When I get in discussions and debates with people, they often call me by a label that I think is completely off base. Fundamentalists call me liberal. Liberals have called me a fundamentalist. Other times I get called a Catholic or an "Emerging Church" person. So what am I?
I am like you. I am embodied: I have a limited view of the world around me that is partially formed by my maleness, and I am a finite creation that has a hard time being "objective" about anything. I am en-cultured: a product of a late 20th century Western consumerism that puts a whole lot of emphasis on personal choice and freedom, and still has a lot of hangovers from Post-Enlightenment modernism. I am en-languaged: I have a way of thinking about things formed by speaking English, and reading Greek, Hebrew, and a smattering of Latin. I am en-traditioned: I have come to view God and the world around me from certain traditions, namely the Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Anglican Traditions. I am en-ritualed: I have certain rituals that I have developed and taken on myself from others that help me relate to my spouse, my child, my congregation, my friends, and my God.
We all are products of our free choice operating within our bodies, our cultures, our language, our ecclesial traditions, and our rituals. This shapes everything we do, from what we buy at the store to how we read Scripture. So, the question is: what has shaped me and who am I today?
My ecclesial pedigree includes three "conversions", each of which has deepened my understanding of Christ and my devotion to Him:
1. Conversion to Christ: 1992 in a non-denominational Bible Church, and mentored by a Dallas Theological Seminary student who now ministers as a southern Baptist preacher. During 1992-1996 I attended a variety of Bible, Baptist, and Non-Denominational Churches, as well as Campus Crusade for Christ and a variety of campus Evangelical organizations. My best friend and I were also the "resident Christians" for a year at the athiest-agnostic student group at Texas A&M. This led me to love Christian apologetics, especially the Norman Geisler and Josh McDowell versions that were popular with Campus Crusade. I also learned Greek and read a whole bunch of books on different aspects of doctrine from within the Evangelical orbit (especially a bunch of those "four views" books put out by Intervarsity Press).
2. Conversion to the Holy Spirit: 1996 after getting to know several pentecostal professors at Central Bible College and Assemblies of God theological seminary, I recieved the fullness / baptism / release of the Holy Spirit accompanied with speaking in tongues. Also have experienced prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discernment of spirits, and some experience with healing ministry. During 1996-1999 I attended Assemblies of God, non-denominational, and independent Christian Churches. Also, during this time I started reading systematic theology, of mainly the Charismatic variety (such as Wayne Grudem, J. Rodman Williams), the evangelical variety (such as Ryrie, Demerest, and Erickson), and Reformed (such as Calvin, Berkhof), as well as some more Catholic apologists (such as Peter Kreeft and CS Lewis).
3. Conversion to the Church: After a call from God, and a series of interesting events and dissappointments, I wound up in a place I never thought I would: as a youth minister in the Episcopal Church. I was supposed to teach confirmation, which entailed finding out what confirmation is all about, which entailed understanding why we baptise infants and then confirm them as young adults. Immediately I was in a theological crisis: because I will not teach what I do not believe is true. So, trying to understand infant Baptism drove me back to Calvin, who drove me back to Augustine, who drove me back to Eusebius' Church History, who drove me back to the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Fathers. Thier arguments and the example of their piety hooked me: I came to believe in sacraments and the fact that the Church is the living sacrament of Christ, His body in the world. I was confirmed as an Anglican on December 9, 1999.
Now I am a youth minister in an Episcopal Church that calls itself "Biblical, Sacramental, and Growing in the Spirit", which means that we try to strike a balance between being Evangelical, catholic-liturgical, and Charismatic. We are a blend of all three, and at any given service you will find a fairly "high-church" liturgy, with contemporary praise and worship, with healing ministry in the back of the sanctuary, with evangelistic preaching (and sometimes even an altar call).
Since my "conversion to the Church", I have read a great deal of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, as well as many more books on systematic theology from Reformed, Evangelical, and Charismatic sources. I have just begun entering into Anglo-Catholic theology, which I love. I am also going to seminary to study for the priesthood, which includes a much deeper engagement with so-called "liberal" theologies. In addition, I have engaged deeply in study of "emergent" and "post-evangelical" writers such as Brian McLaren.
All in all, I would have to say that my theological orientation is most tilted toward CS Lewis, and I see him somewhat like a personal hero, for a great number of intellectual and practical reasons.
My ecclesial pedigree is best summed up by the "about me" statement on my blog:
::WHO I AM::
i am a jesus follower... but not the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, american jesus of the "religious right" or the "liberal left"... i try to follow the miracle-working, life-invading, career-destroying, dead-yet-risen-again, quirky and sometimes wierd God-man, Lord and King of the Greek Scriptures... so far i am failing pretty badly at following him... but talk to me tomorrow.
If C.S. Lewis attended an Alpha class with Mother Theresa, Socrates, Mike Yaconelli, Brian McLaren, and Peter Kreeft that was taught by Agnes Sanford, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Polkinghorne. When they all went to dinner afterward and discussed how knowing, loving, and following the Holy Trinity impacted their lives: that would be my theology.
::THE HATS I WEAR::
God has called me first and foremost to be a man of God; then a husband to Kim; a father to Elise; a pastor-teacher to my youth and families at Apostles; a scholar-writer as a student at Perkins theological seminary and candidate for the priesthood; and a coach-leader on the Diocese Youth Commission and Young Adult Committee. Whew!