Thursday, July 1, 2010

from Moody Bible Institute to Eastern Orthodoxy

I thought I'd link over to Molly Sabournin's story of her journey from Evangelicalism into Eastern Orthodoxy. Molly's father is the first person who ever talked about Eastern Orthodoxy to me - he was a guest speaker in one of my classes, and told how he was working at Moody Radio when one daughter and future son-in law at Moody and another daughter and future son-in-law at Wheaton converted to Orthodoxy.

Molly is that daughter from Moody, and since I also went to Moody I've always been very intrigued by her story.

Some of it is the same as my story. Some is not. She speaks of her simple faith being rocked once she got to Moody and was introduced to theological debates, church history, etc. This is true of many people, but I actually think that I am a rare evangelical who was taught an unusual amount of theology and church history in my early teen years, and was actually interested enough to debate and engage before I ever got to college (thank you, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Leenhouts, and the Westminister Catechism!). So, while my early time at Moody was thrilling, I wasn't as rocked by being introduced to the complexities of our faith.:

After graduation, I enrolled at Moody Bible Institute, a well-known and respected Bible College in downtown Chicago. I didn’t have a real good handle on what I wanted to be, or do, or study, and this small, close to home, conservative institution seemed like a safe place for me to break out on my own. Freshman year, every student takes basically the same core classes. The course names on my schedule sounded harmless enough but I was ill-prepared for the mind blowing experience I would soon enter into as I was trained and tested in the tenets of “Systematic Theology”, “Christian Life and Ethics”, “Personal Evangelism”, and “Church at Work in the World”. There was more to Christianity than just “me and Jesus”, apparently, and my heart and intellect collided in the endeavor to sift through the many opposing doctrines being tossed in my lap for scrutiny. I had been introduced to “Calivnism”, “pre-millennialism”, “Lordship Salvation”, and “Easy Believism”. Within every classroom, dorm room, or student lounge, heated debates were testing new founded convictions on women in the Church, speaking in tongues, end times, faith vs. works, and free will vs. predestination. I was envious of my classmates who were able to pick a path, strap on some blinders and walk confidently without hemming and hawing at each fork in the road. I missed the old days, before everything was so complicated, but like a child who has seen her father eat the Christmas cookies left for Santa, I couldn’t trust any longer in the simplicity of my childhood beliefs.

 I was much more rocked by being faced with evangelicalism in the US, the religious right, and conservative American Christianity. I've written about that before, but actually all of the historical Christian debates seemed out of sync with the ridiculous debates in the US about whether or not it's okay to drink and whether or not you can vote Democrat in good conscience.

I can absolutely relate to this paragraph, since I was introduced to a lot of theology but had little exposure outside of the Protestant world or into the liturgical, high church:
I had started dating by that time my future husband, Troy. We shared similar frustrations, and a conviction that Christianity must contain elements we had not experienced thus far. Sometimes we would make the effort to peek outside our familiar circumference and take in a Lutheran, Episcopalian, or even a Catholic Service. The pomp with which they handled the Gospel, recited their litanies, and lined up for communion, both intrigued and unnerved me. The God I knew so intimately was being handled with kid gloves and I questioned the need for such formality. How could they sincerely worship without varying the music, the sermon series, or without spontaneity in their prayers? Surely, these scripted responses were dry remnants of denominations out of touch and out of sync with modern culture. Hadn’t the Reformation freed us from a works-based belief system, and breathed life into the cold, dead, liturgical groaning of the Middle Ages?
 You can read the rest of her story on her site. It's not dramatic, it's actually rather quiet.

1 comment:

Rae said...

I found this blog and thought it might interest you: http://www.sixredheads.com/category/the-journey-to-orthodoxy/