These last few weeks, and even the last three days have been loaded with intense inquiry of my beliefs as a fourth generation Pentecostal, now turned Presbyterian. Note, that there are now two P's in this pod! One focused on power, the other on providence.
I have now had seven decades of theological underpinnings to pull from. With early childhood memories shaped by fire-brand evangelicals, many demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, yet some far short on the grace message as they harvested souls.
At home, a piano playing, worship leading, apt to shout Mom, deeply devoted to her faith. And Dad, he was the one responsible for harvesting my own soul at age 25, after ten years of an equally intense exploration of the darkness of which I had been adequately forewarned.
With the exception of those ten years outside the faith, I have always known of and seen first hand, numerous unexplainable miracles. As well, we have experienced the providence and abundant provision of God both within leadership of the church, and in the several communities in which we have lived, the "marketplace!"
Our transition between the two "P" denominations, three for my wife, once Missouri Synod Lutheran, was so timely by way of grace that it was unexplainable beyond the sovereignty of God. Both of us have found a respite for our souls after 40 years of commitment to church leadership.
LaDonna tends to move on faster than myself, as I tend to ask the hard questions, all for the sake of salvaging each learning for the next generation. That seems to be what keeps me spiritually motivated, what I refer to as "calling!"
Just two days ago, I happened upon a conversation with a next generation pastor whom I have known since his teen years. A person of similar upbringing, himself in his fifties.
After a few moments of conversation, he said, "This is God, for before you walked up, I was sitting here thinking about three things, all of which you have touched upon! I could just hug you, John Bost."
What he might not have yet realized about me, is that I process out loud. So, apparently God was affirming both of us around three concerns:
Who was the Christ and his true purpose? Was it substitutional atonement, or God himself eliminating once and for all our sense of need for sacrifice as a means of appeasement of his perceived wrath. I conclude the latter.
Was He first manifest in scripture or in Creation? If the latter, why do we lean so hard into the text, with so little study of the Laws of Nature and their revelation of the seperation of spirit and flesh, so parallel with energy and matter. By design, they both evidence who we truly are as humans.
What is happening in the Middle East, and is God really taking sides with the state of Isreal? If so, the suffering of so many innocent Palestinians, many Christ-followers, seems counter to the faith as practiced by Jesus,
Complex questions all!
Why would I give thought to these things? As I said to this dear friend, himself clergy, the challenges facing our nation and the world, may be God saying to the American Church, "How's that working for you?" With one on almost every corner, we Americans seem now to so discredit the gospel by way of our late stage capitalistic greed, our consumption of material goods in the face of an ever growing poverty, both at home and abroad, and now with our intense war efforts, all opposites of what the Christ proclaimed.
Are we in the End Times as I have heard preached my entire life, or at another one of those historical Reformation moments now over 500 years since the last? Given my sense of this moment, for the first time in my life in one setting, I read through Luther's 95 Theses this morning. When I got to 65 & 66, the words sounded so relevant to "Christian America":
65. "Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth."
66."The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men."
Having just lost a dear friend near my age, her life unexpectedly snatched away due to an aneurysm, at a time when my own age is creating some physical challenges, capturing my thoughts each new day seems most critical.
As mentioned yesterday, even moreso the need for "Seeing As Jesus Sees," the book I am now reading by pastor, Alan Wright, perhaps the one God has been using to balance that other "P" in my pod!
Even more interesting is that I had written this blog yesterday, then on Sunday picked up the book afterchurch to continue my read, only to find these words written by Pastor Alan on p.122: "The Presbyterian side of me wanted to keep my theology straight, but the Pentecostal longing in me wanted desperately to experience moreover God."