Seven Years in Arabia (About the Author)
One of the consistently frustrating aspects of authoring this blog has been writing the « About the Author » section, and finding a suitable name or subtitle for the blog. My problem is that my interests vary so broadly that it is difficult to find one blog-name which encapsulates them all: also, my thoughts evolve and change so quickly that an autobiographical sketch written with passion and precision is embarrassingly inaccurate mere months later.
About the only two things that tie all of my divergent posts together is that 1) I wrote them, and 2) they come out of my quest to understand and better serve my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus, the current blog-title of, « Josiah Meyer: Groping After Him Who Sought and Rescued Me » will work for now. As for the « about me » section – my solution is to write an « about me » post every few months, or whenever my thoughts evolve enough to necessitate a new post. Rather than having a dedicated portion of the blog to hosting the « about me » page, I will direct newcomers to the current « about me » post.
For now, then, this is what a reader should know about the author.
I was born and raised into Christianity, and have felt a call to full-time ministry since my childhood. My teens were warring years, as my passion for spirituality and service to God sought to win out against the « fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul, » (1 Pet. 2:11). Several older mentors from my local church were an invaluable aid to me during this time, and mentoring remains a topic dear to my heart. I have also been involved in helping my local church (first as worship leader, later as preacher) since my mid-teens. Since high-school, I have spent the bulk of my time studying in Bible colleges and Seminaries in preparation for a career as a professor at such an institution.
I met my wife at Bible college and we now have a beautiful son together.
In these last years of seminary I have been working by correspondence which has freed up time for ministry and for paying work. My wife and I spent a taxing year as part-time pastors of a nearby church before returning to my hometown and home church. Currently, I am employed with the prestigious title of « Garbage-Truck Driver » as I pay off loans, and finish the last courses of my M.A. in theology. Although I took this job more or less out of necessity, I have since realized the amazing providence of God in bringing me here: what other job is repetitive enough that I could listen to my iPod hour upon hour, and still receive payment for a full day’s work? I currently listen to fifteen to twenty hours of lectures (from iTunes U), podcasts and audiobooks (especially from Christianaudio.com) as I complete my Master’s, prepare sermons for my local church, and sort through the complex issues which will no doubt face me in my coming teaching career.
SEVEN YEARS IN ARABIA
Recently, I have become very interested in an obscure passage in Galatians. In chapter one, verse seven we learn that Paul did not have his Damascus-road experience, and the next week emerge as the fiery, widely respected, epistle-writing Paul that we all know and love. Rather, he preached for a while in Damascus, then went away to Arabia for an indeterminate amount of time, then came back to Damascus, then went here and there…it was a total of fourteen years before he went to Jerusalem and began his ministry in earnest.
I have been wondering, « What was Paul doing in Arabia? » Likely he was preaching – we never see Paul not preaching – but I wonder, « what was going on inside of Paul? » Was he testing out his newfound faith, connecting the dots in his mind, doing ministry under the guidance of others, testing theories and learning from experience what works and what does not, growing in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and men (cf. Luke 2:52)…?
I am probably reading into the text: however, I feel that I am in a sort of transition phase, similar to what I imagine Paul having between Damascus and Jerusalem.
I am solidly Christian, but there are thousands of complex questions which must be answered before I feel I will really be able to begin my ministry in earnest.
FINDING ONE’S BEARINGS IN A POST-DENOMINATIONAL CONTEXT
My father was raised nominally Dutch-Reformed, found the Lord in a United church, studied in a Bible-only non-denominational evangelical school, and brought his family first to a Brethren, then to a Baptist, and finally to a Mennonite church – which I now own as my own « home-church. » Much of my teen years has been spent trying to find my bearings on such denominational issues as eternal security, pacifism and head-coverings. Answers to these questions were a top priority for me as I attended my non-denominational Bible-college and later seminary – but the answers have been slow in coming.
There are many questions to which I will never find answers, and I have no problem with that. However, I feel like my desire to teach comes with some responsibilities. « Let not many of you become teachers, brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment, » (Jas. 3:1). This passage terrifies me. It is so easy to influence the tender mind of a young Christian. Like gum placed under a park-bench, that once-soft brain quickly becomes hardened, tough and fixed in a way of thinking. I can think of no job with higher stakes than training the next generation of Christian leaders, while their minds are still soft and pliable!
My fear of God and desire to become equipped to teach His children effectively have motivated me to become as certain as I possibly can be about the important questions of the Christian life. Once upon a time, this process was easy for people – they simply had to look to their church or (later) to their denomination for answers. In preparation for teaching, one merely had to master the works of the patriarch of their order/denomination (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc.). At times I thirst and long for such a source of authority! Without it, I feel as though I must almost become my own authority – pretentious evaluating and picking between the competing thoughts of the giants of the faith, based upon my own limited experience and education.
I feel as though a lifetime would be necessary to create a coherent system of belief: however, I need to know now what I believe, so that I can spend the rest of my life teaching it!
My answer is to spend the next few years in intense evaluation and examination of the various major questions of the faith. Among these are: Eternal Security, Gender Roles, End-Times, the Emergent Movement, Hermeneutics, Christian Stewardship, etc.
I am giving myself the freedom to take the next few years to sort these things through before working towards a decision on them. I hope to use this blog as a place to post tentative conclusions, to receive feedback and help, and to in other ways modify and perfect my theological systems in preparation for a teaching/preaching ministry.