A Faith I Can Live With

I recently went out with my wife and a group of new friends.  We saw “The Good Negro,” a play about the civil rights movement and the struggle of the leaders to be effective, to be perfect, to be respected as human.

After the play, we all gathered at a local restaurant for food and discussion and it happened again.  You see, (and if you frequent my blog you already know), I have been on a journey for more than a year now.  After many years in ministries and 5 years on a church staff as the youth minister, I walked away.  I walked away knowing one thing for sure.  The faith that I shared with so many and for so long was not a faith I could live with.  I’ll tell you why in a moment, but back to the dinner for now.

Without intention, maybe even with resistance from me, the conversation merged into a discussion on truth, religion, God, and spirituality.  This kind of unplanned conversation has been happening to me frequently for more than a year.  I have concluded that people all over the world are searching for a faith they can live with.  I almost want to draw parallels between the civil rights movement and the unorganized spiritual movement that seems afoot.  I shall resist.

Why I could not live with “charismatic faith”

I can give you many, many anecdotal stories about why I was not content with the faith of my childhood.  Instead I’ll just say this.  I grew up in the charismatic church, and while it took me a long time to get to a place of frustration, I did get there.  The charismatic experience is too much of just that for me — experience.  Often times the experience is not questioned.  Often truth is presented that is not reasonable and has little biblical truth as its basis.  The foundation of truth, the way truth is determined in that group of denominations, is based on (as I have experienced it): general revelation (the Bible), special revelation (things that God says now), experience, and emotion.  Reason is often frowned upon and consideration of the global and historic church’s position on issues is unheard of for most within.

This approach worked for me until I started asking a series of ‘why’ questions.  Like i said before, if you are a frequent reader, you know all this.  If not, search “rethinking church” on the blog and you’ll let the gist of it.

Finally, I have come to conclusions about the basis of my faith.  In other words, this is where I stand now.  I have come to a place of peace and rest.

I have as my foundation now the five Solas.  I will compare and contrast each of these as I go further, but let me start with an overview.  Believe me when I tell you that the differences between charismatic theology and what is called reformed theology are night and day.

A faith I can live with.

Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria:  With scripture alone as our primary theological authority, we conclude that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and in this, God alone receives the glory.

As I read that I think to myself, I don’t know any charismatic Christians who would disagree with any of this verbally.  However, as I will point out over the next few posts, what is said and what is done in charismatic circles are two astoundingly different things.

Let me end here by saying, I am also decidedly irenic in my theological discussions.  I’m not here to bash those who are from the traditions of my past.  The fact remains that I have learned of God and have come to faith in Him in very charismatic environments.  Without the things that I have learned and without the relationship that I developed with God in these environments, I would have had nothing to sustain me.  It must be understood from the start that I love my brothers and sisters who remain.

Yet my faith seeks understanding.  “fides quaerens intellectum”

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6 thoughts on “A Faith I Can Live With

  1. Pingback: A Higher Calling… | Concept 53

  2. Excellent post, brother. I’ve been reading (from afar) for awhile now, but I finally eeked out enough time to comment after a long absence from your comment threads.

    I chimed in at the perfect time – the moment that you touched on the 5 solas. As you and I have discussed in the past, I too fled the Charismatic movement for the very same reasons that you did – and I have completely embraced Reformed Theology (not necessarily Calvinism, but folks feel more comfortable lumping me in as a Calvinist because of my beliefs).

    A few months ago, I wrote of my experiences in sharing the foundations of historical biblical Christianity (i.e Reformed Theology) with other black folks. Like you, I can get heads nodding in agreement when I discuss the foundation of the Reformation (and the 5 solas), but folks don’t feel too comfortable “going all the way” to fully embracing Reformed Theology, primarily because they think they won’t be allowed to worship God or smile anymore during services.

    Anyway, I’ll get around to some of your other recent posts in a minute but I had to stop by this one.

    Great stuff!

  3. Hey ST,

    Good to see you.

    I thought of you and your experience when preparing this post. You are one of the few that has found your equilibrium again. So many come to the place of discovery. They realize that something is wrong and they get off balance. Many have walked away from the faith and many remain weak, dying and stuck.

    Folks (no matter the camp) will keep trying to place and label you. I have no doubt you will keep resisting. Feels to good to be free.

    Looking forward to your input as I unpack the difference with my faith then and now. It promises to get a little wild. lol

  4. I have learned a lot watching you go through your processes. I got really tired of my church experience and basically went through a range of emotions, including grief, numbness, and raging dissatisfaction by the time I left.

    I have concluded that, while where I was is fine for many people, it’s not okay for me. I’m still exploring where my faith will take me. One thing I am certain of is that I do still have a living faith. I’ve just shaken off the trappings I feel are unnecessary, with a clear need to get down to the basics of what God has called me to.

  5. Still working through being “unchurched” for th most part. One of my daghters told me she does not totally embrace my religious beliefs – “too many rules’. Of course, I freaked out until I realized she needs to come into her own and that means finding out what her true relationship with God s all about. I will continue to read your presentations and blog with you when I can. Until I can speak with you next time, keep fighting the good fight of faith!

  6. Pingback: A years worth of conversation « SCREAM

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