Last week, I talked about how church felt irrelevant to me as a High Schooler.
I mentioned in passing that as a young person I started to think that if “God existed, then he was of the transcendant sort–one that didn’t really interact with this world.”
Let me explain:
You might think that this is a hair’s breadth from atheism… but it really wasn’t. Instead, I just believed that God didn’t intervene in the world at all. I didn’t have a well developed theology–of course–but while I wan’t ready to abandon faith in God entirely, I began to believe that God must be the distant sort. I was a functional Deist.
Prayer was the biggest reason for this perception in my life: I didn’t see any answers to prayer that couldn’t be explained away by reason. It seemed to me that unless we had to attribute something to God, because it was obvious He intervened, then we should assume that God wasn’t involved. Churches don’t do this, I observed. Instead, they always assume that God is involved in everything, something I would later learn is a theological viewpoint called “providence,” but at the time I thought this was ridiculous.
I didn’t make a big stink about this. I just continued to God to church and think that it wasn’t really about the real world much. I respected people–didn’t argue. But I was a silent conscientious objector in an evangelical world. By the time I went to college I didn’t really have a vibrant personal faith that made much of a difference in my life. I was a nice guy and didn’t rebel against anything. My parents weren’t the “rules based” types, so I just went along with the flow.
The irony about all this was that I had been planning to go to college to study for the ministry. I would be a “Christian Ministries” major–but I wasn’t sure I was entirely a Christian. Nobody ever asked me if I was a Christian. Everyone just assumed.