I grew up in a small town extended family in which virtually everyone was a believer and in which my maternal grandfather was the lively, hilarious spiritual patriarch of the family. He was also a leading deacon in our church. I now understand this experience was a rare gift. Both of my parents are yet living and both are dedicated Christian people and have been since before I was born. Mom is a retired piano and organ teacher who has participated in church music since her teens, and Dad has been a member of my home church deacon board for over forty years. So it’s not a stretch to say my sister and I come from a “Christian home” in the best sense of that term. I made a personal profession of faith in Christ at six years of age and was baptized later.
In my family I learned and I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word and our guide for faith and practice. As a young person I attended Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, Church camp, Teens for Christ, and you name it, I was there. I did everything a kid from a Christian home and a fundamentalist church was supposed to do. Then I attended a Christian college.
It was also in Christian college that I found and pursued what became a wonderfully liberating understanding of the Christian faith, what we at that time called “a Christian theistic world-life view.” My growing understanding of a biblically based Christian philosophy of life gradually allowed me to set aside certain fears, undeveloped views, or limited understandings rooted in my good but sometimes legalistic church experience in favor of a still thoroughly biblical but culture-engaging, forward thinking perspective of life. Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer began writing his influential books just before and while I was in college, which he continued until his passing during our young married years. His books helped me look more positively and confidently upon the world, life, and learning, knowing the Christian faith offered “true truth,” as he called it, and that one need not fear learning something that would someday undermine one’s faith. My Christian college years also provided me with an excellent writing and critical thinking-based undergraduate education, with an attraction to the teaching profession and a sense of calling into Christian higher education, and with a friend who would become my wife of now 33 years.