Writing Your Heart Out Well
The Early Years
I used to be a staunch Calvinist. This was during my late high school and university years. When I discovered the glory of Christ in Reformed theology, I was staunch and arrogant about it. I was often judgmental about other Christians and their views of salvation. I was not nice, kind or loving with my Monergism. You could say I was argumentative, as well as arrogant.
And I blogged about it.
I wrote long sentences, long paragraphs and I tried to cram every bit of monergistic soteriology I understood into the blogposts I wrote and I wasn’t even schooled at a seminary yet.
It was bad. I also wore flashy shirts by Guess Co.
I was trying to be hip, emerging, and Reformed at the same time.
The Reformational Years
In short, I had embraced a prideful spirituality. In those college years, I read a lot of John Piper. I listened to a lot of John MacArthur. Yet I had not been found by the pleading love of Charles Spurgeon for others. John Calvin may have been my homeboy, but I did not speak with a graciousness that exemplified him.
I desperately needed to be schooled Joshua Harris. Why? Because I was not humble in sharing the joy I found in the sovereignty of God with others. I yearned more to be theologically precise than I yearned to be geuinely caring. Caring for a person without any hidden agenda may be difficult, but it is certainly necessary for a man of God.
The Humbling Years
Through my time at Southern Seminary, I found brothers who had similar callings to minstry as I did. Some were amillenial, some were premillennial, and all were Reformed. We did not argue much about Calvnism or how many “points” we were; in a way it was simply foundational to our ministry. What this meant was that my theology (slowly) became more applicational, pastoral.
I no longer blogged about it in a vacuum or in a cold corner of Founders’ Cafe. Everything I believed about God and His work in salvation and sanctification was being refined through fire. It all started getting filtered through my friendships with future missionaries, pastors and Bible college professors. My beliefs were being shaped by not one book on eschatology, but by many books on such a doctrine. I read books on theology, and church history, and pastoral leadership, and biblical counseling. I read books I did not want, and authors that I disagreed with.
In the early years, I only read what I liked, people who I sided with. But in these three and a half years in seminary, I was being disciplined. I was humbled through many people and books. I was forced to be more widely read. For I cannot truly criticize anything if I did not first understand it. It was not be humble or orthodox for me to criticize a position which I could not also regurgitate it.
Ultimately, my theology was being applied to relationships with people like me: brothers and sisters who struggled in life yet were sure of God’s calling on their lives. My doctrine no longer was impersonal or simply vertical, but it was being refined horizontally through the local church. Theology matters, because people matter.
The Years to Come
I need to listen more and more, and blog less. We all need to. That is, to listen to each other in personal trusting relationships. There is a time and place to blog and write your heart out, but you need to do it well. This entails writing while standing on the shoulder of giants, viz. the giants of our faith. And writing while sitting in the midst of broken-hearted; writing while fellowshiping with the poor-spirited believers.
I could not write or minister or preach well until I had been refined through mistakes. And did I made mistakes. I do not regret them, because my mistakes have taught me well. Because in those times, I did grow spiritually. I was and am Reformed, yet the Spirit was still reforming me. I may disagree with the Emerging Church’s theology, but I emerged out of these times more developed in my own theology. God used those epic failures of my arrogant orthodoxy and sanctified me towards a humble orthodoxy.
I love studying, reading, teaching and preaching. Yet I also love spending time with the people of God. The two go hand-in-hand. Because this is where all my doctrine is continually applied; where all theology is shown to be pastoral: in personal, discipling relationships. Writing about this is good, but living out the love of God in community is divine.
Writing well entails writing in a way readers can understand. Using Headings, subheadings and italtics or bolding emphasis helps the reader, as well as aiding in your writing. We live in a day and age of short attention spans, inadvertently caused by Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Tumblr. Thus, we must capture our readers’ attention succinctly and make our point efficiently. This is why shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs are great for blogposts!
(Sadly, Tumblr’s Dashboard feed hides a lot of formatting. Sorry!)