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Essay

My Reformed Slippery Slope

By August 21, 2013 One Comment
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Jes is away on vacation for the month of August and is happy to introduce to you Mandy Meisenheimer, Director of Children and Youth Ministries at West End Collegiate Church. Jes first met Mandy in Michigan and kept saying to her “Girl, you need to go to seminary.” After years of saying this, and Mandy’s own soul-searching and family conversations, she is now a long-distance student at Western Theological Seminary and an incredibly gifted minister to children and youth!

I am new to this whole reformed thing.

In fact, as I listen to my professors at Western Theological Seminary, I sit with my head cocked to the side, in both disbelief and awe. Reformed theology disorients me. Up is down, down is up, and I’m reaching out to brace myself as my world spins. At Wheaton College, my roommate was one of those Presbyterians. I was skeptical of her faith already, but then I found out that she was a fun-loving tennis player and my suspicions were confirmed. She was one of those carefree Calvinist people. I would go off to my contemporary worship night and she would hang out with her friends doing fun things. We actually grew to like each other, but we didn’t connect on faith issues until one night when she decided to share her Calvinism with me. She pulled out a tract written by J.I. Packer and shared the good news of the reformed faith with me, her Christian roommate.

And as she explained, she wept.

I thought it was ridiculous. I thought it was preposterous. I thought it was bizarre. How can this even be called Christianity? I humored her presentation, and ultimately walked away shaking my head. But years later, the ideas were still with me. What if God were responsible for the saving? What if my actions, what if my beliefs, what if my life were a result of grace, not a method of achieving grace?

What if I repent because I am saved, rather than being saved because I repent?

By the time I found my way to WTS, I was sufficiently enticed by these questions, that I was ready to listen. And I’m still listening. I raise my hand, I pester my professors, and I plague my peers with questions. It still doesn’t make sense. Who is this God who saves? Can I truly stop working so hard to please God? What do I tell my kids? What is the deal with infant baptism? How does a person “get saved” around here?!

These are the basic questions. I had them all figured out until you reformed people came along. But there is a kind of magic in looking at the Bible with a fresh set of ideas and perspective. Calvinist, feminist, womanist, liberationist, mystic, charismatic, environmentalist, mujerista, Catholic…all slippery slopes to scary new/ old ideas that can illuminate the scriptures with the diversity of the perspectives of humankind.

Thanks for offering your unique flavor on the faith, reformed people. I’m in.

Until it all starts to make sense again, and then I’m out.

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.

One Comment

  • Annie says:

    This well encompasses my own experience; thanks for putting it in such eloquent and concise terms. It does seem that Calvinism's lack of over-zealous "get- saved" rhetoric is the very thing that makes it so attractive, especially to evangelical-born, energy-zapped folks like myself.

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