Saturday, July 19, 2008

Theological Journeys

When I was a kid, maybe 8 years old, I was watching a movie at my grandma's apartment. I recall a character from the movie--an elderly man, not a regular gambler by any means--at a casino playing roulette. He started with a small sum and within a half an hour his luck had grown his cache to a sum of tens of thousands of dollars. A crowd had gathered in the meanwhile, cheering him on. He took his winnings, around $70K and bet it all on one number and lost to the dismay of the crowd and me, the juvenile viewer. To the crowd, fearfully waiting for a reaction, the old man calmly states, "Things Change."

Man that hit me. How earth shattering of a revelation to learn that nothing is static! It is scary to change, to move, to correct a misunderstanding, etc.

I thought of this movie after reconnecting and talking to a good friend, Leighton, from college recently whom I had not spoke with in over six years. For those of you who don't know, I went to an Assemblies of God (pentecostal) bible college, and then to seminary. My studies focused on theology and biblical languages. Leighton, the rest of my friends, and myself all entered the school not questioning a tidbit of AG doctrine. But things change, and so has Leighton, in a good way.

It is interesting to see where our theological journeys have led us. My friend Josh in CA is now Baptist. My friend Mike in Indianapolis is now Methodist. Leighton, in Chicago, while not claiming denominational allegiance, is very Reformed in his theology. All these guys have traveled a good deal in their theological journeys. I equally respect those who remain convinced of their beliefs, so long as they are objectively informed.

Change for the sake of change when it comes to any metaphysical musing is silly. But I admire the journeys of those that occur as a result of conviction, love, and learning. N.T. Wright, a intellectual hero of mine, is no different from my friends.

Have you traveled far from your first suppositions on God? Where did you start and where are you at today?


The Seeking Disciple said...

I was raised Assemblies of God and while I don't attend an A/G church, I would say that my theology has not changed much since I became a diciple in 1992.

Anonymous said...

"Change for the sake of change when it comes to any metaphysical musing is silly."

This is an interesting statement. Care to elaborate a bit?

And I hope you are well, friend. How goes things . . .


James said...

In seeking God's heart the past few years, many things have changed in my belief system. Some things that I was taught, I found were not true. Some things that I was taught against, I found were true. I beleive that it all lies in the amount of trust that you have in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the amount of courage that you have to stand for your beliefs.
In all this, though, the temptation to judge against someone that may believe a little differently than me lurks close by. That is the beauty of loving God. He reveals Himself differently to everybody. He is a pillar of fire, a pillar of smoke, a burning bush, an angel with a flaming sword, a wayward traveller, a lamb, a dove, a man, a king. His diversity is beautiful.

darla said...

Hi Nate! I started in a Presbyterian Church, and left the faith for 20 years...I returned bc of the pull on my heart to be in a church, and moved and learned with an EC church, but now I am in a Bible church, and all taught me lots, but being a Christ follower is my focus, and there is authentic people in all denominations. My theology and my reality are merging more every day..My theology has changed in the fact that I do not put God in a box, and its okay if I don't understand somethings..bc "Oh LORD thou knowest"

I linked you on my blog under Carl's Bible Study..will be sending people over to read.

nate said...

TSD--thanks for stopping by!

Brian--things are going well but slow. "change for the sake of change..." I just thought it sounded good. haha, just kidding. Change, as it pertains to the interpretation/understanding of reality, based on conviction, evidence, study, etc. is good. But changing one's proposed beliefs due to boredom or even worse, due to popularity (i.e.--"all the COOL kids are lutheran these I'm leaving my mormon background to become lutheran and thus, COOL")
is what I meant by silly. I know for a fact (from your blog and our dialogue) that you are too deep a thinker to get caught up in this trap! Thanks for thinking of me!

James--that all resonates with me. I am way too prideful. I often look at other's beliefs in silent scorn. I have to check myself against that because I know it's wrong, and I could easily be wrong in my beliefs too.

Darla--thanks for stopping by and linking to me! "it's ok if I don't understand some things..." Wise words! Reminds me of Paul's analogy of "seeing through a glass darkly."

WES ELLIS said...

I guess I saw God as my ticket into heaven. If I believed in him I could go to heaven after I died. But along with this I still believed He was there for me and there for my family in hard times. I don't regret how I saw God, I am glad it has changed but I don't regret it. What I do regret is what I thought about his calling on my life. I thought it was my job to get everyone to believe like I did... that caused more negative outcomes than good ones. Where am I now? Well... Tikkun Olam

2Pete said...

Nate, did I know your background was AG? Did you know mine was? Wild. I'm at a United Meth now a little left of my own theology, but I dig on the liturgy. Maybe that just means I'm kitschy...

nate said...'d I miss this comment? It is in my personality to want everyone to believe like I do. I am stubborn, opinionated, and obsessed with being right, combined with the same belief...that it was my God ordered "job" to convince everyone of my insight caused a lot of problems.
If anyone can heal the world, it's you friend!

@Rev. were AG too? It can dod strange things to people Seriously, I would love to hear your perspective on the AG. I too gravitate towards liturgical order. Maybe I am kitschy too. A good friend of mine just graduated from Asbury with an MDIV following a BA from Central Bible College...he's digigng the UM.