IN THIS STATEMENT I will first identify my general location in Christian theology and then elaborate on some aspects of faith which lie at the heart of my personal daily being.
I see myself standing deeply—and I would add, proudly—in the main stream of Presbyterian tradition. In other words, my views of the Church, the Sacraments, the dual nature of Christ, the Trinity, and the hereafter would all be at home in most Presbyterian churches or seminaries. My personal faith resonates with our tradition’s emphasis on God’s majesty, its clear-eyed realism about people’s foibles, its drive to achieving intellectual understanding, and its dedication to establishing God’s sovereignty in the world. All that I believe is informed decisively by the Old and New Testaments. For me the Scriptures are beautiful and surprising. My view of the Bible is complex enough to appreciate its authority and to acknowledge its human authorship. Ultimately, the Bible works because the Holy Spirit brings alive its message in my heart.
There are particular emphasizes in my personal faith which make my outlook distinct. The idea of the faith community is an example. Contrary to most American’s opinions, Christian faith is no private affair. We need each other as we journey with Christ. Fellow Christians supply one another with mutual support, models of behavior, and even growth-producing aggravation. Through these relationships people change.
The old idea of providence, God’s management of creation, is also important to me. I’m convinced that God lavishes vast creative influence in the events of our lives. In everyday happenings is a wise hand which quietly advances God’s purposes.
Conversion, the idea that people experience turning points from time to time, is a prominent theme in my faith. Sometimes God engineers a sudden jolt which jars us awake. Such an experience may be the only way that our Christian journey can begin to move—or move again.
At the very heart of my ministry, and certainly the ordering principle of my private world, is discipleship. By this term I mean companionship with Christ. The relationship with Jesus is Christianity’s distinctive essence. In this relationship I learn to love. In the lifelong conversation with Jesus I come to serve a purpose greater than myself. My core message is that discipleship constitutes the great opportunity to live a life worth living. Discipleship is a life of exertion. It’s a life which is wiser than any I could find on my own.
The beauty of discipleship is that it makes truly profound living accessible to ordinary people. The journey with Jesus is comparable to hiring a guide to oversee a fishing expedition. Without the guide we are left to guess where the fish are and how to catch them. With the guide we fish like experts. As we get to know Jesus we begin to change. As we talk with him in prayer and permit ourselves to be guided by him we start to become our best selves—the women and men God created us to be. In fellowship with Christ we navigate amid life’s great mysteries. I’m thinking of the mysteries of meaningful work in the world, love of one another, personal wholeness, and joy.
It is to the relationship with Christ that the Scriptures—and maybe even other religions—point. This fellowship is the focal point of my life and service in the Church.