We tend to read, and listen, and think within the comfortable and familiar confines of our group who think like we do. And if we do wander into a different group, a different perspective, it is for the purpose of debate or in an attempt to win them over to our way of thinking.
They say that fish don’t know they are swimming in water. Water is all they know. My Christianity was shaped in a certain pond.
I was converted (1973) into the pond of Evangelicalism. But under that umbrella were subcategories, not just Evangelicalism, but conservative Evangelicalism, not just that, but Charismatic Evangelicalism, not just Charismatic Evangelicalism but the Calvary Chapel expression of Charismatic, i.e. mellow Charismatic, or like I used to say, “Charismatic-lite.” In this pond swam fish who were complementarians, believed women couldn’t pastor, believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, worshipped to contemporary songs instead of hymns. The pastors wore jeans to church. There were many other distinctives to the water I swam in and the fish I bumped into. But for the most part we all thought the same and were suspicious of and had no real need for or interest in other ponds. After all…we were right and they were wrong.
It’s easy to forget that we think the way we do in large part because of the pond we were raised in. Our ‘churchianity’ and our theology were greatly shaped by the water we swam in.
For some time now Ellen and I have allowed ourselves to wander outside of our pond. You don’t know what you don’t know. We’ve discovered many things we didn’t know, legitimate perspectives different than our long-held ones. And along with this have come attacks, not because we have changed our thinking (and there are some areas in which we have) but simply because we were willing to wander into waters different than those we had always swam in. Some think that a willingness to wander is a sign that you are lost, but we don’t feel lost, in fact, we feel more ‘found’ than ever before.
Allow yourself to wander.
When was the last time you read a book or blog written my someone who has a different theology or perspective than yours? For example, this year my reading is focused on female authors, authors of color, and writers of different people-groups other than mine.
Give yourself permission to wander. Think and rethink about the convictions you have. This is nothing to fear. This doesn’t mean anything will change…but it might. There are many ways in which I have changed because I have allowed myself to wander. I think this is progress, not regress.
Not all those who wander are lost. Thank you Tolkien.
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring