A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Fourteen – Sanctification Doesn’t Happen Overnight

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by John Ellis

I wish that I could say that it was smooth sailing after my conversion. Like for many new Christians, it wasn’t. Sanctification is an ongoing process that won’t be completed until Believers reach the next life. It’s often colloquially referred to as Christian growth. And my first few years as a Christian had quite a few growing pains, to say the least.

But God is good and does not abandon His children, no matter how stubborn and sinful His children prove themselves to be.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Thirteen – Saved by Grace

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by John Ellis

My first day in California was spent exploring Antioch, the bedroom community of San Francisco where my brother lived. As I drove around, stopping from time to time to explore parks and shopping districts, many of the people looked plastic to me and much of the town appeared meticulously molded in a Stepford Wives kind of way. By the end of that first day, I was somewhat disillusioned, and decided that I needed to move to the city at the first opportunity. Since San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country in which to live, moving there required more money than I possessed.

That evening, after finding a waterfront park in downtown Antioch, I sat on a bench and called Christine. She took my confession about my lagging optimism as a signal to try and convince me to move back East. We argued as I insisted that she didn’t understand that there was nothing for me back East, an assertion that she didn’t appreciate. I soothed her anger by telling her that I wanted her to move out West to be with me. She was from California, so it made sense, and she agreed.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Twelve – The Pigsty Part 2

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by John Ellis

Waking up the next morning, I felt much better. Remembering my phone call with my brother the day before, I cringed in embarrassment. “Whelp,” I ruefully thought, “that’s going to stoke everyone’s desire to see me converted.”

With every intention of disappointing those who would take that phone call as a sign that I would soon be converted, I got in my car and drove to Pensacola.

Since I had “accidently” cut my trip short, I still had over a thousand bucks to blow. From a human standpoint, the smart thing would’ve been to take that money, move to Atlanta, and restart my acting career. Thankfully, I didn’t do the smart thing.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Eleven – The Pigsty Part 1

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by John Ellis

The day after I arrived in Pensacola, my parents left town for the next six months. Traveling for a large fundamentalist organization, my dad spent most of the year visiting fundamentalist colleges and churches encouraging young men to pray about becoming a military chaplain. Before leaving, my mom kindly told me that whatever food was left in the house was mine to eat. Except I was a vegetarian and much of the food in the freezer was meat. The jar of peanut butter left behind was appreciated, though.

After my parents left, I was completely on my own.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Ten – The Unraveling Begins

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by John Ellis

As 2002 began, I found myself living in Atlanta, GA. Over the previous three years, I had made some minor alterations to my grand plans. Having fallen in love with performing on stage, my goal was no longer to become a movie star. I was now focused on a career as a theatre actor. And from my perspective, I was on the cusp of achieving all my goals. My life was going great.

My Christian upbringing was a distant memory that rarely troubled me. At parties and rehearsals, I would often mention that my dad was a fundamentalist Baptist minister to the great delight of those around me. I would regale them with tales from my time as a student at a Christian school and BJU, and they would chortle at my mocking depictions of people from my past.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Nine – Embracing the Darkness

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by John Ellis

In December of 1997, the Oscar winning film Good Will Hunting was released. I watched it three times during the movie’s theatrical run. At the time, I enjoyed the movie, of course, but my fascination with it was mainly driven by the narrative surrounding its journey from page to screen.

The short version of the story goes that buddies Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, both struggling and unknown actors at the time, had miraculously sold Miramax the rights to their script. A true rags to riches tale. Granted, none of that is how it really happened, but I didn’t know that at the time. In late 1997 and early 1998 the tale of two unknown actors plucked from obscurity resonated with me. So, I began writing my own screenplay.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Eight – Pushing Buttons at Bob Jones University

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by John Ellis

Safely back in Pensacola with my new life of freedom stretching out before me, I needed a job. Unfortunately, the job I landed was at the tree service company where my brother worked.

My brother and I only worked together for about a week, though. By the time I got the job, the summer was almost over, and he had to be back at BJU early due to his job in the Campus Store. I didn’t describe the job as “unfortunate” because of my brother, but because of the job.

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