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Christian Resources for New Believers
My Testimony: David Stratton

Before you read this, you should be warned. At one point in time, I was fiercely anti-Christian, and in the following account, I'm presenting my old self as truthfully as I can. I'm deeply ashamed of some of the things I did, thought, and said, but I think that understanding where I came from might be helpful in explaining who I am now, and why I built this site.

I've always been a skeptic. For as long as I remember, I have had a hard time taking anything by faith. This has been true in my life about most everything, but especially about matters where religion was concerned. I've always had a hard time accepting anything as truth without proof, or at least convincing evidence. In some ways, this has helped me, but in other, more important ways, this inability to simply trust has caused me much unnecessary pain. To this day, it's something I struggle with.

I've also always been a science nut. I liked science (and still do) because science is about making sense of the world around us. I like the scientific method, because it shows how things work. Of course, being as interested in science as I was, I had full faith in evolution as a scientific principle. I remember as a young boy, reading about how the earth was formed, billions of years ago, and about the different eras, and how life evolved over millions of years. I was fascinated, and I ate it all up. In school, I was taught the same thing.

I don't remember when I came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as a "God", but it had to be at a very young age. I do know that by the time I reached my high school years, I was convinced that the Bible was merely a fairy-tale dreamed up by people who were so pathetic that they needed to have an imaginary friend (Jesus) to make their lives seem worthwhile. I was witnessed to, and even dragged (very unwillingly) to Church on occasion.

When I was 18, I decided to give Church a try, and started attending the Assembly of God Church in my home town of Marshfield, Wisconsin. Some of my friends went there, and I thought I would at least go and see what it was all about. At first, I enjoyed going to this Church, and at one point asked Jesus to come into my heart. However, soon after I started going there, I heard some of the other young people there talking about me, and one of them said that the only reason I was there was because I was interested in a girl that went there. That hurt more than I would have ever let on. I had actually been enjoying going there, and I was seriously praying, end had even asked Jesus to come into my heart, and was filled with such happiness until I heard them talking. After that incident, I was hurt and bitter, and decided that if that's the way Christians are, then I didn't want to be one. Afterwards, I was embarrassed that I had ever even given it a try.

Because of that experience, I refused to even consider the claims of Christianity. I was hostile to anyone who would witness to me, and did my best to make Christians see why they were stupid for believing in the Bible, in God, and especially that Jesus was the only way to get to Heaven.

Through all this, my Mom kept telling me that my ways (drinking, partying, premarital sex, and a host of other behaviors and attitudes) were leading to my own destruction. She tried to witness to me, but I didn't want to hear it. I still had my lingering hatred of Christianity, and the more she tried to witness to me, the more hateful I became.

My main objections to Christianity from a rational viewpoint were that:

  1. There are thousands of different religions in this world, and I thought it was the height of arrogance that Christians thought that they had the only answer
  2. Christianity has a long history of killing people in the name of God (The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch Trials, etc...)
  3. The Greeks and Romans had accounts of miracles in their mythology, and they weren't true. Why should I believe that some guy could walk on water, or any of the other miracles in the Bible?
  4. There isn't any documentation of Biblical times and events outside of the Bible (I later learned how wrong I was about that)
  5. Adam and Eve were a fairy tale. We all know we evolved from lower forms. If Genesis is wrong, why should I trust the rest of the Bible?

I also had some objections on a personal level, including:

  1. My own personal experience with the Assembly of God taught me that Christians were nothing but hypocrites.
  2. I had a humanistic world-view, and fully believed that as long as you're not hurting anyone, you should be free to do what you want. An absolute moral standard just didn't make sense to me. For example, how could premarital sex between two consenting adults be wrong, especially if they loved each other?

Over the years, I have done much studying of different religions and belief systems including everything from Buddhism to Wicca. In some, I found nuggets of truth, and others seemed laughable to me, but I was fascinated. None of this led me any closer to becoming a Christian, but it did provide me with an understanding of the beliefs of practitioners of non-Christian religions that many Christians will never fully understand.

I also studied mythologies of ancient cultures, and found that there were common legends in each. I ran across hundreds of stories about a flood destroying man in legends from around the world. I thought it was interesting. Why would traditions from every part of the world, including China, Africa, the Americas, tribes on Pacific islands, and virtually everywhere else on earth have legends of a flood with a common theme that the flood was sent to punish people for their wrongdoings, or for angering their gods? When I ran across this, I realized that these legends had to be based on an actual event. I didn't however, believe that the Bible contained the actual description of the flood. I just figured that it was just another myth based on something that actually happened.

I also ran across several legends about the gods confusing the languages of ancestors. The gods of the legends had different motives for confusing the tongues, but I thought that it was more than a coincidence that these legends would be present in so many cultures. At the time, I had not even heard of the tower of Babel, so I didn't even to think that this could have been mentioned in the Bible.

Other common themes were decidedly non-Christian. The idea that we can control an energy we do not understand was common to Wicca, the ki (chi) in the martial arts, voudun, the promise of psychic ability from the Rosicrucians. Reincarnation, karma (and the Rule of Three in Wicca) were other such themes.

Interestingly enough, much of what I was reading started to make sense from a scientific viewpoint as well. Chaos Theory hinted at a hidden order that we have not yet beguun to truly understand, Quantum physics showed that matter is really no more than organized energy at a sub atomic level. Who's to say that so-called psychic ability isn't merely our nervous system, which function using bioelectricitym interacting with the underlying structure of te universe? I had come up with a theory to explain telepathy at age 16. I thought that telepathy was no more than our minds picking up the weak electromagnetic field produced by another's normal neural electricity in a way that we had simply not discovered yet. Now with the knowledge that matter is really energy, it wasn't to hard to extrapolate that into telekenesis, or even such things as casting spells and cursed in Wicca and Voudun.

Of course, I never believed in any of the new age religions or their teachings, any more than I did Christianity, but eventually I came to the conclusion that I really didn't know everything for sure, and that maybe some of the things that scientists scoff at are actually true.

Around the time I came to the conclusion that there was more to the universe than meets the eye, I ran into Dawn, a friend of mine from high school. We got to talkimg about these subjects. I remember telling her about my theory about psychic abilities and the body's electromagnetic field, and she said that this made perfect sense to her. Furthermore, she thought that her Church would have answers for me. At this point, I was finally humble enough about my own knowledge to agree to go with her to her Church.

Her Church was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormons. I went to an LDS Church for about two years, and the first thing I noticed is that these people really do practice what they preach. They take following God's word very seriously. The only problem is that to them, Gods word was not the Bible, but rather the teachings of their prophets. The Bible was used, of course, but was considered by them to be "corrupted by an apostate Church". The official story of the Church is that the founder, Joseph Smith, was vistied by an angel at a time when he was trying to decide which Church to join. A great revival was going on at the time, and he was confused about the different teachings, and wanted to be sure he joined the right Church. This angel advised him to join none of them, because they were all corrupt. Instead, Joseph Smith was to start his own Church, which would be the "re-establishment of the original Christian Church on earth".

The more I went to this Church and got to know the people, the more I wanted to serve God myself. I actually read the Bible, and tried to read their other "scriptures", and learned a lot about what the Bible teaches about how we should behave publicly and privately. The fact that the Mormons that I knew really DID practice what they preach made me want to be like them. The lack of hypocricy in their lifestyle was the polar opposite of what I witnessed at the Assembly of God.

There were two things that held me back from actually joining the LDS Church. The first was that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get myself to accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the current head of the Church was a true prophet of God. I knew that if I joined, I would be expected to witness to others, and for some reason, the mere thought of saying, "I know that Joseph Smith and all of the following presidents were prophets of God" made me feel like I was eating maggots. The mere thought of uttering those words appalled me, and literally turned my stomach. I also did not believe that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. At some point or another, I did start to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I didn't believe it fully, but I had more respect for the words of Jesus than I did the words of Joseph Smith.

After two years, i decided to hold back my objections and make the leap of faith, and join the Church despite my reservations. I still remember that day with almost perfect clarity. I had gone to witness the baptism of a new believer, and decided that that was what I wanted. I left the service, and made a three and a half hour drive back to Marshfield to tell my mother, and ask her if she would be there for me. I remember telling her about my decision, and I remember her exact words: "Oh, David... Before you do this, will you do me one favor? Please come and talk to my Pastor." I did, and I cannot thank God enough for what happened next.

I went to see her Pastor (Paster Reethsma), and told him about what I was going to do. I explained why I wanted to join the LDS Church, and that I wanted to serve God in the best way I knew how. He then asked me two questions. First he asked if I really believed that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I answered truthfully. No. I don't believe those things. He then said, "You know that if you join this Church, you will be expected to tell people that you believe these things. Can you do that with a clear concience?" Of course, I told him no. Then he took me through a plan of salvation, and showed me exactly where the teachings of Mormonism were in direct conflict with the Bible. He didn't have to work too hard to convince me. I never did believe many of the things that the Mormons teach, and the question of whether I could try to win someone to Mormonism with a clear concience kept echoing in my head. I wasn't saved on that day, but I did decide to never set foot in a Mormon Church again.

I don't regret my decision not to join the Mormon Church, but I don't regret attending it, either. If not for that experience, I may never have had the desire to really look into the Christian faith. My talk with Pastor Reethsma forced me to re-examine my beliefs. Part of me still wanted to believe that the Mormon Church was the "real Church", and I just didn't want to admit that the Christians were right all along.

I spent the next four years doing extensive research about the claims of the Bible and the claims of Mormonism in an attempt to prove what I hoped would be true. Instead, I found just the opposite.

I found an incredible amount of evidence for the validity of the bible, and absolultely none for the validity of the claims of Mormonism. The evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible is overwhelming. I also found answers to my other objections. The Inquisition, I learned, was not about Christians killing non-Christians. It was the Catholic Church, enforcing its political power by killing thhose with objections to Catholosism. Many of those killed were true Christians, objecting to false teachings of the Catholic church. The Bible also spoke of hypocrites, and how many would claim to be Christian, but their actions would betray them as false Christians.

I also learned what it really means to be a Christian. I understood the gospel, and I understood that we were saved by grace through faith alone, and that there was nothing we could do to earn our own salvation. I learned the history of the Church, what points all denominations believed, and where the denominations differed in their teaching, and how each denomination defended their own teachings.

Still, I didn't accept our Lord as my personal savior until 1999. From December of 1998 to June of 1999 three things happened in a very short time that finally drove me into the arms of God.

At that time, I had a roommate. I came home one night, and found him reading the book of Revelation. He asked me if I believed the stuff that was in there, and I told heim that I did. At that point, I had no doubts about the infalliability most of the scriptures, and it was the honest answer. That night, I thought about what he had asked me and what my own behaviors said about my beliefs. Sure, I believed the Bible was true, but I didn't go to Church, and I certainly hadn't asked for forgiveness myself. The next Sunday, I decided to find a Church and go to it. I attended Church sporadically over the next several months.

Shortly after, my mother came to visit, and she brought along a series of videotapes from Creation Science Evangelism. I refused to watch them at first, because I still believed in evolution. The idea that the earth was created by God in a six day period 6000 years ago was inconceivable to me. (This was the only part of the Bible that I still didn't believe was true.) After a while, Mark, my roommate, talked me into watching the videos. I did, and the last of my illusions began to crumble. I didn't want to believe what I was hearing, but I could no longer dismiss the idea of creationism as "unscientific". I began to research the claims that Dr. Hovind had made, and found them all to be true. My preconception that evolution was true shattered. I knew then that the Bible was completely reliable.

Then something happened that finally drove me to the Cross. At a wedding reception, I began talking to a girl that was there with her boyfriend. This was a typical American wedding reception, with plenty of alcohol, and we had both been drinking. She was upset about some things in her life, and the alcohol was not helping. As she drank more, she got more depressed, and more angry. She was talking bout her life, and all the rotten things that were happening to her, and out of the clear blue, she said, "And don't give me this God loves me sh**, either. If God loved me, he wouldn't put me through this." I don't know where that came from. Nobody had mentioned God in any way up to that point, and when she said it, I was stunned. I then tried to talk to her about it, and failed miserably. I was too drunk to think straight, much less witness to someone. I stopped drinking beer and switched to water. A few hours later everyone left the reception and went to a bar.

By the time we reached the bar, I had sobered up, and I remember desperately wanting to have another chance to talk to this Girl and answer her questions, but I was frustrated that I was unable to. I felt helpless and frustrated. In this one moment, I realized my own condition, and I realized how my pride was keeping me from not only being able to bring her to God, but it was keeping me away from God as well. I realized how useless I was to God, and how utterly lost I was. I went outside because I had absolutely no desire to be in a bar any more. It just so happens that one of the Churches I had gone to was across the street from this bar, and in my misery and anguish, I walked across the street and I knelt on the steps of that Church, and I begain to pray.

You see, at this point, I knew my own position with God. At this point, I finally realized that I had been in rebellion against Him, and that I was not the "good" person I imagined myself to be. I had broken His commandments, been prideful, spiteful, and mocking towards Him, and because of this, His wrath abided on me.

I told God that I knew how lost I was, and that I was sorry for not being who He wanted me to be. I told Him that I wanted to serve Him, and that if this (the Church) was where He wantd me to be, then I wouldn't fight Him any longer. I asked for forgiveness and asked to be made His child, and begged Him to let me serve Him, and to use me for His will.

That's my story. It's how I finally stopped running from God, and asked Him to save me. I know that this was a very long testimony, and I apologize for that, but I wanted you to understand why I am building this site. Much of the Apologetic information, including the Creation, accuracy, and validity of God's word, and the dangers of false teachings is included because I personally battled these things in my own life. Many Christians never face these issues, but many more lost souls are facing them this very day. It is my sincere hope that the information I present in the web site not only strengthens your faith, but enables you to understand, and thereby witness to, people who are facing tese issues and who are trapped by these lies so that you can bring them to God.