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Bio & Context

07.27.2010

Laboring under the grandiose delusion that anyone will read this who doesn’t all ready know me (hi, honey!), I figure it makes sense to give a little background on me to serve as context for my observations and reflections on Scripture.

I grew up in Southern California in a Christian home.  My parents were not what you’d call evangelical, but they were definitely believers, and church was a part of our lives.  So in that respect, I’ve never really known unbelief.  I’ve always believed that God exists and that his son, Jesus, died for our sins.  For most of my youth, though, I didn’t care.  I was caught up in the teenage angst of fitting in and investing in my future.  Being Christian was more of a label than a way of life.

Through the twists and turns of adolescent social dramas, I found myself in my junior year with a number of actively evangelical friends.  I wish I could say I was intrigued by the peace they had in their lives and wanted the same confidence and sense of purpse to guide me out of adolescence.  That would sound so much deeper.  Instead, I reacted with my usual mix of embarassment and overreaction.  If these friends knew so much about the Bible, about Jesus, about salvation, why didn’t I?  Over the next couple of years, I spent hundreds of my parents’ dollars on Bibles, commentaries, apologetics, theology books, all so that I could say, “See!  Look at me!  I’m one of you.”

Thankfully, along the way, I internalized a lot of what I was reading and came to have a faith that’s more than a label, but a worldview, a purpose, and a driving force in my life.  I’m not saying I’m a super-Christian.  There are issues of both discipline and doctrine that I still have, only some of which (I’m sure) I’m even aware of.  But now I’m almost 30 and have been muddling through my faith, making it an active part of who I am, for about 13/14 years.

I tend to approach my faith intellectually, reasoning my way through what I read and observe.  I don’t believe that man can reason his way to God, but I do think that it’s a means by which God is gracious enough to make himself known.  Experiences of the divine come in various forms (music, emotion, conviction, service, etc.), but mine tend to come in the form of “Aha!” moments, where an argument or a truth suddenly makes sense to me and helps me better understand all of the things I knew before.  For this reason, reading and study have tended to be the vehicles for periods of rapid growth in my faith.  I’ll eventually put up a reading list somewhere of books that have been influential in shaping my faith.

After college, I moved out to the East Coast, married my college sweetheart, went back to school, and now have (roughly) my dream job.  I don’t anticipate this journal becoming a prayer list or place where I share my life experiences, but this gives a rough picture against which to place the ideas and reactions that I do bring.

Doctrinally, my thinking about faith has recently been predominantly about one issue.  Until about a year ago, I had come to a place where I believed very strongly in deterministic Calvinism, the notion that free will is an illusion and that all of history is scripted and executed by God’s sovereign will.  As Chesterton so ably notes, that path leads to madness.*  For one thing, there’s a subtle but devastating acknowledgement that the believer has no personal responsibility for his actions because God is in control; this is a powerful, if subconscious, disincentive toward pursuing holiness.  The other main issue with this mindset is that implicates God in evil in a way inconsistent with His character. 

However, the main reason I held that belief, and a principle I still hold to, is that God remains all powerful.  I cannot believe that anything ever surprises God or thwarts His will.  How to square the reality of free will with the sovereignty of God’s will is difficult.  I see a lot of sense in Chesterton’s idea of balance, as opposed to moderation.  In other words, the truth is not somewhere between free will and determinism, but rather completely and simultaneously both.  As ludicrous as that may sound, it’s consistent with the doctrine of Christ as both fully man and fully God, not some hybrid combination of the two.  How this can be true, however, and how it plays out are ideas I’m still working through.  It’s been less than a year since I was faced with the error of my worldview, and I’m sure I’ll never know, this side of heaven, what the intricacies of this truth are.  Right now, though, I believe that balance to be accurate.

As I said, this is the theme underlying much of my current reading, both of Scripture and other books.  But it won’t be an explicit question I seek to answer with every post.  I just relate it to offer some context for how I’m reading and thinking as we progress.

That’s a lot of words about me, which wasn’t what I set out to do.  For that reason, I’ll stop here.  I may add more biographical details as the need arises.  But for now, we dive into Isaiah.

————

* GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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From → [admin], [cs/gk]

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