Friday, September 16, 2005

Building Bridges

While in college I worked to discern a call between teaching high school history and ordained ministry. What made the latter particularly complicated was that I was every bit a Christian and retained many principles of Baptist Christians. I just didn’t immediately find a way forward without being attacked by strident fundamentalists as they enjoyed ascendancy, and didn’t feel like I belonged with the angry moderates. I felt more and more disconnected from the controversies, as I simply couldn’t see their importance. I loved history, and thought it very important to be linked in real ways with the ancient Christian churches. A simple primitivism (as exemplified in the modern era by the Campbell-Stone “Restoration” movement) couldn’t cut it, and a doctrine of sola scriptura didn’t seem to solve a whole lot. The Bible needed to be received on its own terms, not as something that I (or anyone else) wanted it to be. No more “just me, the Holy Spirit and the King James Bible” hermeneutics. I wanted to belong to something bigger than my own opinions – or anyone else’s.

When I came to school, I met some charismatically-renewed Methodists from Asbury Seminary. This taught me a lot about what the Holy Spirit really does in the lives of believers, and what the activity of the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 really looks like: nothing like what one will see in television. This is nothing flashy, but rather healing and empowering. I am a self-identified charismatic Christian and can even tell the story of what I consider to be one of the first major “in-fillings” that I received, though I’m not a die-hard “praise and worship” fan, nor have I received the gift of tongues, nor had the opportunity to interpret. As one of my venerable professors says, “Feel free to take me further on this…”

Because of my roommates (who sympathized with my disillusionment), I started attending a small, non-denominational fellowship called the Gathering Place Mission. They met in a concrete block building in a trailer park on the rougher side of town. I know, a Southern Gospel song waiting to happen. Their worship wasn’t smooth, their sermons unsophisticated, and their doctrine often just mixed up. But they knew how to love me and one another, and that caused me to drop a lot of my pretensions about what’s proper and right. Don’t worry, I kept some of my favorites.

Some of these Charismatically-renewed Methodists suggested that I look into Anglicanism to check out its liturgy and practice, since I was searching for something more comprehensive in theology and experience. I started to do a little reading, and when I was studying in England, I attended St. Aldate’s, the epicenter of the charismatic renewal in the Church of England. I was later confirmed there by the Bishop of Oxford.

I welcome questions or comments. Next time: Why Anglicanism?


Not here anymore said...

I dug the "...tell the story" post. Very good.

So, you're leaving soon. I'm pretty sad about that. I really want to see you again before you leave. Give me a call when you're un-busy.

Bryan said...

I've enjoyed this little series of posts. Looking forward to the next installment Kyle.

Kyle said...

Thanks, everybody. I'm glad you're finding this little series enjoyable.