Although I formally ended this blog a month or so ago, I thought it may be helpful to explain in a public forum a little bit more about our situation. It’s becoming public knowledge that the reason I did not enter the ministry was because of substantial misgivings about the truthfulness of Reformed teaching. These misgivings are not mine alone; Arenda shares them. These questions have led us on a search for the truth, to find out whether or not the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints is found in Reformed teaching, or is found elsewhere.
Although a small handful of people had known about this for some time, we only very recently shared our misgivings with a broader audience. As a result of this information becoming more public, we’ve received many notes of support, prayer, and, understandably, disappointment, notes for which we are most grateful. But this has all been further complicated by our move three weeks ago from Hamilton to the small town of Fruitvale, in the West Kootenays region of BC.
It’s clear from the notes that we’ve received that our questioning of Reformed teaching and our move to Fruitvale have led to some speculation regarding our motives and our faith. I’ve enjoyed a certain amount of publicity over the past years, not only as a CRTS student, catechism teacher, and tenderfoot preacher, but also as a blogger, and it’s expected that people will be concerned, and that this concern will in turn lead to some speculation. I understand this, and I hope here to fill in the picture a little.
Seeing as we knew months before school ended that I would not be entering the ministry, we had considered many possibilities for what to do. Did we want to move back “home” to BC? If we stayed in Ontario, did we want to stay in Hamilton? What did I want to do in the long term? Go back to woodworking? Teach? I considered a wood-finishing job in Cambridge, ON. I applied for a cabinetry job on Vancouver Island. I thought about being an arborist in Brockville, ON. Did I want to commit to something long-term while at an unstable point in our lives?
We eventually made up our minds that we were going back to BC. The pull of family, and the pull of the landscape that had shaped our imaginations, was what did it. We didn’t want to live in the Fraser Valley, though, wanting both emotional and physical space. It’s just way too crowded and busy there to think straight about anything. We also concluded it would be best if Arenda worked as a nurse. This would give us the income we needed, as well as the necessary time to fully engage with our questions. So she applied for a number of positions throughout the interior of the province, and it was Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail that bit. So here we are in Fruitvale, just outside of Trail, on two thirds of an acre, carrots, radishes, beets, corn, and potatoes freshly planted in the raised beds out back, tomatoes and hot peppers in the greenhouse, all the fresh air we could hope for, and a view of the mountains that lifts our souls to God.
When people hear that I am not convinced of the truth of Reformed teaching, it leads to deeper questions about faith and the heart, and I understand that. There’s an ancient maxim, however, that prescribes the way in which a Christian must learn the truth: faith seeking understanding. One must first believe, and only then will one understand. You don’t first try to make sense of a man ascending into heaven, and then believe it. Rather, you first believe that a man ascended into heaven, and only then will you understand how the whole meaning of life depends on that fact.
It is not the faith part of faith seeking understanding that is, or ever has been, in crisis. I’ve never been more certain that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found in Him. I would not have committed myself to the degree of prayer, reflection, and study that I have if I did not think there was truth to be found. The reason that Scripture contains passages like Psalm 25, and “Seek and you will find,” is exactly because the Holy Spirit knits into our hearts the desire to understand, and then answers that desire with a peace that goes on to exceed that understanding. What a thing to believe, and what a thing to pursue!
Yet this pursuit has come at a cost, the cost of enjoying the fruit of four years of seminary training. And on that note, I do wish to congratulate my friends and colleagues who have gotten to enjoy this fruit. All of that hard work, and all six of them passed. And all the calls pouring in! Although we are distant from them in more ways than one, we are no less elated at the blessings they’ve all enjoyed. I wish them the strength and peace of Christ as they navigate this exciting time in their lives.
But while I’ve certainly lost something, I’ve also gained something that I did not have before. I feel like the merchant in the parable searching for fine pearls (Matt.13:45-46), and to me this is a gift, for I have never before felt the urgency of the search nor the value of the pearls as I do now. It’s a gift; it’s a revelation. I feel that I have seen Christ like I have never seen Him before, the vision of His salvation wrapping the whole of my life.
So rather than my faith being troubled, it is the understanding part of faith seeking understanding that is troubled. I won’t go into my specific questions and objections here, for that is not the purpose of this post. But as you can imagine, exploring these questions has been difficult and confusing. I have feared at times that God has not heard my prayers, that He has perhaps left me to walk this path alone. But it’s at just these points that one must rest on faith. It’s for this reason that while troubles of understanding can come, those troubles can be weathered.
Because I believe, I have peace, and I do not doubt that I will understand. And because I know that this kind of search is not born of mucking about in the mudflats of the soul, but is only born from the Spirit of heaven above; and because I know that this search, and its object, is the true purpose of human existence; because of these things I have hope. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
The light of life. There really is such a thing, and it really is available to the world of fallen and sinful man. This is the treasure that I seek, and although these questions have brought tears, and frustration, and all manner of groaning before the throne of grace, I would not give up this seeking for anything else. I have set out on this path because I know that it is Christ who is at the end. And however sloppy my thinking is, and however clouded my interior landscape may be at times, and however badly I can fall, it is His glorious, and abundant, and precious light that I follow. If all of this searching has any public value, may it testify to the greatest thing the human heart can hope to see: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”