I haven’t done a post like this for awhile, so let me remedy that. My ‘heritage’ was brought up in a comment meta in one of my recent posts. Let me take this as an opportunity just to share a bit of my background as a Christian person.
I was born in 1974 in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (the state of Washington). My dad, at my time of birth, was an ordained Conservative Baptist pastor; and so I was born into the “ministry” — so to speak. I accepted Jesus into my heart at a very early age, and began to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. I had my ups and downs as I grew up, and a few years out of high school the LORD got a hold of my life in radical ways — it was this kind of intervention or ‘encounter’ with Jesus Christ that has set the tone of my life ever since. As a result of this encounter with Christ (and in an ongoing way), I entered Multnomah Bible College and then Multnomah Biblical Seminary, and now hopefully (still), South African Theological Seminary to pursue a PhD in systematic theology studying with Myk Habets.
Anyway, I wanted to broach my Baptist background, and the kind of American theology that shaped that background.
- As far as my methodological approach (which I don’t think we could really call it that), I would have claimed to be a biblicist (doesn’t every body 😉 ). Meaning that I was happy to simply follow the flow of what I presumed to be a straight forward prima facie reading of the Text — of course, unbeknownst to me at that time, this straight forward reading of the Scriptures was being informed by a particular, and idiosyncratic American approach to doing such reading of the Text.
- As a result, my view of salvation could have been described simply as “Once-Saved-Always-Saved” (or a so called Calminian, a mixture of classic Arminianism with Calvinism). And my “straight forward” reading of scripture also suggested to me that a person had ‘free-will’ and a responsibility that allowed them to accept or reject salvation in Christ (so a decision centered salvation — some call this ‘conversionist’).
- All of the above was framed from a certain mood or posture; the posture was rooted in an American Pietism that, historically might look back to someone like Philip Jakob Spener. This mood found its contours in an attempt to relate to God through a warm-hearted approach that is bible-centered, and relationally driven — i.e. Pietism of the Spener inspiration sought to transcend what was perceived as the cold, arid, intellectualist mode offered by the scholasticism of the day. Indeed, it is this ‘tradition’ that shaped (and to some extent, still does … although it is waning) the ethos present at my alma mater, Multnomah University.
- My biblical interpretive tradition was Dispensationalism (in its various forms). The hallmark of this approach to biblical interpretation is to follow what they call a ‘literal’ method of interpretation. Meaning that the text of scripture should be taken as literally as possible, until taking it literally becomes an absurdity (or some such axiom). This approach leads to a belief in a future, literal, earthly one thousand year millennial kingdom of Christ; wherein after Jesus’ second coming (after the Great Tribulation period, or “Jacob’s Trouble” or Daniel’s 70th Week), he finally brings in the Davidic Kingdom in Jerusalem, finally fulfilling the long awaited ‘Land Covenant’ he made with the nation of Israel. The literal approach also leads to a Pre-Tribulational rapture theory; which is the idea (for those unfamiliar) that Jesus will take his Church out of this earth, which will initiate the Great Tribulation period (or ‘The Day of the LORD’). At the end of this apocalyptic deluge of God’s wrath on the earth (primarily directed at the Nation of Israel), Jesus will come back (his second coming), and set up his millennial kingdom. This was my approach to biblical interpretation for most of my life; that is, up until about five years ago.
This is some of what made up my kind of Baptistic faith.