I am a granddad, an unaffiliated voter, a half-Swede, half-Alabama hillbilly, and a scooter rider. My spiritual/religious identity used to be just as clear.
I began my spiritual life as a fully committed fundamentalist. I proudly belonged to the elite Christian sect that was defending the faith from a liberal invasion from Princeton Seminary and places like it.
That for sure does not describe me now, but I don’t know what does. I have been told that I am “an Emergent,” “a Progressive,” and “a liberal.” But I am not sure I know what those label mean either. I thought I was “an evangelical,” but I am not certain of that anymore.
Writer Anne Lammott has said “I am too Jesus-y for my liberal friends, and too liberal for my Jesus-y friends.” I feel the same way.
Here is what I think I believe today:
- I believe the Bible is true. I believe it is supernatural. I do not have the intelligence or interest to prove that point.
- I believe it ultimately asks me to do what I do not want to do, but is for my own good and the good of the world.
- I am not convinced of its veracity because the archeology fits, the numbers match, or that every story makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I believe it is true because I am amazed at how every story makes think, “Wow, that is so true!” I am compelled to consider, think and even change. Often I avoid it because it haunts me with its insight into the depths of my being. And sometimes it draws me close and comforts me like no other words can.
- I believe it is true because it is the only book that tells me about Jesus, and He is amazing. I do not think you could make that stuff up.
- I think the Bible is the starting place for decision-making and arbitration, not a secondary source. I think that an early church practice was to gather together to listen to the letters read for encouragement and training.
- I think people need to be saved and I think Jesus does that. I think people are saved for today as much as for eternity. I think “believing” and “following” are the same thing.
- Jesus used this word. When He used it, He seemed to be warning somebody about something. Is it forever? Is it literal? I don’t know.
- I do not think church is primarily for God, but for us. I think it is a place to practice loving each other and ourselves. I think church is where we escape to experience what it means to be important, valued and loved, and to be sacrificial, humble and generous. It may include other things like preaching and worship, but those things must serve the greater purpose.
- I am not gay, but I will let those that need to figure this out do so with my encouragement and love. I have friends who make good cases for both celibacy and monogamy in the context of homosexuality.
- I am an egalitarian. I believe the apparent restrictions on women in leadership in the New Testament are rare exceptions not the rule. I believe where they occur they were for only in effect for a season and were necessary to further the gospel in a specific cultural context.
- Consider a parallel contemporary example: If my wife and I felt called to minister in a Muslim country, she would have to make some adjustments in her public mannerisms and dress, and I would have to stop having conversations in public with female acquaintances.
I am sure I haven’t covered every important identifying topic, but I would love your input. Do you think I am an evangelical?