Emergent Interview #1

I’m going to post one interview a day from people I met and spoke with this week at the EmergentYS Convention. In these interviews I listened to people speak about their faith, beliefs, view of the church and what exactly ’emerging’ is.
Garret Akerson lives in Oceanside and attends Saddleback Church. “I only attend because my wife wants to and we only go once a month.” He currently is looking for a new church to participate in, located near his home. He has preached at other churches as well as served as a Youth Pastor.
‚ÄúThe Christian Church has to sober up. The church in general is in a bit of a drunken arrogant stupor. We feel like we have arrived. Christians have a belief that we are superior to everyone else in our rightness.”

Below are a list of questions I needed to ask for my column at the San Diego Reader:
1. In your own words, what do you have to do to get to heaven?
That’s a tough question. I don’t look at it like a physical location. Too many Christians are concerned with heaven. It is a lot more important to be like God. God is a being that values above all else freedom and individuality. He has been misrepresented by the Christian community. God respects our choices. We get to choose, do we want to be more good or bad. And not just the stereotypical good. Being good is reaching out to help others, respecting other people, etc.
2. What will happen to you if you don’t get to heaven?
My view of hell is that it is not an actual place. There is no lake of fire or partying with the devil. We all are on a journey, if you choose God, you will be with Him. If not, you will cease to exist.
3. Who — of the other religions that you know of– will be saved?
Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, witches will all be saved. Your religion isn’t going to save you. It is your relationship with the ultimate being. Christ came here to show us who God is. The Old Testament view is a “God will strike you down” type of attitude. Scripture is a case study or story book, it is not a code book like a science manual. It speaks about how God had a relationship with the people.
4. In the end-times, what will happen to non-Christians, say Jews?
I don’t know anymore about all this end times stuff. I think the Left Behind stuff is a bunch of shit.
5. What about Catholics or Eastern Orthodox?
It comes back to a personal journey. There is not right or wrong.
6. What errors are you aware of in other faiths?
Inconsequential ones. I look at the bigger picture. There are errors in some of these. What is more important is to balance a personal journey with errors. I believe it would be an error for me to call others in error.
7. What do you think of the Pope?
He’s old. The Pope has no authority, no more than the next guy.
8. Can anyone follow Jesus and vote for homosexual marriage? Abortion?
Sure, I do. I am pro-choice but individually pro-life. For example, if a woman wants to abort a child to pursue a full time role as a pastor, I don’t think it our place to judge them. A fetus is not a human being.
9. What will happen to those who believe they are following Jesus and support abortion? Homosexual marriage?
10. Who would you include in your definition of cult? Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Mormons? Buddhists? Hindus? Sikhs?
11. What do you make of the idea of sainthood? What saints, if any, do you revere. To what saints, if any, do you offer prayers?
I believe there are saints. My mom is a saint because of her relationship with God. She is closer to God. Certain people I have met, maybe three in my life, are closer to God. They study, pray and meditate. There is nothing miraculous about it.
12. Describe what you think heaven will be like? Describe Hell? Any other
places– purgatory, limbo?
13. Tell us what you know about Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas More, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Joseph Smith.
14. What do you make of TV evangelism? Who, among TV evangelists, do you believe is the most trustworthy?
Turn it off.
15. Have you ever been moved to tears by religious experience? Describe.
Yes. Listening to music. When I have been out hiking. When I was preaching at Pacific Union College Church.
16. What is the relation between religion and sex? Is too much sex sinful?
What does your church teach about masturbation, contraception?
No. It’s fine.
17. What do you think about marriages between people of different faiths?
18. What would be sufficient cause to ask a minister to step down? Gossiping about church members? Flirtation? Homosexuality? Adultery? Stealing money?
As long as they are repentant they could stay.
19. What about divorce? Under what circumstances, if any, does God condone divorce?
I don’t believe there should be divorce under any circumstance.
20. Should women cut their hair?
21. What about dancing? Is dancing immoral?
22. How do you believe that God regards Mormons? The Angel Moroni?
The same as everyone.
23. Should women wear cosmetics?
Men can wear cosmetics.
24. What does your church teach about marriage? Who, for instance, is to be “head” of the household?
Both men and women can be the head of the household.
27. Would you, if you are unmarried, date a Jew? A Catholic? A Methodist? An Episcopalian? Would you try to convert your date to your set of beliefs?
I’d date a Wiccan, Catholic, anyone. You may have more problems because it is easier to date someone with similar beliefs.
32. Does your church teach that Americans are more likely to go to heaven than are those of other nationalities?