A Word from the Pastor: The Mountain
There is a common image that people employ when talking about religion in America: The Mountain. It’s a way of answering the questions, “How do we know who God really is?” and “What is the true religion?” In The Mountain analogy, God is at the peak, in heaven, waiting to be reached. And all around the mountain are various paths to the summit. Those “paths” represent the various religions, denominations, faith traditions, and philosophies that claim some knowledge of God. Some of the trails are rocky and steep—very hard to climb. Some of the tracks are smoother and more gentle to ascend. But all the paths eventually get the climber to the same place: to God.
And this makes sense to most people in America. There are so many different religious groups—even Christian groups—claiming that they are a valid religion, and possibly even that they are the one, true religion. So, The Mountain helps us make sense of things. There is no one, “right” way to God and heaven, it tells us. There are lots of ways; you do yours and I’ll do mine. And for those who say theirs is the “right” way, well, they’re just deluded and narrow-minded. Or so the contemporary thinking goes.
It’s a simple, easy-to-understand image that helps us make sense of a complicated issue. But sometimes simple metaphors—like The Mountain—are wrong.
Pastor and author James White offers some reasons why people believe in The Mountain: 1) It helps us simplify the complicated landscape of American religion; 2) There is a faulty belief that all religions are pretty much the same (even though, if you study the individual religions very much, you will find that they teach radically different things); 3) Sincerity in your faith is what really matters; 4) Egalitarianism: We shouldn’t think we’re better than others; and 5) People don’t believe in objective, capital-T Truth.
We could debate those propositions, and we could argue about which church or denomination is most accurate in its faith and practice, but one thing is for sure: Jesus sets himself apart from every other religion that humans have formulated with his audacious pronouncement that he is the Son of God in the flesh: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Not just “any old way up the mountain to reach God.” But, “The God who lives at the top of the mountain came down to visit us and bring us back up with him.” This is a radical, upside-down claim that makes Christianity special.
Jesus also said other things about his divine nature and status: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” (John 12:45) And many other things.
But it’s more than just what Jesus said about himself that is compelling. It’s about his very essence as God and human. Later Christians worked out the logic of who Jesus was—if he was indeed truly a man and truly God, in some mysterious union of the two natures. If Jesus is of one being with the Father and the Holy Spirit—if Jesus shares whatever divine substance the Father and the Spirit are composed of—then he is, by definition, the way to God, the truth of God, and the life of God extended to humanity. If he is God in the flesh, then there is no other “way” besides him. It’s that simple.
And that may sound strangely exclusive in our hands-off, I’m-okay-you’re-okay culture. But it’s actually fantastic news. We don’t have to wonder what God is like. We don’t have to climb the mountain of good works or spiritual effort to discover the one, true God. Because he has come to us. And by his cross and his resurrection, he has invited us up The Mountain, so to speak, to share in his unending life and kingdom.
I hope that you will save yourself some effort in climbing a mountain to find God. Because God has come and found us. And I hope that you will reach out and grab hold of him by faith and never let go.
The Life of Our Church
Online or In-Person Services
We are open in a “new normal”! But if you are uncomfortable coming to worship in person, you may worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that.
Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:
Bring your Bible and a friend. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries
ABWM will meet on Wednesday, September 15, at 1:30 p.m.
American Baptist Women Rally
The ABWM Iowa West Fall Rally will be on Saturday, October 16, at Fort Dodge. Visit with Luella if you are interested in attending.
Our deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, September 12.
Hymn Sing at Altamont
Thank you to everyone who attended the hymn sing at Altamont Baptist Church on August 22. Great singing, great conversation, and great snacks! We are hatching ideas about hosting them at our house of worship for a hymn sing.
Atlantic Food Pantry
Please remember to support our local food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary. The food pantry is looking for paper grocery sacks, but they don’t need any more empty egg cartons.
Sermon Series: Is. 40-55
Pastor Ray will be exploring “The Gospel According to Isaiah” throughout this fall. We will hear from the various prophecies of Isaiah that point toward the Messiah, Jesus. Bring a friend and hear God’s Word!
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on September 5. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.
Remembering Our Members
Please pray for Barbie Bernis, and feel free to visit her or send her cards and letters:
c/o Corning Speciality Care
1614 North Gate Drive
Corning, Iowa 50841
Sharing God’s Word with the Nations
In July, our congregation voted to support Anthony and Liz Smith, formerly of Atlantic, in their mission to translate the Bible for an indigenous African people group that does not have access to the Christian Bible in their first language. As of this past week, the Smiths have landed in Africa and are getting situated in their new home. They will start their work soon. Please keep praying for them as they embark on their mission.
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