Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My journey, in a nutshell.

As the saying goes, to understand where I am now, you must understand where I've been, or something like that. Here's a quick background:

I grew up in church, quite literally. As the son of a Protestant minister, I was in church just about every time the doors were open (and a good number of times when they weren't). My father has served as an ordained minister in 3 denominations since I was born, seeking earnestly to follow God's calling. He has always been one of my heroes, in both the spiritual and earthly sense.

When I came to the age of reason, I started passively rejecting God. I can't recall a time when I didn't believe--at some level--in Jesus as my "personal Lord and Savior", or when I ever doubted the existence of God (questioned, yes. Thoroughly doubted? No). I didn't "break up with God" so much as I stopped trying to see Him anymore. I had no reason to stop believing in God, but I didn't feel like I had reason to live for Him.

This "passive rebellion" or lazy runaway faith continued until late in high school, when things culminated in depression and other problems. I was never the the drug-addicted-prostituting-drunk-on-the-bathroom-floor type of PK you so often see in the news. I did have an extremely distorted view of myself and of life, as always comes from a distanced relationship with God.

I made a personal commitment to follow God in early 2004. I figured I'd made a royal mess of things in just a few short years trying to go it alone, so I'd give things to Him and hope He would sort them out. I believed God was calling me to a deeper level of Christianity than pew-warming, so I've been trying ever since then to figure out just what that call is.

Upon entering college, I became involved with a campus ministry and a local church. I mentioned to this church's pastor that I felt called to serve in some capacity, perhaps with youth. In the few years since then, I have served as the youth pastor, and have been "ordained" in that capacity. I have greatly enjoyed my time in this church, and I have a deep love for the leadership and congregation, but I have felt increasingly convicted over the past couple years that this particular form of Christianity is not where God is calling me to be long-term.

Like most born-and-raised evangelicals I know, I would have agreed, even a year ago, with the common appraisal of Catholicism, "Yeah, I think Catholics can be Christians, but most probably aren't." The traditions and rituals just seemed too much for my (seemingly) tradition-less and un-ritualistic view of the faith of Jesus.

However, about 8 months ago, an Orthodox priest shook some things up in my thinking when he explained the Orthodox view of the communion of saints. This got me thinking, and I studied Orthodox Christianity for some time, in much more detail than I ever had. Interesting and beautiful, but there were a number of things that just did not resonate with my soul.

5-6 months ago, a friend sent me a book, Kevin Orlin Johnson's Why Do Catholics Do That?. Like most Protestants, this question had crossed my mind many, many times. Unfortunately, like most Protestants, I realized I had never bothered to find an answer.

I tore through the book. I read Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism. I began realizing that most of my arguments about Catholicism were based on misunderstandings. No, they don't really worship Mary, or any other saints, or the pope. If my spiritual framework had trembled a bit after the conversation with an Orthodox priest, it was now beginning to quake violently.

So, sitting amidst the shattered remnants of Solas, I find myself more ardently seeking God's direction than ever before. I've graduated with my undergraduate degree, and I was ready to head right on to a Protestant seminary to work on an M.Div.

I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I never have been, and I cannot say whether I will or will not be Catholic in the future. But, for the first time in my life, I cannot give a "certain" no to the question,

Will I enter communion with Rome?

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