My purpose in these blogs is to encourage us to feel free to be who we are in terms of our stated beliefs, our experience of truth, and in our interrelationships. It can take a long time to be free.
My Dad encouraged me to doubt, to be true to myself in terms of my beliefs. That is fine, as long as you go to a liberal college, a liberal seminary, and a liberal university. It is not so easy when you become pastor of a church, a teacher in an evangelical seminary, a representative of a denomination. At least this was my experience. There were many times when I was very careful about what I said or didn't say in terms of what I thought of as my faith. My profession might be at risk. If I used the right words, I was accepted, if I didn't, I was a bit suspect. However, I also was not always sure of what I believed or didn't believe. This was true even into my 50's.
In 1987 I left the Deanship of a seminary in Berkeley, CA. There were a variety of reasons for this, but the main one was that I could not be a person of real integrity in that setting. I could not honestly be who I had become, particularly in terms of my religious faith.
In 1993 I became the Interim Senior Pastor at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village in New York City. For a year and a half, I preached, taught, and counseled with total honesty. Not everyone agreed with what I said, but we had open dialogue. It was a terrific time for me.
When we returned to Seattle I became involved in the developing of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, also teaching there, and then teaching adults in Skagit County and finally at Seattle First Baptist Church. I could be radical (or not), even heretical, but, always completely honest. Free at last!
Many of you who have commented on my blogs have said how much you appreciate being able to share how you feel with me. From time to time, some of you have come over to Port Ludlow to visit with us and we have talked honestly about our faith. Truth and wisdom can happen, even if it takes a long time.
In a very strange and uncertain time in this nation's history, let us be unafraid to say what we believe, to stand for truth, to be who you and I have been called to be. We shall not be overcome by fake news, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, or false prophets. Too much is at stake. Our lives are on the line.
May each of us experience new birth at Christmas.