Eye-Opening Theology

I have to admit that the PC(USA) Church and I disagree on many issues but those issues are mainly political, dare I say conservative vs. liberal issues. What I really like about the denomination is that it encourages intellectual curiosity and questioning. Being reared a Baptist and converting to Presbyterianism, formally, about 30 years ago but having known I was not a Baptist for much longer; I have certainly enjoyed the adventure. It is difficult to determine when you actually realized what your were, or what you weren’t, but for me I think it came as an early teen when my grandmother told me that there were some things about God and the Bible that should not be questioned. My grandmother has been a great factor in my faith and spiritual development, but I simply could not accept that statement. I now realize that I don’t have to.

Our guest speaker for Vacation Bible School at First Presbyterian Church in Starkville is the Reverend Dr. Andrew Purves from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He taught a very moving and inspirational Sunday School lesson on cancer which is one of the best lessons I have heard.

Sunday night he began a series of lectures on the Five Solas. That in itself is one thing that is very different from my childhood VBS–we had a lecture, not a sermon. I can’t begin to describe everything that was covered but there are couple of key points that show how my Reformed Theology differs from what I learned a child. First, the Bible is under God, it is not God. God cannot be reduced to words in a book and our goal is to get to know God, not the Bible. Knowing the Bible is a way to get to God but it is not God. That means that the confessions of the church are also useful in getting to know God. Second, Dr. Purves in no uncertain terms explained the Trinity to me. Jesus is not second in command; He and God are One in the same along with the Holy Spirit. Wow! They have always been here, Jesus did not “come in the middle”, He was here in the beginning, He is he Word.

After the lecture tonight I have never felt better about my faith. Whereas my Baptist rearing was focused on fear and having to do something to be saved, my reformed faith says that is not necessary, we are imperfect yet loved by God even before we are born. I have no problem with that for I know how much I loved daughter before she was ever born, even when we didn’t know if she was a she or a he. I loved her even before I married my wife and she was conceived. Of course I still have questions but that is okay too. Faith allows us to have some unanswered questions.

Purves has helped cement some thoughts I’ve had for a while and I’m glad he is the speaker this year. I look forward to the next lectures and the challenges he will present to us.

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