The Words of the Carlson Family

Believing the Word

Paul Carlson
November 2003

This is the final article in a series about the Word of God.

Millions of people live by the Word. In the old Soviet Union, where atheism was enforced by a brutal KGB, anyone who worshipped God was an enemy. They were known to all as ‘believers.’

We’ve discussed humanists and atheists in other articles. They’re affected by the Word, too, but in an odd, reverse way.


The Principle explains history’s unfolding revelations very well. Due to ignorance and prejudice, many religions deny the sanctity of others. We uphold the truth of all religions, showing that God’s Word is tailored for each society and era.

With each new revelation, questions are finally answered, and religious practices brought up to date. This enhances the lives of believers, and each providential religion has grown worldwide.

While going door-to-door over the years, I found that people’s religious leanings can be readily ignored, or evoked. If approached from a business angle, most people respond by seeking a good deal, and praising your economic ambition. If asked for a religious contribution, they’ll quiz you for theological details, and tell you all about their own religion (or lack thereof.)


How hard do people strive to fulfill to their beliefs? It varies, though in most churches, women are the more faithful. On any Sabbath day, just check the pews -- and the couch at home, where the ball game is on.

Tens of millions of Americans claim, not only to believe in God, but to have been born again through Jesus. That’s hard to believe, since a small number of homosexual activists have been getting everything they’ve planned for. Take a look at the new TV sitcoms, and the recent flood of anti-traditional-marriage laws.

One gets the impression people aren’t serious enough about their beliefs, especially in the public square.

Sinful humans need strict guidance, and religion is the best place to get it. Our conscience gives the impetus, but we also need instruction, and a good example. (An ‘Abel figure,’ as the Principle terms it.)

Sometimes believers get serious. (For example, see

Maybe your own family has a ‘confirmed bachelor’ in it, but he probably doesn’t rub it in your face. Say your church elects an openly gay Bishop, and he announces that you’re a narrow-minded homophobe if you don’t support him gleefully. When a denomination becomes that humanistic, serious believers will enact reforms, or even participate in a splinter group.

In history, the austere Franciscan order became lax the very year Saint Francis died. A while later, the even stricter Capuchins split off.

Christianity has seen a lot of this. For example, the Anglicans begot the reforming Methodists, who spun off the Church of the Nazarene, which fostered the Bible Missionary Church. They split into the extremely strict Wesleyan Holiness Church.

Getting Along

The majority of Americans are Christian. Americans also know lots of people who aren’t. Most get along just fine, as neighbors and in the workplace. Conversions are also okay, whether the attraction is social, spiritual, or intellectual.

Unfortunately, instead of accepting this social variety, a few religions strain only to look backward. Supposedly, things were just peachy a thousand years ago, and everything done since ought to be blown up, or at least banned.

That’s the total opposite of American optimism. It’s also tragic, and they’re hurting their own believers even more than those at which they sometimes lash out.


Almost all believers are sincere, whether they’ve been educated in their faith, or simply accepted it. Some folks live (and serve) entirely by faith, giving little thought to doctrines or theology.

There are also twisted believers, such as the infamous Tomas de Torquemada, leader of the Spanish Inquisition. He was smart, and probably sincere. We must always guard against such extremes!

Today we face horrific suicide bombers. Believe it or not, most aren’t illiterate, poor, or desperate. In fact, they’re clinically sane.

Researchers compare them to World War Two’s kamikaze pilots, who knew exactly what they were getting into. In each case, a large and well-oiled ‘social indoctrination’ program drove them to fanatic acts.

At this point, I’d like to follow up on my recent "Challenging Times" article. In it, I mentioned that Pearl Harbor survivors now invite their new friends, the Japanese pilots, to their annual reunions. I asked whether, in fifty years, Taliban survivors might gather at Ground Zero in NYC.

Everyone I’ve asked says, "No way!" Folks say they have a mindset that will never change. Also, that it’s too squalid over there, for them to even be alive in fifty years.

I’m certain that folks said the same thing about the Imperial Japanese.


There are pretend believers.

In impoverished lands, missionaries coined the term ‘rice Christian’ for those who sang loudest in choir, but took off the minute the food ran out.

Christianity got a lot of insincere converts after the persecution ended, and churches became wealthy and influential. A handful of notorious televangelists have brought such efforts to a pinnacle.

Most false believers are self-serving, but worse, a few serve a hidden cause. These range from discreet spies to agents provocateurs, who join religious organizations to watch, or even disrupt, them. They’re grimly sincere about their cause.

Decades ago, the Soviet Union sent out many agents, with orders to become influential in Western churches. In some denominations they were wildly successful.

During sermons in the 1970s, Rev. Moon directly addressed UC members "owned by" the KGB, CIA, etc. He’d speak to them for a few minutes, then say, "Go tell your masters."

This proved true in France. There, some years ago, half the center members abruptly left, just after a decisive government action. But, the ‘spy sermon’ your author heard was given in America.

A friend has asked me if I know the identity of any such 1970s spies. I don’t.

Anyone care to fess up? You can do this privately, or even in public. At the least, please save your own soul, and confess on your deathbed.

Keeping The Faith

Believers, painfully aware of their own fallen nature, know they might doubt, or even backslide. Everyone has a different way of handling such possibilities.

I have a writer friend, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, whose community takes extreme measures. They don’t want any missionaries to visit their cloistered neighborhood, and possibly convert their youth. They don’t allow computers, or TV sets, into their homes.

So then, do they have confidence in their faith? One wonders -- but really, yes! In essence, their Rabbi doesn’t want anything to stir up confusion.

Compare this with our own community work, such as Home Church and Service for Peace. Our BCs and Japanese missionaries visit every church in town, and directly serve those who’ll accept it.

Are we going to Heaven? At times, every believer wonders. Do you fear condemnation and Hell, and dodge a hundred tempting sins; or do you give thanks and rejoice, and long for Heaven? It’s a real dichotomy; a product of church learning, early upbringing, and an even deeper optimism or pessimism.

Many people zigzag between those internal poles. Dark resentment and rebelliousness can break before the dawn of repentance and rebirth.

Jesus told us the path to Heaven is narrow. Like a mountain road, on occasion the edge of the cliff can draw near indeed. At such times, prayer and fellowship are vital.

Despite centuries of humanistic blather, people know that a few basics give life real meaning. A good life and family, and service to God and humanity, are what really counts, now and in the end. Everyone’s unique character and talents lend special flavor to this.

Wise Pastors speak not of making intellectual contracts with God, but of a deep surrender to His Will.

As we know, ultimately God is not just a stern Master, but also our loving Parent.

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