A pre-Christmas e-‘conversation’ touching on the need for a critique of theological & ecclesiological assumptions inspired me to re-read Maggi Dawn’s excellent essay, You Have to Change to Stay the Same, in the UK edition of The Post-Evangelical Debate. Re-reading it reminded me again why it was such a foundational essay in my formation and journey. Thanks Maggi. A long AIM conversation with my good mate Alan Creech included a reflection on our respective Jesus-following journeys – how we’ve got to where we are today. A theme Maggi also picks up on the conclusion to her essay (a quote to follow).
It’s a good end of year thing to do, reflecting on where we’ve come from, giving thanks, telling stories, recollecting influences and shapers, and praying for the journey ahead. My journey has kind of been a circle (what shape might represent yours?) – a liberating circle or journey comprising a number of streams which have fed into the ‘river’ that has been my personal journey. I am now a fusion of all of these traditions. Brought up a Catholic Intentionally created a home within the Anglican tradition. Within it I’ve been enriched and broadened by literature and voices from the Evangelical / Charismatic / English Puritan / Reformed / other Mainline denominations / and Eastern Orthodox ‘streams;’ I’m increasingly comfortable with my Jesus-following life having permeable edges, seeing myself as a “centred set” rather than a “bounded” one. I think my Christian faith has been incredibly enriched as a consequence; but getting to that point has been a journey, a process of growing and allowing God to renew my mind and enlarge my heart. It’s been a part of maturing, of moving on from milk and the foods of infancy.
Maggi beautifully and more eloquently captures my sense of journey too and the place where I now find myself:
“…My own experience is that when cultural change [also the change associated with our own growth & formation] transforms one’s expression of faith, it does so by opening up the breadth of Christian tradition. An initial disassociation with one’s own tradition means that long-held prejudices are wiped out and the whole banquet becomes available. It was my own experience as an evangelical that ‘Liberalism’ and ‘Catholicism’ were somehow understood to be out of bounds. Once I had experienced a level of distrust of the way evangelicalism expressed my faith for me, the boundaries it set for me also became untrustworthy. The result, after a long journey around a lot of ways of thinking, is that whilst I retain a great appreciation of what evangelicalism did for me in crystallizing my faith experience in earlier years, my current experience of Christianity draws from a much wider and richer scope…I read widely from Liberal and Catholic theological traditions, and my [journey] has put me in touch with my religious past as well as the present. I can only regard this as a good thing. I have never been so convinced of my faith, so at ease with myself and my life, so relaxed and productive in ministry…” (pp.54-55)