It’s hard to know exactly where to go next with our story. Once I admitted to myself that the doctrine of sola scriptura was not a doctrine found in the Bible and after seeing firsthand the contradictions in “truth” that arise because of this doctrine, I felt like my head and heart were spinning. I had so many theological questions floating in my head. Doctrines I was once sure of I began to question; asking myself, how do I know if the interpretations of scripture that I’d been taught were right? Along with all of these theological questions came a sense of not belonging anywhere, of having no church community to call home.
Prior to leaving the reformed church, there was a part of me that thought we would always end up attending a Calvary Chapel fellowship. I loved the worship music and felt comfortable with their fellowship and style of teaching. I’m quite certain that a part of me was hoping our visit to that church on that Sunday would somehow bring an end to our questions. I’m not sure how I thought this would happen. I think I just wanted it to be easy to find a new church home and settle in. But after that Sunday I knew it wasn’t going to be “that simple.” God was making it clear that there is much more to choosing a church than the my preferences for music, fellowship and the teaching style. It was becoming clear that God was going to require more of us on this journey. And because this was a journey it meant we were traveling and we weren’t really going to feel at home anywhere. At this point in the journey I remember feeling very lonely.
Although Scott and I were on this journey together (something for which I am very grateful) we were also on this journey alone. The questions we were asking about scripture alone and other doctrines were not questions we’d ever heard our friends ask. When we brought them up many of our friends couldn’t identify with our need to find answers. Some of our friends just thought we were going through a phase (kind of like a teenage rebellion) and we would eventually pass through it and end up right where they were. A few of those friends worried that our questioning was a sign that we were somehow being deceived in our study. There were others who said we were only on this journey because of my parents; suggesting I was unable to disagree with my parents or go against anything they did. My parents only wish that had been true; their lives would have been much easier and peaceful. Of course the implication that I somehow had a ring in Scott’s nose and I could make him do anything simply because I had to follow my parents and do what they were doing was kind of funny. Anyone who knows Scott knows he’s just as strong-willed, stubborn and out-spoken as I am (perhaps even more so).
Some of our friends told us “these things don’t matter, all that matters is our common belief in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.” I totally understand the heart behind this perspective and know that to some extent it must be embraced when it comes to ecumencial settings. But, I couldn’t embrace it when it came to choosing a church and raising my children in the faith. Doctrine matters to me, to some degree it always had. Jesus came and instituted baptism. My head and heart can’t help but ask “why?” If it’s only about a faith in Jesus then why did he tell us to be baptized? What does baptism mean? Is is just a symbol or was there something more happening in this act of faith. The same thing applies to Holy Communion and a myriad of other theological issues. A few friends tried to engage in our quest for answers but backed off because somehow our desire to know was too “divisive.” Basically they told us any discussion about our journey was off limits. For the most part, we were on our own in this search for “truth,” God’s will and a church to call home. It was a very lonely time.
It was especially lonely for me. I’d just resigned my teaching position at the local community college in order to stay at home with our firstborn, Claire. I was adjusting to being home with a baby; letting go of my identity as a professional and embracing my role as a new mom. We’d just left a community of believers that had loved us and poured out so much support when our daughter was born. Sadly, many of the women in the Bible study I taught were no longer a part of my life. I missed them and I missed having a place to “belong.”