How Becoming An Anglican Saved My Faith

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79 Responses

  1. Paige says:

    I am glad you have ‘found a resting place”…
    (from the hymn I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say”).

  2. Michael says:

    Paige,

    It was either find a resting place or crash…I’m glad I found the former…

  3. Jean says:

    “If all your eggs are in one doctrinal basket, at some point you will have to make intellectual compromises to hold on to them or slip into something more fearsome.”

    What is a “doctrinal basket?”

    What is an “intellectual compromise?”

    By “you” and “your”, are you speaking of yourself or all Christians?

  4. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I believe that all systematic theologies are flawed at some point…and when you find that point you have to make intellectual compromises to continue in that system.
    I was a devout Calvinist for may years and I thank God for those years because the system was a spiritual boon to me in many ways.
    However, I found that it too created some cognitive dissonance to continue to hold to all its doctrines.
    I could either acknowledge the dissonance by compromising intellectually or I could acknowledge that they existed and that this system too was flawed.
    I believe that this is true of all systems and I also know that each sects faithful will deny it to the death…

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael,
    So what’s the big difference between us? You have stated your individual “doctrine” and “system” to us a dozen times. It may be different than ours and it may have less components than ours, but you hold to it just as narrowly as we do (or you would have no need to continually state it) and you hold that those of us who think differently are wrong.

    Face it – you are just like the rest of us – sold that you have now found the right path and lobby the rest of us (in a subtle way) to find that right path. In the end you too shall compromise.

    God bless your venture.

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I feel partially culpable… but that’s not a bad thing.

    God knows, Anglicanism is not always easy. Every Anglican is not +Michael Ramsey or J.I. Packer. As in all the tribes of Christendom, we have our own eccentrics and some “nut cases”. Yet, this does not diminish the tradition, the words of the Book of Common Prayer, or the discipline (and joy) of the Daily Office, or our desire for reverence in our worship. Happy to walk this road with you…

  7. Michael says:

    MLD,

    The point is that I don’t have to compromise anything.
    I can drink deeply from any well in Christendom and ask any question I want without repercussions.

    To be a Christian at all demands we affirm a narrow set of doctrines…

  8. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Yes, you are culpable…and I’m thankful for it.

  9. Michael says:

    I’m not “lobbying” anyone to become Anglican.
    I could really care less and that’s probably sin on my part.
    I am saying that there is an alternative to sectional dogmatism for those who are looking for it…

  10. Sue says:

    I, too, found myself in Calvinist churches for many years. My husband and I both received seminary degrees in this tradition. I am thankful for the rich Bible teaching and background in Church history that it gave me. But I resonate with you when you say…

    “If all your eggs are in one doctrinal basket, at some point you will have to make intellectual compromises to hold on to them or slip into something more fearsome.”

    For me, I could never reconcile the doctrine of reprobation with a creator God who is also a loving Father. Something just doesn’t jive there, I’m convinced, though I can’t put my finger on it “systematically.” I have also journeyed into Anglicanism for similar reasons…and try to put aside occasionally haunting thoughts about reprobation and the horror of eternal separation from God. As you say, the resources of Anglicanism in focusing on a life of prayer and worship instead of theological propositions.

  11. Michael says:

    Sue,

    I share your haunting.
    I also could never jibe how unspeakable tragedies were somehow ordained by God for the “glory” of God…

  12. Jean says:

    I’m trying to keep up with the evolution here. I guess you are no longer ecumenical, since you apparently are accusing (or judging – you pick the verb) other traditions of requiring intellectual compromise (whatever that is, since you wouldn’t define it).

    But, for myself, I don’t confess my faith on the basis of my intellect, but from what I hear from the Word of God. This is a great blessing and opens the kingdom of God to all people, young, old, intelligent and simple. Christianity is neither an IQ test nor are we promised that God will satisfy our every curiosity.

    Moreover, for myself, I make no compromises in my beliefs which are informed by my tradition. But to clarify, I do not claim to understand all the mysteries of the faith, either. I think many who deal with crises of faith (or agnosticism) want to understand the infinite while being finite. That will never work.

  13. Michael says:

    Jean,

    On the contrary, my tradition enables my ecumenicism.
    If you believe that all systems are flawed (including any I come up with) you can extend the grace to others that you know you need yourself.
    It does make it difficult to engage with those who believe their system is flawless, but there is grace to cover that as well…

  14. Em says:

    Strangely, my years of examining The Faith has brought me to conclude that, as one’s faith (& spirit) mature, building a frame of reference from the content of The Book, it, The Faith, has become very logical. Are there mysteries that we cannot solve? Yes, but not many deal with our carnal lives..

    I used to think the song, “My faith has found a resting place, not in device or creed… ” was dismissive and shallow. Now i think it is the foundation for all.

  15. Michael says:

    “But, for myself, I don’t confess my faith on the basis of my intellect, but from what I hear from the Word of God. ”

    That would more correctly be “your interpretation” of what you hear from the Word of God.

    As we all disagree on those interpretations on many issues, we have to walk in some form of ecumenical grace or close ourselves off from the rest of the Body of Christ…

  16. Josh says:

    My system is completely flawed, but it is home.

  17. Xenia says:

    Converting to Orthodoxy saved my faith, too. I think, what it finally boiled down to after nearly 20 years of thinking about this, is that I had become sick and tired of viewing Christ as a cog (tempted to say tool) in some group’s systematic theology. I was tired of hearing about “our position in Christ” rather than hearing about how it’s possible to cooperate with Christ, our dear Savior, and learning to become conformed to His image, REALLY conformed, not just some positional conforming. I wanted Jesus Himself, not just sermons about soteriology, which was a type of soteriology that I was beginning to doubt. Jesus was just entirely too abstract in my old church, despite all the emotional songs we sang.

    Typically, we’d come to a passage where Christ says something difficult, like “Be ye perfect,” only to have it quickly explained away, with a great sigh of relief, by a quote from St. Paul. I prefer to read Paul through the lens of Jesus, not the other way around. It’s a major difference.

  18. Michael says:

    “I prefer to read Paul through the lens of Jesus, not the other way around. It’s a major difference.”

    It is a massive difference and one I don’t have my arms around yet…

  19. Michael says:

    Josh,

    “My system is completely flawed, but it is home.”
    I really believe all our homes are…but they are home, indeed…

  20. Josh says:

    And I’ve always felt pretty free to explore. I apparently like to argue, so I’ve never minded some push back. I think maybe we sometimes see the system as the destination rather than a path that points toward the destination. That would definitely be disappointing.

  21. Sue says:

    “I think many who deal with crises of faith (or agnosticism) want to understand the infinite while being finite.”

    There is really something there, I think. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who finds it hard to rest with “loose ends” constantly nagging at me to tie them into neat packages. But in the end, the infinite God will never submit to human reason and understanding, and so it seems there is no choice but to give up the faith completely or rest in the mystery. One of the most beautiful prayers of the BCP IMO is the post-Eucharist prayer, “Almighty and everliving God, we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom.”

  22. Michael says:

    Josh,

    “I think maybe we sometimes see the system as the destination rather than a path that points toward the destination.”

    Bingo…

  23. Michael says:

    Sue,

    “But in the end, the infinite God will never submit to human reason and understanding, and so it seems there is no choice but to give up the faith completely or rest in the mystery.”

    That…was really good …

  24. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    “Jesus was just entirely too abstract in my old church, despite all the emotional songs we sang.”

    I experienced the same thing, but do not attribute this problem to having a confession of faith per se. I attribute this particular problem to sacramentarianism.

    In my opinion (and this is just my opinion), if one denies the sacraments, what one is left with is an abstract, mental sort of religion, or in the alternative a pentacostalism to one degree or another. So, you see in many evangelical churches the emphasis on head knowledge as the means of sanctification.

  25. Michael says:

    Em,

    I don’t think a faith based on the premise that “a dead man got up and walked so we will too” is logical…true, but not necessarily logical…

  26. Sue says:

    Xenia,

    Wow. I am so fascinated by what you wrote, especially, “learning to become conformed to His image, REALLY conformed, not just some positional conforming. I wanted Jesus Himself, not just sermons about soteriology…”

    And do you feel like you have found that in Orthodoxy? I crave that kind of solid life in Christ, and envy much of what I see in the Orthodox Way. (A book I am reading now!) “Cooperation with Christ” in salvation is practically heresy in the evangelical mind (though I don’t really consider myself an evangelical anymore), a concept I am still wrestling with…

  27. Xenia says:

    Jean, I was bothered by the lack of sacraments, too, but I kind of set that aside as a different problem.

    For me, the problem was monergism, and many monergists are sacramentalists.

  28. Xenia says:

    Hi Sue!

    Yes, I found it in Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Way is a great book and I hope you are enjoying it!

    I’ve told this story before, and I don’t know if you’ve read it, but I used to be a leader at my old Calvary Chapel women’s ministry. We were sitting around one day trying to plan out the year’s events. Pool days, tea parties, Secret Sisters, book studies, etc. I came up with some charity ideas (we have plenty of poor people in the area) and it was shot down as “works righteousness.” (We did end up sending a big box of clothing to a Calvary Chapel orphanage in Asia.) Conclusion: Pool days on the estate of the rich lady is A-ok; volunteering at a soup kitchen is salvation by works and too Catholicky. So yeah, you are right. For *some* evangelicals (I don’t want to broad brush) good works are something to be suspicious of.

    I should add that this was 20 years ago and that church has a new leadership and I’ve heard rumors that they have a more positive attitude towards works of charity.

  29. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    “For me, the problem was monergism, and many monergists are sacramentalists.”

    I suppose that depends on definitions. Most sacramentarians I run into would say that the sacraments are man’s work or doing (e.g., calling them an ordinance), so they would claim that a Lutheran couldn’t be monergistic.

    However, within monergism, there is the thought of cooperation: honoring the Sabbath, by going to church to hear God’s Word; giving offerings so that pastors can be paid to proclaim the Gospel, to purchase bread and wine, and to provide a church building and furnishings for the divine service; going to Holy Communion to participate in the Eucharistic meal; reading God’s Word; praying (a biggie); giving alms; these are all “cooperating” with Jesus.

    But in another sense, the narrow sense of sanctification (or being made holy), that can only be given by God and received by the Christian IMO, because holiness is not a created substance but resides entirely in the Triune God and by emanating gift in those to whom He shares it. However, since God works through means, there must be cooperation in the sense I previously stated.

    Does this capture your thoughts as well?

  30. Sue says:

    Xenia, thank you so much for your response. As I am reading also your response to Jean, I am wanting to amend what I said above about “cooperation with Christ in salvation” being heresy to an evangelical…I am thinking now it is more of an issue of monergism and synergism, both being found in different types of evangelicalism, right? I am really interested in how the synergism of Orthodoxy brings more of the “really being conformed, not just positional conforming”…the finding “Jesus Himself and not just sermons about soteriology”…? Fascinating.

  31. Josh says:

    “God works through means”

    I see this as a conversation rather than a debate. Don’t take this as an offense. I think this belief is fine and see no reason for you to change it.

    That being said, it is Lutheran Dogma. One may interpret the separate scripture passages to mean this (as I do), but this is not expressly stated in Scripture. It is a construction built upon an inference. Yet, it is apparently a foundational belief for many Lutherans. That’s interesting, no?

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    “… because holiness is not a created substance but resides entirely in the Triune God and by emanating gift in those to whom He shares it…”

    In the more Anglo-Catholic side of Anglicanism you would find agreement, but with an addition – we participate in that gift in doing that which Christ calls us to do. It’s why the early followers of this part of Anglicanism were often to be found in the slums. (Additionally, their bishops wouldn’t give them “nice” churches! 😊)

  33. Jean says:

    Josh,

    Do you consider the following a mere inference:

    “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ ”

    Is there an explicit means spoken of?

  34. Josh says:

    It is an inference. Again, I agree with you, but it does not say “God works through means”. You infer that from the text.

  35. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I agree that Christians receive gifts (I’m reminded of the parable of the talents) to be used. I think this is what is meant in the context of being “a holy priesthood” of believers.

  36. Michael says:

    I think God often or even usually works through means…but there is nothing that precludes Him from working unilaterally by the Spirit as well…

  37. Josh says:

    And I’m not using Dogma in the pejorative sense, but in the formal, systematic sense.

  38. Josh says:

    And when I agree that God uses means, I mean that he can and does use means. But God is always at work all around us, mostly in ways that we never know. I would guess that the use of means is only a small portion of God’s full work.

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I’m talking about active participation in the gift…

  40. Jean says:

    Duane, I don’t know your theology well enough to comment. If it’s scriptural, then God be praised.

  41. Jean says:

    Josh,

    When I say “God works through means,” I am speaking specifically about His gracious work of redemption, not His providential work in creation.

    I take Paul’s words in Romans 10 at face value. And the preacher, as the mouth and voice of God, flows from the Word (means) that go out from God. Amazing stuff!

  42. Canadian Steve says:

    I’m personally glad that my dad’s focus was firmly on the gospel, so that while I can hold to Calvinism or various other beliefs, they are held loosely so that I too feel that I can appreciate and learn from lots of different traditions. You don’t have to convert to Anglicanism to do that when it’s gospel first, as chinks in the doctrinal framework don’t shake things to the core. And that gospel focus is, I daresay, why MLD (as contentious as he can sometimes be LOL!) fits in here from how I observe things!

  43. Michael says:

    Well said, Steve…

  44. Em says:

    Michael @ 11:41 .🌝
    By human logic it is not even possible, but for some reason, God decided to breath a living soul into a mud doll – later he became one, himself and that really defies human logic

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I am traveling today but almost home. I guess I will need to look up the meaning of the word inference because it may not mean what you think.
    The text is clear in Matt 26 that drinking the cup gives you forgiveness of sins.
    Acts 2 says when you are baptized you will receive the Holy Spirit.
    1 Peter says when you are baptized you are saved.

    A couple of the means, eating, drinking and getting wet – bread, wine, word and water, deliver what they promise – no inference required.

  46. Josh says:

    “I take Paul’s words in Romans 10 at face value.”
    Me too, along with all the other soteriological passages in the bible.

    Mld, there is a lot inferred if you arrive at the point that God only works through means. But it is one of your foundational beliefs. I get that, and don’t begrudge you. It does help us to understand the Lutheran mindset, when that is how your hermeneutic works.

  47. Jean says:

    Josh,

    Do you agree with this definition of the word “inference?”

    “the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former” – Merrium Webster

    When Paul rhetorically asks: “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

    I am not passing from one proposition to another; I am focusing on the explicit (not inferential) proposition.

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, can you suggest a ‘non means’ method God uses to deliver his good gifts of salvation and forgiveness.?
    Even in Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6 (as hokey as it may sound) God uses the image of touching Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal to take away his guilt as an act of atonement.

    But you are right, God’s use of physical means is a Lutheran distinctive. Baptist must believe more in the system of God snapping his fingers or stating abracadabra 3 times. 🙂 (as a preemptive – get you panties out of a wad – I’m just kidding)

  49. Josh says:

    I’m not saying it as an insult. You are taking one instance and inferring that it always works that way. That’s why I say inference. I you find the term insulting, I will stop using it.

  50. Michael says:

    I find it odd that some believe forgiveness and salvation must be delivered like a Amazon package…

  51. Jean says:

    Josh,

    Neither I nor MLD is insulted.

    Regarding the one instance of Romans 10 that I gave above, it is one instance that covers the whole: “How are they….?”

    How many times must Jesus say something to make it always true? On the other hand, what other ways does the Word teach that sinners may be redeemed?

  52. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – “I find it odd that some believe forgiveness and salvation must be delivered like a Amazon package…” – that may be a snappy comeback, but I also have trouble with those of you who think forgiveness and salvation are delivered by pixie dust.

    The Bible says by physical means – Christ in a body on a wooden cross spilling blood that you could test for blood type – the message delivered by a man with a voice box and or paper and ink and I could go on and on.

    Even Jesus in healing used spit and mud. But a finger snap sounds cleaner. 🙂 Perhaps you are much like the actor Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus in a new movie and wouldn’t do the mud and spit scene because to paraphrase him “God does not deliver his good graces like an Amazon package.” – actually he said he didn’t believe Jesus would do something so disgusting.

  53. Josh says:

    “Regarding the one instance of Romans 10 that I gave above, it is one instance that covers the whole: “How are they….?””
    I get that your understanding of the passage leads you in that direction. I don’t want to change your mind.

    “How many times must Jesus say something to make it always true? ”
    At least once 🙂

  54. OfficerHoppy says:

    Michael
    Sounds like you’ve come to a good end of a long journey. BTW, I’m back in the RV at TRF

  55. Josh says:

    Keep in mind that I have not disagreed that God works through means, I’ve just recognized how basic it is to the Lutheran faith. It is not nearly as much of a focus for other systems. Just an observation.

  56. Jean says:

    Josh,

    Let’s say, as to any particular doctrine, that one tradition believes “X” and 9 other traditions believe “Y.” Would you give more weight to the truthfulness of “Y” because the vast majority of traditions believe “Y?”

  57. pstrmike says:

    thanks Michael. I appreciate this post and walking this journey with you.

    Xenia,

    ” I think, what it finally boiled down to after nearly 20 years of thinking about this . . . ”

    I have been thinking and questioning these things for several years. Aside from doctrine — which I am still working through, there was the issue of a lack of ethics. More alarming than the abusive actions was the lack of concern or generally apathy among many leaders.

    I see my role as a pastor these days as one who is leading people toward a deeper relationship with Christ, and as you said, it IS something that we are called to engage in and work toward our eventual theosis.

    I don’t know that Orthodoxy or even Anglicanism are in my future, but I continue to read both primary sources and of writings about the Fathers, along with contemporary writers (some who are Orthodox and Anglican) on the topics of asceticism and spiritual formation.

  58. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, it may not be as big a focus by the read e rd here as it is to the Lutherans on the blog – but in the churches around the globe it is just as important and focus as we make it here.
    The RCC, the EO, the Anglicans, Lutherans and the Presbyterian side of the Reformed churches all place great attention on the means – and someone here can correct me, but all liturgical churches place the Lord’s Supper at the center of the liturgy and all proclaim it as a means to salvation.
    Calvary Chapel, the SBC and some others may be in the minority.

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    One thing oddly funny about this thread today – yesterday Duane challenged us to identify our denominational distinctive so we could effectively do missions. Today is the challenge to flatten out our distinctive.
    There must be a division in the house.

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Correction to my 5:04 – a means to forgiveness – not salvation.
    Although continued forgiveness is a continuation of your salvation.

  61. Michael says:

    “Today is the challenge to flatten out our distinctive.”
    MLD you are twisting as usual.

    I’m not asking anything of anybody else.
    I think Lutherans should be Lutherans in all their hostile, dogmatic glory.
    Xenia is Orthodox to the core.
    Josh is a Baptist through and through.
    This is all good…I was simply sharing my perspective and my own journey…for whatever it’s worth to my readers.

  62. bob1 says:

    Michael.

    I think you’ve done a beautiful job of explaining why yoo’re Anglican.

    What I’ve observed is that Anglicanism is fully orthodox — but not provincial. They
    know what’s going on in other Communions.

    The combination of questioning and affirming the basics is to me, a winning combination.

    They also do a hell of a lot of good in this life — Tutu, etc.

  63. Josh says:

    Jean and MLD – It was honestly just an observation. It had never occurred to me that “God works through means” is such a focal point of your faith.

    I have said multiple times, I don’t want you to change your mind. I pointed out the observation because it helps me to understand.

    Jean, to answer your question, a consensus does not make a doctrine right or wrong, but I would certainly consider what other Christians believe when wrestling with my own doctrine.

    MLD – I know that there are sacramentalist Christians everywhere. I am specifically talking about the phrase:”God works through means”. That, while I’m sure has been uttered by other traditions, is very central to what I hear from Lutherans.

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh it’s just terminology to describe an action by God.
    Look, I am sure it is foreign to you just as “come to the cross and give your life to Jesus” is to us.

    I know it is late on your coast – have a good night.

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    Just to be clear… no division in the house, except for those who wish to sow division where there is none…

  66. Josh says:

    “Josh it’s just terminology to describe an action by God.”

    Yes, I know. I’ve noticed that it is used often by Lutherans.

    “come to the cross and give your life to Jesus”

    I don’t know that one specifically. Maybe “ask Jesus into you heart.” I’ve heard that one a lot over the years.And yes, that is definitely an inference that some make from different bible passages. You don’t find that phrase in Scripture. I’m fine with examining any and all SBC dogma, and discarding where need be.

  67. Em says:

    I recall the dilemna when finding myself participating in a Southern Baptist church as a sprinkled Presbyterian…
    As far as we know Jesus was immersed “to fulfill all righteousness.” So?
    How did we get to just a sprinkle will do?
    means = O.T. v Church (age 😘 )? uhh

  68. filbertz says:

    officerhoppy
    I, too, still poke my head in from time to time. Delightful to see you as always. 🙂

  69. As I’ve watched various Evangelicals and Reformed people in the US move to Rome, Orthodox, Anglican and agnosticism, I’ve been more and more thankful that I was born in Canada. I do not have to deal with the enmeshment of politics and Christianity, as up here we already a remnant with no hope (short-term anyways) of earthly power.

    Plus, there aren’t nearly as many extra-biblical political beliefs that get you looked at sideways or have your faith questioned for. I can have more liberal perspectives on refugees and borders and still be thought of as conservative. Even the conservatives up here don’t question universal healthcare. Being concerned for the environment and First Nations rights isn’t nearly as much a right/left issue here, and certainly not within Christian circles. Things aren’t as polarized as in the US from what I see.

    I remember when our church had Jason Stellman up to speak at a family camp, and he was going hard on his two-kingdom theology. My brother-in-law and I both thought it was so obvious that he wasn’t really fighting about theology, but was just trying to find a way to be an American Christian with some left-leaning political views and not get kicked out of his tribe. We both told him to chill out and move to Canada. But he crossed the Tiber instead…

    I’m pretty convinced if I lived in the US I’d probably have switched allegiances by now. Probably Orthodox I’m guessing. Though the fact that God put me in Canada by His grace might very well mean that He knew I couldn’t handle it and would have reacted by going agnostic. Who says sovereignty isn’t gracious?!! 🙂

  70. Michael says:

    Canadian Steve,
    “I can have more liberal perspectives on refugees and borders and still be thought of as conservative. Even the conservatives up here don’t question universal healthcare. Being concerned for the environment and First Nations rights isn’t nearly as much a right/left issue here, and certainly not within Christian circles. ”

    If I could, I think I’d join you up there…

  71. Jean says:

    Canadian Steve,

    It sounds like your people are able to keep compassionate and conservative together.

  72. Xenia says:

    Jean,

    Does this capture your thoughts as well?<<<

    No, not really.

  73. directambiguity says:

    How do I/we know or Michael for that matter has found a permanent home, CC to Reformed to Anglican to ? Not to mention the whole inerrancy question…

    Just a thought I had.

  74. Michael says:

    direct ambiguity,

    I think this is the last stop…it wasn’t an overnight decision by any stretch of the imagination.
    Anglicanism gives me the freedom to think…and that’s what i was craving, along with all the other benefits.
    If it’s not the last stop, that’s ok too.
    I don’t hold to inerrancy, but many Anglicans do.
    J.I. Packer wrote the standard work on inerrancy…

  75. Michael says:

    OfficerHoppy,

    I know where you are… 🙂
    It’s a nice campus and I have some friends there…

  76. Jim says:

    Michael, I’m very happy for you.

    I think Sue (who is smart) said, “rest in the mystery”. Having done some serious time in hyper-charismatic circles, I learned to develop mental shelves of mystery when I was young, and they are quite full. I’m very comfortable living with unanswered questions, but I think that it’s a discipline.

    On the big questions such as hell and who goes there, and tragedy, from cancer to Hitler/Stalin-level atrocities, I think we may bump the curb of idolatry, wanting a God made in our image, when we can’t reconcile His goodness and sovereignty with the human condition.

    My shelves have served me well, and I recommend them. There is much that we DO know. More than enough to occupy our thoughts for the rest of our days. I think the healthy choice is to humbly direct our focus there.

  77. Michael says:

    Jim,

    Thanks, my friend.
    I think…that we should settle on a theodicy (or just leave it wholly to mystery) before we establish the rest of our theology.
    It was a logical theodicy that pulled me into Calvinism…and is also pulling me out.

  78. Jim says:

    Well, I had to google “theodicy”, so i guess I need these little shelves. He is God and I’m not somehow works for me.

  79. Michael says:

    Jim,

    I think most of our theological and doctrinal choices are made on the basis of what works for us…

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