Saturday, April 19, 2014

Faith in the Military: Looking for the True Church in a Tank in Germany

The picture above is the commander's machine gun mount in an M60A1 tank.  Once I stopped looking for all the signs of the Tribulation, I started trying to figure out which Church I should belong to.  

When I went to a Baptist Church, they taught me the elect were only those who were saved by Jesus, but they strongly suggested that unless you knew how to ask correctly, you were not among the true elect.  When I joined a Charismatic fellowship, they said the same thing in a different way.  If you did not have the "Full Gospel" then you probably were not among the elect.  They were nicer, but also pretty much believed the Narrow Way to Heaven was through them.

I was uncomfortable thinking how many billions of people were going to Hell and I also thought some people who were sure they were going to Heaven were overconfident.  C.S. Lewis turned my thinking around with Mere Christianity.  Lewis said the elect were in every Church.  Those in every Church who were looking for the Lord and striving to do what He wanted were in every Church.  So the "True Church" was wherever believers gathered.  The false Church was right there in the same place because there were always going to be people in the Church for reasons having nothing to do with loving God and enjoying Him forever.

That was so liberating.  So the Church on the human level was just like every other organization including the Army.  In the Army we all knew who was a real soldier, who was a real tanker, and we very much knew who was not.  Every sports team is the same.  The real players and the posers are obvious to everyone.  

At this time I got a cassette player and headphones.  I started listening to sermons.  In particular, I listened to dozens of sermons by the evangelist James Robison and teaching tapes by Robert Mumford.  These two guys disagreed on a lot, but both gave me a lot of insight into the Church.  Robison was a stirring preacher, filling stadiums.  Listening to him, I got the fundamentalist culture in an entertaining way.  Mumford focused on the Holy Spirit in history and gave me a sweeping view of how the Church could begin in unity on Pentecost and become the crazy quilt of beliefs it is today.

At the end of 1977, my future career became clear.  

Who Fights Our Wars: Marine Veteran on a Local Train

--> Recently I rode to Philadelphia from Lancaster. After 50 miles, I knew I was going to be late, so I rode to a statio...