Old Wineskins

Sometimes I don’t recognize my own faith.  I used to think that in order to be a person of faith I had to believe certain things (no female pastors, 6-day creation, guns=good, liberal=bad, to name a few).  I also needed to do certain things (“quiet times” – preferably in the morning, vote Republican, show up at “See You at the Pole” and so on).

So when I started shedding some of those beliefs, and consequently some of those actions, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  I wasn’t sure who I was.  The belief that a follower of Christ must be a Republican was etched so deep that I was genuinely unsure if I could still be a Christian if I decided to vote Independent or, heaven forbid, Democrat.  I was 20 at the time and I felt lost.  Unsure.  And I longed to find someone who could speak to my experience, my questions; someone who might have paved the road before me.

Enter Brian McLaren.   I read A New Kind of Christian when it first came out in 2001 and I simultaneously loved it and hated it at the same time.  It scared me.   But it spoke to me, too.  And it set some wheels turning.   Ten years later, after a decade of doubt and deconstructing, when McLaren wrote Naked Spirituality, I felt like I had finally found a way – a way to embrace my faith that made sense to me; in a way that felt meaningful and genuine and relevant.

It’s not to say that there wasn’t value in my faith of old.
As McLaren says in NS,

I have discarded those theological wineskins, but I treasure more than ever the wine of the Spirit that was somehow conveyed to me through them.  That suit of theological clothing doesn’t fit me anymore, but the naked spirituality that sustains me today originally came to me dressed in it.



I’m re-reading Naked Spirituality now with a friend and I’m appreciating it anew.  15 years down this road and I finally have some mainstays.  New favorites to revisit.   I feel at ease in my faith now in a way that wasn’t possible just a few years ago and I wonder – is this process familiar to any of you?  Have any of you walked a similar road?

  • Tyson

    Great post, I feel connected to the story of your upbringing very much – I grew up believing that Republican Baptists (if ever there were a redundant term) will be in heaven, and the rest of y’all are hosed. College helped me see the value of putting on different “lenses” to get a view of how others might interpret scripture, yet I still held on to my faith in it’s most familiar form. I guess what flipped for me is that on some of the most politicized, controversial social issues, my faith seemed to have lost it’s plot in some heinous, never-ending shouting match with an opposition that Jesus has called me to love. There was tension, and not in a we-can-grow-and-learn-from-each-other kind of way. And then I started reaching for other lenses to view my faith, and now it’s become a much more exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding faith, not just for me, but hopefully for those around me.

    • http://www.therustylife.com nance

      Ha! Redundant, indeed!

      Yes, yes, yes, to ALL of that. I hear you. Your story is my story. Thank you for sharing just a brief bit of it with me.

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