October 22, 2017

How I’ve Changed: Ten Ways

A friend of mine recently said, “It sure seems that you’ve gone through a lot of phases during your time as a blogger.”

I’m sure it seems that way, but most of that is an illusion of the blogging life. The people around me wouldn’t have any major change in my beliefs to report since I abandoned Calvinism a few years ago.

I’m not one of those communicators who preaches and teaches my blog. Quite the opposite. I preach assigned texts and topics. I teach Bible survey and stay with the syllabus. If I’m thinking through some major shift in my eschatology or how I plan to live out the Gospel, you’d have to follow me to my blog to notice. You won’t hear about it around here in the real world.

(Now, my various attempts to find a church home have been a bit more public, and probably do look a bit puzzling to those who know me well. But that’s another story.)

I have changed, however, in ways that are very significant in my own journey. Chronicling that journey is a primary purpose of this blog and a major reason for its readership.

I can summarize my Post-Evangelical journey in ten statements:

Ten Ways I’ve Changed

1. My circle of essential beliefs is smaller than before.

2. My loyalty to Jesus as presented in the Gospels is greater than before.

3. The Church is larger, more inclusive and less local than before.

4. The Bible is simpler than before.

5. My theology is more efficient. (That is, it more quickly moves to Jesus and the Gospel, avoiding more detours, side roads and cul de sacs.)

6. The Kingdom of God is more present and fundamental than before.

7. My vocation is more satisfying than before.

8. My spirituality is more “Jesus-shaped” than before.

9. My orthodoxy is far more generous than before.

10. The Gospel is more vital to every aspect of my life than before.

Comments

  1. As a disciple of John Wesley, as well as Jesus, it sounds to me as if the Holy Spirit is doing the work of sanctifying grace, which can be interpreted as growing and maturing in the faith. Both James Fowler and the late Scott Peck have written about the “stages” of spiritual growth, and, again, it sounds as if you’re growing as we all need to do. God bless you on the journey!

  2. hmmmm….good thoughts, what are some ways that maybe you haven’t changed in?

  3. Ways I Haven’t Changed:

    1) I’m still a Baptist.
    2) I’m still programmed emotionally by my early fundamentalism.
    3) I still believe in the Baptist version of preaching.
    4) I still feel like a 20 year old youth minister
    5) I’m still struggling with too many of the same sins.

  4. Not sure what you mean by #2 and #9 in the original list or #3 in the second list.

    I would also be interested in reading a slightly longer version (i.e. paragraph on each) of your points. What does each of these mean to you? How has it impacted your life and ministry?

  5. Amen!

    Michael, can you elaborate upon #9? I’m not certain what that means.

  6. Loyalty to Jesus in the Gospels? I’m not sure what more I could say. The presentation of Jesus in the Gospels has my highest loyalty. What isn’t clear on that one?

    Generous Orthodoxy? I do not limit orthodoxy to simply my own group, but treat, as much as possible, all Christians within a meaningful affirmation of the Apostle’s Creed as belonging to Christ.

    Baptist version of preaching? I have never really changed my appreciation for the kind of preaching I grew up with and learned to appreciate as a young SBCer. I am critical of it and appreciate more than just that style, but it is deeply embedded in me.

  7. Michael,

    This is merely out of curiousity and nothing else. But would you say that some of your list is directly related to your abandoning Calvinism? I am only curious because of what you said in your second paragraph.

  8. Still a Baptist, huh? That certainly interests me as a cradle Baptist turned Mennonite, now back in a conservative Baptist church and not digging it. I am wondering how to make church and my journey (which is similar to yours) fit together.

  9. Good changes.

    In what ways has blogging changed you, though? (In my case, I was already trying to eliminate my sarcasm, and blogging helped a lot–particularly in the cases where I’d write something without thinking, then repent and realize I had to rewrite it.)

  10. On abandoning Calvinism: I obviously haven’t abandoned reformation Christianity, the solas, etc. I can still navigate some of TULIP. But the “L” pushed me into a ind of belief that was having a major detrimental effect on me in many areas.

  11. Blogging has over-exposed me to diverse points of view, which have been hard to assimilate sometimes. It has forced me to make some choices and to decide how I want to interact with other people.

    It has shown me that many Christians can excuse anything if they believe there is a doctrinal battle to be won in the process.

    It’s made me aware of how easily ego can get out of the box.

  12. Anyone who is not still reforming, has already abandoned reformation theology.

  13. “It has shown me that many Christians can excuse anything if they believe there is a doctrinal battle to be won in the process.”

    Amen.

    I love (or used to?) discussing doctrine and theological ideas with other Christians. Not just folks who agree with me but anyone willing to do so.

    I learned early on that my Pentecostal/Charismatic back ground got me attacked almost immediately. Statements ranged from I was deceived to I was going to hell. I learned that there is a distinctly “Us four and no More” attitude in American Christianity. Each group believes it’s the only on that has the “whole gospel”. Some folks just talk down to you. Others get red faced while yelling at you about your errors. Errors that any one of which proves you are not one of the elect…like they are.

    It’s sucked all the joy out of talking to Christians outside of my circle.

    DD

  14. Some random thoughts:

    As stated here, your criterion for “generous orthodoxy” might be too generous. For some might argue that one could affirm, for example, arianism while also meaningfully affirming the Apostles’ Creed.

    That is, they could do so unless by “meaningfully affirm” with respect to the Apostles’ Creed you mean to implicitly import the Trinitarian and Christological affirmations of Nicaea/Constantinople and Chalcedon. That would be fine by me (because I think that’s what the Apostles taught from the beginning), but it might make your original statement seem less generous to some since you’d then be excluding those who reject Nicaea, etc.

    This also has bearing on #2 above since if one reads the Gospels and doesn’t see the Christ of Chalcedon, etc. then one hasn’t read the Gospels correctly – i.e., according to the rule/canon of faith given by the Apostles (cf. Irenaeus). This also explains why it might be unclear to some what is meant by #2 since a follower of Arius (for instance) can read the same Gospels and get it wrong. [and FWIW I don’t think historical/grammatical approaches can get us to that faith expressed by the so-called canon of faith].

    As an aside: If I wasn’t a long time reader of this blog, I’d probably read that list and think that you were becoming something like a Quaker (with a couple of exceptions, perhaps).

  15. Oh wow. Michael, thank you for articulating even better than I could the ways in which I’ve changed. Now I’m just trying to figure out if I can in good conscience copy these and pawn them off as my own. Okay, fine. Credit where credit is due and all that. Sigh.

  16. Chris Taylor says:

    Michael I agree with you on the L in TULIP. I often times tell people I’m a four point calvinist. TUIP. Is that a word?

  17. I have always seen the L as logical because not everyone is going to go to heaven and therefore the atonement must be limited in scope. Also, the theology behing L has, for me at least, driven me to want to do more evangelization and preaching of God’s Word. With that being said, I completely understand the problems with L. Why do I feel like we are talking about the Letter People here? (Please tell me y’all remember the Letter People!)

  18. I had to laugh to myself when I read your quote – and your reference to the “Apostle’s Creed”! Ha!

    “I do not limit orthodoxy to simply my own group, but treat, as much as possible, all Christians within a meaningful affirmation of the Apostle’s Creed as belonging to Christ.”

    Michael, I really appreciate your taking time to answer my questions regarding the Apostle’s Creed earlier this week…thanks for the clarity!

    Have a great weekend!

  19. I have a similar journey. Have you been moving toward a pacifistic NT ethic with a post-reformation view of the Law as well?

  20. I am still Baptists, but I identify as emergent baptist. There are may of us out there and we are finding each other.

    Blog: http://baptimergent.wordpress.com/
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=23945605153

    I would echo many of the things in your list Michael. Thanks for your transparency.