There’s a lot of bridges here. These were my first words on Eastern’s campus. It was a frozen day. Snow fell, as our guide described Eastern’s mission. “We grow in faith, learn reason and help bring justice here.” I see Eastern’s bridges as a representation of this mission. When Eastern sees a need in the world, they immediately build a bridge to meet that need. Looking at this snow covered campus, hearing their strong Godly mission, I knew I had to be here.
Upon my first year, in the autumn chill, I discovered Eastern questions their students’ solid faith. Classes propose God might not be good. Allah could also be God. (a conundrum I retrieved from Faith Unraveled) The Bible was presented as flawed, so students wondered what parts they could trust. Eastern’s students relied on their ideals to shape how they read the Bible. They put their faith in themselves.
During this time, I not only learned reason, but was taught that most conservatives were unreasonable. My journalism professor told me, “You are not allowed to use FOX as a news source. It has a right leaning political bias.” Students I admired portrayed conservatives as unreasonably stubborn.
Time progressed and I learned about social justice. During my sophomore year I wrote about this justice in our newspaper, The Waltonian. Before I came here; before the “Black Lives Matter” movement, I had not heard speakers tell me that I had to feel guilty for oppressing people with my “privilege.”
“Should I feel guilty, for injustice I haven’t done?” In an article I wrote on racism I answered, “I don’t have to feel guilty for something I didn’t do, but if the day comes when I no longer feel empathy for my fellow neighbor, then I am ensnared in vice.”Although my editor wanted me to write “black neighbor,” I do not believe empathy is dependent on skin color. God’s love is for all people. God’s creation must find its identity in Christ. Only as God’s children can we live out God’s justice, furthering His Kingdom.
As I continued writing, I found most Waltonian articles reasoned from a “progressive” position. When Donald Trump was elected president, Eastern grieved. I wondered “How could Trump get elected if there was nothing good about him?” With curiosity I tuned in to Fox News, and saw many examples of how our president enacted executive orders favoring freedom of religion and the rights of the unborn. I found reasoning in Trump’s’ favor. I also discovered I needed a moral compass founded on the conservative standpoint. As a conservative I debate on the basis of ideals, over attitudes, emotions. My newly discovered standpoint is founded on Biblical Christian values, built upon an immovable rock. I try to reason in favor of God’s virtues, His truths.
In my Junior year I knew God’s truths, but my faith was diminishing. I was influenced by people retelling scripture in their image. Some of my chaplains taught me universalism, (no one’s going to hell, because Jesus loves everyone.) I met people who used the phrase “saved by grace,” as a “Get out of My Sin Free” card. What’s worse is I entertained this sin. I danced with the ungodly. I was dying. I needed living water, God’s inerrant word, so I abandoned heresy. I read the Bible again, and God melted my heart, and reignited me to trust His will alone. I know He is my rock, and I will try to faithfully do His works and preach His good news.
I came to Eastern in pursuit of its mission, “Grow in faith, learn reason and help bring justice,” but people have plagued this mission. I’ve seen “universalist faith, political reason and social justice” bring destruction, and “Christian faith, truthful reason and God’s justice” bring restoration. With the warmth of each sunrise I pray God will help me promote His Kingdom, discern His divine truths and trust His will. In my senior year here I desire to be on fire for Christ. I will “trust in the LORD with all [my] heart, and lean not on [my] own understanding. In all [my] ways [I will] acknowledge Him, and He will direct” me across many other bridges (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Sources:“Creating a Common Memory – A Reflection on Black History Month” The Waltonian “What is Universalism?” ThoughtCo.com