Written By Thomas Perez. January 1, 2009 at 10:48PM.
Since the days of primary school, I have always tended to ask questions that were metaphysical and religious in nature. From basic elementary questions that consisted of the who, what, where, when, and how, to various questions set forth by well-established religious scholars, philosophers, and scientists alike. Needless to say, I was confused and overwhelmed. But for some odd reason I was determined to make a go at making all this logical and understandable.
Born and raised in the In-wood neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City; upon the 5h floor of a high rise building in which I and my immediate family lived, I often found myself on cool summer nights gazing at the stars and constellations. I soon began to ask myself, “Is there life out there in the vast ocean of space; if so, were they created by an omnipotent being as Genesis signifies?” Were we created by aliens? Were we created out of random meaningless chance? Or was the universe always there? Questions like this lead me to search out the truth.
However, it was not until the early 1980s, when the late renowned astronomer, Carl Sagan made his debut on PBS with a mini-series entitled “Cosmos,” that I decided to examine the questions set forth above, almost to the point of becoming an atheist. Although, I wasn’t an atheist, I did identify with agnosticism. Agnosticism is the view that claims the existence or non-existence of any deity, in any religion, can not be proven or disproven; it is unknown and unknowable. Therefore, because og this, I had resorted to the scientific explanations of things.
In Sagan’s 10th ‘Cosmos’ episode entitled, “The Edge of Forever,” he found himself asking the ultimate question “Does God Exist?” “If there is a God, where did He come from?” Since the day that particular episode aired, my inquisitive mind got the best of me. I started looking towards the Scriptures and other religious sources; comparing the two opposing views of natural science and that of the Eternal Being, hence resulting in a bias towards a speculative method of philosophy (which is probably the reason why I tend to collect books on science, cosmology, philosophy, and most importantly theology).
By chance, on June 10, 1980 at the age of 15, I was invited to a local Bible believing church where I experienced the new birth, a transformation, and a new outlook on life while watching a showing of a film entitled “Image of the Beast,” a film about the apocalypse based on The Book of Revelation.
As I continued attending this church, my spiritual nature began to grow in Christ, who I came to realize is that Eternal Being mentioned above. However, I did not cease in examining other religions, nor did I abandoned my love for science. Yet, during all this, I soon became actively involved in this local Bible believing church for 8 yrs. I also became well versed in Scripture and theology (such as it was) at a very young age, learning and questioning as I grew in Christ Jesus.
At this particular church I received a scholarship certificate from ‘The Word of Life Ministries’ that worked in conjunction with my church. Also, with this scholarship award, I was given a Ryrie Study Bible of which I thoroughly enjoyed. The footnotes at the bottom of this Bible were informative to say the least. However, its primary teaching were that of what many would call today mainstream fundamental Christianity, such as; the doctrine of Dispensationalism, the Rapture theory, Pre-Tribulational concepts, and shades of Arminianism, (freewill), etc.
However, in Ryrie’s commentary concerning Romans 9, 10, and 11, he had much to say about election. But for some odd reason, I felt that he was holding out on more information and truth. This is no doubt due to his Arminian belief system of freewill as opposed to predestination. Upon further examination of this, I was introduced to the doctrine of predestination as put forth by 4th cent Church father St. Augustine and Church Reformer of the 16th cent, John Calvin and others. The two opposing views (Calvinism and Arminianism) were studied by myself for the past thirty years, with a favored view and leaning toward Calvinism.
Eventually, as circumstances and growth in faith would have it, the two views once again clashed, a “battle royal” so to speak. Eventually this battle led me to seek an answer to put this aching question to an end, once and for all. But, I thought to myself the answer must coincide with Scripture as a whole. That answer would not avail itself until some time later during my junior year in college.
The answer was found in the classic teachings of Reconciliation – hence the ultimate reconciliation of all Humanity. But that was a long awaited answer still in the making. However, the manifestation of this long awaited answer took on the appearance of many forms before college. Such a form began to materialize with a decade of my life studying the two opposing views.