In the almost four years that I have been publishing stories and musings on Wrights Lane, I have intentionally avoided imposing my religious beliefs, as limited as they may be, on readers. I have preferred, instead, to pass along ecumenical food for thought from time to time that I trust might be of relative interest. I hope that the following will be accepted in that light.
I began to take more than a passing interest in the late Charles Templeton (1915-2001) about 40 years ago and that interest peaked in 1977 when I received an advanced review copy of "Act of God", published by McClelland and Stewart Limited of Toronto, when I was managing editor of the Brampton Daily Times. At the time, Jack McClelland predicted a bestseller and suggested that my advanced copy would eventually have value as a collectors' item. To this day, the novel "Act of God" by Charles Templeton remains one of the most interesting and imaginative books that I have ever read. I'm taking Jack at his word and giving the review edition special care.
For me personally, Templeton was likewise, the most interesting Canadian cartoonist, evangelist, agnostic, politician, newspaper editor, inventor, broadcaster and author (no kidding) in my experience -- and definitely the most complicated and contradictory. Truly gifted in everything he turned his mind to, Templeton was a well-known evangelical church leader who turned his back on God while still in the ministry. He became an agnostic who took opportunity to publicly attack Christianity through his many connections in the press and broadcast industries.
Sadly, he had just finished writing his last book entitled "Farewell to God" when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In "Farewell to God", he made the claim: "I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their manifestations. deleterious to individuals and to society."
Soon after release of the controversial book, old friend Billy Graham, aware of his illness, called Templeton in an attempt to persuade him to re-read the New Testament Gospel before he could no longer seriously consider his eternal destiny. Templeton, of course, refused, saying he had been there and done that.
This all begs the question in my mind: As Templeton abandoned God publicly and privately, did God abandon him?
Unless I am wrong, I do not know that God holds a hammer over any one's head. If you insist on turning your back on Christian roots and beliefs, He will most certainly let you go and leave you to yourself to sink or swim in life. As Anne Graham Lotz suggests, "the most frightening form of judgment is not necessarily fire falling from heaven or the earth opening up to swallow you, but God removing himself from your life."
One of the most solemn thoughts about our current condition in North America is the seemingly unsolvable problems of race, immorality, drugs, and our insistence on separation of church and state to the extreme. Are these social issues, combined with increasing environmental problems, a direct result of a concerted effort to remove the name of God from our public life? Is God giving us the freedom to destroy ourselves?
When we ignore God in our private lives, does He likewise ignore us?
I'm just saying...