to the Reformed Church? How is a Reformed Church any different from an evangelical church? That is the subject of this blog.