My earliest memory of learning about God was when my parents took me to Child Evangelism classes taught by two neighbors. I remember that the “flannel board” was used extensively, and, since the time was during World War II and materials were in short supply, the class cut out words and letters from newspaper headlines to assemble Bible verses. Headlines that announced the death of GIs and enemy soldiers in battle were transformed into Bible verses that were to be memorized and later recited in class.
In particular, Isiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” At nine years old, words such as “astray” and “iniquity” were foreign to me, and I don’t recall any definition being given. Perhaps, this might have been the time when trying to understand the Bible planted the first seed of doubt. However, since all of my family and their friends attended a Baptist church, and since I was so involved in the church through my elementary and high-school years, whatever doubts about scripture I may have formed at that time were quashed by peer and family pressure to “go along.” I remember that when I was fifteen, I literally got down on my knees to pray to try to understand the “Word.” I strained to listen to God’s revelation to me but to no avail. I felt that there was a “ceiling” that kept my prayers from reaching God.
Because friends of mine were going to Wheaton College (Billy Graham’s alma mater), I enrolled there too. It was there that the requirement to participate in ROTC began to widen the gap between what I was supposed to believe and what was evolving in my thinking. Can a Christian college teach New Testament theology in one class and in the next class (military science) train me to fire a rifle and use a bayonet to kill a human being?