An Outside Observer of American Evangelicalism

It was in 1995 that the leadership of the Sabbath-keeping Christian church we were attending announced that much of their theology was misguided. It didn’t take long for the leadership of some of the member churches of the National Association of Evangelicals (in America) to welcome the leaders who had made that announcement, with almost open arms!

The reality of the situation for me was that without any formal theological training, I was being ‘forced’ for a second time to reconsider just about everything I had ever been taught (without any recollection of ever doubting the existence of God). I had walked away from the Anglican church (I was treasurer of the local church for 8 years) in the early 1970’s when I couldn’t get satisfactory answers to some of my questions and gradually became disillusioned by what I saw as the lack of ‘radical’ Christianity. I could never understand how people could attend church at Christmas and Easter and not be seen at any other time. I had seen an advert in the Readers Digest offering a subscription to The PLAIN TRUTH magazine in the late 1960’s. Only later did I come to really appreciate that here was a Christian church committed to keeping the biblical Sabbath and Holy Days instead of Christmas and Easter that they considered to be Pagan festivals. They also rejected trinitarianism and did not accept the traditional teachings of heaven and hell and believed that ‘this is not the only day of Salvation’.

That announcement in 1995 led to the breakup of our own family of 14 related by marriage – wounds that have never been healed! The church had been very legalistic in some ways. Only later did I realise that this legalism had been much stronger in America. It was in 1998 I was suddenly aware of a freedom and liberation from the slavery of legalism. By this time the church had ‘splintered’. My wife and I were still attending what was left of the local church, but our daughter and her husband who had been Youth leaders walked away, and some of the family have not spoken to us since then!

By 2012 I had a story to tell of a faith that I thought I could hold on to loosely despite the fact that I had always had doubts about the traditional teachings of the trinity as a result of what I had been taught in a Baptist Sunday School when I was 13. These thoughts had reinforced my doubts about Evangelicalism – summed up in “Christianity After Religion?” – the title of a book written by Diana Butler Bass, that formed the basis of my current blog in 2012.

In “My Story – from 1995 to 2012” I have described in some detail how I stopped attending church in 2009 but still ended up in 2012 with a faith that I could hold on to ‘loosely’.
At the end of 2012 I watched the BBC TV series, “A History of the World”. That was a real eye opener!
In 2013 I joined U3A (University of the Third Age) and started attending classes in Philosophy, Psychology and Counselling and later History of Christianity, History of Religion, Islam and Buddhism – just 2-3 hours a week. That seems to be the time when my ‘real’ education started.

It was in 2014 that I was introduced to the thoughts of Barbara Brown Taylor about Lunar Spirituality and her metaphor of Learning to Walk in the Dark. As a former Anglican I could really relate to so much of what she was saying.

I was introduced to “Fowler’s Stages of Faith” over 15 years ago and spent many hours in the past discussing the significance of this and similar material – see “Stages of Faith”.

A few years ago I was discussing life with my grandson when I realised that I had been living two separate parallel lives that came together when I had been made redundant (again) in 1990.

As I’ve suggested elsewhere, maybe I’m a bit of an armchair observer of the theology of others!

See also “The Two Posts”