My Christian Worldview Pilgrimage

Gideon Strauss

 

When I was twelve, I decided to become as much of a Buddhist as possible under the circumstances. This included being a vegetarian (I have a very tolerant mother, and I ate a lot of Toppers), a pacifist, and a political anarchist, meditating, worrying about the whales, and planning to live in a commune.

 

At fifteen I met and fell in love with Angela. We played in the same string orchestra: she was the leader of the first violins and I was the seventh viola. She had been a Christian since twelve, so on an orchestra tour to the Cape she bought me a third-hand paperback copy of the Good News Bible. I read it and converted.

The hitch was, I wanted to retain my Buddhist trappings. My childhood left me with the impression that in order to be a Christian you had to be a braaivleis-andóbiltong guzzling, racist-militarist-individualist who would gladly nuke every whale on the planet. (Confession Time: I, too, was a teenage dualist). The tool I found for this purpose was Anabaptist Christianity in the mold of John Howard Yoder, Ron Sider, and the Sojourners community. So, I became a born again vegetarian, pacifist, anarchist, whale-hugging commune-ist. (This included three-and-a-half years of community service as a religious objector to military service).

 

This obviously entailed a deeply dualistic approach to Christianity - but one to which both Anqela and I were deeply committed. Two factors slowly but surely nudged us towards a more integrally Christian/reformational understanding of reality:

(1)       the increasing incongruity between our intention to be politically active, and

(2)       our acquaintance with reformational philosophy at varsity (particularly as mediated by Prof. Kobus Smit, my scholarly mentor).

 

Angela in particular demanded that our notions about reality should actually match both the biblical and the creational data. These influences converged when we realized that a reformational understanding of reality was in fact more congruent than our previous anabaptist dualism. In a sense, we experienced a slow renewing/conversion of the mind.

 

In subsequent years, we have continued to struggle with the implications of the radical, central and total Lordship of Christ in our lives, attempting to live ever more responsibly in the light of the Word. This journey has turned out to be far from easy, and is far from ended: we are ever being reformed in new ways. But there is joy in the journey, as we discover ourselves ever more liberated for grateful service.

 

Many to Many Issue 3 February 1993

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