The spiritual life is never static. We’re either growing deeper or growing stale. I guess it’s the same with our belief systems, our theology, or ‘doctrine’ for want of a better word. It’s not so much that some things stop being true, but as life moves on and we are taught by life, by God and by what we encounter, we can see the different shades of these things.
My own journey in the last 5 – 7 years, as I’ve recounted at various intervals here on this blog, has been on a massive learning curve as I’ve almost learned how to see afresh. The conservative evangelicalism that shaped me is still important to me in that it laid a good foundation for greater understanding. However, I’d never want to be in the place of stopping in such a cerebral place where spirituality and encounter with God is all through words, formulas, doctrines and abstract ideas.
I prefer my theology incarnational…by that, I mean I want my encounter with God to transform me at a deeper level not just remain an idea in a systematic theology book or even the Bible. And, I’m willing to learn from outside my tradition. I’ve been enriched so much in recent years by Roman Catholic writers, especially those in the mystical tradition (Rohr, Nouwen, Merton), Anglican writers (Wright, Williams), and some of the Emergent Evangelicals and Revangelicals (Bell, McLaren, Claiborne, Campolo et al). Pope Francis has embodied so much that is prophetic and right about walking in the Way of Jesus.
Outside the Christian fold, I’ve discovered wisdom in the Muslim poet Hāfez; the writings of the Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve been inspired in my ‘maleness’ by writers like Robert Bly, Robert Moore, Douglas Gillette and through the theories of Carl Jung as well as the ancient Enneagram tool.
My biggest inspiration remains to be the lives, spirituality and earthy hearts of the Celtic Saints, who not only, for the most part, didn’t know what it was to be Protestant or Catholic, but who also knew what it was to look at the traditions of the Pagan and Pictish tradition and see how God was communicating his truth in the druidic practice and indigenous spirituality of the early Britons, Celts and Saxons.
The truth, quite simply, is that my protest is over. Being ‘a Protestant’ isn’t important to me. Following God in the Way of Jesus is my heart and goal. I’m not interested in the old divisions or the dualistic thinking that means we miss some of what God would say to us. My life is much richer now than it was when entrenched in a narrow evangelical protestantism. I refuse to be labelled by any of the ways that Christians have labelled themselves over the years. They mean very little in the bigger scheme of the Kingdom of God.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says: ‘God is not a Christian.’
I know there will be many praying for my soul now. All I can say is ‘thank you!’