on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

The Way

This is the second in a series on my Faith Journey.

When I was growing up, I only knew about one path to God.  And it was the Baptist way.

As far as I knew, it was the right way, the biblical way, God’s way.

I believed it was the only way to God.  And for good reason.

My father was a beloved Baptist pastor in Alabama for five decades.  His closest friends were Baptist ministers who were like my “uncles,” and I was named after one of them.  My paternal grandfather was a Baptist preacher.  The list goes on.

Like most Baptists I knew, I attended church with my family every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for 7-10 hours per week during my first 18 years of life.

I am very grateful for what I was taught because I learned to go deeply in the way.  I was immersed in it.

And then I attended my first non-Baptist worship service when I was in college.  A different path was now visible.

I began to realize that some of my friends were also taught one way, but it was different from the way I learned.  And they believed, like me, their way was the only way.

I can remember the first time I heard the Bible I knew referred to as the “Protestant Bible,” and my Catholic friend showed me his Bible.  I was amazed that his Bible had seven more books in the “Old Testament” that I had never even heard of much less read.  It was not until seminary that I learned the difference between the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant books of the Hebrew (Old Testament) scriptures.  But that is enough discovery to discuss for now.

My point is that all of us believed we had been taught THE way to God in our spiritual journeys. Which one of us was right?

I began to realize that I had been taught “A” way in the spiritual path, but maybe not the “Only way.”

I was uncomfortable for awhile with this new truth, but eventually it gave me a whole new view on my spiritual journey.

What about you?  How did you grow up?  Did you believe you had all the truth?

I’d love to learn about your experience, your spiritual journey. Won’t you share in the comments below?



  1. Janet Griffin

    I grew up in a church that taught scripture alone and that scripture was literal. I attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran College in Kansas and the questioning period of my life eventually brought me to the Episcopal church where the three legged stool became important to me. Scripture, reason and tradition. I treasure my early background and it has made me tolerant of people who believe differently than I do now. Although my thinking and beliefs have changed over the years, my relationship with God has not. I do believe God loves all creation and has reconciled it through Christ to himself and has reconciled us to each other. This is the Gospel…the good news if you will. We are reconciled to God and to each other. The hard part is believing and living into that reconciliation. Compassion, forgiveness and justice are big players in this good news.

  2. brenda staehle

    So interesting that I am hearing this again this week from a different source. George and I now attend a faith community. It began as a start of a Baptist church but it also has had a unique journey. I too spent so much time in the church building as a child that I knew what was in every nook and cranny of the entire campus. That did give me a foundation. Now we are about to surrender our building and become a mobile church. In the process we will be debt free. I have never been a part of a mobile church. It’s new and scary. I’m finding I may have been alot more tied to a physical building through my faith journey than I thought I was. When we moved to this faith community 18 months ago from a traditional Baptist rectangular brick building with a steeple – that was a huge leap – no choir – no hymnals – no Hallelujah Chorus at Christmas and Easter! We did it for the kids at the time but now I see God wanted to show me some things there too. It far away from where I started my faith journey and the years at the Baptist Seminary where I came away from Louisville with a divorced Catholic husband and not a degree. That was the beginning of my awareness that other groups had some things right too.

  3. Sheila Freeman-Roberts

    I was raised in a Baptist Church and received a good foundation at a early age. I received the Lord as my Savior at the age of ten. I was not baptized until I was fifteen. There are thousands of religions in the world and each person has to find their way to truth. The Holy Bible is God’s spoken word given to His creation for instructions on how to live their life. I believe the Holy Bible is truth and only through Jesus Christ we can come into the Kingdom of God. Even though people may have their own belief one thing must be the center of their belief and that is coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior and have a personal relationship with Him. For several years I had fallen away from God and entered a very dark, deep hole. Only through God’s love, mercy and grace I found my way back to Him. Our God above all gods is the answer through Jesus Christ. God loves us so much that He gave His only son to die for our sins. God created the perfect world and man (Adam & Eve) disobeyed God. Holiness matters most and man cannot live in a sin. That is why Jesus was born to pay the price for man’s sin. It is not the religion being the right way but your repenting of sin and turning away from sin. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and then living your life to share the message of hope for the hopeless, a way to live a full life now and a promise to have eternal life with the one that created you. That is the only way.

  4. Charles Kinnaird


    I am one who is enlivened by the contact with many faith expressions that we see more and more as our society becomes more pluralistic. Like you, I grew up Baptist. I was in a rural, provincial setting and Baptist was enough for awhile. Later, I came to enjoy worship in the liturgical settings of the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches. It was like learning a new language for worship. As with any new language, new insights arise in the learning. I have also benefitted in personal devotions by reading the works of Quakers (e.g. John Woolman, Rufus Jones, Elton Trueblood), Catholics (e.g. Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington) as well as Buddhist practitioners (e.g. Jack Kornfield and H.H. the Dalai Lama). Interfaith dialogue is one of the great opportunities of our time.

    Recently, I was in a conversation about prayer, and whether it was okay to pray for material things. It occurred to me in that conversation that for me, gratitude is the most enriching kind of prayer. It immediately assumes relationship with the divine and trust even in uncertainty. Throughout my pilgrimage, my image of God has certainly changed, but I have never lost that sense of gratitude toward a loving ultimate force behind an ultimately friendly universe.

  5. Laura M

    I was raised Catholic but never belived any of it. In college in Louisiana, I got “saved” and spent the next 20 years in the Baptist church. I believed everything I heard for a long time. Then I came out as a lesbian and was rejected by the Baptist church and my Christian friends. Now … I just don’t know. I’m still putting it all back together. It’s good to radically examine your beliefs, I think. Many people never do.

  6. Jan Painter

    Malcolm, as you know, I grew up as a Baptist,first in Cullman, then with Bro. Nunn, then your Dad as pastors( and I respected and admired them greatly.)Unfortunately,later,I and many others had some bad experiences at that church by self-proclaimed “Christian members”, which had the effect of turning me away from all churches for years. I still have problems with people who are so devout on Sundays, but show hatred toward people unlike them. YOU are my ideal of the perfect spiritual leader. You embrace all people, regardless of their sexual identity,color or social status, which I’m sure has kept you out of some circles. But,IMO, you represent what a true Christian leader should.You give me hope.Thank you for that!

  7. Sandy

    Although I was brought up Methodist, my best friend from birth was Catholic, so we alternated between Saturday night mass and Sunday morning worship depending on the home where we spent the weekend! When I got old enough to understand that these differences actually mattered to some people, I started to hear people talking about “THE” way (meaning the Baptist way) and I started asking lots of questions. Some were graciously received, some not so much. But the whole experience continues to teach me remarkable lessons.

  8. Stephanie

    I was raised in a small, rural Southern Baptist church. I was there “every time the doors were opened.” Sunday morning, sunday night, wednesday night. I was taught that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. And I believed that. I had no reason to not believe it. Not until I went to college did I really get to know people from other Christian denominations. I went to a Church of God church for awhile during college. And my beliefs broadened. By the end of college I wasn’t going to church anywhere. Then after college, during my bum years, I worked part time at a bakery for a couple who are Catholic. That man and I loved comparing our beliefs. At some point I started going to their church. And went there for awhile, even after I had moved on from that job. It was there that I fell in love with liturgy. My beliefs broadened again. I did a brief stint as pianist at a Methodist church where I learned more new things. I’ve also attended Quaker meeting for a short time (the silence is great for an introvert!). I’ve learned about other non-Christian religions and find truths in them as well. When I go to church now, I’m back to a Baptist church, though a rather different breed of Baptist (Baptist Church of the Covenant =) There I have parts of several things I love: hymns, a bit of liturgy…but not much silence, and no praise music which I’ve outgrown anyway.

    My question has always been, since everybody thinks their way is the right way, does that make everybody wrong? I think I’ve concluded that, yes, everybody is wrong to a degree, but they are also right to a degree. I don’t think there’s any way for any human to fully, totally understand God, so none of us have the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

  9. Malcolm

    To all my friends who have commented above, thank you for taking the time to write such thoughtful stories from your own experience.

    Peace be with you,

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