In my estimation, faith should be a lifelong journey. I am not a person who subscribes to a one-size-fits-all spirituality. I believe firmly in Jesus Christ as my personal savior and in Christ’s teaching–or what I understand of it at this point in my life. I also believe, however, that we are likely to find kernels of truth in many world religions as I cannot discount the possibility that God is big and good enough to have revealed Godself differently to those in times and places where the Gospel wasn’t available.
I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t think anyone does. When we speak of being “Christians” (or atheists, agnostics, Muslims), we cannot always be certain that person to whom we are making this claim knows what we mean by that. And so, while I boldly profess to be a Christian, that word may mean something wholly different to me than it does to a person of the Catholic persuasion, to a Calvinist, to a Muslim, or even to an atheist. In other words, the moniker of “Christian” has a rather broad meaning these days. It has for some number of centuries, I suppose. After all, with the vast array of versions, translations, and interpretations of those versions and translations, of the “bible,” it is no wonder that so much confusion lies within the “definition” of that term. Unlike some folks of a more fundamentalist persuasion, I am hesitant and truly unwilling to label anyone professing to be a Christian as “unchristian” regardless of how they act because, as I am neither God nor a mind-reader, I cannot know what lies in the depths of their hearts. I do not want to pass judgement on others, but I am less hesitant to discuss behaviors, policies, and attitudes that it seems are decisively unchristian. As I am no expert, however, I will put aside my perceptions and simply get to the point of this point on my blog:
Many know that I hope to become a published writer. This is no grand surprise or revelation. I’ve been talking about it for a long time and writing stories, essays, and journal-like things my entire life. Since I took a break from seminary the semester I was due to deliver my second child, I had been somewhat stifled in my reading and writing life. This isn’t strange on its own, when does any new mom have the time to read, let alone finish books? The interesting thing, however, is that in recent months, I have suddenly begun to seek out books at a pace unmatched in the last decade–more over, I’m even finishing them (what a novel concept!). I sit down in the middle of the afternoon when I could be napping (justifiably so, I have two very busy boys and get very little sleep), and I pick up a book not feeling sleepy or sluggish at all. Given the focus of this reading, however, I cannot say I am surprised at this. It’s totally a “God thing.”
I have been reading some of today’s leading sensible theologians (Wills, McLaren, Bell, Borg) and referring back to ones I studied at both Lancaster and Asbury theological seminaries (N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, Nouwen, Kierkegaard). My understanding of the bible, Jesus, God, and “the faith” have broadened and deepened immensely. Combining this with daily bible reading (something I am consistent with for the first time in my life) and rather regular theological discussions with people of varying approaches (from a more conservative biblical approach to more liberal biblical thinking) has me feeling quite spiritually fulfilled, yet thirsting for more. I haven’t felt this way since my first semester in seminary, and I am wholeheartedly grateful for all the thinkers, writers, family and friends who have helped me reach what I feel is a major turning point in the enrichment of my spiritual journey.
I have many more questions than I do answers at this point, but I hope to mindfully and prayerfully work through some of these questions through these discussions and reading so that I may have something of interest to contribute to the volumes written by theologians who came before me. I may not be able to return to seminary in the near term (given how complex life is with two children under the age of 5, one of whom has autism), but I know that when I do return, I will be light years ahead of where I was when I started my seminary career four years ago and this fills me with immense joy and gratitude.
So, for those wishing to read my evolving questions and thoughts on theological issues, stay tuned. It’s about to get very interesting.