Mack and I came about faith a bit differently. I grew up less than a block from the local Southern Baptist Church we attended as a family. We three boys made “professions of faith” early on. (This summer I hope to write a series that would be something like a memoir titled “Baptist Boys.”)
When I met Mack he was following Jesus but his journey into faith was born out of a different context. And, at a different time in life.
Mack invited me to a bible study at a pastor’s house. That may not sound too odd, but in that day bible study of that sort took place “in” the church, not a house. Hailing from a very conservative background and church, I recall my folks telling me to call the pastor and ask him what he thought of me going to this bible study.
Bro. Justice considered a few denominations “safe” and this study met the criterion. Off I went. We studied the Book of Romans. After our time of Bible Study – nothing like the material produced by the Sunday School Board of the SBC, Bob’s wife would play the piano and we would gather round and sing some rousing hymns. If we were not singing, we trailed off into Bob’s library/bookstore.
I had heard of The Baptist Sunday School Board and Broadman Publishing. I had not heard of Klock and Klock. This may have been where my latent bibliophile was given space to live and breath. Old Puritan authors. And, though I did not know it quite as well then, plenty of “Reformed” theology resided on those shelves.
My pastor growing up as a child referenced A.W. Pink but we never talked about Calvin or anything “Reformed” as I recall it. Bro. Justice studied law at the University of Oklahoma. He loved to teach. He wrote not just a few pamphlets. I once had nearly all of his “January Bible Study” notes. He was quite the student and quite the teacher. And, quite a fellow. As an aside, it may be his long tenure that has influenced me in my own time at Snow Hill.
The intersection of my Christian community and my new bible study friend left me with a deeper question. How do we know? What do we know? Challenging my a priori assumptions was new. Deep seated convictions now faced a different interpretation of the very same Scriptures I grew up memorizing and reading. I did not know how to couch it as a 17 year old, but I became interested in epistemology.
I have often wondered if that was the gift of growing up the son of an engineer. I wanted to know how things worked? How do we know they work? And, truth be told, the questions I lay at night thinking about were not really about an “assurance of salvation.” No, I wondered, “How do we know?”
And yes, we are getting closer to Fitch’s The End of Evangelicalism with each post.