The Book: Traditions of man

That left me with a huge stumbling block: Just as the seven sacraments do not appear in a Biblical bullet list, the canon of the New and Old Testaments did not appear within the scriptures. Therefore, I was forced to rely on tradition – the inspired teaching of Spirit-guided church leaders – to accept the canon of the New Testament. I could not be Bible-believing and reject tradition.

It became apparent that, as an Evangelical, I had fully embraced the tradition of the Bible while rejecting the source of that tradition. I also failed to recognize the Protestant embracing of traditions that firmly guided the religious practices and affiliations of the churches I attended.

Was there any chance that the Reformation had thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater? Was it a reformation alone, or was it a schism?

The Book: Brother, are you saved?

The Calvinists would tell me it wasn’t my fault; I simply was not elected for salvation. My once-saved-always-saved friends would tell me I must never have been saved to begin with. However, my Catholic brothers welcome me as a fellow pilgrim on a lifelong journey of conversion. This is a journey that has a start, and has an end, with many challenging miles in between. If we have a spiritual birthday, it is the day we began the journey.

The Book: The edge of atheism

I came to believe in God because it explained my perceptions of the frightening world I encountered. I came of age during the Cold War and fully expected a nuclear exchange would end us all before 1990. My sense of the world was that it involved an apparent battle of good versus evil. Very often that evil was the result of human behavior, whether the genocides of Hitler and Stalin or my own selfish behavior harming those closest to me. Looking around, it was easy for me to conceive of a supreme good and an absolute evil. The Judeo-Christian explanation of that battle made great sense to me.

Is religion dying in America?

Perhaps the growth in the number of those professing to be spiritual but not religious is a refreshing blooming of personal honesty. Maybe it marks a break from the last generation’s social pressure to wear the Christian label, regardless of secretly-held beliefs. While I would not I would find it encouraging if there were fewer Christians in the world, I do believe non-believers should never feel social pressure to fake it.

The Book: Why not me, God?

Like a line of dominoes, each child tumbled backward – except for me. I was startled and confused as I gaped at the children sprawled on the floor before me. Later, I was told these youngsters were “slain in the Spirit.” They were so overcome with the power of the Holy Spirit that they fell to the floor. I was certain this must have been something God had done – to everyone but me. As I stood, awkward and embarrassed, in front of the packed living room, I had my first encounter with a fear that God does not know me. Why would every child in that line experience God, except me?

The Book: Thomas wasn’t the only doubter

I’ve met Christians who never seem to experience doubt. We can call them blessed. However, God used Thomas’ doubt as a lesson for the rest of us, generations of sometimes doubting faithful who have never touched the physical wounds of Jesus, yet place our eternal hope in their efficacy.

My name is Jeff, and I am Canadian

Canada! As soon as I read it, I knew that was the answer. Proof positive that I am Canadian. With the help of that yellowed news clip I realized the truth that had always been there … hidden just beyond the obvious.

Just who do you think you are?

To be fair, I can be a bit of a dreamer with the bad habit of thinking aloud. And that’s the kind of thing that can frighten a blushing bride’s mother. While I never threatened to run away to the circus with her daughter, I did talk of leaving a great job and heading off to the seminary in Missouri, or a creative writing graduate program in Ohio.