This is just a journey that I have been going through theologically. I don't know about you but the journey it seems, is like walking a tight rope. There have been turning events that have reconstructed my theological stance and the evolving process is pretty much a narrow road. Just enough light to see the path on where my feet keeps walking.
My 'conversion' was spawned by the charismatic movement. And during those years, the journey of following Jesus was harnessed by reading charismatic authors, people like Benny Hinn, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets are just some of the names that come to mind. I guess this come with my background here in (Borneo, Malaysia) being part of a native tribe who were reached by Australian missionaries and had a turning point in their Christian faith being swept by what we know here as the revival in the 70s. This spawned the growth of Christianity among my tribe and what would be a turning point of growth in Borneo. So, the charismatic wave influenced Christianity in these parts among most of the tribal people.
My brush with the charismatic wave introduced me to the importance of the presence of God. At times these were tangible (just my personal experience). But that soon changed when I went to bible school and was introduced with reformed evangelical theology. My charismatic convictions were being questioned when I started reading John MacArthur's book 'Charismatic Chaos' which I found disturbing. There were some things that I agreed with but some were just plain baseless. That when I settled in my mind to be leaning towards being (i)reformed theologically and (ii) moderately charismatic. I'm not sure if the combination works but these were the two plausible paths which blended in me.
In my second year in bible college (basically somewhere in the middle), the reformed stance of my theological leanings were fully dominating my ideology and theology. So during this phase I literally became critical of those who did not conform to this theological understanding of the Christian faith. You could say that up to this point I became a proud son of fundamentalism.
How deep these roots maybe in me that time were to be tested on the in December of 2005. An accident that claimed the lives of three of our youth members, one of which died in my arms spawned numerous questions for me about faith. It was at this point that whatever theological position I held were 'abandoned'. But in all that whatever belief or ounce of faith I had to start with simply believing in God in the light of Jesus who came and died and rose again as a hope of something new.
The third year of bible college were filled with questions that soon progressed towards disillusionment with institutionalized church. I had no problem in believing in God and Jesus but what really bothered me was how we practiced church. Faith and institution form of church simply didn't blend well to me.
I also had difficulty with how we as Christians were to practice our faith. The thinking that said there was a secular world and sacred world ideology simply baffled me. Christian life seemed limited to the scope of church and anything with the christian label. This really trouble me to the core. Was faith in God and Jesus supposed to be like this? Simply a sort of disengagement? My faith was there but with all these questions hovering in the back on my head
Christianity seemed a dire form of religion, not a way of life or relationship with God as I was taught, but clearly not in its portrayal.
What saved my faith then?
A magazine called Christianity Today which had an article called 'The Emergent Mystique'. It was my first introduction with what is understood as the Emerging/Emergent conversation. Although the article was neither promoting or discrediting the 'movement' it served as my introduction to something new out there that were saying things that aroused my interest. Following that article we had a course called 'Spiritual Theology' which used Eugene Peterson's book "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" which explained the reality of living a faith based life; not in a dualistic form of understanding (which was actually the brain child of gnosticism) but living life holistically (there are no spheres-secular/sacred-all is viewed sacred and to be lived for God).
These were the catalysts that started a possibility for a 'new' christian faith (understanding);the Emergent and Emerging movement (although most would call it conversation). I would personally say that this conversation/movement saved my faith and is continuing my conversation leaning towards a faith that makes sense in a changing world. There is a list of books that I saw helpful on this blog site by a blogger friend of mine that is worth checking out. I would like to add Dan Kimball's "Emerging Church" that introduces us to new possibilities of understanding church which has been helpful for me in envisioning the possibility of creating a community living in our post-christian culture now.
Do you have a similar journey? Are you familiar with the whole emergent/emerging movement? Your thoughts?
- OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
- I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations