Posted by: Shawn Ragan | October 24, 2008

Understanding My Protestant Past

Throughout my journey into the fullness of the Faith, I have struggled along the way with how to understand over 30 years of Protestantism, 8 of which was in the pastorate.  If the Orthodox Church is the historic Apostolic Christian Church, which, through study and experience, I know that it is, then how do I relate to or understand my Christian journey thus far?

Over the last six months or so, I have come to realize that I, in my own mind, was limiting God – I was making Him much smaller than He really is.  While I know now that Orthodoxy is the fullness of the Faith, I also know that God is at work throughout the world – He truly is “everywhere and all present.”  Someone once said to Fr. Peter Gillquist, as I recall the story, that the Holy Spirit only works in the Orthodox Church, to which he replied: “Then what spirit led me here?”

Over these last few months, I have been able to see how much God was at work throughout my life, and how much I gained from each of my former Christian experiences.  As Jason mentions in the blog I beg you to read, ” I am truly grateful for the churches and movements I’ve participated in during my journey with Christ.”

Jason Zahariades and his family are catechumens in the Church Fr. Patrick pastors.  We have pointed back and forth to each others’ blogs in the past, but this is one where he took the words right out of my mouth – or maybe gave me the words that I have been looking for.  Except for the names and places, his sentiments are precisely what I have been trying to put into words, so please read his post:

“Thankful for the Whole Journey”

For those who have been following my family’s journey, this post clearly shares how I have come to understand my Protestant past.  I have said this about other things, and I say it again here, it is worth the read.

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Responses

  1. Ditto, that is an excellent post. Some of us legitimately ran away from some pretty goofy and even heretical stuff, but we weren’t running away from God when we left our former Churches.

  2. Dear brother in Christ, Shawn:
    God bless you in your journey. We do not know each other, but I too was a convert to the Orthodox Church and I very much related to your struggles you have written about.

    What you are writing about here, I think, is the difference between converting away from, and converting toward the Truth.

    I meet many people on both sides of the fence. Many people are angry about their past, or are upset about their previous Christian orientation. Many of them fall into the trap of trying to “read and reason” their way into the Church. The Truth is not just a theological concept or idea. Our Lord said, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Truth is a PERSON!

    The sum total of a person’s experience is what brings him/her to Orthodoxy. We begin moving toward the Church from our first breath, whether we are converts, or “cradle” Orthodox.

    People who are running from past experiences, past beliefs, often find that those things haunt them in some way, either agonizing over it or obsessing over it— we must be grateful for the whole journey, as you say, and leave our past to God. Making peace with where we have been is an important part of knowing where we are going.
    God bless you on your journey.

    In Christ,
    Suzanne


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