The years between 1979 and 1985 kept me busy in a variety of ministries and activities with Church Of The Open Door. To be honest, the thought of trying to explain everything about those years and their various influences on my theology overwhelms me. So forgive me in advance for my failure to write in many specifics today. I want to paint with a broad brush, just highlighting a few points to illustrate the ways the church affected my walk with the Lord.
First of all, Open Door preached (and still preaches) a basic Gospel of Christ’s death for sin and His resurrection, teaching the importance of repentance and faith. They believe that the Bible is God’s Word, and they encourage personal and corporate Bible reading. I owe my discipline of daily time in the Word to that church, so I must express my gratitude to them for that foundational habit.
I also appreciate the leaders for letting me be involved in so many aspects of church life despite my disability. In 1979 they made me the Editor-In-Chief of Koinonia, their monthly publication. Although Koinonia claimed most of my attention, I also taught children’s Sunday School, wrote and directed the annual children’s Christmas plays, attended Tuesday night Bible Studies and went to various prayer meetings. I also enjoyed the monthly book club.
During those years, the church moved more towards Charismatic practices. It had always been somewhat Charismatic, of course, but by 1980 it firmly established itself in that direction. To my relief, they minimized the gift of physical healing, instead capitalizing on prophecy, words of knowledge and personal revelations through “listening prayer.”
Most of the time, I maintained a sense of caution about these practices. Yet leaders in the church believed Scripture substantiated their validity beyond the Apostolic era. I had been “praying in tongues” since 1973, so I slowly let go of my misgivings by interpreting Scripture through the filter of my experience and the experiences of my friends.
Around 1981, a girlfriend who knew about my heartbreak over Trevor invited me to a Friday night prayer meeting, hosted by Love In Action, an ex-gay ministry closely affiliated with Church of the Open Door. As my social life became more and more focused on the staff and residential clients of that ministry, their emphasis on Charismatic practices further eroded my wariness. I got to the point that I’d feel bitterly disappointed when a church service or prayer meeting passed by without a prophecy.
In spite of all that, I believed that I judged all things through God’s Word. Sadly, I hadn’t yet learned to read the Bible in context, so the ideas and practices floating around the church and Love In Action kept me vacillating between the Bible and Charismatic experience.
Although I was swayed by Charismatic influences, the Lord always kept me in His Word enough that I managed to stay just a little skeptical. He didn’t keep me from deception, but He did keep me from completely giving myself over to it. As I’ll explain in my next autobiographical post, the Holy Spirit taught me to begin questioning things that didn’t line up with God’s Word.