Version 1.0, 3-20-05
Theology has gone on mostly in the background of my life. It’s not endlessly fascinating to me like other topics, but I still consider it important.
I first noticed theology in high school when I read some discussions about Calvinism on an apologetics mailing list. I had grown up in a tacitly Arminian, Southern Baptist church, and Calvinism seemed rather repugnant to me. Still, when I read certain parts of the Bible, they did sound suspiciously Calvinist. So I got myself to the point of at least not minding Calvinist doctrines and then sat myself squarely on the fence.
My first semester at college, in the midst of various discussions with my friends, I drifted off the fence and down onto the Reformed side of the lawn. By a happy coincidence, my professor for Theology of Culture happened to be very Reformed, and through his lectures I was introduced to the wonder of Reformed theology. Reformed theology inspired me. Its God was huge. He was sovereign without limit, able to bring about all his purposes, utterly worthy of worship. Someone once observed that people who come into Reformed theology from other realms often describe their experience in terms of a second conversion. That’s certainly the way it was for me. The summer after that school year I didn’t find a job, so most of that free time was spent reading. There’s a cornucopia of Reformed theology on the web, and I just devoured it. One of my key sources was the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. They were very helpful because they contrasted Reformed teachings with the kinds of ideas I had grown up with (and contrast is one helpful way to achieve clarity!).
At my friend’s Presbyterian church there was a saying: “There’s no one more obnoxious than a newly converted Calvinist.” All through that next year I could have been a poster child for the Obnoxious Baby Calvinists’ Guild. I criticized Arminianism right and left. But I can never stay committed to any point of view for too long; I just think too much. So over time I mellowed out, partly because I came to believe that Calvinism wasn’t quite so earth-shatteringly important and partly because I was entering a more questioning period in general. Everything was up for review. Not all at once, however, so the opinions that had to wait in line, such as Calvinism, only got very quiet.
That, in fact, is the situation I am in now. I still have my beliefs, but I also believe that true knowledge, especially theological knowledge, is pretty hard to come by. A lot of people are very confident that they have it, but confidence alone isn’t a very good argument. Yet despite the difficulty, I still hold on to the thought that the truth is findable and that it is important. So I will keep searching.