Apology: Who I Am, What I’m Doing, and What I Should Change

Who am I? I’m Caleb, a silly, nerdy 20-year-old with an obsessive interest in theology and a (relatively) new family. I’m a student, a learner. I’m young and inexperienced, but nonetheless feel the constant need to try to wrap my head around things real adults have worked on for thousands of years. I have no qualifications unless Google proficiency and fascination count. In what should emphatically be taken in the least pretentious way possible, I am the creature Karl Barth called a theologian: someone whose encounter with Jesus and His Scriptures forces him into endless wonder, concern, commitment, and faith. I’m socially awkward and fail at developing the conversations and relationships which should characterize a Christian lighting up the dark world around him. I’m as fallible, both intellectually and morally, as they come, and well aware of it.

What am I doing? On this little blog, I spill my thoughts. I take the major ideas and debates running around in my head as I study and put them into concrete, written form to share with the world. Why do I share with the world? Different reasons, I guess. On one hand, I’m looking for dialogue. I want to share what I think and hear what people have to say in response. I want to know if you think I’m on the right track, or if you have a correction, question, or suggestion. Has anything I’ve had to say given anyone edification, clarity, or a challenge? I would like to find out. On the other hand, I’m also filled with “OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS SO AMAZING AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR IT” zeal with some of the ideas I stumble across. I find what look like treasures to me in my studies, and then want to share them for the benefit of others. And sometimes I just find myself moved or touched and want to throw whatever helped me out there in case it can help someone else. Finally, in all honesty sometimes I just feel cheated that no one ever taught me something before, and I want to put it out there because I wish someone had put it out there for me all through my life.

So why am I babbling about all of this? Because I want to clarify myself. It has come to my attention at various times that I concern people about this or that, and that sometimes I confuse or flat out subvert some of my friends and family, by Christ and by nature. Yet I’m not a teacher, as if that weren’t obvious. But I want to make it clear that I don’t try to or intend to be. I might write like one sometimes, but that’s not conscious or intentional. It’s just the style I’ve wound up with. I don’t think I’ve got all the answers, or even most of them, and even many things I say that I say with a lot of confidence or certainty should really come with labels like experimentalprovisional, or I just thought of this yesterday and may change my mind by tomorrow. Some of my posts really ought to come with expiration dates. 

In fact, the only thing I hold as axiomatic, the only belief which I cannot and will not ever question, is my belief that I am utterly fallible. I always believe that I could be wrong, and probably am in more than a few places. Because I view myself as radically prone to error, I call every one of my beliefs into question at some point or another. This, of course, includes all of my Christian beliefs, and praise be to God that Jesus has held up with remarkable (divine!) strength in all of my questioning. But I know most of you share a great deal of my beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. So these are also your beliefs that I call into question. But I don’t do this because of anything I see weak or wrong in the beliefs themselves, but because of what I see weak in myself, who believes them. I’m constantly testing and refining, because I know I can be wrong on absolutely anything. This doesn’t mean I think I am, and in fact I still hold to most things I’ve believed and been taught since childhood, although many of them have received new twists or emphases.

This brings me to another point where I confuse people. I spend a lot of time defending people I disagree with. Off the top of my head Catholics make a good (and controversial in my experience) example. Some people also seem to think pro-gay believers are in this group, though I have not given any defenses on here for them at all. But I do defend my opponents, despite strongly disagreeing with them. And I do this for a reason. I believe as a Christian I am called to truth and love, which in debate means an emphasis on clarity and charity. I must always make sure to represent people I disagree with accurately, and weed out misconceptions, straw men, and bad arguments against them before I even start to debate with them. A commitment to clarity and charity means I am not allowed to simply throw popular talking points at my opponents; I have to take them seriously on their own terms, give them a fair hearing, and only then make any serious work towards dismantling their position, though of course the whole time I am allowed to and should be clear that I disagree with them, sometimes strongly. (And honestly, once the caricatures are out of the way I am highly critical of both Catholics and progressive pro-gay believers, and even many people I like who agree with me on most things!) Yet I can’t spend all of my time on the defense of my opponents, no matter how much junk really needs to be cleared up. I can easily give off the impression that I don’t think our differences matter, or that we’re all perfectly okay as we are. That’s certainly not the right message.

But this all brings me around to the first word of my title: apology. I haven’t always been clear who and what I am disagreeing or agreeing with. I have confused people, and often haven’t given enough attention to who my audience is, and whether any given post will truly edify you or simply baffle you. Sometimes I’ve jumped the gun and posted something controversial before giving it serious thought. And honestly there have been a couple times I’ve just tried to get a reaction out of people. For all of this and more I am truly sorry, and ask that I can be forgiven on the basis of Jesus Christ, our common Savior, and His Spirit whom we all share. I have a change of direction in mind for this blog, one which I hope will contribute to edification, and reduce unnecessary confusion or controversy. Pray that God will keep me, and my blog, useful for the work of His kingdom.

In Christ’s love,

Caleb

P.S. I honestly encourage any of you who ever have a question, concern, or problem with what I’ve written to mention it to me. I’ll try to be humble and understanding, though I admit I won’t always succeed. But I have thick skin and want to learn, so by comment, email, or Facebook feel free to let me know anything you need to say.

Apology: Who I Am, What I’m Doing, and What I Should Change

So what do you think?