New Blogging Adventure!

Although this is a couple days late, I’m excited to announce I’ve been added to the Near Emmaus bloggers!

Beginning this weekend I’ll be contributing posts on Saturdays reflecting over life as a seminarian and on Sundays I’ll post my “Sundays With Paul” series. All of these posts will also be seen here, but I would encourage all my readers (all seven of you) to check out the other posts at Near Emmaus as well. I’m really excited for this experience because it draws in a much different blogging community than I’m used to – one full of dialogue and discussion regarding faith, theology, and biblical studies (among other things).

As for this blog, I’ll attempt to post more frequently than I have been. Homework has definitely been more demanding this semester than last fall, but once I find a rhythm, I’ll make room for more posts.

God bless.

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Wandering Through the Fog…

Finding the time to compose a blog hasn’t been easy lately. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had enough free time (I started and finished Sherlock – both seasons), but harnessing that free time into some form of intellectual activity outside of schoolwork hasn’t seemed worth the effort – mostly because I’m lazy, but partially because I want to walk around Portland pretending to solve some sort of crime by nothing but a shoelace or a piece of gum stuck to a doorknob.

It’s a miracle I’m still in school, really.

But there are things to blog about; Thanksgiving was wonderful (thanks to the Stoppers and Bri), Christmas is a few weeks away, and, little by little, I’m falling in love with the academic world.

Yesterday afternoon I drove over to George Fox University’s Newburg campus to check out their bookstore and, well, to see the main campus. As I walked amongst the buildings and through the courtyard, I felt I was on familiar territory – even though I had never been to this campus before.

Strangely, I felt home.

Not “home” like Lincoln City is home (or even Eugene) – not in the sense of “Oh, I recognize almost everything about this place and recall so many fond memories.” I mean “home” in the sense of the atmosphere; that even though I had barely a clue where the bookstore was, being in a place where people are asking questions, discovering perspectives, and becoming more fully themselves is a place I can call home.

For one of my classes last night, we were asked to bring a picture that best explains, with few additional words, how God speaks to us outside of Scripture (like the “totems” in Inception; not that the picture itself is the totem, but what the picture represents). What I chose as my picture was a famous painting (at least, I think it’s famous) entitled Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (by Casper David Friedrich).

Where I feel closest to God...
Where I feel closest to God…

I didn’t know who painted it or when, but I picked it because at many points in my life, I have felt like the “wanderer”; standing alone up high on some ledge peering out to the grand mystery before me. And being overwhelmed with awe at how beautiful it all is.

To me, the fog represents the things in life that we don’t know or can’t explain. What little we actually can see (the small hilltops peaking through the fog) depicts what little we actually know (or at least the bits that we think we know). In order to journey through the land – maybe to the mountains in the distance – we must travel through the fog patches, the seasons of uncertainty (even only to get to the places we can see). After describing how God speaks clearest to me when I’m able to survey all the confusing parts of life (the sea of fog) mixed with the few parts of life that aren’t so confusing, I quickly realized this is what draws me to Scripture.

For as much as I know about Scripture, there is much more that I don’t’ know. As in the painting; the parts the wanderer can see the clearest are overwhelmed by “the sea of fog” – by that which isn’t clear. Scripture provokes and prods me towards the fog; I am compelled to seek even if I never find. Like Sherlock becoming restless until he has a complex case to solve, I feel restless until I’ve begun wandering through the fog of Scripture.

By no means am I suggesting that I’m some genius, “high-functioning sociopath” who can tell you your life story just by the way your tie is arranged. But I am saying that my clearest moments with God are when I am immersed in His mysteries – when I’m enveloped by the foggy parts of life and Scripture.

Such a realization of such a love for God’s mysteries in Scripture has left me considering something beyond a Master’s degree: a PhD. Of course, I know next to nothing about how I’m supposed to get one, where I’m supposed to begin, or what I’m supposed to even study. But I know that I love the academic environment and that the only way for me to remain in such an environment is to study enough to be able to teach, which I think involves earning a PhD.

Or becoming a janitor and secretly using the hallway chalkboard to solve Scriptural riddles that have never been solved before (i.e. Good Will Hunting).

So I guess that sums up my last week and a half; Thanksgiving was great, Benedict Cumberbatch is the man, and I love the academic side of Scripture. I can’t promise any more blog posts between now and the end of the semester (December 20th), but I’ll try my best. I’ve been reading another book by Kent Nerburn (The Wolf at Twilight, sequel to Neither Wolf, Nor Dog) and it’s absolutely wonderful, so I might crank something out of there. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, stay warm. Stay curious. And DFTBA (“Don’t Forget To Be Awesome” – Green brothers).

God bless.

Tearing Down to Build Up…

Earlier this week, a classmate of mine (Emily) wrote a post acknowledging her difficulty maintaining faith during her studies in seminary. Although the specific things I’m wrestling with are different, I found myself relating to her sentiment. Like I’ve shared before, being a seminarian is to abandon naiveté and that process is incredibly uncomfortable.

Reading scholars like Jon D. Levenson, John J. Collins, and even tidbits of Michael D. Coogan has left me feeling as though anything I once believed to be true isn’t really true. Of course this feeling I have isn’t true in its entirety, but I’m finding extreme difficulty (and even exhaustion) in trying to maintain the implicit beliefs I’ve either acquired from someone else or created in my own head. While I love learning new ways of viewing Scripture, letting go of the countless assumptions I have isn’t the easiest.

This sense of unease is especially present in my Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) class. We’re reading through many of the gritty parts of the early days of Judaism (or as tradition holds as “the early days”) and being asked to focus in on moments that do not jive at all with our idea of “God is love,” or at least how we commonly understand that idea. For instance, in Joshua 7 a man named Achan sinned by coveting and then taking gold that he wasn’t supposed to. After discovering his gold stash (no, not a golden mustache), they brought him and his entire family to the Valley of Achor:

“Joshua said, ‘Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.’ And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger.” (7:25-26)

We’ve covered many passages like this, but this one particularly troubles me because God becomes angry against the people He chose, which, if we understand God as all-knowing, makes you wonder why He chose Israel in the first place, and doesn’t calm down until after an entire family has been, essentially, lynched. “All [of] Israel” had gathered to cast stones and set their own people on fire – if we take this passage to be literally true. And this is precisely the spot that, like my classmate, shakes my faith: who am I to decide which parts of Scripture are literally true and which parts are metaphorically true (not that Emily is asking this question; but rather that we’re both having our faith shaken)? A tougher question would be, am I supposed to assume that it is either metaphorically or literally true in the first place?

Prominent teaching within evangelical Christianity today carries a heavy emphasis on Scripture being true – whether that means metaphorically or literally is another matter (depends on the church you attend, I suppose). What this teaching guards against is the process of “picking and choosing” – dicing up Scripture in ways that fit (as is assumed) particular pre-conceived notions regarding the Bible, God, and/or Jesus. What this anti-picking-and-choosing doctrine causes one to ignore, though, is the process of how the Bible came to be. It certainly didn’t just fall from the sky.

Burning the bridge to naiveté is to echo Pilate’s question to Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). It oftentimes feels like the background to everything I read, write, or study in class. Having the constant practice of questioning everything leaves one feeling estranged – adrift at sea or wandering a desert. Having some theological home is necessary and yet I feel as though I don’t have one.

No, I don’t mean a community of believers, although that is currently lacking as well. But I do mean that my own systematic theology or set of beliefs that I developed over the last six or seven years has all but evaporated in the eight weeks of seminary. To a certain extent I love it because I’m finally in a community that is critically engaging Scripture. But there’s still an element I find unsettling. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason until last night during class.

After reading another blog by Peter Enns, we were asked to share our likes and dislikes. Our professor, Dr. Roger Nam, wrote some of these up on the board. Once everyone shared their thoughts, I felt a small amount of tension in the atmosphere – tension not with each other, but with the realization that many of our previously held beliefs were dissolving in front of us. Roger acknowledged this tension by saying this material is difficult to wrestle with. He also referenced a time early in his walk with God when he was reading through the Gospel of John.

Thinking back on the hours he spent reading through the entire Gospel, he said that the overall experience was transformative for his faith. Drawing our attention back to the board that encapsulated our sentiment he said that this is why we’re here at seminary – not to be persuaded to believe a particular set of beliefs, but to develop a more robust set of beliefs for ourselves. In essence, we’re building new bridges to enhance our faith and the faith of those whom we lead.

As Emily said in her post, there’s a very earthy taste to faith, God, and Scripture at the moment. And I think it’s earthy because in eight short weeks one bridge was destroyed while ground was broken to build another. Blood, sweat, and tears are covering my face as I try to picture the blueprints for the new bridge. Yet this sort of bridge, discomfortingly enough, isn’t built on belief statements and dogmas; it’s built on a stronger understanding of faith. Building that is going to take a long time and a lot of work.

Knowing that much, while slightly disheartening, is actually relieving. Yeah it sucks that I have to work on it, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to finish it overnight. I’m allowed to be comfortable, at least for a while, in the desert.

And honestly, I won’t have what I need until I rest awhile in the desert.

God bless.

Abandoning Naïveté…

It would be an understatement to say that I’ve learned a lot in the first six weeks of seminary. Truth is, there’s no telling how much I’ve actually learned; only how many pages I’ve read and how many hours I’ve spent doing homework and studying (a lot). What I can’t help but notice is that none of what I’m learning is shaking up my faith in any way. If anything, what I’m learning in school now is only telling me that I’ve found an academic home.

I say nothing is shaking up my faith because typically in seminary people learn things that they were never taught in Sunday school. Such heavy amounts of unfamiliar information can be overwhelming and so one’s faith suddenly becomes in jeopardy (because if a few truths you learned and believed since you were ten were suddenly altered in a few minutes when you’re 25, then you might start questioning a lot of other things).

Not to say that I’m learning a bunch of heretical things or that I was misled by my Sunday school teacher, because 1. My Sunday school teacher taught me more about God than any professor I’ve ever had and 2. Every bit of what I’ve learned so far has enhanced my walk with Him.

What I am pointing out, though, is that there is a bit of an education shock for a lot of seminarians because we’re drawing information from a source much bigger than most – if not all – commentaries and from people who’ve studied the Bible more than most pastors, but yet may not share the same level of faith. So we’re getting much different interpretations on how the Bible was created or if there really was an Exodus – stuff that would make the average congregant shift awkwardly in their pew. Why am I not having an issue with all of this? And what does it really matter?

It matters much more than one may realize, but I’ll get to that in a bit. As for why I’m not having much of an issue at all is because I did something that not too many do before coming to seminary. During my undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, I took four Religious Studies classes regarding the Bible or ancient Judaism. I loved every minute of those classes – even the ones that met at eight in the morning. What I didn’t notice at the time, though, is that I was being ushered across a metaphorical bridge – a bridge that I can no longer go back over.

“Seminarians are called to a higher standard and greater understanding. You have burned the bridges of naïveté, and there is no more turning back.” – Dr. David Scholer

This quote was shared with me and 20-some others during our first night of classes at GFES. It acts both as an invitation and as a warning – that there is a deep sense of purpose embedded within studying in seminary and there is also no going back to the way things were before. Despite my journey away from naïveté beginning in college, I know things will not be as simple and fluffy as they were before.

I use the word “fluffy” because that’s how an old pastor of mine describes much of Christianity today: fluffy. We take the figure of Jesus Christ and package Him into our little, neat theology boxes and teach Him to others as we have Him displayed – leaving out all the arm-twisting and leg-bending we had to do to get Him to fit our boxes. We find ways to pack action figures into Matchbox cars and pretend everything’s normal.

Seminary is a place where all those Matchbox cars and action figures of Jesus get taken apart, evaluated, and pieced together in completely different ways than they were before. What everyone quickly begins to realize is that He is neither a Matchbox car nor an action figure, but instead something much, much bigger and much more mysterious. He is something that we cannot fit into any clever little package we create.

Abandoning naiveté is simply encountering God as He is – not as what our theologies say He is. This process is a long and terribly uncomfortable one because it compels us to confront our assumptions about God and His Son Jesus, which includes the things we learned when we were little. Yet this isn’t to say that everything we learned when we were little is a lie; it’s to say we’re called to test everything, even the things we’ve already learned.

If our naïveté was truly burned up, then we’re able to see what was left behind. It is then that we begin to see God as He wants to be seen.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

                                    -Proverbs 9:10

When we begin to see God as He wants to be seen, we begin to see others as He wants us to see them. Only then can we truly begin to help.

No, you don’t have to become a seminarian to see God in the “right” way (nor am I claiming that I see God in that “right” way). But you probably will have to confront your assumptions about Him, His Son, or the text that tells us about them. All those preconceived beliefs just might be right; but you will never know until you confront and test them.

God bless.

Home on the Road…

About two years ago, a church I was a part of closed the doors and moved on to other things. Well, actually, we sold the building to another church and several members still attend, but for the most part, what we had with Calvary Fellowship is over. At the time that everything came to a close, I was somewhat numb to it all; I didn’t really feel the pain of the loss until some months later. It wasn’t until this past week, the beginning of my seminary career with George Fox, that I was able to figure out why.

At Calvary, I had a strong family of believers. They cared about what I was doing, where I was going, and, most importantly, how I was doing. It was a place where I felt more than known; I felt loved. In the months leading up to the closure, I knew that I would still be in communication with many of the members, so the family aspect wouldn’t really leave. What I didn’t know, though, was how much I’d miss the intellectual environment that Calvary also was.

Not everyone who went their was interested in theology. In fact, most people cared more about football than theology, which was totally fine. I love football. But what I loved about the atmosphere is that even if they didn’t give theology much thought, they wouldn’t think less of you if you happened to believe in something they didn’t. More often than not, they really wanted to hear what you had to say not because they were going to argue with you, but because they were interested in how you processed your thoughts. They were interested in how you interacted with Jesus with your mind.

Calvary Fellowship was a place where I felt safe to think in ways I hadn’t thought before. I doubt very much that I was thinking in ways that had never been thought before, but I knew I hadn’t done the intellectual exercises. When Calvary closed, I think I lost that safe place.

Sure, I was still meeting up once every other week with one of Calvary’s former pastors, but because both our schedules grew busier and busier, neither of us were able to spend as much time as we used to in studying Scripture the way we did at Calvary. We couldn’t have the classes that Danny taught, which beckoned us to see Scripture – and thereby see Jesus – through a different lens. We didn’t have the sermons that promoted communal involvement above communal self-righteousness. And we simply didn’t have as much fervor as we used to.

In the year between Calvary and Emmaus, I struggled to remain engaged with God on an intellectual level. Some might see this as a good thing because intellectualism is a bad thing anyway. But Jesus was clear; we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And Jesus was very deliberate with His words.

Flash forward to a week ago, I was attending my first seminary class. And as I listened to my classmates’ questions and heard little tidbits about their experiences in communities where asking questions is almost shameful, I knew that I picked the right school. I knew that commuting for the first two days of class was worth it. And I know, full well, that I have found a home in seminary.

During each of my three classes yesterday, the professors took a moment to remind the class what George Fox is really all about: formation. One professor said that we could memorize all the answers, get nothing but perfect grades on the tests, but if we don’t emerge from this program formed more like Christ, then we didn’t achieve what George Fox’s primary goal is. The only time I’ve heard a similar message was when I was sitting in the pews at Calvary, listening to Danny share a story about Jesus.

Learning about God has less to do with answers and more to do with questions. When we’re given an answer, we don’t seek anymore. We don’t explore. We don’t put ourselves in a vulnerable position to trust God. We become one of the eleven disciples who stayed on the boat when Peter stepped off. But if we’re given questions, if our curiosity is piqued in some significant way, then we seek. We step out of our comfort zone of “knowing” and walk on the water toward Jesus.

Jesus said that if we seek, we will find. But He never said that how long it’d be before we found that which we sought. In our generation of instant downloads and live-streaming, we’ve grown to expect things immediately. So when we ask God a question, we expect an immediate answer. But God doesn’t work like Google; He doesn’t give us links to instant downloads of love, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. Instead, He gives us a map of a journey we’re supposed to take in order to develop all those things.

George Fox Seminary is my map because it is a place where I am free to explore, free to step off the boat and walk toward Jesus.

What’s your map?

God bless.

Jesus’ Transfiguration and Our Misinterpretation…

Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36) has always been a part in the gospel stories where I see God holding himself back, in a way. He’s too bright, too magnificent, too much for us to handle, so he has to tone it down a bit by appearing in human form. And the aspect of this story that I would always reference was how Jesus’ disciples fell to the ground. But what I didn’t realize until tonight – while reading N.T. Wright’s Simply Jesus – was that this story isn’t about how awesome Jesus is (though it could be implied). In fact, my whole way of viewing Scripture (and I think the same goes for a good portion of Christians) was slightly wrong.

Okay, “slightly” is an understatement. And no, I’m not talking about inerrancy or any other of an endless number of doctrines, systematic theologies, or dogmas. I’m talking about the Western society in which I was raised and how it tainted the way I ought to approach Scripture. All of this comes from Wright’s book, of course, which might make one wonder if Wright wasn’t somehow sneaking his own agenda by me without me noticing. I find that is not at all his intent. He, like me, is out for a deeper understanding of God. Such an understanding, though, is rendered impossible when Scripture is treated as a proof-text to validate or invalidate our previously-conceived beliefs.

An example would be saying the Bible is true then going through said Bible and finding all the verses where it says the Bible is true. This is an extremely vague example, but you see my point? We take passages like Jesus’ transfiguration and make creedal statements about his divinity and how it works and what it looks like. Like I said above, I took this passage as a way of viewing God as too much for me to handle – God in his nature and me in mine, that is. I’m not saying Jesus isn’t divine; I’m saying, as Wright says, that proving or disproving Jesus’ divinity – or any other doctrine we may believe – is not the purpose of Scripture. Scripture is meant to be one giant megaphone announcing God’s existence, presence, and intentions with each of us. Scripture announces how we might be able to be our true selves.

What is actually going on with Jesus’ transfiguration, then? As N.T. Wright says, it’s a foreshadow of what’s to come – of what kind of people we will be made into. “It forms part of a new set of signposts, Jesus-shaped signposts, indicating what is to come: a whole new creation, starting with Jesus himself as the seed that is sown in the earth and then rises to become the beginning of that new world,” (Simply Jesus, 144). He also points out that, “Moses and Elijah were ‘transfigured’ too,” which seems to indicate what our future natures will be (perhaps this was the “new creation” Paul was talking about in Galatians 6:15?). So instead of this being a passage about how overwhelming God’s nature is compared to ours; it’s a memo from God saying this is the kind of nature he’s adorning us in. He’s telling us who we will be.

It wasn’t just that my interpretation of Scripture was a little wrong for this story; it was that my entire mindset was flawed – my internal need to “prove” my view with this passage of Jesus’ divinity. Such a mindset is difficult to overcome when we have books with titles like Doctrine: What Every Christian Should Believe and countless books on apologetics, systematic theology, and so on. Some of our most outspoken church leaders have attained their notoriety due to their ability to defend Christianity. Mention Rob Bell’s name next time at church and wait for someone to say they think he’s “biblically unsound” or that he has a flawed theology (not that Rob Bell is considered an apologist; he’s usually the one receiving flack from prominent Christian leaders). These buzz words and phrases cause us to view Scripture in terms of doctrine and theology – not in terms of what Scripture might actually be trying to tell us.

“My problem with ‘proofs of divinity’ is that all too often, when people have spoken or written like that, it isn’t entirely clear that they have the right “God” in mind. What seems to be “proved” is a semi-Deist type of Christianity – the type of thing a lot of Christians in the eighteenth century, and many since then, have thought they should be defending. In this sort of Christianity, “God” is in heaven and sends his divine second self, his ‘Son,’ to ‘demonstrate his divinity,’ so that people would worship him, be saved by his cross, and return with him to heaven. But in first-century Christianity, what mattered was not people going from earth into God’s kingdom in heaven. What mattered, and what Jesus taught his followers to pray, was that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven.” – Wright, Simply Jesus, 148

Even the workbook some members of my church and I have been going through, The Tangible Kingdom Primer, gets at this idea – that God’s kingdom has invaded not to destroy earth and bring everyone back to heaven, but to bring heaven (God’s kingdom) to and through earth, to give it a permanent residence within God’s creation. Not only should this change how we live, but it changes how we approach Scripture. Can you imagine how undivided the Church – the global, catholic church (not just the RCC) – might be if we focused on how we lived instead of how we defined certain terms in our belief statements?

One more big quote from N.T. Wright:

“It has been all too possible to use the doctrine of the incarnation or even the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture as a way of protecting oneself and one’s worldview and political agenda against having to face the far greater challenge of God taking charge, of God becoming king, on earth as in heaven. But that is what the stories in the Bible are all about. That’s what the story of Jesus was, and is, all about. That is the real challenge, and skeptics aren’t the only ones who find clever ways to avoid it,” – 149 (emphasis mine)

I don’t know if my interpretation of Jesus’ transfiguration was a clever way of avoiding the challenge of God taking charge, but I hope you see his point. Much of our Christian society is defined by what we believe, which denomination we’re a part of, and so on – not whom do we believe in or which kingdom we’re a part of. What my earlier interpretation failed to acknowledge was what actually caused Jesus’ disciples to fall at his feet:

“[Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.'” – Matthew 17:5-7

God’s voice is too much for us to handle. And yet we attempt to put him in these neatly-packaged theological boxes and define our involvement within church or within Christianity in general by these belief packages. We don’t realize our error because we have prominent leaders affirming what we do – even teaching us how to do them better! But, as Wright says, maybe the bigger thing for us to do is to let go. Maybe God doesn’t want us becoming great apologists; maybe he just wants us to love others as he has loved us?

God bless.

P.S. Two things: 1. I would never discourage theological conversations; we must love God and each other with all our minds and 2. Defending beliefs has moments of importance, but should never be the defining factor to one’s faith; that is the point of this blog.

Brewing My Own Theology…

An information packet from Western Seminary came in the mail yesterday. Yes, that same seminary I said I was going to apply to almost two years ago is again heavily on my mind. Only this time I’m simply going for it. Like several of my friends have advised, if I were to wait any longer, I’d most likely wind up never going at all. So I find it most reasonable to go when it is fresh on my mind and heart.

Something stirred in me, though, when I read through the brochures in the info packet. On one of them, there’s a line that reads, “Create your own doctrinal statement, instead of using ours.” Normally, my instinct is to cringe at the word “doctrine.” Ever since Calvary Fellowship went through at least two church splits, “doctrine” left a really bad taste in my mouth. But this time, something sort of clicked.

A few weeks ago I sat down with Scott Lamb (pastor of Emmaus Life) to talk about various things – football, politics, my chances of winning the U.S. Open next year, etc. One of the things that came up, though, was the importance of having your own theological system. Ah, “system,” another word that sends uncomfortable tingles up my spine. Some of its synonyms include “conformity,” “fixed order,” “rule,” and “routine” – all words that sound confining (and boring) more than they do liberating. And this is America; we’re all about liberation. We can’t have confining things.

But not to have a theological system would be contradictory. It’d be saying “I choose not to have a systematic theology,” which is actually laying a foundation for a theological system. And yet this is where I feel I’m being challenged; to develop my own set of beliefs, my own system.

I’ve written several mission statements throughout the last few years, but never really anything regarding my beliefs. A big reason for this is because, in several areas, I’m still figuring out what I believe. I think all of us are, to some extent anyway. No, I don’t mean we’re all questioning the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus (though some of us may be), but to say that we’re figuring out how to put our beliefs into our own words, rather than regurgitate something we were once told (like the Western Seminary brochure said).

“But what about sticking to ‘sound doctrine’?” you might ask. And it’s a good question. In theory, if we’re all off developing our own theological systems, then shouldn’t we all come up with something different? And if that were true, wouldn’t we be straying from ‘sound doctrine’? I don’t think so. I think that if we’re honest with ourselves, diligent in our studies, and forever seeking to be like Jesus – always returning to the cross – then we’d wind up looking very much alike.

Accepting the systems and statements of famous pastors (or infamous ones) can be good. A lot of the time, the famous theologians and pastors are really smart people. But not always. They’re still as human as we are and prone to similar mistakes. Thus, even if only on a surface level, God wants each of us to pursue Him with our minds so that we can fend off belief statements and theological systems that lead us away from Him.

So where to begin? Answering that question is rather simple: God. Our faith, our belief in God, His Son Jesus, His Spirit do not exist only within our minds. We did not come to believe in God through abstract ideas and concepts; we came to believe in Him when He revealed Himself to us. To further understand how He works, we must continue to seek Him.

“It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.”
Proverbs 25:2

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

God bless.