What struck me as I re-read my own story was the people along the way who have made such a difference in my life. They are the heroes of my story. They stood by me. They listened. They gave me counsel. They didn't always agree with me, but they let me be myself.
I thought today I would pay tribute to some of them. Here's to the heroes of my story.
More than a professor, Ted was my friend through my formative college years. He was one of the first people to encourage me to be myself while simultaneously encouraging me to be better than I was. The amazing thing about Ted is that I know that there are - literally - thousands of other guys out there who feel exactly the same way about him as I do.
Dr. Rembert Byrd Carter
For thirty years worth of students who went through Baptist Bible College, Dr. Carter served as our intellectual and theological authority. He taught us as much as he scared us. My relationship with Dr. Carter was complicated. We didn't always see eye-to-eye, and I think I disappointed him in a lot of ways. But he loved me and listened to me and encouraged me. I still miss him.
I never had the chance to meet Stan Grenz. I know him only through his books. He has so influenced how I think that I named this blog after him. Those who are familiar with Grenz will recognize his influence throughout my book. Grenz was one of the first writers I encountered who took postmodernism seriously and sought to develop a faith expression of Christian theology in a world that had changed. He changed my life.
When I started to admit that I was undergoing a fundamorphosis, Aaron and Bryan were the ones to whom I turned. Aaron had been my best friend since college and Bryan had quickly become a close friend when we all pastored churches in Michigan. When I expressed to them my doubts and my dreams, they didn't laugh at me or dismiss me out of hand. They encouraged, supported, questioned, and dreamed too. I don't tell them enough how much they have meant to me. I would not be where I am or who I am without these two friends.
Many years ago now, the doubts I had about fundamentalism sent me into a deep spiritual depression. My path to recovery involved reading A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. I have written about it before, but suffice it to say, Brian saved my faith.
When I was a teenager, I was hyper-sensitive to the hypocrisy I observed all around me in my church and Christian school. My consistent reaction to the Christian leaders in my life was, If that's what Christians are like, I don't want anything to do with them. Until I met Russ Warner, Boss. He modelled for me a kind of faith expressed in love that was magnetic. He made me think, If that's what Christians are like, I want in. He taught me how to follow Jesus, and I'll be always grateful for it.
There is not enough paper in the world for me to write about all that Vanessa has meant to me during my fundamorphosis. She has walked with me every step of the way. She has given me the space to struggle and doubt. She has given voice to my fears. She has been willing to make enormous sacrifices for my dreams. She is the best companion and friend I could imagine having for this journey.
How about you - who are the heroes of your story?