A theological conversion


Young blogging theologian Chris Tilling describes his “conversion experience” from hardcore fundamentalist after listening to Walter Brueggemann:

As many of my readers know, I used to be a screaming conservative street preaching ‘it’s not religion it’s a relationship’ ethical black and white liberal = evil Catholic bashing Christian pop music listening shine-Jesus-shine singing puritan paperbacks reading borderline-Fundie. While there is much about that background for which I am grateful, I’ll never forget the day I was sitting in a bus (prayerfully) listening to a Brueggemann lecture on the OT portrayal of God.

What a shock it was for my theological world. At that stage I didn’t know too much about Brueggemann expect that he wasn’t on my usual ‘safe’ list. But his dismantling of my assumption that exegesis and systematic theology exist in a straightforward relationship was a world shaking moment from which I never recovered. The Old Testament, I learned, was not a book of settled theology; it was doing theology and generating a variety of testimonies concerning God. Perhaps von Rad had the same effect for an earlier generation, but having listened to Brueggemann I left the bus literally feeling sick; sick, but forever delivered from naive assumptions that had crippled my engagement with the bible and theology. I struggled with what he said, but later I came to very much appreciate the door he opened into a new theological world. So thanks, Walter.

Read it all here. The Episcopal Church is filled with people with similar “conversion” stories. What’s yours?

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One Response to "A theological conversion"
  1. While I'm a cradle Episcopalian, I was peer-pressured into joining "Young Life" in high school.

    At a YL Bible Study, we were reading some eschatological passage (probably Revelation). The group leader asked us what we thought of it: the world's future. One member answered "I don't think it'll last 10 years."

    Honestly surprised at this interpretation (guesstimate!), I responded "Gee, that's awfully pessimistic."

    AS ONE, the group turned on me: "Pessimistic?!" "How can you say that: Jesus will come back!" "Yeah, we WANT the world to end, because Jesus will come in glory!" "This world is going to hell already anyway!"

    Etc, etc, ad nauseum.

    Needless to say, I KNEW at that moment, I was really an Episcopalian. I was in the WRONG group, and I never went back.

    Oh, that was the late 1970s: so much for their end-of-the-world timeline, eh? :-/

    JC Fisher

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