My faith story
This is my story of how I came to be a Biblical Unitarian. This is something I have been wanting to share for a while! I was recently at a conference in Georgia with other Biblical Unitarians from the Church of God network (BU churches) all over the country, where I was asked a lot about my faith story. It got me thinking: I don’t have this out there in chronological order, and I would like to take the time to lay out my story both for myself and others.
(Childhood - 2010)
I was raised Baptist and went to church faithfully every Sunday for my entire childhood. My mom was so awesome to take my sister and I to church, rain or shine! Although I no longer hold the same beliefs on key points of doctrine now, my Baptist background and upbringing shaped my worldview into a moral and Biblical one, which I am forever thankful for! I was never the most studious one at church, but I knew the basics: God was three persons in one (Father, Son, Spirit) // We were born sinners because of the fall // Jesus was a God-man that came from heaven to earth to die on a cross for our sins // We go to heaven when we die if we accept Jesus into our heart // Once saved always saved. Looking back, I felt like I had an overall shallow relationship with God and a shallow understanding of the Bible; I had many doubts about Christian faith in general and vividly remember having panic attacks thinking about death/afterlife. Sure, there were "mountaintop" moments at church camps and mission trips where I would feel temporary excitement about my faith. But I can honestly say that I never felt like I had a solid grasp on the whole God/church thing, nor did it ever feel real to me inside, although I tried and wished it did. There is one moment I remember from my teenage years; I was in the car at a stoplight on the way to work listening to the local Christian radio station. Listening to the song, I remember thinking, "I just don't get it like everyone else does. Why does being a Christian feel so hard for me to do?"
There was certainly no one else to blame for this; everyone around me had always been supportive and encouraging: my youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, and especially my mother. Maybe it was my lack of motivation, or understanding, or just my immaturity. I don't know. What I do know is that I regularly acted like I was strong in my faith, but I truly wasn’t.
When I went to college, I happily ran head first down a road of destruction. I won't go into all the details... but after two different universities and 3.5 years of college, this road of destruction had ultimately brought me to an all-time low: performing a sobriety test, walking on a bright yellow parking lot stripe off Main Street, and being scheduled for AA classes and many hours of community service by the judge. Mind you, all this time, I'm keeping up the "I’m just an average, normal Christian girl" routine. I was working as the secretary at a Methodist church for Pete’s sake. Most people didn't know about what was going on behind the scenes. It was an awkward conversation when I had to tell my boss/pastor why I was going to have to miss some work. PS, he didn't fire me! :)
Thankfully, there was a major turning point towards the end of my college career: through an extremely painful experience, I had finally found myself broken free from the chains of alcohol and a couple of other debilitating strongholds. I cried out on my bedroom floor asking God if I could just know Him somehow. I felt free and honest with myself, my family and the Lord for the first time in years. I believe he heard me, because I had been brought so extremely low and there was nothing else to cling onto but Him. I would say at this point, around age 22, I grew up and started taking my life/faith seriously.
After that milestone, things happened really quickly. I started dating Kegan, I graduated college with a 4.0 at the top of my class and gladly ended that whole chapter on a high note. I moved back home, living at my parents’ house and working full-time in Houston. I paid off every cent of my student loans! Two years later Kegan and I got married, one year later we had Josiah, and finally I quit my corporate marketing job to be a stay at home wife/mom. Needless to say 2010-2013 was a COMPLETE WHIRLWIND. This is where the story of my faith conversion takes place.
But before I go into the meat of this story, I’ll note that Kegan has always had a firm foundation in the Bible, and we agreed that we were going to build our family on the Bible from the start. We prayed, read our Bibles, and talked about God everyday with each other. Though I had been raised a Baptist, at this point I didn’t consider myself a Baptist, Methodist, or a part of any denomination at all. We would attend and visit various churches, but above all, we were Christians, followers of Christ. We were sincere in our walk with God.
(2013: Josiah's baby shower)
During our baby shower in January 2013, two Mormons came to the door. If anyone knew Kegan back then, they would attest that Kegan loved debating Mormons (in the most loving manner of course!). His story and background is an entirely different journey, but at this point he was a fiery Christian who passionately held to those same core beliefs that I had: God was three persons in one (Father, Son, Spirit) // We were born sinners because of the fall // Jesus was a God-man that came from heaven to earth to die on a cross for our sins // We go to heaven when we die if we accept Jesus into our heart // Once saved always saved.
So of course, because it was a baby shower, we had a friend in charge of taking pictures. Interestingly enough, she got a picture of Kegan debating with the Mormons outside that day. We think it's pretty crazy that this key turning point in our lives was preserved; how funny is that!
|"Well, who do you say that he is?"|
As usual, Kegan was passionately and persuasively teaching the young men about Jesus’ “dual natures” (that he was both God and Man), and that God is a holy Trinity of three different persons.
"Well, who do you say that he is?" said one of the Mormons.
"Jesus is God, of course!" Kegan said.
Kegan had won the debate using all of his usual verses and arguments. But my husband told me later that he felt his heart prick at that statement, which was also what Jesus had said: “who do YOU say that I am?” In other words, Not your pastor, not your favorite theologians, etc.! So Kegan went home and began studying very hard. But he never studied to disprove the Trinity—It was the opposite! He wanted more biblical and historical ammunition for the core beliefs that he had always held so tightly to. He sincerely set out to affirm what he already believed about Jesus' deity and Trinitarianism.
What happened instead was shocking and scary: Kegan found that the doctrine of the Trinity was not taught in the Bible. And all kinds of biblical and historical scholars agreed that many of the early church fathers were heavily influenced by pagan Greek philosophy and passed down their interpretations—these interpretations laid the groundwork for later developments, which later church councils made into “orthodox” beliefs—our traditional “Church basics 101.” However, the Jesus in the Bible believed and taught something so completely different.
My husband prayerfully researched and studied these traditional doctrines for hours and hours into the night, without my knowledge. Anyone who knows Kegan personally would agree that he doesn't take Bible study lightly and wouldn't risk bringing up something so contrary to orthodox Christianity with anyone unless he was positive that it was the truth.
So one night in 2013, right after Josiah was born, I was sitting in the rocking chair feeling exhausted, defeated and confused with my tiny screaming human. We were having a particularly rough time: Josiah was upset and I couldn't console him. Unbeknownst to me, he had a tongue-tie and couldn't eat properly which was causing me immense pain. It was a rough recovery and my hormones were naturally out of whack. I was feeling like a failure and on the edge of PPD with intense mood swings and uncontrollable crying at the drop of a hat for no reason at all. Let's just say I was not gracefully coping with the new-mommy life, even before the "everything you know about God is wrong" bomb was dropped on me. #doublewhammy
But yes, that stressful night of parenting (and we laugh about it now) was the night Kegan decided to tell me everything: the spark that had been stirred by the conversation with the Mormons at the baby shower, his conviction to research/affirm his existing beliefs, the discovery that many Christian/orthodox beliefs were paganized ideas that originated outside of the Scriptures. The following conversation was pretty ugly: "You need help,” I said. “You need to see a therapist; what kind of leader are you being for our family; I feel sorry for our child; you're believing lies on the internet!"
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God… but isn’t God? The Trinity doctrine isn’t taught in the Bible? Jesus was a man who was full of the Spirit… but the Spirit isn’t the Third Person of the Trinity? This was so different from what I had always heard. I was suddenly on a polar opposite side of the spectrum than my husband which was the last thing I wanted. I had to mentally and spiritually wrestle with these things, all the while still NOT rocking the "new-mom thing", and it was a strain on our marriage.
But I realized this problem was not going away. I asked God to just reveal the truth to me, whatever that was. It started slowly. I was reading the Bible one day, and read where Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert to be tempted by Satan. And how in James, it says God cannot be tempted James 1:13. If the person of Jesus is God… how could God be truly tempted? I took pictures of those verses and sent them to Kegan to communicate "Okay, I see this now. I'm thinking." And I think this was another turning point; I started to realize that if I were to hold to mainstream Christian beliefs about these things, then I was going to have a lot of little red flags popping up.
If Jesus is God, and God is immortal, how did Jesus die?
Why does Jesus pray to God if he is God?
Why did Jesus say the Father is greater than I if the doctrine of the Trinity teaches co-equality? And what about the Holy Spirit?
Why does the Bible say Jesus is like us in every way if he's God? That's impossible, we can't be like God.
Why did Jesus pray not his will but for God's will to be done if he is God?
Why do God and Jesus have a throne in heaven but the Holy Spirit (3rd person of the trinity) does not?
If Jesus is God, and God is all-knowing, how does Jesus not know when he will return to earth but he says only the Father knows?
On top of all that, why does the Bible talk about resurrection on the earth if we just go to heaven after death?
These were just some of the legitimate questions I had (and probably always subconsciously had growing up in the church), and the "It's a mystery, take it on blind faith" answer just didn't cut it anymore.
To make a long story short… the Bible changed my mind. The study was not easy, but it was worth it. Below are some of the beliefs I have now come to. Some of these things were presented to me on night one, some of these came gradually afterwards. It was quite a journey getting to this point in our walk with God. But I 100% stand behind these as Biblical truths today.
The Trinity is not taught in the Bible.
Jesus is God's human son - the mediator between man and God. 1 Timothy 2:5
The spirit is God's supernatural power and influence that empowers us.
Jesus did not preexist in heaven. He was miraculously born of a virgin on earth through God's amazing power. Like me, he did not exist before his birth! Luke 1:35
We don't go to heaven when we die, not even King David, a man after God's own heart did that! Acts 2:34 The heavens were not intended to be our end-game destination, the earth was created for man as it was in Genesis, for man to live and rule on. Psalm 115:16 When we die we're simply dead with no conscious thought or action in the grave. Ecc 3:19 Jesus died a real death. Three days later God fulfilled His promise and resurrected him. This too, will happen to us. Ezekiel 37:5 The only human to ever ascend to heaven was Jesus, because of his perfect obedience to God, he proved himself worthy and has been made higher than the angels. Heb 1:4 He is still there at God's right side, until God appoints him to return to Earth to establish His kingdom where the earth will be restored to Eden-like state as it was in the beginning. Psalm 110:1 Where Adam failed in Genesis, Jesus, the last Adam, wins in Revelation! 1 Cor 15:45
Conditional immortality - not once saved always saved. We have the ability through free will to choose our destiny. If we run the race and succeed, we will be resurrected as an immortal in the Kingdom to help Jesus establish the Kingdom and rule with him as coheirs. 2 Timothy 2:12 Matt 25:31-46 If we do not, then we perish in Valley of Hinnom (or Gehenna aka hell), which is a real location outside of Jerusalem where Satan, his angels, and all those who rejected God will perish one permanent time. There is no "eternal hellfire" with eternal conscious torment. In the Kingdom, death ceases to exist. There will be a one-time death for all who will not be in the earthly Kingdom. Rev 20:14
If you're anything like the 2013-Lauren, that sounds like some FREAKY STUFF.
"JESUS ISN'T GOD? I'M NOT GOING TO BE ZIPPED AWAY TO HEAVEN?! WE'RE GOING TO LIVE AS IMMORTALS ON EARTH FOREVER?!"
This was all so new to me, as well. But after my studies, I firmly believe it is what the Bible really teaches.
Now that I have come to these simple and clear beliefs, though difficult and scary, this has ultimately changed my life for the better.
Before the nature of the Father/Son/Spirit Trinity was an incomprehensible mystery I could not understand nor possibly relate to.
Now I have NO confusion about who the one God, his human son Jesus, or God’s power or spirit is. Jesus is now 100% relatable to me because he was a human who faced valid temptations, and by God’s help, obeyed every time. WOW. If he can do that, I can too!
Before Anxiety attacks and fear about death and heaven. Why does the Bible never really explain in detail about what our eternity in heaven will be like?? And why didn’t King David go to heaven?
Now Knowledge about the coming Kingdom on earth gives me authentic hope and eases all questions about what will happen when we die! Almost every word out of Jesus’ mouth is about the future Kingdom—he preached the Gospel about the coming Kingdom of God. There is a timeline for it, and the Bible actually tells us about our roles and jobs to do on the new earth.
Before Overall disconnected and didn’t understand the Bible.
Now I see the Gospel message about the earthly Kingdom threaded throughout every book of the Bible. Stories I didn’t fully understand before now have so much depth and meaning, such as the story of Joseph.
It's been an amazing journey since 2013. I am now actively teaching these truths to our sons and we have met SO many people from around the country and the world who also believe these things. We have had the pleasure of fellowshipping with many friends and family throughout the past 4 years in a home church setting with Kegan as our humble leader.
We’ve since connected with a network of churches, not a denomination, but a collection of independent churches that work together called the Church of God General Conference with hundreds of established churches, a Bible college, and programs all over the country (7 countries total) that believe and preach these same biblical truths. When I learned that there were so many others who had seen these things in the Bible, it blew my mind! I started out thinking this Biblical Unitarianism stuff was an internet cult or something fake. But there is so much history with the Biblical Unitarian movement dating all the way back to the first century.
I praise God for guiding me through every step of my life, the good and the bad, and that I landed here with a solid understanding of Him and His words that make real, tangible sense to me. I am also thankful that I have the chance to raise my sons with this knowledge, and that they will not have to be "un-learning" doctrines we believe are not Biblical. We look forward to a lifetime of sharing these truths with more friends and family and raising our children to be fighters of these truths in a world of confusion!