It wasn’t a normal, vertical door but a trapdoor – and it was about to be sprung with yours truly standing on it!
In terror, moments beforehand I’d thought “My number’s up!” because I was suddenly at the end of my life AND shocked to realise hell’s below – AND, I’d be heading there – even though I used to think hell didn’t exist! I was wrong – oh so badly wrong!!
Being anti-Christian had been a serious mistake – but it was now far too late! Yet I’m now able to tell this true story; it is told purely for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How did I get there? you may ask. And, how on earth did I get out of it?
SEARCHING FOR ‘TRUTH’ BUT HEADING FOR DEVIL’S DOOR!
First, we need to go back in time to the evening of 13th September 1989. As a result of conflict in childhood (as here) between school and church I thought the Truth must be out there somewhere. So I decided to investigate and search for it myself, as told here.
First port of call was the supernatural and possibility of an afterlife. Having a scientific bent I looked for consistent, reliable reports of post-mortem contacts with deceased persons. Accounts by those who’d almost died seemed more authentic and consistent than claims by mediums of contacting the dead.
Then came yoga and eastern religions, and years before the Beatles introduced the British public to Transcendental Meditation into Britain, I studied and accepted esoteric spiritual doctrines and practices, eg reincarnation and karma. At 21 years of age, after learning about the Western esoteric tradition, I joined a brotherhood supposedly descended from ancient Egypt through a chain of historic personages such as Da Vinci, Bacon, Wren and Newton all of whom, it was claimed, added to and transmitted that ancient wisdom which had been held ‘sacred’ by 12-13th Century ‘heretical’ Cathars of southern France, and later the Knights Templar. (Later freemasonry merely skimmed the surface of that arcane, initiatory knowledge.)
What made it especially attractive from my standpoint were references to secret doctrines of Jesus, who was claimed to have been one of the perfected ‘masters’! This teaching was supposed to have been akin to that of Christian Gnosticism and Jewish Kabbalah. My historical interests devoured the rise of the early Church, medieval alchemy and the start of scientific method in the early 17th Century, as well as literature and secret codes then in use in England and German Brunswick-Luneberg and Palatinate of the Rhine.
Consequently, I was well placed and connected to know modern authors’ claims about a romantic connection between Jesus and his disciple, Mary Magdalene, were untrue. Such stories and their dramatic conspiracy claims make fascinating fiction. (My source confided that it was a publishing ploy to attract sales!)
So I embraced Eastern and Western occultism plus concepts known as deism, and thus appreciated the distinct difference between Islam and Judaeo-Christian belief. Many years later I read its Book and studied its early history.
I thought all religions are equal and, therefore, many paths to a supreme being – one not identical to the anthropomorphic deity of the Abrahamic religions. In those days I preferred the notion of a ‘cosmic mind’ with which we can attune and attain ‘cosmic consciousness’ and perfection through many incarnations.
Thus, two decades of occultic study and exercises had made me disdainful of churches and Christian clergy and laity. They were all so very behind the times – even archaic! In my intellectual and spiritual pride I thought their preaching just couldn’t compare with the more profound philosophy found within ‘New Age’ movements.
AN EARTHLY VISITOR
Sometime in July/August 1989, a young man named Peter knocked at the front door with an invitation to hear the world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham at Earls Court in London. We could be taken in a coach trip from outside our house west of Reading. How much? Nada, entirely free!
Naturally, I rejected the offer outright but my almost-teenage son piped up he’d like to go because a classmate had told him about it. So I said I’d take him.
As can be gathered from the story of my journey thus far into spiritual captivity, personal experiences had made me very wary of churchgoers. Never did I suspect my own well-being hung on the moment of that request.
Can you imagine my bewilderment, therefore, upon sitting ‘up in the gods’ in the Earls Court auditorium and finding myself agreeing with what Billy Graham said as he spoke from the rostrum? I was flummoxed! Utterly bewildered! Who’s thinking that? Can that be me? Never!… Really?
As a follow-up, those who’d been on that trip were invited to an informal meeting at a local ‘free’ church. The leader explained similar chats could be held at our own homes, should we so wish. I agreed to be on-hand for my son, but I was definitely NOT interested. A youth worker, Peter, was assigned to help him but, in practice, he ended up discussing the material with me.
The evening of Wednesday 13th September 1989, is Peter’s third visit to discuss Billy Graham’s follow-up material entitled Life. I have not yet divulged to him my firmly held and entrenched opinions – but this time he goes too far!
WHAT WENT WRONG?
This session is entitled, ‘Yoga, Eastern Religions and The Occult’ – all of which I’d been involved in since before Peter had been born!
Peter shows a diagram of two cliff-like objects facing one another. One represents heaven and the other, earth, with a large, deep gap separating them from one another. Over this Peter then places an overlay depicting a large plus sign over the gap and the ends of its horizontal arms touch each ‘cliff’, thereby bridging heaven and earth. He explains that the cross of Christ is the bridge between both realms.
He then says the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. This statement implies my ideas are incorrect. Without giving the game away I gently question him on this. But he insists not many paths lead to the same, supreme God – there’s only one way to one almighty God and it’s through his Son Jesus Christ.
What’s to be done with a young man half my age who unwittingly points out the error of my ways?
I’m thinking, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. How can he, who’s not done anything I know far, far more about…just how can he tell me it’s wrong? He’s wasting my time!” Peter’s ideas are not only mistaken but also intolerant. Before the end of the evening I’ve had enough!
So I bring our discussion to an early close, politely bid him farewell and excuse myself from any future meeting. Peter is most gracious about it – as ever, he smiles politely and goes on his way.
Little did I know that I may not survive that night!
That night’s second visitor was far more challenging – this time it’s life or death – MINE!
The account will be published overnight – when else?….
Note: Originally written 25 years ago as ‘More Than A Dream’, this was posted as one of my first blogs. Then, it elaborated upon my life as a committed non-Christian but is now expanded to refute a recent visitor’s rebuking me not to say things “on a subject (Islam) for which you don’t have sufficient knowledge”!!