I grew up in a world of religious confusion. As a child of the 40’s, my early years were greatly influenced by a widowed grandmother who was immersed in the hell-fire and damnation concepts of what would now be called a Protestant charismatic movement: the Assembly of God. As my major caregiver for many years, Grandma Matt tried to teach me to fear God as a selfish entity who unleashed His wrath on sinful girls and boys.
She was always very kind in a stoic sort of way, a gentle soul who cared deeply for my sister and me. I went to church with her each Sunday morning to Calvary Temple. I watched with interest and foreboding as people, time and time again, scurried forward, wailing with tearful remorse in response to the Altar Call, to repent and be saved or re-saved, often falling on the floor in frenzy.
Sin, in those early years of my life, was a concept that was difficult for me to embrace. Tender in my innocence, I wanted to believe my beloved grandma and in her fear of God; but there was a “knowing” which haunted me. The words of one of my favorite childhood hymns, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” would comfort me as I wondered why the same Son of a God who made the beautiful dark purple – almost black – tulips which grew in grandma’s garden, could also be cruel and vengeful and frightening.
My experience of God, in the sweetness of pre-adolescence, was as a gentle presence, represented by the whiteness of the fluffy clouds in the bright blue sky. My learning of God, however, was in great contrast to my experience. As I lay on the sweet soft grass of my backyard, looking up at that awesome sky, I worried at my lack of understanding of the sins and do’s and do not’s that I needed to remember and embrace.
One of the most frightening of them all was the concept of “Unpardonable Sin” (my grandma said it meant “blasphemy”- whatever that was.) I began to wonder if I had already committed it and if I was destined to go to hell no matter what else I did in my life. I also worried about those children who Jesus professed to love who grew up doing all the good things that Christians did but were called by a different religious label. Would they really go to hell? Would the Jesus who loved me allow children, who had never heard his name or of his greatness, to suffer in eternity as our pastor indicated?
Now, however, having revisited the puzzling concept of “unpardonable” or “eternal” sin, during research for my Master’s Thesis in Metaphysics I have come to understand it metaphysically. What Jesus is quoted as saying in reference to this subject is found in Mark 3 verses 20 through 30 of the NIV Bible. The story begins with Jesus entering a house with his disciples. A crowd had gathered. He expected to eat and fellowship there. Instead he found a group of teachers of the law who were accusing him of being possessed by demons and in particular Beelzebub, i.e., Satan or the Devil. Jesus could not believe his ears and spoke out “in parables.” Using several examples, such as, “How can Satan drive out Satan?” He then spoke about, and to, those who were bent on continuously assigning devilish attributes to His (i.e., God’s) teachings. He said to the gathering, firmly and succinctly: “I tell you the truth. All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” The literal interpretation of this scripture as spoken by Jesus himself was further interpreted in Mark’s own observation: “He said this because they (the teachers) were saying, ‘He (i.e God) has an evil spirit.’”
Metaphysically speaking, the great sin that has instilled fear in those of us who were raised to understand it as totally “unpardonable” is to harbor a belief that God is the cause of disease and disharmony of any nature. And as long as humankind abides with the conviction that God is the cause of any suffering, they have chosen to close themselves to receiving the inflow of God’s gift of love, prosperity, health and peace. And furthermore, as Charles Fillmore stated in his Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, “Man’s sins are forgiven when he ceases to sin and opens his mind to the fact that he is heir only to the good.”
What a powerful statement to free my soul and bring clarity to a fearful puzzle I have harbored in my heart for more than 50 years!
Thus began my quest for Truth: a quest that continues well into my golden years – and I am certain – throughout the rest of this lifetime. While my cradle religion was fret with confusion and concern which manifested into fear, I am happy to say that it did demonstrate the power of passion and the mystical aspects of ecstasy. My cradle religion also gave me the concept of “blind faith” which today translates into deep faith that the Universe will take care of me as I walk my life path with purpose and authenticity.