If you google Theology, you will get a response something like: The study of the nature of God and Religious belief.
So on the one hand Theology is the study of the nature of God, and on the other hand it is the study of Religious Belief. People today as seldom before miss an important point: Christianity is different from all other religions. As a matter of fact, it is not a Religion at all. It is a deep, abiding, personal relationship with Jesus Christ and as such a lifestyle.
I have recently been booted off of a Facebook group for making this terrible statement. “My wife and I are trusting the Lord for a tow vehicle.” That’s it. I was ejected from probably eight or ten discussion groups for making that statement. The moderator of the group demanded I remove the statement. I, of course, refused. I told her that I was simply being me. Asking me to remove a statement that is a part of me is discrimination. When I raised that point, the moderator said and I quote, “this is Facebook, and you have no rights here…“
I am a Christian. Sometimes, I am a good Christian. Other times, I am a bad Christian. Nevertheless, I am a Christian.
Ok, so back to my mission here. If Theology is the study of Religious belief then the Theology of me is the study of my Religious Belief. How did I go from the Marvin of 1973 to the Marvin of 2019? What are those beliefs that I hold dear? What are the beliefs that have molded my thought process all these years? This is a very complicated subject, because they stretch from my thoughts during a dark, moonless night gazing out into the Universe to the deep Theological challenges put forth for me by Pastors, staff members, Professors, Mentors, etc. Its complicated…
One of my deeply embedded religious beliefs today is that something has gone terribly wrong with the modern church. We have some problems which are usually swept under the rug so as not to give the enemy fuel to use against the Faith.
The only problem is if we keep sweeping these things under the rug the dirt keeps gaining more and more power over us and stifles the mission we were given – Making Disciples.
So lets go back to the start of my journey…
In 1973 I felt a very compelling call on my life. That calling was to serve in a capacity of some form in the local Christian Community (I interpreted that to mean in a local church). At that time I was 18 years old. I had spent those 18 years becoming the man God called, I thought, to ministry. That man included the teachings I had received to date in the Christian community, including years in the Roman Catholic Church and in Protestant Churches. It also included my search of the Cosmos for the previous 8 years as an Amateur Astronomer.
During my post Parochial days, I attended churches that had very conservative Pastors, some would be called by today’s world as fundamentalist. One Pastor came along that was much more educated, professional, and who continued the Conservatism I’d been taught up to that time. I greatly admired this man. I wanted to be like this man. He was who I wanted to develop into myself.
His teaching, theology and otherwise was spot on, with one exception. He taught the young earth point of view to the point that if you did not agree with and affirm that exact like of thought about Creation then you were not a Conservative Christian.
The teaching was that God Created the Heavens and the Earth in seven 24 hour days…period. If you did not hold to that then you did not believe the Bible and were apostate. Now up to this point I sought out proof of the teachings, and if the teachings aligned with truth then I was onboard. However, I never looked at anything that I was taught as ‘gospel (pun intended)’ without being able to verify the teaching.
I realized even back then that the interpretations of man were just that, interpretations. In the process of my development, I came to STRONGLY holding fast to the Inerrancy (the Bible was without error or fault in all of its teaching), Infallability (the Bible was without error or fault in all of its teachings), Authority (Scripture is authoritative over human belief and conduct and much later in life, as well as in matters which the Biblical propositions are accurate in matters of history and Science), and Total Sufficiency (in the Bible alone Gad has given humanity all things that are necessary for the proper understanding of who He is, who we are, and how we are to live out the Christian life.
However, there was a problem. I had an insatiable hunger for truth and knowledge. I studied, then when something wasn’t in alignment I asked questions.
Conservative clergy of the 70’s had a curious common attribute. It seems to me they believed they were there to teach, you were there to listen and learn, period. If you questioned their position in matters where they were weak they wanted to gloss over the issue and move on. Genesis chapter one says that God created the heavens and the earth in seven days – therefore God created the heavens in 7 24 hour days. Once I asked the Pastor a question, interrupting his train of thought. “If God created the heavens and the earth in seven 24 hour days as Genesis One teaches, then how do we deal with Genesis Chapter two? “What is your point?” Me, “Well, Genesis 2 states “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” I went on and asked, Pastor, which is correct? Genesis One or Genesis two? Genesis One you teach says the creation occurred during a period of seven 24 hour days, while Genesis two teaches this was all done in period of generations it then calls one day. Obviously the word day cannot mean 24 hours in one chapter and say it is obviously a period of time in Genesis two.” Is there a contradiction in Scripture here or are we mis-interpreting Scripture? I thought that was a perfectly valid question.
It was never answered…
Some time around then our youth group went off on a retreat at a place called Falls Creek in Oklahoma. I had a 6 inch RV-6 Newtonian Telescope, and I was more and more certain that I had been called. I listed intently to the teachings of my Pastor, and he taught that whatever gift you had you had a responsibility to learn to use that to God’s Glory.
God called me to ministry. A gift God gave me was a zeal to serve God and a keen knowledge of the Cosmos, the night sky created by God. So I have a responsibility to use that for Him. So I approached the youth minister at that time and told him I’d like to introduce the youth during the retreat to the night sky. I will show them galaxies, nebula, star clusters…and show them how God created all of this. Now, by this time you must realize I had become married to my high school sweetheart. I was no longer a youth per se. But I made it known it was my desire to enter Dallas Baptist University and eventually enter Seminary to be a youth minister.
There was a strange sorta distant response, a sort of Okkkaaay…we will see what we can do. I prepared and prepared, I searched out the scriptures making a careful note of anything the Bible said on the subject of Astronomy or Creation. I wanted to teach these youth how much the Bible really said about the subject of Astronomy and Creation.
The night arrived and I was so pumped. The sky was clear, transparency & seeing both excellent, and I was ready. The plan was that I would be set up on a field the youth crossed on their way back to the dorms, and I would share the glory of God’s creation with the group.
The meeting ended which the youth were attending, and people started to exit the building. I was set up and ready to roll. I had the telescope set up, my observing list ready, projector screens and projectors were there, I was excited to offer a truly unique experience.
However, without explanation, the pastor and staff lead the group back to the dorms by a different route. Instead of crossing the field I was set up in they went around the field, within site of me, and literally avoided me and the set up I had prepared spending weeks preparing.
From that moment on, I felt like an outsider (and was treated by the church staff that way). Young ‘preachers’ whom the well known pastor supported got along very well. My career was stifled. I didn’t have a pastor who was big guns within the Association such as him. I didn’t attend Dallas Baptist University with loads of scholarships like other young men and women did who he supported – I had to fight my way through trying to earn a living and raise 3 kinds at the same time. My education did not take the normal 4 years to complete – it took 20 years to complete. I finally graduated in 1999 through a College of Adult Education program. I raised a family while doing the best I could.
You’d think I would have been smart and saw this whole experience as a sign from God that His purpose for me was not as a church staff member. I often wander if I missed His calling. Today I could have been a Christian man with a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics filling the role of a believing Professor. If only someone, anyone, had mentored me in that direction.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way…”
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.