This will be the first of a series where I explain the journey of religion that I have followed thus far, and where I am ending up. To many, this may be a waste of time, but to those who appreciate an intimate look through the window into another’s soul, I aim to please. No promises on how long between posts. I pray this benefits many.
I Write Because I’m Working out the Kinks
It seems fairly egotistical to set out to write of one’s own spiritual journey, expecting others to read it. In this case, I had thought to write for the benefit of my wife, daughter, parents, and other family and near friends who would be impacted by where I am headed, but in the interest of the Church catholic, that ancient and enduring body to which I forever belong, I thought to offer this to anyone who would read.
I am slowly moving toward embracing the Reformed faith in totality. Having been a credobaptist my whole Christian life, I know how this seems to us when someone else “goes paedobaptist.” I’ve watched other men move from credo to paedo and often wondered “how could they do that? Haven’t they read the Bible?” And yet, here I stand on the threshold. Follow along, don’t tune me out, dear friends. Your readership will be a blessing to both of us.
Seeking the Church
This is a story of seeking for the rock which does not move in the storms. I am not referring to Jesus, exactly, for He has already found and sealed me in His name. I speak of the Church catholic, that ancient, enduring, and elusive body, for which our need is great. We need the Church, and in one sense, I am searching for Jesus, for He is found wherever one finds His Church. In another sense, I am seeking to follow Him, to lose my ego-centered American individuality in Him, and to somehow land among His people while walking with Him.
But approaching from either direction, mine has been a story of longing and disappointment. When one becomes a Christian, he will love his fellow Christians with a panting, rapid heartbeat; he will be as a baby seeing nothing but solidity, permanence, and hope in his parents. But for the Christian who has walked for several, perhaps many years among the flock of Christ, many illusions will have been shattered, perhaps gently cracked at times, but usually shattered—and in so many cases, those shards will not glue back together.
My life as a Christian, now 15 years this December 2017, has been more often disappointing as I have sought the Church. In seeking the Church, I have sought the crown jewel among Jesus’ words, namely “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21 ESV). Certainly His prayer “hallowed be Thy name” is the highest petition we may ask of the Father, but in my estimation, the greatest means of seeing our Father’s name be hallowed is by the unity and holiness of the Church Jesus created in His death and resurrection. In the crown of King Jesus, the unity and love and holiness and good works of His people would be the center jewel, being the visible beauty of His finished work on earth.
All other beauties are of nature; they are incidental to the persistence of the earth—newborn babies, seasons, architecture, the animal kingdom, space, literature, and Switzerland—all these are beauties that persist with or without the Church. But the supernature of the Church, in fact our distinctiveness, is only known and seen in our visible unity and holiness.
And if you’re keeping score, that unity and holiness is, well, elusive, to repeat myself. Since Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, He died and was buried, and since He went to Hades, then rose from the dead on the third day, and since He ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father, then we can look for His Church with confidence she may be found. Right? She should be here, somewhere, if we just open enough local church doors, see ourselves inside, and settle in for the service, yes?
Yet nothing is so simple in Christendom. The local churches are by no means reliable havens for the Church to gather in worship. We live in the great declension of the West; 5,000 years of civilization have been turned into every man’s private Disneyworld. As Jesus warned, “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). We live in the unfolding aftermath of a great, long experiment in lawlessness, and love is a shrinking quantity.
Christianity has suffered 1,000 years of philosophical rot and infiltration by every unclean bird. Modernity has been a case of dynamite against the pillars of truth in the basement of every man’s house. Post modernity has slithered in to yank out the jugular of traditional life and religion, and what is coming next is too hazy to make out.
Christians, and I mean the visible body of everyone baptized, and those professing to believe in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel—this vast number of 2 billion are more divided and scattered than could be adequately described in the most hyperbolic terms. Among the most rigidly traditional denominations, factions box one another to exhaustion, and among liberal groups, anything goes. I could elaborate, but I’m not talented enough to tease out that knot of hair to satisfaction.
It is enough to jump off from this desolate view, into the microcosm of my own life and religion. Why begin so negatively, so focused on what seems to not exist? Some of you will be thinking at this point that there is a measure of unity among Christians. That Jesus’ prayer is not unanswered—perish the thought Adam! you mutter. I would love to perish the thought. In fact, I am writing this thing in order to work out the tangled knots of confusion and disappointment I am facing today. Perhaps, in the flood of words, the answers will begin to lay more plainly for me to see. Perhaps I am writing only for myself, and older me will blush at the arrogance of having published such a self-gratifying load. Yes. But perhaps there will be some catharsis here, something by which a light will peek into my darkened room—perhaps my wife and child(ren) will find in this something to grasp and hold in the midst of storms.
Perhaps this will catalyze a more conscious work of unity among a few of us, and we will find a reason to smile while we search for the Church together.
The Church is where Christ has promised to meet and dwell with His people. It is there that His Word is proclaimed, His sacraments received, and His people disciplined for God’s glory and our good. In the Church, there is holiness and joy, worship and peace. I want these things, but not just for myself. I want to see joy, peace, holiness, and pure worship in each of you as well, perhaps more strongly than I desire them for myself. I wish to see Christ in you.
And so, all I have for now are my words. These words will hopefully be a bit of clarity and cause for discussion among the few of us who enjoy a good spiritual puzzle.
In these posts, I will outline my early life in the churches, my conversion, post-conversion search for the right church, and some of the twists and turns that are resulting in my slow, careful embrace of the Reformed faith. I don’t promise a good outline by which you will feel I covered all the necessary material. I don’t think I have the discipline for that. I do promise, however, that I have skin in the game here. I care very deeply about the future of the West, for the Church, for my family, and for you, my friends across the world. Though we may disagree and differ on theological issues, I truly hope we can find unity somehow, some way in our common Lord, and in His Church.
Follow me as I search for the Church, for Jesus who has already found me, and for my place in a difficult time to be alive.
. I use the term catholic in its technical sense, referring to the whole body of Christians on earth, as opposed to its conventional, provincial use referring to the Roman Church.