Monday, January 9, 2012
In Defense of Religion-Part 1
First off, I want to say that I am no theologian. That is not my aim here. This is only my experience, my story. But lately, I've been thinking about my faith journey that started as a child and how God has led me to this point in my life. I'm sure we have many more mountains to climb together but for all it's worth, this is where I've come from.
I grew up non-denominational. I do not regret my upbringing whatsoever. In fact, I have many fond memories of Sunday School, church musicals, Awana, Vacation Bible School, becoming a Christian when I was 5 and being baptized at 7. Even though the church I grew up in was non-denominational, it was pretty much Baptist without the title. I didn't know that until I was older. It was a Bible believing church that sang praise music and even hymns at times. It was contemporary and conservative all at the same time. It was home for me and it is where I learned what it meant to be a Christian.
My Junior High years were spent at another church just like it and those years were a bit more difficult for me. I waned, wandered and questioned who I was quite a bit. But one thing I always knew was that I loved God. I didn't always do the right thing (in fact I often made poor choices), but I knew I was wrong and I knew I needed to repent. By the time I got into my high school years, I returned to the church of my youth and my faith was strengthened greatly.
When I went off to Cal Poly, I knew what I wanted (besides getting a degree). I wanted to marry a Christian. Not just any nominal Christian. I wanted to marry a man who loved the Lord more than he loved me. I wanted him to be passionate about his faith and solid in his beliefs. When I met Steve, he blew the lid off of my expectations. He was even more than I had hoped for...he was the real deal and I couldn't believe he wanted me!!
His background was quite similar to mine. Yet, as the months went on in our relationship, he began learning things about Reformed theology that were difficult for me to understand at first. That's when our first conversations in this area began. And let me tell you, they weren't pretty. For some of the first times in my life, I was challenged to look at how we are saved. Are we saved because we made a decision to be saved or saved because God chose us? Who is the one acting...us or God? If we are dead in our sins, how can a dead person make themselves alive again? Only God can raise the dead. How can we choose God when the Bible clearly states that even our most righteous actions are like filthy rags in comparison to God's glory? These were conversations that we would have, both of us grappling with the implications the answers would have on our faith and our future. Often these conversations took place, in the car, at the end of a date night. They were hard for me to process but still, something kept my heart open to the ideas. And as time went on, I learned to trust Steve's leading as well.
John Calvin himself
Steve went a lot more willingly than I did to the reformed side for he is way less emotional and much more logical. He looked at the evidence and thought it was overwhelmingly in favor of God's sovereignty over man's choice (some of the very basics of Calvinism-Reformed Theology...Luther was a major Reformer as well and there were many others). I just didn't want to believe that maybe it was that way because if that were the case, it would change all that I had grown-up believing in. Not that it would totally undermine it but, it would just spin things in a completely different direction.
And a different direction it did...one that I could not foresee at all but would bless my life beyond measure.
Until next time.
PS: I am not attempting to start a huge argument about theology here. Sometimes these issues can cause people to get a bit huffy (I know, for I've been there). This is simply my story and I hope it blesses you for that is my intent.