Today I want to begin a series on my theological journey. I will not go into great detail here on some of the history of the theological journey, but I want to give enough of the story along the way to show how I’ve come to my current place, and show the Scriptures that helped lead me to what I feel is the most faithful position I can be in right now on my journey with my Messiah.
For me, the journey has been ongoing for most of my life. I grew up in a conservative Evangelical home, with my dad a United Methodist pastor who was not “typical” of a mainline denominational stance. I picked up much of his theology, but it got mixed with things from Sunday School teachers and friends along the way. Some of what got mixed in was not consistent with my parents’ theology and was quite “messed up”, while other things meshed nicely. For me, the journey of discovering this kicked into high gear when I got to Messiah College as a Freshman (Year 1 of university, for my Canadian friends) Mathematics major. I roomed with two guys who were both Juniors (Year 3) and had thought more deeply about many things than I had ever had to do. They challenged me, in healthy ways, to consider my positions. Over that year, and the three that followed, I found myself asking good questions. Much of my parents’ theology stayed, but now a little more rooted on Scripture. I did find some things that I had picked up that just didn’t stand the test of real consistency with Scripture.
After graduating from Messiah, I went to Virginia Tech for graduate school. My wife and I attended a conservative Wesleyan congregation. Though my graduate work was in statistics (MS and PhD), I continued to think about theological things, and several things began to unsettle me. I realized that some of the beliefs I had held for most of my life were only justifiable if I ignored certain parts of Scripture and read things into others that weren’t quite in the text. I also discovered that what I had always assumed was a consistent literal interpretation of Scripture was really not consistent at all. Some parts that were clearly literal, I didn’t read that way or explained away, while other parts I assumed were literal, actually lent themselves more readily to non-literal interpretations. Some passages began to become even more meaningful when I looked for the reason behind their inclusion that went beyond the face value of the story. Other passages became much more challenging to me when I admitted they might be literal. In all of this, I had to admit that one thing was becoming clear, I needed a handle by which to make the decision on correct interpretation.
I couldn’t just trust what I had always been told. What if others were in error? I couldn’t just trust my own instinct. What if I was letting my personal preferences tell me what to do? I needed, of course, to trust the Spirit of God, but I wasn’t sure I had even understood how He worked correctly. So where could I start? Certainly with prayer, but I found another “Key” directly in Scripture. Over the years of walking this journey, I’ve discovered this key to be more and more vital to finding confidence in my walk, and assurance that I am using Scripture to guide my life in ways that are consistent with God’s will.
Tomorrow I’ll share this Key I’ve found, and then Wednesday I’ll begin walking through specific points of theology where I’ve seen this Key make a difference.