I’m going down memory lane, I’ll keep this bullet pointed.
Both of my parents endured abusive upbringings. Despite this my brother and I were raised in a Christian home. My father was given faith as an adult and decided to learn Hebrew to better understand the Tanakh. As a consequence I learned the Hebrew alphabet before English and could say a few Hebraic phrases as a young child.
Throughout my childhood I was taught the Bible. I wasn’t perfect, but I was closer to perfection than anyone else I knew. I would have made a great Mormon, except for the no coffee part. But then came teenage years. At my worst I was an obedient son. Yet I regretted my innocence.
A new genre of music was coming to town and churches. Christian Rock had the aggression teens wanted but with lyrical content parents could approve. Except parents couldn’t get past the angry music. I ended up leaving my traditional church and went to a new one where the youth group played Demon Hunter, Blindside and POD. I could have my cultural satisfaction without abandoning my faith. This is where I encountered popular Christianity. Meaning, my Sunday education was no longer restricted to local pastors, I was exposed to celebrities such as Rick Warren and Rob Bell. New words like mega church entered my vocabulary, yet it was years later that I heard the term- seeker sensitive.
They have big congregations, they must be right. They claim to be Christian and I had no concern for doctrinal distinctions. I was playing in the band at church regularly, was well connected and actively volunteering. Eventually a friend brought me to Elevation Church. Somehow I missed Steven Furtick’s frosted hair tips, but I remember their set lists being 95% Hillsong songs and meeting at a high school. I had friends that wanted to plant churches, and when you’re in the South you either emulate Andy Stanley or Furtick.
Skipping some time. As an active volunteer I was exposed to hypocrisy. I won’t go into details, but I wanted God to be Zeus. I wanted hypocrites struck by lightning. Of all the people in the world to get cancer, why not the guy sleeping around Monday through Saturday and leading church on Sunday?
If it needs to be said, I was not reformed at this time and I thought more highly of myself than the truth. Yet, I struggled with inner conflict. It wasn’t that bad things happened to good people. It was that good things happened to bad people. Convinced that moral conviction has little to do with ones quality of life, I became agnostic. I watched a lot of videos featuring Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. However, atheism seemed like the reaction of a spoiled child. I didn’t get what I wanted for my birthday, therefore my parents don’t love me. But parents are supposed to be loving. Therefore my parents don’t exist.
Eventually I was in San Diego and came across a DVD with Hitchens’ face on it. He was debating a Christian and I had to see what a Christian could possibly respond with against the brilliance of Christopher. Which led to my discovery of Douglas Wilson. Collision sparked a renewed interest in theology. I then read the book, The Question of God, which pitted Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis against each other. I read a lot of G.K. Chesterton and began listening to podcasts. Unbelievable was my starting point and seemed good if you had never questioned your faith. The thing was, I had questioned my faith and was returning. I wanted sound theology.
This led me to Pirate Christian Radio constantly mentioning names I recognized. More importantly though was Chris Rosebrough recommending The Church of Tares. When the pastor of my first seeker sensitive church wrote a book on church planting, Warren wrote the foreword, and here was a three hour documentary critiquing my education.
I jumped too far. At some point, I left Elevation and began watching Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill, Seattle. My friends continued on with Hillsong and later added Bethel, but I was listening to Dustin Kensrue and Citizens. It was by Mars Hill that I encountered Daniel B Wallace and textual criticism in response to Bart Ehrman.
Which led me to James White. All of this took some time to process and I eventually abandoned seeker sensitive churches in order to find a reformed church. I had heard of Ligonier, I think because of White mentioning Sproul, but my current church referenced Ligonier a lot. I was a supporter of them before the passing of R. C. Sproul.
This is a greatly reduced version, and with that a good stopping point.
Soli Deo Gloria!