Thank you for the careful thought you are putting into your answers when you respond to my questions. As I look back on our email exchange so far, it is easy to see how you are shaping your replies into a progression of thought that is building your case in a logical, systematic fashion. I appreciate that very much.
Here is a summary of what I’ve heard you say up to now. Correct me if I have misconstrued your meaning or if I misunderstand your intent. 1. Change is sometimes necessary but seldom easy. 2. A change in thought or behavior is predicated upon a change in underlying presuppositions. 3. There is a subjective dimension to change, so that we never change until we feel the need to change—emotionally or intuitively. 4. In one important aspect of faith, you have not changed. You still believe in the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth, his unique relation to God, the truth and power of his teaching and his life, and his death on the cross.Continue reading →
Before I go further in defining the parameters and describing the particulars of the change in my thinking over the past few years, I want to address one other factor that contributes to the process and experience of change: the subjective dimension. Simply put, we never make a significant change in our beliefs or practices until we feel the need for change. We will never take the risks associated with change until we are convinced, rather more instinctually than intellectually, that change is desirable, possible, and maybe even necessary.
At least that has certainly been true for me. I am today open to the possibility of truth in ideas and concepts that, only a few years ago, I regarded with derision and dismissed with prejudice. My thinking began to change when my circumstances changed, and I was no longer bound emotionally to an earlier pattern of thought and behavior. Continue reading →
Dear Mr. Lough, thank you for your last note which included the piece you had written on the periodic need for change in our lives. I agree with you that change can be both necessary and difficult at the same time. I think that its difficulty makes it easier, in many cases, to avoid change altogether. That is a helpful insight. Now, here’s my next question. Would it be possible, this early in our conversation, for you to provide me with a list of themes or issues or topics on which your thinking has most substantially changed over the past ten years? I’m not asking for a comprehensive summation; just some examples. Then, perhaps, you could explain how you came to make a change in each of those areas. In any event, I am enjoying this exchange a great deal. Thank you for consenting to do this. I look forward to hearing from you. Cordially, Kathryn
Even before I hear from you with your next question, I’d like to say a bit more about the notion of change in general. To do that, I’m including here something I wrote a few years ago in the subject. I call it, “Change: Difficult But Necessary.” I hope you find it helpful. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
I read your recent Facebook post in which you indicated you were exploring several options for your Lenten discipline this year. I would like to make a suggestion in that regard. Would you be interested in devoting your blog, for the entire season of Lent, to responding to a series of questions from me (and maybe a few others) about the changes that many of us have observed in your life over the past few years?
This would not be an unpleasant inquisition for the purpose of challenging you to defend yourself. It would simply be an opportunity to ask some questions, mainly for clarity and better understanding, that have arisen in my mind as I have read your blog posts and Facebook updates, particularly in the past two or three years.
To save time, I’ll pose the first question now. If you would prefer to go another direction for your Lenten discipline this year, just ignore it. If you’d like to take me up on my suggestion, then we can begin that endeavor with your response to this question. In any event, here it is.
I think you would agree with me that you’ve changed a great deal in many ways since the time I was your student at Plumwood Bible College more than ten years ago. Before I ask you anything about the specific areas in which you’ve changed, I’d like to know what prompted those changes in the first place. In my own limited experience, I have to say that I’ve never met anyone else, whose life has been devoted to Christian ministry, who has changed, in outlook and belief and practice, to the extent you have. What was it that triggered that change in your life? Can you point to a particular factor—maybe an incident or a set of circumstances, maybe a book you read or a speaker you heard—that served as a catalyst for change as profound and fundamental as you have experienced? If you are willing to take me up on this suggestion for your Lenten discipline, then I look forward to reading your response in the next few days, perhaps as soon as Ash Wednesday.
I am a Christian. In the last few months, I’ve come to the place where I can reaffirm that commitment with enthusiasm. I’m not, however, the same kind of Christian I was earlier in my life.
As a high school student, I devoted my life to the service of Christ and his kingdom. Throughout the years, I have been both an ardent student and a conscientious teacher of theology and the biblical text.
About eight years ago, some dramatic changes in my circumstances, over which I had virtually no control, forced me to rethink everything I thought I believed. I concluded that I had been wrong about some things. As a result, I gained a new perspective on the Christian faith and its application to my life and the world around me. Continue reading →
Well, it has happened again, just like it does almost every day. I finished my oatmeal and toast, washed up the dishes, poured myself a second cup of decaffeinated coffee (although, about that, I have to ask “what’s the point?”), and walked the twenty yards across the parking lot to my office. I opened the door, stepped inside, and immediately started smiling—invariably and involuntarily—ear to ear.
There is very little I can do about anything these days. I have no wealth, and I own no property. Financially, my net worth is roughly zero. I have no power and an extremely limited sphere of influence. Seven years without a paying job will do that.
I do have a loving wife who has stood by me without complaint for more than forty-two years, even when things have been really rough and our circumstances difficult to comprehend. I also have an eight-year-old grandson, whom I adore, and a beautiful daughter who is making me proud as a hard-working nurse and single mom. I am trying to do everything I can to pour myself into their lives and to use my limited means and resources to help make their lives richer. Their happiness is my reward. Continue reading →
I am grateful for my upbringing in evangelical Christianity, but there is a major weakness in that tradition. The evangelical emphasis on systematic theology leads to an unwarranted, if mainly sub-conscious, assumption. I grew up believing that I could comprehend God.
When we approach the idea of God as a subject to be studied much like any other academic discipline, and when we look to the Bible as a comprehensive theological textbook made up mainly of propositional assertions that define and describe God, we can come to the conclusion that we actually understand who God really is and how and why God acts in particular ways. But we really cannot. Continue reading →
I recently happened upon the website of the Bible college from which I graduated forty-five years ago. I was particularly drawn to the audio recordings of presentations, mainly sermons, made in the school’s chapel services over the past few years. For nearly three hours, I listened to excerpts, ranging in length from two to twenty minutes each, from a dozen or more preachers. Many of the speakers were men I knew personally from my years as a student.
It’s hard to describe how the experience of listening to those voices from the past affected me. At first, I was nearly swept away on a wave of nostalgia, as their familiar speech patterns took me back to a time when life seemed simpler and the future was filled with promise. The longer I listened, however, the less positive I felt about the experience. Continue reading →