A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Six – My Year as a BJU Preacher Boy

church building

by John Ellis

If you continue reading this series, you’re going to discover that for a span of time as an adult, I was a drug dealer. You’ll read about how truly depraved I was and some of the truly terrible things I’ve done. You’ll find out about some of the weird and incredible events that are not easily explained, but that God used to draw me to Himself.

However, I predict that nothing you read in the subsequent chapters will be more confusing and jarring as this current installment. In fact, I would imagine that if someone wrote a movie script of my life that was then purchased by a producer, the scene that corresponds with this chapter would be cut.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Five – A Freshman at Bob Jones University

church building

by John Ellis

When I was a kid, Bob Jones University seemed to be the epicenter of my world.

The adults in my life talked about the college in reverent tones. The highlights every year at church were the services featuring BJU’s musical ministry teams, drama teams, and the screenings of films produced by Unusual Films (BJU’s film production company). Most of my Thanksgivings growing up were spent on BJU’s campus. In fact, my family spent a few of our summer vacations at Sword of the Lord Conferences as well as the World Congress of Fundamentalism that were held on the campus of Bob Jones University.

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My Illness Reminded Me to Be Careful What I Preach

Sick man

by John Ellis

I’ve prided myself on my body’s ability to heal quickly. It’s rare that I’m sick for longer than 24 hours. In fact, it’s rare that the lingering effects of illness stay with me longer than that 24-hour period. A good case in point is the last time I had strep throat.

Late one afternoon on a Saturday in August seven and a half years ago, my throat began to hurt. As the evening wore on, the pain became worse. By the time the sun rose on the Sunday morning, it felt like there were razors in my throat. I immediately went to a Minute Clinic type place, was prescribed amoxicillin, took my first two doses that Sunday, and woke up Monday morning almost 100% back to normal.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Four – For the Love of Grunge

church building

by John Ellis

During my transition from a Christian day school to Bob Jones University, and at the risk of romanticizing a musical genre that’s more artistically challenged than I realized at the time, grunge music, and its accompanying culture, became my god.

It didn’t happen overnight, though. The last half of 1993 and through the first half of 1994 provided me with clarity about my beliefs, or lack thereof, as well as boldness to act on my growing confidence in who I wanted to become.

In large part because of that, if you were on Pensacola Christian College’s campus during the fall of 1993 and you remember a brown and beige van frequently barreling through with music blaring, that was me.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Three – Sex and Rock & Roll at the Christian School

church building

by John Ellis

(Intro, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2)

There are occasional moments when I wish that my kids could have the schooling experience that I did. My fifteen years within the Christian school movement (K-4, K-5, and a second time through fourth grade plus the normal 12 years equals 15, for those that were wondering) were, for the most part, fun and contained a sense of community that, at times, I think my kids who attend public school are missing.

But then I remember that the community often ran at odds with the local church and that my fun was mostly an outworking of my rebellion within a strict environment that attempted to control my behavior, with comically futile efforts much of the time. Related, and maybe most importantly, I remember that for me and most of my classmates, two diametrically opposed worlds existed within our Christian school and youth groups. Many of us lived two parallel lives – a life of convenience and a secret life of conviction. Our life of convenience was necessary to maintain our secret life of conviction.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Two – My Childhood ‘Conversions’

church building

by John Ellis

(read the intro here and chapter one here)

Even though as a young child I had trouble wrapping my brain around the existence of God, accepting the existence of hell was not difficult for me. My developing brain had yet to connect the apologetics for the existence of hell with the existence of God.

What I knew and understood was pain. I knew what it felt like to get stung by a wasp, to have my finger slammed into a car door, and to somersault over my bicycle’s handlebars onto the asphalt after my poorly constructed ramp disintegrated mid-trick. I also understood the pain that comes from the rejection of friends, disappointment of my teachers and parents, and the loss of a pet. More importantly, for the concept of hell, at least, I had learned very well that disobedience brought with it punishment of the painful variety.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter One

church building

“Doubts”

by John Ellis

The day children are born is generally a momentous occasion for the parents. For the kid too, I guess. The day is scary, amazing, and filled with sensory overload. Over the next few days, the excitement is tempered, but not by much.

The moment the arrival of my first born became real to me was when I fastened my daughter’s car seat into the car for the first time and then sat behind the wheel. The things that I had taken for granted for years, like most other drivers knowing what they’re doing and traffic lights working as intended, etc., now seemed to be a collection of potential … nay, highly likely scenarios that ended in tragedy. My hands were at 10 and 2 and the speed limit became sacrosanct during that drive home.

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