Humility in God's Generational Faithfulness
I am a religious convert. Not a convert to Christianity — for I was born (though not baptized) into that — but a convert to Presbyterianism. Perhaps then "denominational convert" is a better term. My parents have been through a couple baptist/non-denominational varieties. They have settled somewhere in the vicinity of Reformed Baptists. But it was only after I had fully left the house that I got serious about my own theology.
I imagine that this backdrop story is familiar to many. As I have commented elsewhere, this story seems to be common to many my age. We came up in a new theological sincerity and seriousness when our theology and faith became personalized. Instead of adopting an existential relation with our faith, my generation has revealed an intellectual hunger that the internet was primed to feed. And in our conversions underneath the weight of that serious intellectualism, many developed overly zealous cage states (e.g. YYR) or superiority complexes (e.g. the obnoxiously presuppositional). It's not the doctrine that is poor, just the attitudes. This has been true of me and my wife (also the daughter of a SBC pastor) on a number of occasions.
With this intellectual mindset, the same errors have come that accompany progressive liberalism — we often look down on where we came from or doctrines we now reject. I've seen this among Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans. It's not a denominational issue. It's a heart issue. And we are inclined to do so quite unfairly and frequently. Those who confess holding Covenantal leanings though should especially see the failure in this prideful thinking. For it is in God's gracious generational blessings that we have even arrived where we are at.
It may be true that our faith is purer and our convictions less shackled than the generation before us. No matter our family lineage, for many of us, we remain ever just the next generation of God's generational covenant of promise,
My people, hear my instruction;
listen to what I say.
I will declare wise sayings;
I will speak mysteries from the past—
things we have heard and known
and that our fathers have passed down to us.
We must not hide them from their children,
but must tell a future generation
the praises of the Lord,
His might, and the wonderful works
He has performed. - Psalm 78:1-4
In developing a more intellectual faith, denominational converts can forget or (simply) deny that they rest in the blessings of God's generational faithfulness. The recent surge in conservative Reformed, Lutheran, and even (Evangelical) Catholic converts is not a marker against our parents and parent churches. It is a sign of God's faithfulness to His people that His word continues to spark growth and blessing.
The pride that stems from a denominational conversion is sneaky. It sneaks its way into "funny" memes and jokes. It also sneaks its way into "branding" of one's superior label. We should be mindful that the God who rules and reigns did not change in the midst of our conversion. He was the patient and gracious God who deals with all of us in our intellectual infirmities. And He is gracious to do so across many generations.