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Thursday, March 17, 2011

V: Protestant Passion

I pressed the gas pedal down firmly as I crossed over the Georgia state line and passed into the Great Beyond. I had never driven alone more north than Atlanta, but now I was catapulting myself 600 miles away from home. Destination: Lynchburg, Virginia.

I had graduated from my local community college and was filled with a passionate Evangelical zeal to give all to Jesus Christ. I desired to continue my undergraduate studies, not at a large state university like many of my friends, but at a small conservative Baptist college. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University seemed the perfect choice. I eagerly sent off for enrollment information and after being accepted, I decided, without ever having seen the campus, to begin classes there winter semester of 1993.

The drive north was quite exciting as I embarked on this new adventure. There was a natural exhilaration in setting off for the unknown and, combined with my ever-growing faith, I felt certain that I was right where God wanted me to be and that He would shape my future as I set off to begin this fresh chapter of my life.

I found Liberty University to be an Evangelical college student’s Paradiso: a vibrant wholesome campus full of like-minded believers; upbeat worship services resounding with contemporary praise music and engaging speakers; a liberal arts curriculum taught from a solid conservative Biblical perspective; a steady stream of concerts featuring prominent contemporary Christian artists.

Liberty was a haven from “worldly” culture - where devotion to Jesus was commended and encouraged, where being a Christian was “cool”, and where the hedonistic atmosphere usually associated with college life was virtually non-existent. I met a great group of solid Christian friends who encouraged me in being a faithful disciple of Jesus, and I truly felt that with their help I grew ever stronger in faith and virtue.

In looking back, my two and a half years at Liberty University represented the summit of my life as an Evangelical Protestant. It would never again be that good. While at Liberty, it was relatively easy to be a devoted Christian since that was the recognized norm. It was what I needed at the time and I value those years as contributive to the Christian I am today.

Ironically, however, as solidly Protestant as the school was (and still is), there were several lessons and experiences from my time at Liberty University that I see, in retrospect, helped to lead me towards the Catholic Church. I will discuss some of these in the next installment: Part 6 of my Conversion Story: “Laying the Groundwork (Without my Knowledge).”


Unknown said...

I love that first paragraph.

I have never thought about Liberty being the summit, but you are right. I was frustrated in starting seminary that the Liberty experience did not continue there.

Also I think the Liberty culture perpetuated my own adolescence rather than catapulting me into adulthood. That is to say they were a component of this problem for me, I bear the bulk of that burden.

TM said...

Those were indeed good years, but the Christian microcosm at Liberty set up in me unrealistic expectations of what a Christian life would be like in the 'real world', and I emerged unprepared -

like you said, it prolonged my adolescence, and kept me an immature believer in many ways -

But this is after more than 15 intervening years - it was certainly wonderful at the time

and it took me about 5 years to recover from that particular kind of wonderful

kkollwitz said...

Keep 'em coming.

TM said...

thanks kkollwitz - glad there are interested folks are out there reading - I will post again as soon as I get the chance - I wish I had time to be more prolific :) thanks for reading and God bless!