My dad and mom have been married for 31 years. I have an older brother and a younger sister. We grew up as a typical lower middle class family in the American south. My dad is a pastor so we grew up surrounded by the evangelical church. Every time the doors were open, we were there.
I grew up in the church, but there was one reason I was there and it wasn’t Jesus. I loved hanging with my friends and dating girls. I saw the church as a place to hang with friends, play music, and have fun. My relationship with Christ was nonexistent. I used God like a vending machine. I thought that he would give me what I wanted if I prayed the right way. This continued for a long time.
My dad was an associate pastor and the senior pastor at the time was great. This pastor led us for many years and then decided that it was time to leave. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would change my life. The church hired a new pastor that was young and seemed to have a lot of potential. We quickly found out that this was not the case. He was very immature and was driven by emotions. In high school I was an intern at the church and he would ask ridiculous requests as power moves. He also pinned me up against a wall for questioning one of his decisions. This pastor was very abusive and ended up causing the church to split. My dad lost his job in the division and I became very bitter towards the church.
My family found new jobs, a new normal, and we got back on our feet. I went to college in southwest Missouri and earned a degree in Biblical Studies. I met my wife while I was in school and we started living life there. We were going to an amazing church that was a safe haven for broken people – people who, like me, had been hurt in some way by the church. I began to deal with my bitterness. We started going to a small group affiliated with the church. Our friends in the group accepted my questions and doubts, but didn’t forcefully answer them. Eventually, some ideas started coming up that were hard to deal with. People very close to me that I love came out as gay. I have heard people in the church say that it’s easy – you just call people out for their wrong and tell them the consequences. Those people do not have anyone close to them that are gay and you can tell this by their attitude. But this small group also started questioning the Bible, Christ’s crucifixion, and the resurrection. Deconstruction was the name of the game. I started to believe some of these ideas and teaching them as well. We were at one of the meetings and one of my friends said, “I have never felt so grounded floating in mid-air.” That sounded interesting so I went home and Googled it, like a good millennial would. The results lead me to discovering this book by Greg Koukl called Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air.
I began to analyze my thoughts and beliefs, which I had never done before. I began to really trust and put my faith in Christ alone. I found that I could not live in a world of relativism, that there is objective truth, and if there are objective truths then there must be a truth giver. I began to take my relationship with God more seriously and analyze tradition and progressive thoughts. This is a huge reason for Table Theology. I want to be able to have these deep conversations about our beliefs. I found that God actually takes care of evil in the world. When I was living as a progressive, I was and was encouraged to be my own sovereign. I was my own god but I couldn’t fix anything, including my own self, and actually I made things much worse. I slowly discovered that if you are your own sovereign, you make a terrible god.