I love my seminary. The teaching is great and Gospel-centered. But it is the interaction with other students that I am finding valuable. We have a student body formed from very different experience and backgrounds. While some choose to keep their view on the quiet side (after all the school was founded by Conservative Baptists) it is refreshing to have discussions with people working out their faith in unique ways. Of course I think we are all doing this with the Cross at the center (I mean what is the point otherwise) and I know there are schools where that would not be true.
This interaction is showing me more and more the need for grace among fellow Christians. We are all still depraved human (we can all affirm at least one point of Calvinism – the sin nature part) so our messed-up-ness makes its way into our worship and expressions of faith. We pick sides and stand firm on little things, because after all that is what humans do; just look at our politics or our preferences for music, the list could go on and on.
So how do we function in Christendom without extra-biblical criticism, hate, anger or your choice of bad attitude? I don’t know for sure yet. Even I am still defining what my own set of Reformed Plus beliefs (the plus being a charismatic understanding of the Holy Spirit) mean and how they play out in real life. But I think we start with the recognition and dialogue. We have to talk about these things and not pigeonhole each other (no one likes labels anyway, unless you like labels.)
Fellow seminarian, and much smarter man, Brian LePort is unpacking some of these thoughts in his own life and he has blogged a list of reasons why he is not camping in certain perspectives. Here is a taste:
I would have been this or that form of Christian except there was always something wrong…
I would be Reformed except I don’t believe in double predestination (a.k.a. theological duck-duck-goose [some days I don’t even believe in the Calvinistic interpretation of predestination]), I think humans have some sort of free will, I don’t feel like I can be comfortable with undoubted doctrinal superiority, I like the color “gray” (i.e. not everything is black and white), I don’t read Mark Driscoll or John Piper, and I like Catholics…
I would have been Baptist except I think women can lead, the charismatic gifts still operate in the church today, the Eucharist is worth doing more than once a month, and Al Mohler has become your spokesperson/mascot.
I would have been Pentecostal except I like to participate in the Eucharist more than four times a year, I don’t think Christians who speak in tongues are superior to other Christians, I think a little order during worship is a good thing, I am not anti-education, and I think they threw me out already.
You can read his whole post here. While I don’t agree on all points – after all I can’t function without absolute truth and black and whites – I respect his candid account of his spiritual formation. Have we all taken the time to think through things like this? This is where we start to find a solution. It is there somewhere, there is nothing new under the sun (or the Son for that matter) we just have to dig and search with passion and grace.