I continue to work on what it means to be an Evangelical and to find a way to place my spiritual journey within the larger narrative of the church. I have long outgrown the belief that my place in the small corner of the church called Evangelical Protestantism (EP) is the only place that really matters, or maybe even the best place.
I would like to think that EP is what it is because the Bible is what it is. But I know it is a development within the larger history of the church and not THE history of the church. I know that EP picks up several strands of biblical truth and lets other strands drop away. And I know that EP is placed within a time frame, complete with socio-political forces, geographic framing and reactions to specific corruptions. It is not self-explanatory, purely accounted for by the Bible alone, as fixed as it is on biblical fidelity. It is a phenomenon and not a metaphysical ontology, which I reserve alone for CHURCH, the thing itself as God sees it. It participates in that reality but does not encompass it.
At age 66 I do EP rather well. I know its key players, some of them personally, its institutions, debates, closet skeletons, language, and value system, books and key authors. It is my spiritual ecosystem. But I do try to stick my head up above its rumblings and goings on and take a look at the galaxy of which it is a part. What I see pushes and pulls at me, not so much that I leave EP but that I understand my place, my contribution, to keep balance and not become a captive to its ethos without intelligent reflection. I understand that for some EP is the church. All others are simply heretics, cowards, lukewarm pew setters, etc. I don’t buy that. Never have. I’ve seen enough inside EP to be creeped out by our own brand of pure Christianity.
But I will say that I continue to be thankful this is my part of the dance floor, that I know the steps by and large, that the dance has a rhythm that my heart beats in time with, and that my best contribution is helping EP be what it is in a healthier way, even if not fully purged of its crazy aunts in the attic.