I am attending my first Society for Pentecostal Studies meeting, mainly because it is on the campus where I teach. The event has been a good one for me. The sessions have been a learning experience. I am keeping track of big words I need to look up later. 🙂
A plenary session I attended has challenged my thinking in many ways. The presenter was a Native American Pentecostal who talked about the holistic approach of the Native American mentality and how that relates so wonderfully to a full message of the gospel in Scripture. There was a lot I need to digest later through reading the paper.
One area that sparked my interest was how Native Americans introduce themselves. He said they have to review their history. History is vital to who they are as a people. To know him you have to know his history, his ancestors, his people.
I have a deep love for history and if there is anything that bothers me it is our complete disinterest in the subject. So, he had my interest. Then, I was suddenly lost. I do not really know much of my family’s history. It’s not from a lack of trying on our part. But when we’ve had some who have immigrated to the U.S., or were adopted, and didn’t keep good records, history only goes so far.
So, how do I introduce myself? I am challenged by the thought. As a Westerner, it is typical to introduce myself and say, “I am… ” But that is not completely accurate. I have a history. Something has brought me to this point. People. Circumstances. Events. God’s story.
Where I am today is a result of an ongoing story. I think of that even in terms of the Church. When I understand Orthodox belief, they have a sense of history. What they believe theologically can be traced back to the apostles. There is a known line of thought that doesn’t break through the centuries. History.
What informs me as a Christian is historical. A great cloud of witnesses that helps inform my faith. They feed my faith. In one session yesterday there was an exaltation of John Wesley and a bashing of Martin Luther. Well, both of those great leaders inform my faith. They are part of my story. I am hesitant to take swings at certain figures in history, even when I know some of their grievous mistakes (and Luther certainly had a few).
I stand in this stream of life because of great men and women who have gone before. It is a great heritage. I am thankful. It creates who I am.