I was a Christian. I sought after God through the Spirit. I preached in church and counseled at Bible camp and I knew that neither of those things meant anything. I was born of God and striving to live by the Spirit. So when high school ended, I signed up for Bible college.
KLBC was the best time of my life, up to that point. I had never had such deep relationships as the ones I formed there. I had never met such deep and committed followers of Jesus. I dug through Scripture for treasures like the proverbial master of the house (Matt. 13:52). I met my wife there. I also met Calvinism.
Have you ever encountered a beautiful philosophy? A set of ideas that makes you pause, take a step back and go, “Wow”? Calvinism was one of those philosophies (or doctrines, if you prefer). From the outside, it seemed harsh and heavy, but when I dug a bit, I found something lovely. Much of Scripture seemed to imply it, and it in turn illumined much of Scripture. I was quickly convinced of its truth and I used it as I went through the next seven or eight years of my life. It wasn’t my God–it was a useful framework to understand Him.
Even though the denomination I was raised in was started by Calvinists, the philosophy had since fallen out of vogue. For the first time ever, I was standing a little bit away from the rest of my church on an issue of doctrine. Not very far, of course. But far enough for me to notice a difference. That difference allowed me to realize something I had already known:
It was up to me and the Spirit to explore the Bible and discover what I could about God, the universe and everything. While I was always willing to listen to my church, my tradition, my professors, I realized that I had to judge and seek out the answers for myself.
Even when the answers I found put me at odds with the people I loved.