“The TGC Definition of ‘Progressive Christianity’ is More Shallow than the Faith I Have.” A Brief Response to Ian Harber

First I would like to say I think that Ian’s story is beautiful. I genuinely believe that I need his story to mirror and bounce off of my own as we both make our ways into the Kingdom now and hopefully one day into New Jerusalem. I mean no harm hate or cancellation against Ian or TGC seeing as I frequent their site and occasionally find something rather helpful. With that being said I must admit this article, and the deductions within did in fact rub me the wrong way. Because of that in good spirit, for the sake of all of us involved both Evangelical and not, I find it necessary to respond in a way that is critical but hoping for unity. We are not as different as you think.

Let’s just start from the beginning I guess…

First off the association of the dispersion in John 6 with that of us progressive exvangelicals is incredibly disingenuous and misleading because Jesus was talking to a crowd of isolated wanderers and not Gentiles AND people who were familiar with Messianic Mythology

This crowd of disciples (the ones who grumble and leave) found something. They found the Messiah. One who would unite Israel both religiously and politically overthrow the Romans and restore Israel to her rightful place. He goes, geographically speaking, to the “other side of the Galilee” into Roman territory most likely in or outside of Tiberias. His disciples, assuming He would incite revolution, anticipated a sharp rebuke from Jesus. But instead Jesus not only feeds them, but promises that He is the only way to the Father and invites and includes the crowd (which includes unclean people) into the Family of God through the body and blood which would be broken and shed at Calvary.

Not only this but he uses a metaphor of uncleanliness to reveal to his Jewish audience what they must do to inherit eternal life; being the eating of the body and the drinking of the blood. It is THIS point that makes the disciples grumble, challenge and walk away. And yet in a moment of lucidity the twelve get it. They know that what Jesus says is true and they continue to follow Him. It is not the doubters and the progressives that flee away from Jesus but the conservative Tradition holding and pious Jews of the day. To act as if this is some kind of rebuke to people calling for social and theological reform is not the picture painted in John 6.

Your questions are and were valid. There is a litany of new theological study and research that shows not only that the questions about discrepancies in the Bible, the eternal destination of the soul, and the Canaanite genocide can not only be understood differently but from the beginning of the church it has been. Augustine discouraged people from reading the creation account literally. Gregory of Nyssa was more likely than not a Universalist and the schools of thought in Early Christianity were more aligned with either Patristic Universalism or conditionalism than eternal conscious torment. Origen called for the dismissal of the Joshua conquest in a literal fashion and suggested more of a spiritual metaphor to be applied. Not only have these questions been wrestled with for thousands of years but many major influencers of the church throughout history have come up with different answers and explanations. And that’s more than okay.

You’re absolutely right to say that the evangelical church does not have an adequate understanding or let alone an adequate theology of suffering. Quite frankly, the “Desiring God” and “Gospel Coalition” quotes about suffering and sovereignty have done almost anything but help those in need of a deeper understanding of theodicy. This is called spiritual bypass and I am sure you are familiar with that term but it is an apparent issue that people like yourself (and myself) have continuously enabled. The problem with the Reformed response to suffering is not the theological problem but the practical one. We treat reminding ourselves that “God is sovereign” as a magic line that not only removes our fear anxiety and trauma, but enables us to not have to deal with it. As two people who have endured loss, I’m sure you know this is not true.

I resonate very much so with the books you’ve read and the podcasts you have heard. But I must be painfully honest to say that the only reason you did not have the tools necessary to rebuild after deconstruction is because you did not go looking for them. “The Liturgists” is a wonderful podcast that is intended for the sake of sitting in solidarity with people who are disenfranchised and discouraged by the religious establishment. I only know this because I’ve listened to the podcast and they’ve said that. But there are many other resources out there, whom will be named later. Again, the only reason you could not reconstruct after deconstruction is because you did not go looking for the tools necessary to equip yourself to do so.

I will concede to you that “The Liturgists” has become an increasingly liberal podcast. However that is their prerogative and if you listen to them talk about their politics on any other platform or even their own, they make it abundantly clear that not only do they welcome disagreement but they don’t care. Do you see the beautiful thing about this community is that when done healthily There is no virtue signaling. While I hear your gripe with the Progressive Christian in that manner. To act as if that is all there is is again brutally dishonest and makes the movement more simple than it really is. Ask Richard Rohr, ask Walter Brueggeman, or Greg Boyd, remember Rachel Held Evans and you will see people who were and are incredibly disinterested in virtue signaling and much more, as you said, interested in deeper faithfulness to Jesus. Even if that does take their politics to another end of the spectrum.

Finally I would like to address your usage of the word orthodox. What does that mean to you?

Are you referring to the Greek Roman orthodox? Or the eastern orthodox? Are you referring to pre-reformation Catholic orthodoxy? Are you referring to post reformation Luther? Or Calvin? Or Arminius? Or Edwards? Or Moody? Or Graham? Or Piper? Or MacArthur? Whose orthodoxy are you referring to? Orthodoxy always has and always will evolve. Even just the fact that Piper can discredit Jesus’ descent into Hades (which is in the Apostles’ Creed), Yet the minute Rob Bell starts asking questions about hell (not in the creeds), He is somehow labeled a heretic, including by Piper who happily and publicly jumped on the bandwagon. If you were going to use the word orthodox either use it right or concede that we all draw the line at our own feet.

Lastly and briefly I would like to address your association of Christus Victor with Penal substitutionary atonement and how they need each other to paint a more beautiful gospel.

Quite frankly, Christus Victor is the gospel message. That through life, death and resurrection Jesus has come to set the captive free and employ them in His family business of making all things new. PSA is nothing more than a theory on how that works. The two can be associated but it is not necessary for saving faith let alone the full picture we as humans can understand.

Although I disagree with you I seek the same thing that you do, which is an ecumenical unity. However this cannot be done by disregarding a new movement in Christianity crying out for new waters and a return to traditions much more ancient than ours. I do not doubt that if our generation becomes the next generation of orthodoxy gate keepers then the church will die out. I do not want that and I know that you do not want that. So I ask you as my brother in Christ to welcome us in as we would gladly do the same for you. If you are ever in South Carolina I would love to break bread with you. It would be an honor.

To any of my friends or readers who are struggling with doubt or have deconstructed their faith’s here is a list of resources on different topics and to help equip you for reconstruction.

As always, Grace and Peace


“Can I Say This At Church?”

“Heretic Happy Hour”

“You Have Permission”

“Pastor With No Answers”

“Almost Heretical”

“The Bible for Normal People”

“The Messy Spirituality Podcast”

“The Liturgists”

“The Deconstructionists”


“The Ragamuffin Gospel” Brennan Manning

“A More Christlike God” Brad Jersak

“Jesus Unbound” Keith Giles

“Jesus Undefeated” Keith Giles

“The Bible Tells Me So” Pete Enns

“The Universal Christ” Richard Rohr

“Falling Upwards” Richard Rohr

“Saying No To God” Matthew Korpman

“Apparent Faith” Karl Forehand

“Inspired Imperfection” Greg Boyd

“Free to Love” Jamal Jivanjee

“Heretic” Matt Distefano

“Water to Wine” Brian Zahnd

“The Divine Conspiracy” Dallas Willard

People of note (not included in list of authors)

Rachel Held Evans

Thomas Jay Oord

Michael Gungor

Science Mike Mchargue

Jonathan Martin

David Hayward

Alexander John Shaia

Wrapped In Swaddling Cloths, Lying in a Sh**hole: A Yuletide Lament of American Exceptionalism

Let’s be honest, it is pretty mainstream knowledge now that the Hallmark nativity scene is bogus. It wasn’t a barn it was a cave, the wise men weren’t there until much later and there was probably poop everywhere. Our culture has done an amazing job at cleaning up what was probably an incredibly grotesque scene. Let’s be honest the scene is quite lackluster. This would be especially disappointing if you were expecting the savior of the world, God Himself, to inhabit an actual body and install His kingdom. He could’ve picked the courts of Caesar or at least the house of Herod. He could’ve positioned himself within a prominent Jewish family of Israelites in order to gain social clout to begin a movement well. But he didn’t. He chose to come from a plausibly deniable “virgin” girl, become the perceived bastard of a Jewish carpenter and be born in what our president would refer to as a… well.. you know, in Bethlehem. Messianic expectations would have expected a military tactician or a strong noble warrior, or at least a man “tall in stature” like David or Saul. But instead what they got was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger with perceivably illegitimate parents. Baby Jesus, with no army and no nobility was by all observable definitions of “Messiah” a disappointment.

But in that disappointment we find the meaning of the nativity and the heart of the Father and His unhindered willingness to condescend to the lowest of the low. Not only that but we see the beginning of the introduction to the upside down kingdom of Heaven. To see this lowest of the low be elevated to the highest of the high. We begin to see that what God calls powerful and exceptional is the complete opposite of what we would consider so. It was in this form that “the hopes and fears of all the years” was introduced to the world, first to other “shithole” citizens, being the shepherds and then to the rest of Israel, an underdog oppressed marginalized and colonized people group and then finally to the world as the Savior of all. In our American, Instagram influencer, perfect appearance world it is becoming easier and easier to perceive the Nativity, or the life of Jesus for that matter, as a clean ordeal. It’s especially easier to not contemplate this when the leader of the free world, the one our national church backs so haphazardly, refers to third world, colonized and occupied areas as shitholes, which would have been Israel and by extension, Bethlehem. (For those with weaker sensibilities to profanities unless coming from the mouth of our president; there will be no swearing from this point on)

Yet somehow, this “Prince of Peace” has become the mascot for a country with the biggest military might the world has ever known. That the one who told Peter to put his sword down has become the poster boy for a national system where there are more guns in this country than people. The wonderful healer has become the golden calf of an economic system that charges one hundred and fifty to three hundred and fifty dollars for an epipen. The Mighty Counselor has become the image of a country where no one can hear each other anymore. The one who is making all things new has become the sovereign God of a country that could care less about how we treat our environment, regardless of how you might feel about climate change. The one who intercedes on us all is framed in pictures in the houses of our political and spiritual leaders who slander each other until they are blue in the face. Quite frankly, we can do better than this exceptionalist, white American Capitalist Jesus.

When the church colludes with Empire it never fails to be overpowered by the powers that be. The philosophy and rhetoric of exceptionalism (Make America Great Again, America First etc. etc.) is much easier than the call of Christ to be murdered by the state. The rhetoric of Xenophobia and racism is much more comfortable than the visceral commands to love your neighbor. The command of Jesus is to become subservient, subversive and overwhelmingly compassionate, there are no excuses for anything but. Naturally, as selfish people both in nature, and in spirit, it makes perfect sense that we would compromise. We say to Jesus, “We see your humility, thank you I’m just going to go about my life.” The cross, and God Himself on the cross is the truest Revelation of God, that in love and supernatural humility God would allow His creation to commit deicide to pave a path to a better life and open the gates of the upside down Kingdom. All this to say, and to sum up in Biblical language, “A slave cannot serve two masters.”

You cannot serve two masters, and every time the Christian has to choose between the cross and the flag, the cross will either be dropped or the cross will be wrapped in the flag, one of these being dangerous and the latter being heretical and idolatrous, serving the very powers and principalities that murdered Jesus in the first place. The cross says, “Welcome the foreigner.” The flag wrapped cross says, “Yeah maybe you should’ve come here legally if you had wanted to avoid concentration camps.” (which is what they are). One says, “Love your neighbor as yourself. “another says, “Do you have any idea what kind of pressure these police officers are under? YOU couldn’t do their job, show some respect.” One says we are made in the image of God, but the other says that people coming from our Southern border are, “rapists, murderers and crooks.” The cross claims those who exploit and abuse others are “broods of vipers.” but the wrapped one calls them, “very fine people.” The cross calls us to die, and the flag encased cross says “Surely you will not.”

You see, due to some propagandized history, starting back as early as Eusebius, moving into the American history textbooks of today, we have slowly dissociated ourselves with the oppressed. The Black Panthers become terrorists, the erasure of indigenous peoples is almost erased and nuclear warfare is excused. The commands of Jesus to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and welcome the foreigner have become some abstract command riddled with caveats. The commands to turn the other cheek have become opportunities to turn and wind back our fists. Our increasing excess as the military and economic superpower of the day has made us unable to associate ourselves with an indigenous, homeless Jewish Rabbi from a land bridge that is only four hundred and seventy miles long and eighty five miles wide at her widest point as a land mass over two thousand miles wide and almost two thousand high. I will not say that we cannot understand Jesus in the country we are in because that would be to belittle the finished work of Christ (which I will not do), but our cultural lens has made us blind to certain truths and apathetic to the people Jesus was like and who He came from. We have become numb.

Rhetoric like this, and supporting it, is the least helpful action we can possibly do or simply be complicit in to ever snap out of it. When we stop recognizing where the Savior of the universe came from, we can begin to become apathetic to those who were like Him, and are to this day. In his book “Night” Eli Wiesel responds to the question of “Where is God?” by finding Him in the recently deceased body of a child who had just been hung by the Gestapo. In a culture war between the oppressed and the oppressor, Jesus is and always will be the former. To be quite frank, Jesus has more in common with Trayvon Martin, a kid who was gunned down by a racist who had no business approaching him (and like Barabbas he walked free) than me. He has more in common with Kalief Browder, a young man who was never given a trial and spent two years in solitary confinement just because he could not make bail. As my friend Derek Myers said, “You could see the face of Jesus more clearly in that of an undocumented single mother, who works two jobs and is struggling to provide for her family, than the proud conservative CEO that boasts of his affluence and rallies behind a fearful, white nationalist agenda.” He has more in common with Carlos Vasquez, a sixteen-year-old boy who died at the border because he was refused medical treatment. Jesus is better identified in the presence of the 3,446 African Americans who were publicly, and illegally executed between the years of 1882 and 1968 than our politicians, businessmen, service people and citizens. Yet in love, He died to reveal Himself to them all.

To be honest, I don’t know how to fix this, and unlike the politicians vying for the highest seat in America, I won’t lie to you and say that I do. But I do know how we can start. We can lament. We can weep over the ways that we have prostituted the kingdom of God to partake in our privileged systems and enable us to live lives of comfort far away from what the prophets, or Jesus or even Paul would have ever hoped for us. We can weep for the pain that we have so long ignored from the underprivileged and marginalized of our country. We can start by accepting systemic disparity and systems of privilege, whether they be apathy towards the border crisis, awareness of the New Jim Crow, or solidarity with the original peoples and their rights to own land. But above all else, we can return to the gospels. We can see Jesus, for who He is, in context of who He was, and how He served those He served and the hard truths He spoke to power. After all, he is the only one that can make us see and liberate us from our chains. Merry Christmas and may God forgive us.


If Not in Speech Then in Thought: Omission and Commission in the Case of John Macarthur and Beth Moore

We’ve all seen it, we’ve all posted articles about it and we have all had visceral reactions to the words that John Macarthur had to say to Beth Moore. To be honest, I was appalled. I couldn’t possibly imagine ever standing behind those words but mortified I heard a room filled with applause. I cringed as Phil Johnson chimed in and belittled Moore even more, comparing her to an “As Seen on TV” jewelry saleswoman. As a friend Mark Beuving said in his response, my wife and I sat and “spiritually dry heaved” our way through the clip. It’s okay to be a complementarian; I have many amazing friends who are complemantarians WITHOUT demeaning women, let alone women who have worked hard to exhort saints, have submitted to a denomination that does not ordain women when they could easily work within one that does, and suffered for the gospel at the hands of a highly misogynistic “Christian” culture.

I know a lot of men felt like this. A lot of men within all different walks of life came out to bat. A lot of men from the SBC, a lot of men from the more progressive side of Christianity and a lot of men who aren’t even claiming to follow Jesus or care to do anything but call out the awful hypocrisy that riddles fundamentalism like a cancer. A lot of men took to twitter, facebook or their own blogs to write scathing essays about how awful Macarthur is and how uncomfortable it made them feel. But I think in all the hoopla and all of the rightful pointing out the ridiculous hate coming from a church called “Grace” Community Church many of us male theologians missed a key point. Perhaps maybe we weren’t only offended by what Macarthur had to say because, well it’s awful, but maybe we were offended because we see the worst of ourselves in it.

Being raised semi-reformed, but being a fundamentalist I was trained to always have my “I”s dotted and my “t”s crossed when it came to my theology. I had a Macarthur study Bible, I had gone through his fundamentals of the faith course twice and I read his commentaries for fun. I absorbed everything I could get my hands on from him because I thought he was right, and I NEEDED to be right. But as a friend of mine once said, “When you put a commentary in a bible as big as the biblical text, the lines between commentary and scripture start to blur.” All that to say I have found so much peace and so much healing in three amazing words these last few months, “I don’t know”. To be honest, I don’t know how I feel about women’s ordination, but I do know that I know men and women on both sides of the argument that love Jesus. Maybe one day I will come to a consensus but for today I do not know and I firmly believe that Jesus holds me even tighter in my uncertainty.

Back to the point; many of us coming into the “deconstruction movement” came out of hyper-reformed, Fundamentalist backgrounds after we saw the sinking ship that is American Evangelicalism. Some of us decided to just abandon ship, and some of us are sticking around to try and see if anything slows down the process of submersion. But many of us came out of that tradition nonetheless. A tradition that whether they call themselves complementary or not, in this community and context demeans women, especially women who are interested in theology or gifted in teaching. They use verses in the contexts they desire them, and put “clear” (not clear) approval stamps across it and send it to anyone in an attempt to stifle.

Many of my deconstructing friends were very quick to respond to Macarthur, as was I. But today I asked myself as a product of this type of thinking and recovering narcissist whose affliction was a product of this culture, “I’ve never done that, but when have I thought it? Or even worse, when have I acted on it?” All of a sudden, the minute those doors opened up my mind was filled with memories of times where I put down the wisdom, counsel and ministry of women, not intentionally but as a knee jerk reaction, in an attempt to stay “biblical”. Times where I thought less of what my sisters had to say, or of what they hoped to achieve in the church, or I just thought they were less important than me.

Like I said, it is okay to be complemantarian, what it is NOT okay to do is to mask your own need of feeling like you are more important with that word. How is it that a theological leaning that is meant to highlight the beautiful gifts He has given men and women IN HIS IMAGE is now a disguise for making women, or trying to make women feel less than? When has it been my disguise? How can I move forward? I think the most important question to ask for many of us men who are shocked is something similar. “If I have not said this, when have I still acted on it?” because for those of us coming from a more conservative background, quite frankly, we all have.

If we truly want the church to move forward in a brighter and clearer picture, we must not only highlight the mistakes of others, but when we see those mistakes in ourselves. That is the only way we will ever become what we need to be.

The Heresy Problem

One of my good friends Mark Beuving, an author at “Jackass Theology” introduced me to a phrase, “Watchdog Theologians”. In essence, people who use their theology as a spotlight ceaselessly searching for people to shine the light of “truth” on. These people most often arm themselves with an incredibly rigid theology and an intensely conservative culture. Behind the walls they protect ever so dearly all their traditions, their values, their philosophy and less discussed, their comfort.

I know this because I’m a recovering watchdog. I once was that person that not only eagerly shined my light on anyone that disagreed with me, I ENJOYED it. I reveled in the ability to be right and in the ability to classify myself as better than. I would never have been able to admit that then, in my mind I was, “protecting the Bride of Christ from wolves.” While the pastor and the Christian is called to defend the gospel, I was more invigorated by the thought of defending the theology that had been handed to me, regarding everything on the outside anathema.

But as I walked away from the faith tradition I grew up in, witnessing firsthand what it is to be chewed up by a watchdog, I was able to look at my bloody divisive hands for the first time in my life. I now stand ashamed of who I was and how I hurt people in the pursuit of truth. Perfect love is truth, and perfect truth is love. One cannot exist without the other. So I began to take steps away from rigidity of systematics. All the while I was seeking the counsel of pastors and elders I love, men who have become heroes to me both here in Charleston and across the country in California. I would like to think I’ve learned a thing or two.

Although I refused to identify as a fundamentalist or an evangelical I still clung to dear life to the theological thought process I had been handed. I refused to step outside of my comfort zone, although I was placed FAR outside of it because I wanted with all my heart to maintain a level of comfort in my spiritual life. Jesus calls us to more. I hadn’t started the deconstruction process, or at least begun to notice it, but I’ll never forget the feeling of fear as it began.

Over the past few months, with an emphasis on the Creed of the Orthodox Church, and a research into our Church history, my view of heresy has both expanded and dissolved. I think this is important; and may be helpful to the Church across denominations or in scholastic terminology, ecumenically.

The church today, at least within American Evangelical community at large is hindering itself within the confines of its’ own revised opinions of the word; and how it may work as a universal body has all but disappeared within Protestantism. It is the goal of this series to find out what this word meant to the universal church, and to early Protestants, in order to help us now as an increasingly divided body. Lastly the question will be, how can we bring different cultures together?

This is the journey, this is the question and hopefully if you bear with me, we will find answers.

A Hopeful Appeal

Judging by the size of Covenant Life you probably don’t remember me. It was 2013 on Christmas Eve. My youth pastor had given me a copy of “IKDG” and it changed my perspective on dating for years to come. While I’ve seen the damage of it in my own lives and relationships of my friends it still had an effect on my life. I was visiting my family in Gaithersburg and we were going to church for the evening and they told me you were the pastor. I happened to have two of your books with me so I brought them hoping you would sign them.

My cousins introduced us and we talked for a moment about my hope to one day be a pastor. Not only did you sign my books I had but you gifted me a copy of “Dug Down Deep” your book on foundations for Christians. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this interaction really encouraged me for years to come. However, as time is going by and we have stepped into new seasons we both find ourselves in similar positions. Struggling, questioning, and critically thinking which are all leading us to conclusions that we never thought we’d have. However, because of pastors like you and because of books like “Dug Down Deep” there are certain beliefs that I have refused to give up on.

I refuse to give up on Christianity because I refuse to give up on Jesus. I understand the movement you grew up in, I grew up in the sister on the West Coast, fundamentalism and reformed thinking were the foundations of everything I once believed. Once I started questioning it I began to realize that I had hurt people and that I was wrong about things I had believed my entire walk as a believer. But there was one thing that I knew I wasn’t wrong about and that is that Jesus is King.

You said something interesting in your Instagram post, about deconstruction and no longer calling yourself a Christian. That’s discouraging and confusing to me because I’m deconstructing but I’m still a Christian. I’m deconstructing but I can’t walk away from Jesus or my marriage for that matter. But at the same time I understand. It’s easy for people like us who grew up in evangelical conservative movements to prescribe Christianity to this set of rules and it is one way of life instead of prescribing it to the person who freely gives life and life abundantly.

It’s also an interesting classification to say that “deconstruction” is synonymous with “falling away” as if somehow 2+2-1600 years of Christian Orthodoxy spread out across all continents practiced through different liturgy=American Evangelical Fundamentalism is the only true gospel. You’ve made a systematic theology and a modernist philosophy (not necessarily the culture of the Old or New Testament) conducive with following the King of all creation, cultures, and languages.

A peer of yours wrote an open letter referring to you as a false teacher, while I understand the rhetoric I do not necessarily agree with it. It would be far to easy to write you off with that label on your forehead. I think you’re a man who understands the Bible, can think critically and has gone to the highest levels of theological training without ever meeting Jesus, perhaps as many of our Fundamentalist brothers have. But I know he can meet us there. He met many religious people and I believe He still does. While I do not agree with some of the conclusions you have come to I am rooting for you and praying for you. I pray you will come back to the fellowship of believers and I pray you will reconcile your marriage. But above all I pray you meet Jesus.

Grace and Peace

Afraid of Farewell

Twelve years before Rob Bell wrote his controversial book, he was the pastor at a Bible Church in the Midwest. This church averaged on a Sunday morning eleven thousand people between two Sunday services. I personally never listened to his ministry but anyone I ask who remembers those days says that his ministry was phenomenal and that it had encouraged for the sake of the gospel. For twelve years Rob Bell was just like any other pastor in America working day in and day out to take care of his flock. Then, in 2011, “Love Wins” came out, and many of you who are reading this article know the story. Much of the evangelical world dismissed him as not only wrong, but as a heretic. John Piper, a giant in the Evangelical world, released the tweet that went down in infamy, “Farewell Rob Bell.”

I read the book several years ago and to be quite frank, I found and still find the arguments there in incredibly lawed. I do not agree with Rob Bell at all and do not think a Biblical argument for Universalism is founded on anything except for a reading ofscripture outside of its’ original context in order to make the theory work.The one thing I can appreciate about Rob Bell, and have learned to appreciate about many of the “Progressive” theologians of our time, is that they are unafraid to ask the questions the more traditional crowd are not. While they may sometimes go too far, they are not afraid to step outside of what is accepted as fact for the Fundamentalist.

But this article has nothing to do with RobBell, and Bell can stand for himself. You see, I was one of those people that was incredibly shocked by Bells’ questioning of the idea of Hell within the modern church. I went as far as to call him a false teacher. I agreed and affirmed John Pipers’ tweet, that it was indeed a farewell from Orthodoxy. As a recovering Fundamentalist, and a recovering Pharisee I used to have a lot of opinions within a limited scope of theology. But as I witnessed the end fruitof a Fundamentalist theology, I recognized somewhere along the line this system was seriously broken.

So with that being said I retraced my steps and realized what needed to be uprooted was the issue of spiritual pride masked as piety. So with that, I humbly began to sit down at the table with people I had ardently disagreed with and degraded with my peers. And the funniest thing happened, I learned from these people. Not only did I learn from these people but I gained compassion for them as human beings and people who are loved by God. I was never completely swayed but my eyes began to be opened to a much bigger scope of theology than had ever been introduced to me as an American Fundamentalist from John MacArthur’s’ backyard. My hope is that I can turn back around and illustrate these opinions that I have either taken on, or have begun to question myself, not for the sake of changing minds, but expanding horizons, and transcending our comfort zones.

However, like we saw in the case of Bell, asking questions to the wrong people can lead to incredible issues, and even excommunication from places we love, from people we respect. John Piper isa hero to me; his teachings have been influential in my life for many, many years. There are certain people who being written off by would be a compliment,but if Piper wrote me off, or any of my peers, that would be infinitely painful. I am unafraid of expanding my horizons and I am certainly not afraid to ask questions and go where the answers take me, but I am petrified of farewell. In my time I have learned that I will never make everyone happy, and that is okay, my views on God are not meant to make people happy, but to make me holy.

We all have questions that have been unanswered either due to lack of knowledge or a refusal to answer. Jesus is bigger than our systems and truth is more powerful than disagreement. None of us should be afraid of farewell for asking questions. I truly hope this blog becomes a safe place for discussion and dialogue, for expanding horizons, for helpful discourse across the spectrum, because without this, young Evangelicals are even more lost than we ever thought before.

An Open Letter from an Honest Ragamuffin

Can I be transparent for a second? I love my life, I love my wife, my dog, my city and my church. Most of all, I love my savior and the grace I receive from Him daily. On all accounts my life is pretty amazing; I should be happy and most days I really am. But despite the happiness and gratitude there is a deep pain that I can’t seem to shake. Many of you have followed my journey from punk kid to Christian, from Christian to man, from student to disciple and I couldn’t have made it this far without so many of you. But as I’ve moved away there’s a part of my journey most of you have not been privy to.

Towards the end of my time in California I was becoming more and more disgruntled with the neo-Reformed inheritance I came from, and while I’m still grateful for the lessons it taught me; a high view of scripture and the framework for a functioning hermeneutic off the top of my head, I can’t say I belong to that worldview anymore. Without getting too far into it on a public forum, my wife and I were seriously burnt by a people we called family and friends we called home, that came from that movement, raised me in that movement, and gave me a home and voice in that movement.

We are still dealing with the fallout of sin committed against us and the toxic theology that created the sin within our relationship to this day. Over the last few years of my life I’ve learned to begin to forsake duality and see the end fruits of theology and philosophy before they even begin, and I have to say I hated where my theology was taking me, the way I was treating people and the way I lived my life. I watched time and time again as dear friends of mine who are partners in the gospel were non-verbally excommunicated from a church they called home for years prior.

The most horrific part of it was my complicity towards it. I am a guilty Pharisee, but thank God for His grace and love that He would open my eyes to see a world bigger than that even if it was through pain inflicted on me and my family. All this to say; my theology is changing, growing and evolving as I have over the last few years. If you are interested in knowing more, stay tuned on this blog and you’ll see more of my journey as it unfolds as the Lord would see fit, but to comfort my reformed brothers and sisters reading this, don’t worry. I still hold to Orthodoxy, I still believe the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Canon is complete and the Gospel is Christ and his work. I’m just trying to figure out the gray space in between and I hope you’ll join me.