The Prose Is Brisk, But Unhurried

This is a blog, and its uses are by nature selfish. I wrote the below for a particular use elsewhere, but thought to myself, the masses might like to know just who this man really is underneath the hard cool exterior of his blog. So you get this.

None of us comes to saving faith in Christ in a vacuum. The Lord uses different means to bring his called ones to himself, and in my case, my family was instrumental in showing me God’s power and merciful Lordship, and in preparing my heart for submission.

Shortly before I was born, my mother made a profession of faith in Christ, but according to her little changed in her life, in no small part due to my father’s continuing proud agnosticism. They had met at university in the U.S., but moved to Brazil (where my father is from) when they finished school. It was there that my mother really bowed to Christ, influenced on one hand by the writings of C.S. Lewis, and on the other, by the open demon-worship in Brazil and the terror it inspired in her. My mother naturally shaped my early Christian development very heavily, and I was to grow up with an easy familiarity both with the donnish Christianity of Lewis and the spiritual urgency of life on earth.

My mother took us to church with some regularity, but I don’t remember ever being particularly struck by God until my father walked down the aisle of a Baptist church in Rio de Janeiro and his life completely changed. He was not the same man at all, and our family became a much happier one. We began to come to worship at church as a family, and a year later I walked down the aisle of a church, this time in Belo Horizonte. I knew I was not serving God, and was enabled by God’s grace to, in the parlance of the place, “open my heart to Jesus.” We moved around a lot, and would have many different church homes over the years. I was baptized three years later at a black Baptist church in frozen Edmonton, Alberta.

The story of my submission to Christ, therefore, is largely the testimony of my family’s coming to faith; at least in part because of this, I am firmly paedobaptistic, although my father is not. The Lord worked through many difficult circumstances in my father’s life to break him; the Lord worked through my father to open my eyes. It must be very difficult to be charged with leading a clan to God (we are almost completely surrounded by Pagans in our extended family), but I am able to look back to my father’s promise to serve the Lord, and extend it to my children and theirs.

My father was also instrumental in the next big stage of my Christian development. When I was fourteen years old, we were attending an independent ex-Assembly of God church in Medford, Massachusetts. My father preached God’s complete sovereignty and the doctrines of grace from the pulpit at that church, and I learned those doctrines sitting under my father. I was convinced of their truth immediately, but was made physically ill for weeks every time I thought of how utterly dependent on God I was and had been. Eventually I came to be comforted by the same thoughts that had made me sick.

I had for some years been occasionally overcome by the fear that I might commit the “unpardonable sin,” which I was afraid I would commit by uttering words that damned the Holy Spirit. At this point, I lost those fears; Christ was reassuring me that his work for me was his work for me, and that it if he were truly God, it would not fail. I knew he was truly God, and those fears left me.

When we moved to Gainesville my sophomore year of school we attended a PCA church because my mother had heard that the denomination taught the doctrines of grace (although we did not call them that at the time). But we were too baptistic and too charismatic to stay long, and wandered around churchless for a long time. When I started attending UF I began to look for churches on my own, but continued the restless (and, I think, ultimately self-righteous) search for a church to make my home. At that point in my life I had begun diverging from my family and could be neatly described as Reformed Southern Baptist.

Reformed Baptists are usually exposed to covenantal theology at some point. I certainly was, through a Baptist minister’s study of Calvin’s Institutes, a Ligonier conference, and a Presbyterian friend’s disgust at what I was teaching in a small Bible study on the Revelation. I began studying both with the Baptist minister and with Pastor Marion Clark of Faith PCA in Gainesville. I wasn’t really willing to swallow the whole “covenantal thing” for a while, because I thought that subscription to paedobaptism and a surrender of dispensationalist thought would necessarily follow. That was right, of course, and in those few weeks the consistency and comfort of covenantal theology began to be my default setting as I thought of God’s redemptive plan.

Here this mysterious fragment suddenly ends, perhaps leaving more controversial matters out, leaving us to wonder...just who was this weirdo, and might he have had blue hair?