The most significant Christianity that shaped me is reformed protestant American evangelicalism. And it is primarily evangelical, Bible-believing communities to which I belong. I attended private Christian schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, and then went on to study at a reformed private Christian college. I have been the proud recipient of awards for Christian character in Middle School, High School, and College.
I love my fellow evangelicals, and I have no intention of shedding the label. I’ve spent seven years overseas teaching at an evangelical missionary school, and I loved and cherished mostly every minute of it. Most telling is that I’ve seen DC Talk three times in concert– if that doesn’t make me an evangelical I don’t know what would.
[Edit–section added 10/27/17] During our seven years overseas, my wife and I considered ourselves multi denominational in that we received support (financial, social and/or prayerful support) from a diverse range of churches. In Moscow, after attending several Russian speaking protestant church plants, we settled on an Engl(and)ish Anglican church, while calling a PCA church in Pittsburgh our “Sending church” and considering a charismatic church in Lancaster very much a home-away-from-home church. We’ve enjoyed attending Russian Orthodox church services during certain holidays (like Pascha), and also have had a soft spot in our hearts for the RPCNA denomination (which authorizes the college we graduated from). Now that we live in America again we are attending a PCUSA/United Methodist church that reminds us of the demographics and DIY approach of the charismatics, the intellectual curiosity of the reformed, with a nod to Anglican-ish liturgy; but it is also more socially-oriented and affirming (specifically of LGBTQIA persons) than any congregation we had previously been a part of. Also unlike any other church we’ve been a part of, members are free to support movements like Black Lives Matter, talk about Trump, cite liberation theologians, and accept awards from Pittsburgh’s Pagan Pride festival for their meal ministry to the homeless.
I am also White. I benefit from racist systems all the time, and I have never felt my life threatened because of the color of my skin. I have never once feared that the law would turn its back on me if my well-being were truly threatened. It’s hard for me to understand what it would be like to have my race or skin color work against me in any social situation. My biggest difficulty in this area is feeling slightly guilty about the luxuries I have. Sometimes I overcompensate with an extra dose of self-loathing to make me feel better.
I am also male. Actions that would ostracize my wife (yes, I also enjoy being heterosexual and monogamously bound in a Christian marriage) — like speaking up or speaking out or pontificating or boldly saying what no one has said before — are actions that have repeatedly and consistently gained me respect, financial benefits, and actual job promotions all my life. I used to joke that everything always just worked out for me because I’m awesome. I have the luxury of truly believing that all things will work toward my good, because in my life experience they always have. Also, I have a tendency to interrupt women and people shorter than me when they’re speaking, to assume I know what they’re saying before they say it. I rarely experience any negative social consequences for this behavior.
My wife and I have a biological male child who meets cultural expectations, especially in being pleasant to look at. This has gained us the respect of our peers. People take us more seriously now. They assume we are good people. It gives people a desire to talk to us. This is something we know not everybody experiences.
Like I said above, I call myself Christian like most Americans. I’ve seen numerous seasons of Survivor showing people who believe what I say I believe. Sometimes I don’t feel normal as a Christian, but recently when confessing to new friends that I am Christian, I’ve never felt like they might stop being my friend because of it. In most cases they told me that they were Christian, too.
I am an academic. I talk too much. Not having anything worth saying usually doesn’t stop me from writing or speaking; I just try to decorate empty sentences with big words and sometimes people think I’m smart. I’m actually not that smart. I scored a 1070 on SATs (in the 1600 system) and somewhere in the 40th percentile in math on the GRE. Not any more gifted intellectually than others, I will say that I am intellectually curious and I guess I usually assume that the way I’m currently looking at the world is probably flawed.
I love the Bible and I love Christ. I change my mind about what both of those things mean. I often pretend to mean what I think you want me to mean (I tend to score a 3 on the enneagram).
I do this blog with the popular evangelical belief that God can use my words for good things. I am uncomfortable with that idea, but I believe it anyway.