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Proclamation Index

On the Truth That Endureth to All Generations

1805-1887 John Stoltzfus, Sr. In 1872 this man moved from his farm in Gap, Pennsylvania, to Knox County, Tennessee. He was 66 years of age at the time. He was described as a "servant of the Lord", and a man with "deep spiritual concern for his family and the church", both of which he went on to establish in Tennessee. John was my maternal great-great-great grandfather. 1900-1976 Naomi Mast Stoltzfus. Often, as a little boy staying overnight down on my grandparents' farm, I would fall asleep as she told me late-night bedtime stories illustrating Christian truth. She believed in the traditions of the church. She stood firm and uncompromised for the doctrines of Christ. She also believed in me and my future ministry. Naomi was my maternal grandmother. 1864-1954 Eli Brubaker Witmer. In April, 1886, Eli had published the first in a series of articles for the Herald of Truth and Gospel Herald, church periodicals, in which he dealt with a variety of difficult questions pertaining to Christian faith and doctrine, including the purpose of suffering and what happens to the heathen who have never heard the Gospel. Eli was my paternal great-grandfather. 1904-1986 Caleb W. Witmer. Committed to Christ and the Church till the very end of his life, he encouraged a similar passion to "the things that matter most in life" (as he put it) among his descendants, once specifically addressing that subject in a letter to all of his grandchildren. He believed the promise of Psalm 84:11, a reference that he jotted in the corner of a note he sent me not long before his death. Caleb was my paternal grandfather. 1951-1969 Eugene R. Witmer, my father, and Anne E. Stoltzfus Witmer, my mother, were both sincerely committed to the absolute truth of the Bible as the Word of God long before I was born. They accepted implicitly the "faith of their fathers" and determined to pass it on to their children. I was therefore raised in a distinctively Christian home. I was taught Christian values. I was schooled in the precepts of the church. My parents were committed to living their faith consistently and sincerely, day-by-day. We had a regular time of family devotions. My mother usually had the local Christian radio station tuned in. I attended Sunday School and church services regularly throughout my childhood and youth. During my high school years, I served as president of my church youth group. 1969 I went to college and began to question it all. I began to question the faith of my father and mother and of their fathers and their mothers. I began to wonder, "How do I know that what the preacher has been preaching all these years is really true?" If I had been born a Hindu, I'd probably be a Hindu. If I'd been born into a Moslem home, chances are pretty good I'd be of the Islam faith today. Or a Mormon, or a Universalist, or an agnostic, or whatever. How do I really know what is true? What can I really know with certainty about myself and the world in which I live? 1969-1972 All of a sudden nothing else in life seemed to matter. I thought to myself, "Until I really know who or what I am, why should I go on with my studies? Why should I continue to go through the motions of my faith? My faith is foundation-less." So I stopped praying. And I left college. In the Spring of '71 a friend and I traveled to the West Coast where we spent some time living among the Jesus People. We talked with many folks from many walks of life. I read a great deal. I observed. And I did a lot of thinking. I examined Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, objectivism, immaterialism, and a whole variety of other philosophies, faith systems, and world views. I felt a driving need to be totally honest with myself and unbiased in my search, though this cost me in a number of ways. Beginning with Descartes' famous "I think, therefore I am", I tried to build a unified world view on the basis of reason alone. Over an extended period of time, I arrived at a rather tedious belief system that I later came to discover was known in philosophic circles as radical solipsism. My pilgrimage for truth had been trying and fearful to begin with, but this particular concept left me utterly lonely and distressed. Nevertheless, if possible, I was determined to live consistently with the truth, whatever the truth may be. Fall, 1972 The culmination of what I still consider to be the most determinative period of my life came in the late Fall of 1972. In addition to the lengthy period of concentrated study, reading, and thought described here, there was a short-term visit to the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, a personal conversation with the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, and a Winter of further reflection and study in the remote reaches of northern Alberta, Canada. These events all became an important part of a journey which finally ended in the acknowledgment of some previously significant error in my reasoning. I came rather to be persuaded that there was in fact a fully viable and convincing evidential basis for faith in the God of the Christian Scriptures. For the first time I was able to worship with intellectual integrity. The evidences for the conclusions I arrived at as a result of my search are now being shared with many others through the forum of Areopagus II America, an organization committed to providing a reliable apologetic for the whole range of Christian thought and truth. October, 1992 One evening at our dinner table, our family conversation turned to the subject of how a number of the teenagers in the homes of our friends and associates seemed to be rebelling against the politics and values of their parents. I asked our three sons, Andrew, Stephen, and Timothy, when they thought this might happen to them. They said, "We don't know. But right now, we have no reason to rebel against what we have thought through and feel we have a satisfactory basis for accepting." Fine. Perhaps they won't need to repeat my own protracted process. But I shall encourage them, as I myself was once encouraged, to be true to themselves, and to follow the truth wherever it may take them. I will not fear the outcome so long as they stick with the truth and avoid the certain mire/bias of hedonistic humanism. Oh yes, Mary and I intend to "track" them with our prayers, but we are confident that the truth shall surely, eventually, lead them home. We are certain that the truth shall lead them back to the faith of our fathers---men and women who, at some point in their own lives, must have followed a similar course--a course which has ultimately led our family to meaning, hope, and blessing for over 10 generations here in America. Psalms 78:5-8 "For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children,That the generation to come might know, {even} the children {yet} to be born, {That} they may arise and tell {them} to their children, That they should put their confidence in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart, And whose spirit was not faithful to God."

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