Friday, April 29, 2011

Why I Value My Legalistic Fundamentalist Upbringing

I left Independent Baptist Fundamentalism about 12 years ago.  Today I preach as often as I can against the legalism that I was exposed to when I was churched and educated within the movement.  I refuse to allow my own children to be exposed to that sort of legalism.  I would not wish fundamentalist legalism upon my worst enemy, so to speak. However, had I some magical ability to do it all again, I would not go back to change anything in my own upbringing.   The reason is that while Fundamentalism was desperately trying to make me more righteous and holy through strict applications of extrabiblical and unbiblical rules and regulations, it actually "shot itself in the foot."  Instead of making me more holy, Fundamentalism's rules revealed just how utterly incapable I am of holiness.  Through my struggle to achieve righteousness, I learned the extent of my own depravity.   

I value this because Fundamentalism unwittingly prepared me for the grace of the Gospel by beating me with the Law (or its version).    As I left Fundamentalism, I felt as if I had finally met Christ, had been truly saved, had begun swimming in grace for the first time in my life.  I now knew what it meant to live with Christ as my righteousness instead of me or others having to constantly endure either the weight of my failure or the arrogance of my success.

There are more biblical ways to learn about grace than through fundamentalist legalism.  The fact that learning about grace is its frequent result is no excuse to abuse either people or the Word of God.  But for me at least it was the Providence that gave me my own personal lessons about grace and, as the Law is a schoolmaster, eventually brought me to a more full understanding of Christ.    I would not change a thing for myself because my understanding of grace and the Gospel is profoundly influenced by my upbringing as a legalistic Fundamentalist.

It is an odd mix to preach against legalistic Fundamentalism and to be grateful for its role in my life all at once.  I think the paradox demonstrates the wisdom and sovereignty of God to use people in spite of themselves, like Cyrus was both judge and judged in the Providence of God.     

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Turkey Season in West Virginia

Spring Turkey Season opened in West Virginia on April 25, 2011.  The first morning, I got to my spot before dawn and called in a couple of gobblers within the first hour.  The first stayed out of range.  The second saw me raise my shotgun and then took off.   I did not leave empty handed, however, as I stumbled upon a handful of mollymoochers on my way out of the woods.  

The second morning, Tuesday morning, I was making my way to my spot just as the sun was coming up, when I heard a gobbler ahead of me and over the ridge near the spot to which I was heading.  I stopped short of the ridge and headed around the ridge instead of over.  Before I broke around the ridge I heard him gobble loudly, revealing that he was heading my way.  He must have heard me climbing through the woods, because there was no need to call.  They do not mind noise as long as they imagine that it might be another turkey.  

I froze when I heard him again.  Dropped my gear and stood with gun to the ground.  When he came around the ridge in front of me, I waited for him to pass behind a tree, and then aimed at where he would reappear on the other side of the tree.  He poked his head out about 40 yards ahead of me.  Standing frozen on a steep hillside with a heavy shotgun aimed  at a fixed point is not easy, but is essential due to turkeys' immediate reaction to any movement whatsoever.  I waited for him to clear the tree and then fired.  

He rolled down the hillside, flapping violently, in a way that made me wonder if I would lose him.  West Virginia hillsides are very steep, and he could easily keep rolling toward the bottom if nothing stopped him.  I grabbed my gear, put my gun on safety and then ran downhill as fast as I possible could.  Had anyone seen me, I am sure they would never have imagined that I could have moved so quickly or easily through rough terrain.  I am sure it was a combination of both the adrenalin and my imagination that made my feat possible.  I caught up with him about 50 yards down the hillside.  

He weighed well over 20 pounds and is now situated neatly in my freezer.    Eager to do it all again.