I used to get bags of hand-me-down clothes from my cousin Simon who is about three years older than me. I would root through the items hoping for something with a respectable brand name on. I think the best I ever did was an Admiral 1990 Southampton FC home shirt, which was problematic for an Arsenal fan.
As I grew, the hand-me-downs began to get tighter on me and less and less appealing. I was outgrowing my cousin and my taste in clothing was developing. I didn’t want secondhand tracksuits anymore, I wanted Levi’s 501 jeans and a Fred Perry Polo shirt.
Recently I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been handed down in terms of my faith. I grew up in a church that has pretty standard evangelical opinions on various doctrines. I grew up under male-only elders, with a complementarian view on marriage. I grew up with a charismatic belief in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Also, eternal conscious torment as a destination for all outside of Christ on death.
As a young person growing up in a church, these opinions naturally became my opinions. As I have grown in understanding the wide range of opinions throughout the broader evangelical spectrum, I have found some of these inherited beliefs don’t fit me anymore. I have developed a feel for what I believe about these topics and others.
What caused these changes of my opinion was becoming aware that there are other well thought-through and Bible-based approaches to the doctrines. And, there always have been. Religious correctness is as obnoxious as its political namesake to both those who believe and those who don’t, and should be left to the Pharisees.
Evangelicalism is essentially about being gospel-focused. Despite the post-Enlightenment obsession with detail and orthodoxy which became modernism, there is a still a vastly diverse set of traditions and understandings of the message of Christ within a gospel-focused community of faith.
So, have I committed the cardinal sin of the age and fallen for the postmodern ‘pick and mix’ faith?
I would argue that Christians since Peter and Paul have been trying to work out how to live a gospel-focused life that is squared with their personal convictions. Sometimes, our convictions are different to each others. That’s ok – it’s nothing new. We should be able to honour each other in Christ, and be beautiful in our diversity.
So, no, I am not just another confused millennial trying to forge God in my own image, but an honest truth-seeker, and I suspect most reading this are too. Can we be honest if our hand-me-downs don’t seem to fit anymore? I hope we can.