Mark Campbell's Story
I came to the Assembly through a youth pastor via a Bible study in the home of Tom Maddux that was led by G. Geftakys. This youth pastor saw that I had an intense desire for a "deep commitment" and so brought me to this study where the believers were "serious".
At that time I had the experience of salvation, and a great deal of enthusiasm, but desperately needed instruction. From my first involvement I had some serious doubts about some of the things that I was being taught and saw practiced, but I didn't pay attention to them, as it was explained to me that such thinking was "of the flesh". Though I continued to reject many of these doubts, they would not go away; this I believe was the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. However, I stayed with the group for many years, and even became a Leading Brother.
When I left, shortly after G. Geftakys's downfall, I was very confused, and began to study regarding my doubts. I read far and wide: I read Reformed theology and dispensational theology, conservative theology and liberal theology, traditional evangelical and Neo theology. Though I became much better informed on theology, I remained confused as to which "camp" to align myself with.
Through this period I decided to try to start from the beginning, as it were, with what I had no doubts about. This led me to consider my initial experience of salvation and the conviction that God had visited me. My experience was not just an emotional moment, but a true transformation of my awareness of God - "once I was blind and now I see". This same awareness caused me to understand that the Bible was God's word, though I didn't understand much of it.
From this point I simply considered what the Gospel message said. This - not the study of comparative theology, original languages, advanced arguments for the defense of the faith, etc. - was the focus that brought stability and confidence to my life. The simplicity that is in Christ is a fount of life to those who have been born again.
From the above starting point, the clearly declared Gospel message, we are anchored in the great sea of all that we may wonder about and have doubts regarding. His sheep hear His voice, and that voice was spoken the clearest and brightest in God the Son's incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and exaltation. Through the Gospel we attempt to unite our understanding of who God is and what our lives as Christians should be.
I have found that all theologians who understand the above paragraph - whether reformed, fundamentalist, conservative, neo, etc., do not view scripture as "our way is the only way." Each offer a distinctive way of describing the same Jesus and the same wonderful grace. There are some real differences in these "distinctives" but not in the central emphasis of the essentials of the Gospel and nature of God.
I still read theology almost daily. To believe in the simplicity we have in Christ is not to be opposed to thinking about difficult things, or to avoid opposing arguments. I like to try to stretch my thinking, but always within the bounds of what I know is the firm foundation that has been laid for our faith in Christ.
I hope that this is some help for those who are struggling with questions like, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Lordship salvation vs. dispensationalism, fundamentalism vs. Neo-ism, pre-trib. vs. post-trib., etc. There is something to be learned from all these different positions, but what we keep from each must agree with the simple Gospel of the Grace of God. This simplicity is not anti-intellectual or anti-scholar, as George taught, but is an acknowledgement of the spiritual basis for one's understanding of God and reality.
God Bless, Mark