Note, this post is actually post-posted to fit an appropriate date in the past. It was originally written as an update to my “Where I’ve Been” testimony page, but I think should also fit into the timeline of my journaling at LAH. So you’re reading the future as it happened in the past.
The development in my life in regards to theology has taken a strong direction in the last three years and I think I need to address it here, at least to a limited extent. In the majority of my posts from 2010 through Spring of 2011, it’s fairly clear that my family and I have grown very close to Covenant Theology, which has drawn distinctive lines in our denominational relationships for the first time in our years as a Christian household. Up until now, we’ve been under the division/separation radar network. Of course, up until now, we’ve not been under the authority of a specific church, either. Life is different all of a sudden. We’re members of a local church with all of us baptized as believers. And we’re in a potentially controversial state, being of what at I at least consider to be a minority: a Reformed church.
I’ve not had to defend my position as a “particular sort of Christian” before, nor really explain what makes me commit to the particular church of which we are a part. So here I am, a newly made Presbyterian at a PCA church, fully committed to confessing the Westminster Standards. The story of my growth is, to me, very exciting and clear. I’m not sure if everyone can relate or agree with this, but I see the path from first believing to now as leading to a destination that is actually somewhere, doctrinally speaking. I’ve come to a position that looks at Scripture, church, practice and relationships that’s particular. A couple months ago, we could’ve gone to any number of churches and looked for Biblical preaching and teaching. Now, we’re looking at this church. It’s a particular church with particular standards.
It’s been made pretty clear to me that I’m a fairly unsettled type of person. I go with the bandwagon all too easily. Since Christ called me, that has become a painful but present label applied to me. First it was a “temporary phase” for me to be a Christian. Then my development underwent numerous philosophical and theological reforms, going from nominal Christianity to semi-fundamentalist to semi-reformed and now I’m “into” full-blown Reformed Covenant Theology. I must assure readers that my progress has not been some spontaneous fad-phase sort of thing. I think the systematic development of my theology is fairly obvious and it has led just to where it is right now, not by my particular interests, but by sequential encounters in churches and theological studies. I’ve been led by the nose through increasingly accurate theologies until I’ve got to this place. Do I think I’ve arrived? In so many words, Yes. And I cannot foresee changing my mind. This is the first time I’ve met what I think is a thorough course of study and trustworthy system of doctrine.
If that makes heartburn for some readers, I must publish my regrets, but I think 7 years of laboring through the mire of quirks, false-teaching, truth-seeking, prayer, disappointments and denominationalism, this really is my home. I, due to my own desire to be relevant, humble, man-pleasing and self-preserving (cardinal sins in my department, mostly), am almost afraid to say it but I’m pretty much, no really much, a Staunch Presbyterian. I believe in the oh-so-unmentionable practice of infant baptism and that there is no future provided in the Bible for the nation-state of Israel. I just can’t see it. I love the PCA, love learning about it and love learning about those denominations with whom the PCA has close fellowship. I have no love of infighting nor inter-denominational hostilities that exist throughout the visible church of Christ, but I believe that I was dragged to one side, which most probably happens to anyone who attempts to read more deeply than John 3:16.
The Reformed church has been so kind to me, so honest and filled with clear teaching. I love the Word, so lovingly and faithfully served, containing both Law and Gospel in measure that reminds me of where I was and where I am now. I greatly desire the forgiveness that is proclaimed by the faithful minister of God’s Word every Sunday right after we, individually and corporately confess our sins. I love the sacraments, the weekly nourishment that Christ provides in His Supper and finally a freedom from the seemingly empty memorial system in which I grew up. I love that I may look back upon my baptism with hope and joy that God has made me a part of His Church, His Bride and that all His promises are sealed to me and finally a freedom from the personalized statement of public self-centered commitment that was integral to my Baptist upbringing. I love the idea of Covenant Families who are brought through the waters of baptism into Christ’s Church and are all treated, from months-old babies to generations-old hoary-heads, all as the same Chosen People under Christ’s headship. Therein, in this church, is a people who are all together in the covenant, for good or bad, with one label: Christian. And though it hurts, I love very much that we can deal with apostasy and “backsliders” in the way Christ taught and Paul executed: Discipline of the Church. I love that my church claims the Keys and does not hide them under the mat so any thief may put on some wool and break in without notice. Christ is preached here; His life, suffering, obedience, death, resurrection and ascension in clarity and bringing conviction. That is what a church should do and I thank God that this is where my family worshipped today.
There may well be plenty of occasions and reasons to be members of other types of churches. But our choice to join this church certainly sets us to one side. Our dispensational friends and Baptist friends see Reformed types now, and I’ve had to respond to that change.
For more explanation, I’ve uploaded a paper I wrote regarding my position and I’ve started blogging my way through it in small bites. It’s free for the reading and critiquing. My words and research entirely: