Shortly before mom died, we had to sell her house in order to pay for her continuing medical and living expenses. For that to happen, I needed to clean it out. To say it was a daunting task would be an understatement. You see, Mom was a hoarder. I spent two days combing through 20-year-old church bulletins and grocery ads from 1998 trying to find important stuff like financial documents, pictures, and the like. I wish I would have had about a month to go through everything because I know that we threw out a bunch of stuff that I would have liked to keep. I did manage to find three of her Bibles and have recently gone through those reading her notes.
I grew up in a non-denominational, Bible-believing church. I’ve since come to realize that the term “Bible-believing” can mean any number of things. My church was very conservative. Very. The women wore dresses and the men wore suits and ties. There was no drinking or dancing. We had people come in to do presentations on why rock music was evil and we also had movie nights featuring A Silent Scream and A Thief in the Night (click if you dare). Both completely inappropriate for someone as young as I was. They are still a dispensationalist, premillennialist, and complementarian church. To see why all of this is relevant, keep reading.
Mom was always a note taker. If I would have had more time to go through the items in her house, I probably would have found stacks and stacks of notes from the inserts in her church bulletins. Just flipping through her Bible, you can see that she wasn’t afraid of writing in it. That’s probably how I learned to take notes. I have memories of her letting me carry her Bible to church and how grown up it made me feel. When I was a kid, it always seemed so large, even bigger than me, at times. It definitely holds a lot of significance and I was glad to be able to save it.
After I got home, I started thumbing through, looking at her notes. And then it hit me. I was thumbing through mom’s theology. She never would have called it that. No, she would have just said that this is what the pastor said. But in our house, if the pastor said it, we believed it. And thus our theology was shaped.
And then I got an idea. What could I learn from the theology from old Bibles? Mom’s, mine (much of which is cringeworthy teenager stuff), strangers? How could this, in conjunction with my seminary education, shape my beliefs? I’m more than just a little excited about tracing the development of my theology, both from the past and into the future. Come join me and maybe we can learn from each other.