over the course of seminary, i sure have changed, but i've stayed the same in many ways too.here's what i know:
i am still dismayed at the actions of my more conservative brothers and sisters in the faith. the far-right bothers me to no end and i don't know how to reach them.
the far left, i've discovered, is no better. they are equally closed-minded and intolerant. however, if i had to pick between the two, i'd head left because they wouldn't blow anything up or kill anyone. they would just brow-beat you into submission, albeit very politely.
i've found that Church History is very important and has contributed much to science, ethics, and sociology. it's very important to know religious history in the US, IMHO. we're in the midst of it right now as we speak, and history has been shaped by the two Great Awakenings that happened in this country. the conservative Neo-Evangelical movement currently going on is but a re-hashing of these two movements in a variety of ways.
liberal Christianity gets no press and that's a shame. and if liberal Christianity gets no press, the progressive form is getting even less... progressive is the "emergent" label, one could say, that it is neither right nor left but forward. those like Johnny Baker, Rob Bell, Peter Rollins, Brian McLaren, and Phillis Tickle are great reads and speak to all sides of the theological spectrum.
i realized just how much of a pastor i really am, thanks to CPE and my internship at a local church.
i found out that i'm really a Christian... well i'm becoming one any how. it's a process that's continual and unfinished. but i really can't answer the question to why.... is it because i was raised in the culture? because i find similar themes in my personal narrative as in the gospel narratives? because i'm inherently tribal and want to fit in? further more, how am i to judge what is a Christian and what isn't? who sets the standard?
what works for me maybe totally insufficient for someone else. the overwhelming experience i've had may leave another totally cold and unconvinced. so there is really no rational argument i can construct that would be all telling and universal. i can only answer as Jurgen Moltmann did in his book, Experiences of God and state that I am a Christian for Christ's sake.
i feel that the basis of my faith (defined as the "substance of things hoped for") is liberation for the oppressed, a wake up call to those asleep, and love of neighbor as ourselves as well as a love of a "higher ideal" that is beyond us and cannot be put to utilitarian purposes. it is good in and of itself. i call this higher ideal God and feel that it's more than a human construct. you can disagree. but i hope we can find a shared meaning and purpose to our lives regardless of belief.