So, perhaps you’ve noticed the splashing of the word “reformed” in my social media posts and on this blog. Welcome to the explanation.
To catch you up, Big Love and I recently left our church and have started attending the ONLY Reformed Baptist Church in the CSRA. On purpose. We sought this out and landed there intentionally. But why?!
Well, that’s a question we’ve been asked a lot over the last couple of weeks, especially by members of this church. Everyone has their story of how they came to follow and study Reformed Theology and we’ve enjoyed hearing the spiritual, theological journeys of our new friends that led them to the same place as us. And they all want to know ours.
It wasn’t a question I was prepared to answer, and I left each conversation understanding a little more about the path that led me here. I’ve grown to see more of it, and the Lord will probably have more to show me.
Being a Preacher’s Kid, I grew up under a consistent doctrine. Many churches- but always with the same Pastor, with the same education and perspective. I certainly had moments of questioning, but my Dad was the best at forcing me to have my own interpretation of scripture and not relying on what he believed. I agreed with what I learned in those Southern Baptist churches I grew up in. But I am naturally a skeptic. I don’t believe anything anyone tells me ever. It’s kind of annoying. I have to verify everything. Serious. In all my researching over the years, I’ve dubbed myself a “Theology Snob.” Someone make me a shirt.
When I turned 16, Big Love agreed it was important that we attend church together to encourage conversations about preaching, and to study the same things. I moved my membership to the church he grew up in, also a Southern Baptist church, and we attended there for the next 4 years, with my Daddy’s blessing. We continued in other Southern Baptist churches for 6 more years. Always agreeing with the Baptist Faith & Message, but struggling over details and applications at each one.
Since I can remember, the sincerity of salvation has been something I have been most frustrated over and debated. I never felt the presentation of salvation that I was witnessing in church was the whole truth. That it missed something and in doing so, deceived many. It broke me and I constantly found myself in arguments and conversations over what I saw as a major inaccuracy when compared to scripture.
We began attending another Baptist church that very quickly was adopted by a C&MA church and so we became C&MAers. At the same time, we began leading Young Life – a very new ministry and concept to us. If you don’t know YL, it’s an international para-church youth ministry that desires to see every kid have “the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and follow Him.” Young Life leaders come from all kinds of backgrounds, theologies, and denominations. For me, this was my first real experience where I was frequently exposed to doctrine that opposed my own and it was a HUGE struggle for me. Each week, I listened to a different leader speak with their own set of beliefs and it tore my soul.
Sidenote: I had to eventually comfort myself knowing that anyone in that room hearing what I believed to be “false teaching” would not be hindered from believing in the Lord if the Lord was calling them to Him (predestination, irresistible grace). Realistically, most of the time I just wanted to scream, “STOP!” Please hear me and know that I don’t diminish the faith or salvation of those with other beliefs; I personally just couldn’t figure out how to co-teach the Gospel with them. To me, it was as if a French teacher and a German teacher were trying to teach “foreign language.” Yes, French is a foreign language, and German is a foreign language… but they aren’t interchangeable. It’s probably an easily overlooked problem for most normal people. But skeptical, theology snob me just couldn’t overcome.
It was the most emotionally trying 2 years of my life… and I was supposed to be functioning well enough to engage and disciple teenagers. But looking back, I’m thankful. Listening to so many people believe noticeably different than me made me research. I had known for a long time that I was Calvinist, but I didn’t know what being “not-Calvinist” meant or what those people might believe. And I wanted to know.
So I spent a lot of time researching. My research consisted of basic stuff – reading definitions of the theological perspectives of Calvinism and Arminianism – and reading scripture. Somewhere in this, as Big Love and I began regularly talking about these topics (and sharing hilarious Calvinist memes) we began listening for our beliefs to be validated in the sermons at our church. And then, they just weren’t. We asked around and realized we were alone in our opinion in our congregation and left to find “our people.” (Though we seriously miss our church family! <3)
4 weeks in and this is why I believe they’re my people.
- They make fun of a certain Televangelist 😉
- One of the Pastoral Interns quoted Flame from the pulpit… during a sermon!
- We don’t have to explain what we believe to them
- Mostly, because Theology is the #1 priority of EVERY. SINGLE. THING. (Theology Snob Approved!)
So officially, Big Love and I are now identifying as Reformed, though I suppose we always were. Now, insert funny meme.