By John Larkins
“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally.” – Flannery O’Connor.
This series of writings has been titled “The Way,” not the “Ways.” This is consistent with several ideas that seem important. First, that there is a God. Second, that there is only one God. Then, after God creating us, we made it necessary to provide us a remedy for the tragic insult our inherited disobedience caused. God’s remedy involved an enormous sacrifice, the killing of His Son, coming to earth as the Son of Man. This sacrifice created a wealth of grace that would be dispensed to all living and yet unborn humans. The Savior himself would dispense judgement and grace to all those already dead. The Son of Man, Jesus, established The Way, His Church built on Peter, as Jesus said. He said He sent His Apostles “As my Father sent me” to continue His work of converting all nations. We somehow have a problem in obedience. The Way became the ways.
This process began in some fashion almost immediately. Saint Paul corrected some converts in the Corinthian church about declaring they were followers of this or that preacher instead of Paul, or maybe of Paul but no other preacher of this same church (have you ever heard such here in Gadsden?). 1,500 years after Jesus founded The Way, there are about 35,000 Ways. To find your way in this confusion, you might start with an established source of information. The “Handbook of Denominations in the United States” by Roger E. Olson, (14th edition) is available. You may be surprised to know who founded churches with which you may be familiar and when this founding was done. Or, perhaps there are truly 35,000 Gods, who founded 35,000 Ways.
Saint Peter’s second letter, Peter 2, 2:1, is directed both to the early problem and today’s problem: “There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.”
There are some who contend that it makes no difference what church you enter to save your soul. At an elementary level, it is true that whatever it takes to get us started with the idea that we owe our existence to a supreme being who sets standards of behavior that we must follow is a great first step. Unless we also expect that there is life after death and that the supreme being will hold us accountable in eternity for what we did in this world, we have no plausible reason for being “good.” So, just as God established the Israelites to be trained in Godly fundamentals, we must start somewhere. Remember that the gates of heaven were closed during this “training time.”
Those gates were only opened when Jesus established “the new and everlasting covenant” as part of “the Kingdom of God.” He warned the Israelites that “you cannot put new wine into an old wineskin” (so conversion to The Way was required). Jesus taught that “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” and that “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you.” He specifically authorized The Way to forgive sins and dispense the saving grace necessary to enter paradise by receiving His real body, blood, soul and divinity.
John Larkins was born in Oklahoma to an U.S. Army family. His education was in the Catholic Church and teaching in the United Methodist Church for 10 years. After 50 years of various positions in federal service at home and in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, John and his wife Carol live in Gadsden.
His formal education includes a BS certified for science teaching, an MBA from the University of Missouri and an MPA from Jacksonville State University in public administration and environmental management. For the past 15 years, John evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals, and church situations. Contact him at email@example.com.