Arrogant. Self-serving. Greedy. Benighted. Uncultured. Ignorant.
Adjectives similar to these (and worse) are often used to describe those in the Christian Fundamentalist/Evangelical (FE) faith. If you were to believe the majority of public media, you’d agree with this assessment. Yet this has not been my experience.
I spent nearly 30 years as a FE. The number of FE’s that I met in this time is numbered by thousands, not hundreds. Surely in such a large number of people, it’s natural to encounter a variety of personalities. Just as there is with any other group, you will find a few bad apples but these should not be used to judge the entire bushel.
Among FE believers, I’ve found companionship, generosity, respect, and a deep regard for the scriptures. On the whole, I cannot fault FE’s regarding their desire to please God. These people are deeply committed to –get this– the fundamentals of the faith, and a number of them have garnered my deep respect and love.
So what’s the big deal, then?
I’ve slowly embraced Lutheranism beginning 2 years before leaving the FE faith. However, I’ve been on a crash course with Reformation theology for the 8 years prior to this event, beginning in free-will Baptist theology, becoming a full-blown Calvinist, and then years later discovering the theology of the reformation. You could say that I change my views too often, but I see this transition as being on a steady, more Biblical, trajectory. First, believing that my faith and sanctification come from myself. Then, knowing that they come from God. Then, knowing that God uses real means external to humans to confer his gifts. The more history, theology, and –most importantly– scripture that I read, the more I am convinced that my FE and Calvinist understandings of the scriptures were inaccurate.
After nearly 30 years as a FE, I am indebted to those FE’s who instructed and accepted me over this time. Because of this, I think a bit of an explanation is in order regarding my transition to Lutheranism. To those who have trusted me to lead Bible classes, speak for prayer breakfasts, answer questions, and even once deliver a sermon, I cannot offer an apology, but I can offer an explanation.
By the nature of this transition, I’ve come to disagree with the FE position(s). This does not mean that I value my time among FE friends any less. It simply means that I believe there is a more truthful way to interpret the scriptures. Please read these pages of disagreement with the charity they are meant to be given.