Pondering God & Church


I am a Christian.  I was raised in the church (on my first trip to church, I was 2 weeks old), but I come from a church background where one is expected to make his own commitment to the faith, and I consider that event to have occurred during church youth camp in the summer before sixth grade, when I was 11 years old.  At 12 years old, I began reading the Bible regularly, each night before bed reading one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament, a habit that I keep to this day.  Through this method, I read the New Testament every year and the Old Testament every three years.

I grew up in the Church of God, a quasi-denomination based in Anderson, Indiana.  (There is also a Church of God based in Cleveland, Tennessee, notorious for its history of snake-handling; the one I grew up in has no connection to that.)  The Church of God is a standard evangelical denomination, with only two points of doctrine that I can think of that stand out:

  1. 1)There is no church membership.

  2. 2)End times beliefs are amillennial.

Throughout my life I have attended churches from a number of different denominations, or non-denominational churches, the decisions being based on where I lived and what was available there (I’ve moved a lot in my life).  I value the wide range of church experiences that I have had the opportunity to encounter.

My varied church experiences have enabled me to see different ways that people worship God, and to understand that God has a big box.  I find it sad when people of a particular church get so narrow-minded that they think only their expression of their faith is the “proper” one for worshiping God, or that their doctrine is right and everyone else who has any points that differ from theirs is wrong.  I think people like this are missing the point of Christianity.

I view Christianity as a religion whose purpose is to help people find their way to God, through Jesus Christ who stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” When types of expression of the faith or doctrinal points become the focus, the purpose has been lost.  God created many different kinds of people, who have different personalities and life experiences and live in different cultures and subcultures, so one type of worship or doctrinal belief isn’t going to work with all of them.  The purpose of Christianity is to help people connect with God, and there are a wide variety of ways and Biblical interpretations that enable this.

This is not to say that doctrine has no value.  We are to learn who God is, not just make him into anything we want him to be.  But focusing on “believing the right things” is not the focus that connects us with God; it’s a focus that breeds pride and arrogance and a club mentality.

This is a brief introduction to my beliefs.  On the web pages connected with this site, I will go more in-depth in various topics, some of it reflective of my past, some of it commenting on the church in the present, and some of it current thoughts I have on Christ and his Church.

Statement Of My Religious Beliefs

Note: The picture at the top of this page is one I took on the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, near Cancún.

Pondering God & Church is a sub-website of J Lee Harshbarger’s personal website.  To visit other sub-websites, click the links below.

All about music!  My Annual Music Awards, my music Hall Of Fame, and other writings about music and musicians I like are found here.../Music_Central/Welcome.html
An index to my writings about movies, books, and the media in general, such as news coverage and media bias../J_Lee_The_Media_Critic/J_Lee_The_Media_Critic_Index.html

My political and religious beliefs, and my commentary
 on society and politics.../Society_Central/Society_Central_Index.html

Photo albums from some of my travels outside of Michigan.  Eventually I hope to include travelogues too.http://www.jleeharshbarger.me/J_Lee_The_Traveler/Welcome.html

                     Various photos
                           I’ve taken
                     not connected
                            to any of
                            my web-
                            site pages.http://gallery.mac.com/catservants

What does it mean to follow God?  What should the church be like?

A list of all the churches I’ve attended, plus full stories about some of them. http://www.jleeharshbarger.me/Churches_Ive_Regularly_Attended/Churches,_Part_1.html


Stories about churches I’ve visitedhttp://www.jleeharshbarger.me/Churches_Ive_Visited/Churches,_Part_2.html
The “Home” section: my front page, the descriptions for each of my sub-websites, and the descriptions of all the places where I hang out on the web.../Bananaleaf_Central/Front_Page.html