On my long and somewhat arduous journey out from under the tyranny of fundamentalism, I discovered many “voices” along the way. Among the most important are the following:
John Piper taught me that the duty of every Christian is to delight in the Lord. Doing so not only results in the ultimate satisfaction of the believer, but the ultimate glorification of the Lord. The self seeking satisfaction is not wrong, but natural and impossible to avoid. What is unthinkable is to find a great pleasure in the Lord, thus his admonition to seek our ultimate good by seeking and loving the Lord.
Brian McLaren taught me that answers are no good if you’re asking the wrong questions. He helped me see the fallacies in certain questions and presumptions upon Scripture, theology, and Christianity, and opened an entire new world of questions, based on reality and daily life. I started reading McLaren while I was in “the real world” (not in school or hunkered in a ministry), and my faith was strengthened greatly.
John Eldredge has been crucial in getting me to see the spontaneous, gracious, and forever loving side of God. He taught me to believe that healing comes only through the relentless pursuit of God and his pathway to righteousness. He taught me to see that God still speaks, we must listen, and we can learn to hear.
N.T. Wright introduced new constructs of theology—based largely on biblical theology rather than systematic theology—that have resurrected (pun intended) new ways of thinking. Where McLaren deconstructed a few of my beliefs, Wright was able to help me piece things back together. With an extraordinary view of heaven that surpasses anyone’s wildest notions of “afterlife,” Wright has been able to aptly sustain a career with one foot firmly planted in academia, with the other firmly planted where a popular audience can partake of his generous doses of kingdom theology.
This list is not complete. Others, such as Campolo, Manning, or C.S. Lewis have helped along the way. All have helped me along on my spiritual journey. Like the pilgrim in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, they have been part of God’s plan to unburden me from that which holds me back. And like Israel on her journey out of bondage in Egypt, their guidance has helped me from out of the entrapment of the Red Sea and confusion in the desert.