What This Is (and Isn't)


This is a personal blog to record my thinking about God (aka Yahweh, the Lord, Jehovah, etc.) and my relationship to him. It's a public blog, but I'll be writing primarily for myself. I'm still going to try to make it reader friendly, but rather than take a systematic approach to unpacking my theology, I want this to be a flexible and spontaneous response to whatever I've been thinking, reading, and praying about. It is certainly not an evangelistic outreach or an attempt to convince anyone of anything, though I'm happy to respond to comments and answer sincere questions. I won't respond to trolling though and will delete any comments that aren't beneficial to a real conversation.

My background is that I was raised a Christian, but for as long as I can remember, I've doubted and questioned what I was taught. That includes the existence of God, but that was a matter that I settled for myself early on. I'm sure I'll have more to say at some point about the relationship between Science and Faith, but the short version is that I believe that those are both very useful things to answer completely different sets of questions. I'm no scientist, but I'm a big fan of the scientific method and how it contributes to our understanding of the world. I'm super appreciative of everything Science has taught us (and continues to teach us) about how the universe developed and currently works. I just don't think it has anything to do or is even equipped to answer questions about Purpose. That's the realm of Faith, meaning both faith in a deity or faith in there being no such thing. Again, a topic for another time. My point is that I have been unable to shake my belief that God exists, though I continue to question many of the things that are taught about him.

The church I grew up in was a loving, positive community and I still have many many friends from there. It was also fairly conservative and legalistic, at least in teaching if not in practice. I remember not understanding the logic of a lot of doctrine. I didn't question whether God was right, though. I just questioned whether we really understood what he was saying. Though at the time, I didn't have any solid, alternative interpretations to suggest.

I didn't get those until college where I got my Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Religion with a minor in Biblical Languages. I studied under some truly great thinkers (and was blessed with some also great thinkers as classmates with whom I could discuss ideas). Finally, I heard ideas and interpretations that helped Scripture make sense to me. And though I've never pursued church work as a professional vocation, I've studied continuously since then and been a lay leader and teacher in my current congregation for the last couple of decades.

All of that is to say that I don't have all the answers, but my whole life has been a long struggle to understand God. As a result of that struggle, I've developed a theology that makes sense to me and is consistent with the Bible's revelation of God's nature. But I can't claim that I've got it all figured out. There are still - and I believe always will be - mysteries about God that I will never understand in this life. And I certainly need to leave plenty of room for the idea that I could be wrong about what I think I've figured out. That's a lot of what this blog is about: Continuing to explore and think and struggle.

A note on the title of the blog:

In Christ's story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), I grew up thinking that I was supposed to relate to the Younger Son. He's the one who demands a premature inheritance and then squanders it before crawling back to his father for mercy. I never did that though. I grew up in the church and while I was far from perfect, I never openly rebelled or left God for any period of time. I could appreciate the story's point about God's love and eagerness to forgive, but I could never feel it as deeply as the Younger Son did.

Eventually though, someone pointed out to me that there are two sons in that story. The Older Son has stuck around the Father, but his relationship with his dad is pretty terrible. He complains that he's been obedient, but he describes his obedience as slavery. I don't know that I ever thought about obedience in exactly those terms, but there have certainly been times in my life when my obedience was completely out of obligation.

The Father's response to the Older Son is beautiful though. "My son," he says, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The Older Son has been living beneath his privilege. He is with God. Living with him. Working with him. And God shares everything he has with the Older Son. Including his work. Including his purpose.

It's taken me a long time to understand what that work and purpose is - and I still have questions about it - but one thing I've come to know for sure is that God doesn't just want me to be obedient out of obligation. He wants to partner with his children to get some things done. And a big part of this blog will be exploring what those things are.

Comments

  1. Hi there, Michael. I headed over here from your Adventure Blog (recommended by Jack Tyler on his post this week), and I guess I've arrived at the very beginning of something interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on how you've come to your own understanding of what the Bible is really saying to us and how to apply it in your own life. I like the title of your blog—nobody ever remembers the older son in that story, and he plays a role every bit as important as anyone else.

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  2. Hi, Lynda! Welcome!

    I imagined that I would be writing in a vacuum for a while at least, so thank you for letting me know that you're reading!

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