It's a good question.
On Facebook my profile describes me as Christian, conservative, orthodox, fundamentalist and charismatic and so I am.
Saturday Mornings we have a men's bible study with breakfast afterward. This morning I described the account of creation as more of a cartoon than a photograph, which caused a certain amount of consternation, although I'd stand by that description.
The thing is, I've been reading the bible seriously for nearly 35 years, more than that if you take the pre-christian phase of my life, where it was all just a collection of words without a particular meaning. I've had some teaching on hermeneutics and exegesis, but have carefully stayed away from books and characters that try to tell me how to think and view reality.
What's all this about?
Maybe it's the legalistic child in me, but I want to take the easy way out and just 'follow the rules so everything will be all right'. The fundamentalist in me recognises that the bible is The Word Of God but it also recognises that people wrote it, with their own views and outlook. So you read about storehouses full of snow and lightning bolts, recognising pictorial language. Are the windows of heaven sash opening or uPVC double glazed etc. An interesting take is when the bible talks about angels appearing with swords (that MUST be for the benefit of the humans viewing the situation - how is a sword an effective weapon in a spiritual realm? Paul talks about not using the 'weapons of this world' when dealing with spiritual issues).
The thing is, I want to understand. I want to know what's real, what's made up.
When I was a new Christian I despised the attitudes of theologians who carefully put all of what the bible said - all the outrageous bits - into carefully constructed boxes of interpretation so that they didn't have to worry about the lack of God moving in the church (and their own lives?). So I'm asking the question of myself "am I doing this over stuff like healings, miracles, God breaking in tangibly". Because when it does apparently happen, it's happening with other people, in other countries - yet here we pray, fast, seek and all apparently in line with the words in the bible, and nada.
Yet I know God IS there.
Chris and I have talked about some of this, and for her, even in the worst times, she's never been able to walk away, deny the truth. For me, it's been the same and we have even been able to accept God at work during some of the worst things that can happen. But it's those 'if-then' passages. If God is real (check) but doing the 'if-then' stuff doesn't work (check) what does the 'if-then' stuff (and a whole lot of other, much less clear passages) really mean?
My observation is that theology can just become a system for explaining how great our God is and then providing reasons why He doesn't actually do all that 'great' stuff here and now. I have now done some of this from a public platform.
And I think I despise it.
There's a great truth that I'm grappling for and not finding. It has to be here somewhere, and no amount of books or clever teaching are going to uncover it. If it doesn't turn up then I guess there's always mediocrity to sink into - maybe we moved church streams at the right time?
Wonder if Ian reads this stuff still?