Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why I Can't Escape Myself

I've tried being a theological liberal. I've studied the Emergent Church. I read The Christian Century and books on Open theism. I tried to be different, I really did, but yesterday I did two things which indicate to me that I can't escape being who I am - a fairly conservative (definition pending) Reformed Christian. The first thing I did was purchase Robert Traill's Justification Vindicated. He was a Puritan (1642-1716), and I thought I would read this little book before bed each night. That should tell you something right there - who am I kidding? Liberals don't buy books from the Banner of Truth publishing house (unless they are short of firewood). The second thing I did yesterday was to stand up at a special session of our classis (our Reformed word for presbytery or diocese), and request that a minister who received a call from one of our classis churches repent of his performing marriage ceremonies for gay people, and to promise not to do so in the future. He refused to promise, so our classis refused to allow him to become an installed minister within our bounds. By doing so I reassured old friends, infuriated new friends, and stunned myself by just how "me" I am really am. I cannot escape this "me."

Perhaps it all has to do with the cold. Not the outer temperature, which was a fairly pleasant 40 degrees F., but my inner chill. Stepping outside the warm confines of Reformed orthodoxy, even if for a moment to sniff the outside air, left me feeling exposed, vulnerable, spiritually vacuous, and miserable. I closed the door and prayed the Efche, the Byzantine Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I prayed it over and over until I no longer felt like a traitor, and no longer felt cold.

We are mysteries unto ourselves, and crave the applause and esteem of the madding crowd, and yet remain content to let God wait until we have decided if we think he truly meant what he said, and whether or not we have the fortitude to attempt obedience. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

{Now my definition of myself as a Reformed conservative: I am catholic (freely plundering the gold of the Egyptians (e.g., art, philosophy), and celebrating the gifts of the larger church), evangelical (the Bible alone is our authority in matters of faith and life), and Reformed (emphasizing God's sovereignty, providence, the solas of the Reformation, etc.). But one man's conservative is another's liberal, so my rejection of young-earth creationism might make me suspect in some quarters!}


Blogger Andrew said...

To my mind, Scott, you're a pretty good example of why tired, unimaginative labels like "conservative" and "liberal" don't do justice to anyone who's reasonably well-rounded, thoughtful, and spiritually and intellectually inquisitive. However you identify yourself, I appreciate your blog.

3:25 PM  
Blogger grant said...

You say you gave a shot at trying to be "Emergent" (a term I am not sure I totally understnad myself) but the last paragraph sounds like the subtitle to Generous Orthodoxy by McLaren: "why I ama missional + evangelical + post/protestant + liberal + conservative + mystical/poetic + biblical + charasmatic/contemplative + fundamentalisits/calvinist + anabaptist/anglican + methodist + catholic + grean + incarnationall + depressed-yet-hopeful + emergent + unfinished +CHRISTIAN"
I agree with andrew. i thikn this makes you a thoughtful person who allows God to be God and not box him into theology. My friend John grew up LCMS and now studies Intelligetn Design and Astrophysics at UIC. His views on the creation of the world have made some in his church label im most liberal of liberals, yet he seems like mot lutherans i meet.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Thanks Andrew and Grant, I take great "comfort and joy" in your thoughtful comments. God bless you both.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Bravo on the classis stand, Scott. You made my day when I read this. Actually you made my 2005, as I'm reviewing it this week, after all the controversy. All the General Synod dialogue and statements don't mean much if a classis refuses to allow such a minister to serve within its bounds.

Of course, I'd prefer to see classes that DO allow this sent from the RCA, so that the Church's position is clear and faithful to the Word.

But you have done well - on the puritan front, too! I was a little worried there for a while, and we still disagree on some stuff, but I enjoy interacting with you and appreciate you.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Also, to poke my nose into your reading patterns :) I'd stop reading Christian Century and Open theism and read more Calvin and P&R books...

But maybe that's just me!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Yes Steve, it's back to the Banner and Soli Deo Gloria books for me! I just finished Traill, and now I am about to read a collection of short pieces by Gerhardus Vos. Thanks for the support and interaction. Many blessings.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Home is so cozy, I often wonder why I stick my nose outside the comfortable bounds, then I realize that God didn't make all people in the same mold which is why we are never bored if we let loose the reins and let Jesus reign.

6:53 PM  
Blogger James Fletcher Baxter said...

One thing is for sure: unless and until we perceive His Worthiness to be the Actual Center of all things, we will be stuck in our 'natural' ego-centric predicament.

Perceive His Worthiness. Thus, He IS our personal Center.

Bottom Line: He comes to dwell IN us!

Praise The Lord!

10:25 AM  

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