Part One of Three
Anytime I take those silly quizzes online about “What type of Christian Are You?” I always get something along the lines of progressive or Anglican. I think those kinds of questionnaires are entertaining, but I find labels in general to be far too limiting.
So I’ve currently deemed myself an “Episcopentasmatic,” some strange combination of Episcopalian, pentecostal, and charismatic in addition to a bunch of other add-in theologies I’ve picked up over the last couple years.
It’s by far an understatement to say that I’ve changed drastically throughout my collegiate experience–from a burned-out PK to a rambunctous pentecostal to a confused doubter considering calvinism to a “I feel God all around me” type to now someone who delights in liturgy and Eucharist.
I deeply cherish my Assemblies of God heritage, from wild encounters of God’s presence at youth camp to the freedom to express our spirituality through art and dance. The Spirit weaved a beautiful story through my foundational years as I learned and grew more about the Lord.
We knew we were “crazy” in the eyes of most Christians, but we didn’t hang from chandeliers or anything.
When it came time to enter college, I was pretty sure about what I believed and why I believed it.
Coming from the Bible Belt and moving less than two hours down Tennessee backroads to a Christian university, I figured my theology wouldn’t be questioned all that much.
Boy, was I wrong.
Unfortunately, the first semester of freshman year was characterized by a general distaste for church. I shopped around a little and tried stuff from non-denominational to Southern Baptist but wasn’t really satisfied anywhere.
Being a pastors kid, what I really needed was a brief escape from formal church. Where I ended up finding breathing space was through the inspiring words of C.S. Lewis and 3 a.m. theological conversations with my hallmates. I was presented with a variety of unique perspective from those guys, a mix of freshmen that included a Oneness Pentecostal and a Mennonite (…which is a pretty significant doctrinal divide).
My second semester, my spirituality took a sharp turn when I discovered a pentecostal-charismatic non-denominational church family that I adored.
From college-group house meetings to early morning/all-night prayer meetings, my heart felt a flutter of excitement and new possibilities. I started fasting, highlighting every biblical “promise” I could find, and posting scriptural declarations around my room.
Whereas I was familiar with the distinctly pentecostal focus on speaking in tongues, I was introduced to other charismatic gifts like prophecy, which was totally foreign to me at the time. This new dimension of faith–the prophetic–amazed me, as men and women of God I revered spoke words of destiny and hope over my life.
Suddenly, IHOP didn’t just stand for that pancake place anymore, and anyone who didn’t feel like they could run around a sanctuary during a praise break just wasn’t experiencing freedom in Christ. During that season, my prayers were bold and specific, and the word “revival” was frequently on my lips.
I discovered Jesus Culture and Bethel Music who took me to beautiful places of deep spontaneous worship. I still absolutely love both of these groups and consider their music to be some of the best in the worship genre.
This is also the period of time in which I started my blog, so if you look back through my archives far enough, you can find pretty over-the-top evangelical posts with pretty corny titles. You’ve been warned…
Now I still consider myself a charismatic at heart, and although my theology has taken some dips and turns along the way, I will always treasure my pentecostal roots.
There’s something about the movement that truly takes the words of Jesus seriously–that the Kingdom of God has in fact come, that heaven on earth is a real possibility, that healing and wholeness do in fact flow from God’s broken hands.
However my days of unwavering faith were quickly coming to a close, as uncertainty was ushered into my life with one word: Calvinism.
To Be Continued
I know, I know, it has been a while since you’ve heard from The Train of His Robe.
Apologies for that, but between Thanksgiving, a couple concerts, finals, and major procrastination (aka starting Glee on Netflix), my blogging life fell to the wayside.
But the good news is that now that the holidays are upon us, I’ll have ample time to catch up on all the ideas that have been taking up space in my brain. And believe me, there’s a lot of good stuff coming your way!
Also, the title of this blog post is a direct reference to “My Egalitarian Evolution,” a post in which my friend Caroline Kindiger shared her story of growing up in a conservation complementarian household and moving to a more egalitarian approach to relationships and ministry. Check it out here!