Blessed Assurance, Part I

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,

Oh what a foretaste of glory divine;

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of his spirit, washed in His blood…

The quote above is taken from an old hymn that we sang frequently in my church. As people who know me begin to react to my agnostic atheism and try to change my mind, the words from ‘Blessed Assurance’ run through my mind. A few have taken it upon themselves to help me see the error of my ways. They are very polite and warm in the way they do it. It usually comes in the form of recommending a book/article/sermon that will supposedly solve my hard questions. It is then followed up with a personal and detailed plea. Every single person that has done this recently is a Christian who takes the Bible as the authoritative word of God and believes there is no salvation found outside of Christianity for mankind. They are absolutely certain that what they believe is the truth-no question, no doubts(or at least that is what they tell me).

But when I hear these individuals speak to me with such assurance-as if what they are saying is factual-I can’t help but think how different this conversation would be if their circumstances of existence were different.I mean these are all people born in predominately Christian nations and raised in Christian families. But what if they’d been born in Somalia instead? I’m sure the discussion would not be the same.They’d be telling me that Islam was the true and perfect religion instead. Much of what we believe in terms of religion is based upon what our families pass down to us, the geographical location we are born in and the time we are born in. Many of us stick to whatever the default position of our society is. With that in mind, how can one  confidently assert that their faith, and theirs only,  is the path that leads to God?

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

4 thoughts on “Blessed Assurance, Part I

  1. I was just reading the sparknotes for Mody Dick online (don’t ask, I’m crazy). And the only character in that story who survives when the big whaling ship goes down is Ishmel. I hope I’m spelling his name right. Apparently he was the only shipmate willing, or possibly capable to be able to take in all the views of the others on the ship. He was the only one blessed to be able to allow others their own life, their own story. Theiredifferences did not extinguish him, as his sense of who he was needed no fortification really, or perhaps it was fortifified in being surrounded by a kind of honesty. He let others be who they were, and because of this he knew them. He did not force them to contort into the only shape his eye was capable of perceiving. I think he was also at a low-point when he decided to take a life at sea, so apparently he had cast aside all sense of hope or expectations for his life. Funny huh? He goes out looking for the great white whale, thinking it a death sentance and in the end he’s the only one alive. I guess this is my long and winding road to saying, there is no assurance, and if we hope to remain alive in life, we should be willing to cast ourselves upon the sea of doubt? The unknown? all this from not reading the damn book :).

    Frankly, I am still very much haunted by those in my life who still believe. Those who still live with that blessed assurance. It’s not that I want to believe that stuff, but it’s so lonley being the person on the outside. For me anyway. Oh, well, need to get ready for work. I’m still cleaning up that piece on submission I told you about last week.

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