I just read over this. Gawd it's long! Sorry!
Abe Eureka here. I read your atheist manifesto: There is no God. I maintain that there is.
I'm not well educated. I don't often enter into discussions to offer my opinions without a deep conviction of certainty. Several years ago, I had a very real crisis of faith. I almost lost my faith.
I became close friends with a very well educated man who even in retirement reads 4 hours each day. History, philosophy, linguistics, languages and geology. He's currently studying Arabic because he wants to compare Rumi and Meister Ekhart, two mystics. The first an Arab Muslim living in Cordova, Spain. (His work is in a similar vein to the well known poet Omar Khayam.) The 2nd a German Theologian who taught at University of Paris in the 13th (?)Century. My friend has memorized the Roman Mass in Latin and English. I recently attended a Dominican Mass with him. He was constantly pointing out the differences. I could go on. So accept that the man is educated. He has a small library of about 2500 books in his house.Book shelves are everywhere except the bathrooms.
This man is also a bully. Some of it I'm sure is defensive. He's small, gay and somewhat effeminate. He baits people by making outrageous statement like,"Did you know that only 15% of what the Bible says are the words of Jesus were actually spoken by him." (True! A lot of the new testament is a synergy of the ideas, principles reported by those who heard him speak or were close to him. Every single word doesn't have to fall from His mouth to be Holy. We get the idea of salvation, etc.)
Or, "Paul wasn't a Christian." (He was by temperament a legalistic Jew. A lot of what Paul wrote was influenced by Judaism and his education.)
When my friend provoked me with these sort of statements, it's was a call to arms. He was looking for a fight. He wanted to stretch his intellectual muscles. He wanted to take this arrogant Christian down a notch or two. And, he had the guns to do it. Just look around at all the books!
I didn't lose many fist fights growing up. I always sized up my potential opponent before entering into the fray. I don't like to lose. (And this letter which is taking a couple of hours to compose is not a challenge.This is not a fight.)
I learned very quickly to use different tactics with him. I'd question what he was attempting to communicate. What was behind this sudden provocation. I think that besides needing the exercise he was looking for answers and testing my faith to see whether or not I was just another Bible banging, verse spouting, ignorant Christian.
I read, studied and listened. I already knew much of the KJV. In the family i used my daily study time to memorize and review. While doing tasks, I constantly listened to Alexander Scourby read the Bible. I think i listened to the whole Bible 10 times. I did read but never bothered to memorize the Mo Letters. I liked the radical tone of the early revolution. But a lot of the policy directives and rants eg the ones against Peter Puppet who was afflicted with a terminal cancer. (I couldn't help think, "What kind of congenitally deranged person denigrates and berates a man struggling with terminal cancer.) As far as I know, despite the pain, Peter out of a sense of loyalty to "Dad" and the "Family" refrained from pain medication. Peter and his Luvetts crew gave so much. He's one of my heroes. Go Aussies!
I got educated. I learned a lot about translations, history, language. I learned so much that I really believed that I didn't believe. I was seriously apostate. Not in my behavior. It was my soul. I had realized that I could not "prove" or give rational explanations of my faith, my salvation. i was suddenly without foundation. What was real?
Then I realized that the only thing that was real was my belief. "Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief." I believed. And dear fellow traveler, neighbor, I accept your beliefs. They are yours. For whatever reason, you believe differently than I do.
I am also friends with a fellow who has been abducted by aliens several times. He's been ravished by an Ancient Egyptian Goddess and given secrets of an alien invasion. He's under constant attack by the aliens who are attempting to derail his plans to save mankind. Listening to him carry on, i realize that he's a very lonely and troubled man. There are huge gaps and inconsistencies in his stories. He's delusional, paranoid, and maybe schizophrenic. I do not contest his beliefs.
And that, I believe is the key to individual faith. None of us is able to see clearly.\What do any of us know? What's your name? What's your DOB? Birthplace? We're all told what to believe. And we do.
We know very little of what we think we know.
I know God. I know Christ. I know the Holy Spirit. I know Life.
Mr. Berg lied to us. He said he knew the truth. We were young, stupid. We followed and obeyed. Now, the psychological casualties lay dead, dying and wounded. Some like the young David are actually dead. But I know my redeemer lives.
COG, and its successors in name were still born, dead at birth. All its adherents will be healed and will arise. All of us followed because we were looking for Truth. I hope that the quest for truth continues, Sisters and Brothers.