… I am a Christian and I am male which apparently places me in a relatively small minority in the UK but my Christian journey isn’t anything to write home about. I had no blinding, Damascan revelation like St Paul. Mine was more of an Emmaan journey where faith quietly developed within me and I had seemingly little to do with it. Indeed, I would be the first to admit that I am who I am through sheer coincidence of birth. If I had been born elsewhere I may have been a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Hindu: if I had not had the experiences in my life that I have had I may even have been an atheist or an agnostic … but I wasn’t and I have … so this is me and that also means that I am willing to listen to those of other faiths or those of none!
I was born in the 1950’s and I attended a church school: I joined the church choir at the age of 8 (for no other reason than I was allowed time out of school to sing at funerals … how sad is that!) and I was bundled off to Sunday School by my parents on Sunday afternoons so that they could have a couple of hours peace and quiet (or so they said … I never did ask and I am an only child so make of that what you will) so there must have been a bit of Christian learning there, even if it was only by osmosis, but at best, at that time I would describe my faith as latent – I hadn’t put much effort in and I wasn’t really getting much out of it – but, for some reason (and excluding a couple of periods in the wilderness that I may tell you about one day), I kept in touch with the church.
I had stagnated! I wasn’t going anywhere! I was just one of those people who turned up each week to take a seat in a pew without particularly asking why! But then, in the 1980’s, I became personal friends with a young vicar and within 6 months he had asked me to become his churchwarden – obviously he knew something that I didn’t!
During our time together, and for the first time in my Christian story, we began to debate. When I started in these discussions I was shooting from the hip – expressing opinions with little real knowledge with which to formulate a case – so I went away to read and learn and to find out more simply so that I could defend my views. Needless-to-say, before long he left the area but my journey had been reinvigorated – the spark in my spiritual life had been rekindled and I had begun to grow – and so I moved on to the next chapter.
Our next vicar provided the space in which that growth could continue. I remained as a churchwarden for a total of 10 years but, during that time, I started to train as a Lay Reader and this provided a focus and purpose for my studies. I have been a reader now for 17 years but my growth hasn’t stopped. I still question, I still have doubts, I still have theological hypotheses for which I am seeking evidence. I am not a creationist – as a scientist and engineer I have little time for the concept of Intelligent Design and delight in the Theory of Evolution. I am not a literalist – I believe that the scriptural texts need to be interpreted within the context in which they were written and I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to claim to be a Christian whilst still questioning faith and accepting others as they are.
Are there any more out there like me?