Going Back In Order To Go Forward

This afternoon I find myself face to face with an interesting dilemma—how to move forward in my journey and remain true to myself and at the same time true to finding an authentic expression of Christianity.

At this point in my life I hardly consider myself to be postmodern in the sense of reacting to and wanting to re-shape everything that I have considered to be foundational in my Christian life. Nor do I consider that I am part of the “Emergent” church movement which is more or less defined by Wikipedia as:

“The emerging church is a controversial 21st-century Protestant Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched. To accomplish this, “emerging Christians” seek to deconstruct and reconstruct
Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern
mold. Proponents of this movement call it a “conversation” to emphasize
its developing and decentralized nature.”

I don’t know who wrote that but it is a hat-full.

Truthfully, I am just a guy on a journey who has jumped (or was I pushed) off the fast train of life and looking for the beginnings of what I believe and why.

What I do know is that each and every church and home church in America believes that it is teaching and following the word of God and that the body of Christ is made up of individuals from each of these local expressions of Christianity. And yes, I even believe that Catholics are a part of the mix as well.

In Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What he speculates about what a alien would think about us if they happened to land on our planet. His first impression is that they would wonder why we compare ourselves to one another—why we need the approval of someone else to make us feel alright. The aliens might wonder about all the fuss over sports events: “You mean the only purpose of game of basketball is to see who has the better team and that is accomplished by scoring more points?” I almost think I see “their” point.

Last night I ran a little off the centerline with his thought and wondered—in light of my recent ponderings about the church, etc.—what a person might come out of the woods with if sent into the forest with only a Bible to read. This person would have no knowledge of scripture or traditions of Christianity upon receiveing the bible and food for a couple of months. They would be directed to a cabin in aforementioned woods and asked to read the bible and upon completion would be debriefed about their impressions and understandings of said book.

We might then ask him or her questions about what the “church” is supposed to look like and whether or not women are allowed to be pastors. Just a few of the more front burner issues that face us today.

I guess one of my questions of myself at this point, having been on this journey for some time now, is how to keep alive what we strongly believe and yet really love others who may believe much differently than we.

Scripture tells me that without faith it is impossible to please God and that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It is by faith that I beleive that God created the heavens and the earth and how He did it and whether or not it took place in an actual 7 day period really is not the issue for me. I can’t literally prove that He did it because I wasn’t there at the time. But I believe the Bible is the word of God and it says He did and that’s the end of the story for me on that one.

What I do know is that when my firstborn came into the world it was a marvelous thing. I remember as if it was yesterday having the thought as to what kind of God it was that created us in the sense that the cells that formed her fingernails could tell the difference between the cells that formed her finger. She was one big baby with paper thin skin stretched over her ears.

Back to the person who just returned from two or three months in the woods reading the bible. What would they have to tell us about the creation and the flood and Isaiah’s prophesies? What about Samson and Deborah and Ruth?

Or does any of that really matter? I think it does but am still in process as to the best way to get to where I am heading.

I am going to keep reading and keep asking the hard questions and keep an eye on how I got to where I find myself today. I am not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater or quit believing that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born just because Paul doesn’t reference it in his writings. Like I said recently—it is scary out there—make sure your tires are pumped up and the wheels are on tight. Once we climb this mountain the ride down the other side is bound to be fast and a lot of fun.

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10 Responses to Going Back In Order To Go Forward

  1. ded says:

    Like you Terry, when I realized that my group was not the “whole” truth that I had been thinking it was, I started to read what others were saying. Here’s my take on the diverse issue of “What is Christianity?” God knows the sheep from the goats. He will hold me responsible for a life of faith. My goal has become to grow in faith. The New Testament is my basis. It directly reveals Jesus, and though I reject most bumper sticker theology, the-tag-on-the-front “Jesus is the Answer” is rock solid advice. His crucifixion is my salvation from sin. His resurrection is renewed life both here on earth and continuing into eternity. His Spirit at Pentecost is life in the midst of death, both from original sin and rampant spirit of the anti-Christ. I don’t live by the Scriptures. The Scriptures reveal that I live by the in-dwelling Presence. Because of God’s mercy and grace and wisdom and faithfulness, I am equipped to live now. I am prepared to accomplish what He would have me accomplish. I can love Him, love the one across from me for the sake of Him, and know complete rest and fulfillment within me until the day this tent passes and I am released into Him. This isn’t simplistic; it is spiritual reality. It is the “narrow” way. I do not attempt to be right or avoid being wrong. That is complex and broad. Right/wrong theologies are a shifting sand which morph according the author, the culture and/or the times. Jesus is the Tree of Life.

  2. Terry Henry says:

    Thanks….I needed that. Faith is what we seem to come back to and we would be lost without it. I guess that is why the enemy of our souls tries his best to confuse that area.Then there is that area we call understanding—another topic for another day.

  3. Terry, I too have recently read Wikipedia’s definition of the emerging church to get an idea of what the movement is all about. I find that I agree with alot of the practices of the movement but not with all the theology. When I think of postmodern thought there are a couple of things that define the ideology (in my mind, at least). 1. The constant decontruction and reconstruction of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and morals.2. There is no absolute or transcendent truth. In essence, truth is relative to your experience and understanding of what is. Is the emerging church movement trying to be a postmodern church or a church that reaches out to postmodern (or post-postmodern) thinkers?If it is trying to be a “postmodern” church, then how can that be? How can you deconstruct/reconstruct the church’s thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and morals without the influence of Scripture (trancendent truth)?I’m not mad at anyone who is in this movement. In fact, I applaud them for reaching out to those that the traditional churches have alienated. I just have questions that I haven’t gotten any reasonable answers to (yet). _____________ded said:“His crucifixion is my salvation from sin. His resurrection is renewed life both here on earth and continuing into eternity. His Spirit at Pentecost is life in the midst of death, both from original sin and rampant spirit of the anti-Christ. I don’t live by the Scriptures. The Scriptures reveal that I live by the in-dwelling Presence. Because of God’s mercy and grace and wisdom and faithfulness, I am equipped to live now. I am prepared to accomplish what He would have me accomplish. I can love Him, love the one across from me for the sake of Him, and know complete rest and fulfillment within me until the day this tent passes and I am released into Him.”Beautifully written. David’s creed. I would have called it the “Davidian creed” but somehow that just didn’t seem right. 🙂“My goal has become to grow in faith. “Thank you for this. As a Christian man who is going to turn 34 this year, I find with each passing year that I’m looking to previous generations for inspiration and guidance on how to live in this stage of life so that 1) I won’t screw this up and 2) I can be a model for future generations to follow. I hope you don’t mind me peeking over your shoulder every now and then to see what you’re doing.

  4. ded says:

    Look over my shoulder all you want. I look forward to face to face someday, as well!! Yet, don’t go round announcing I am writing creeds. Christianity has enough of those already!

  5. ben says:

    Sorry for the recent absence here… I’ve been buried in life changes. I, too am intrigued and disturbed by what’s going on in the emerging church. There’s some confusion over labels at the moment as well (as always…). Emerging refers to a wider group of churches that are seeking God over how to do church in light of a post-modern culture. All sorts of denominations and groups are represented there. There’s a lot of good coming from it. Then there are the folks in Emergent Village (often shortened to Emergent) that are, in my opinion, abandoning some important theologies (authority of scripture for one). I’ve been studying in Scripture lately the idea of unity in diversity. It’s amazing how prevalent an idea it is from Genesis to Revelation. I think, as long as we remember that our unity and identity is centered on Christ and His righteousness we will all do just fine. I Cor 13 (the love chapt.) is still the glue that holds us together.

  6. Terry, I don’t want to be so presumptuous as to think that you were referencing anything I’ve written, but one statement you made caught my eye. I am not going to…quit believing that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born just because Paul doesn’t reference it in his writings. I haven’t seen anyone else make this comment, but I have said something similar on several occasions. However, I want to make sure that, if you are reacting to something I’ve said, that I not be unclear. For me, the issue is not denying the virgin birth. I have, however, on many occasions, stated that I think an emphasis on the virgin birth as a requirement for salvation or a “test of orthodoxy” may be misplaced since none of the apostles (including Paul) reference it in any of their presentations of the gospel message. Most Christians, when pressed to tell you what they consider to be “essential doctrine”, i.e., what is necessary for one to be considered a Christian, would include the virgin birth. I wonder if that is consistent with the teaching of the apostles. Does that make any sense? To me, this is part of the shift that is taking place in Christianity as evidenced in much of the emerging church (I’m not sure if I’m a part of it or not!!) There is a desire not to avoid absolute truth, as Rodney said (I think that might be a myth about post-modernism), but rather to determine where we have put too much emphasis on certain things and maybe undersold the importance of others. Just my rambling thoughts. Not trying to pick any fights with anyone…

  7. Terry Henry says:

    No…I was just surfing the web the other day following a link that a friend sent me and arrived at a site that had lots of different “religious” stuff on it. I was intrigued and followed a couple links and arrived at a place talking about some aspects of Christianity—the virgin birth being one of them. Of course Paul not mentioning it in his writings was just another proof for them that Jesus was a regular guy.

  8. kvartirnie says:

    What can you give a girl on her birthday?

  9. Psycho says:

    People, what happens with the weather?

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