Searching for God When You Have Lost Your Dogma

North Americans are fanatically searching for “spiritual experiences.”  People are looking for “god” outside the traditional avenues of Western Christianity (i.e., the Church, institutions, faith communities, etc).  There is a frenzy of people who want to be “spiritual but not religious,” but what does that really mean?  What is spirituality apart from a religious experience with the Other?  Who is this Other drawing people to search for things beyond scientific rationalism?  Are these manifestations of our subconscious anxieties?  Is god an amalgamation of our societal hopes, ideas and dreams?  Or is God the One who has revealed the Divine Self in a particular place, time, and people? 

I am overjoyed with the contemporary search for “spirituality!” There is great hope and potential for another Great Spiritual Awakening in America.   However, without a firm biblical understanding of the Trinity, spiritual practices can devolve into corrupted practices, such as paganism, emotionalism, or Christological Unitarianism [Freeman, Curtis W. “God in Three Persons: Baptist Unitarianism and the Trinity” in Perspectives in Religious Studies 33, no. 3 (Fall 2006), 324].   Searching for God without dogma is like a restless sailor setting sail for the Western waters without a compass, a map of the port of departure, a telescope to survey the landscape of his coastal homeland, or books that contain the wisdom of past sages.  Where will he finally end up and how can he return home to tell others of his experiences?  Can we journey alone like Amelia Earhart into the spiritual realm?  Or will we travel with other pilgrims like St. Patrick’s sojourn into the interior of Ireland?  If we do not know Who we are looking for, how will we know when we have been discovered by the Divine? 

This blog is part of my research project at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Iowa, for the Doctor of Ministry degree in Missional Spirituality.  This three-year residency and research program has focused on the spiritual practices or “piety” as renewal for personal and congregational ministry.  I have read and learned from the great Christian Reformers on practices of prayer, devotional writing, ethics, and piety; along with contemporary researchers, thinkers, and theologians within and outside my religious tradition.  I am unashamed to confess that I am an American Baptist clergyman who was not raised in the Christian Faith but converted to God in Christ at a younger age thanks to the guidance of the faithful Jesus followers at Haven Chapel United Methodist Church, Kearney, Nebraska.  Posts will consist of devotions, ideas, questions, and opportunities to share religious testimonials.    I invite you to join the journey as we Search for God, together.

About Dr. Ivan E. Greuter

A native of Nebraska, Ivan accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and experienced a call to the ministry at a young age. He graduated from Kearney Senior High before attending Ottawa University (Kansas) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He attended Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL to earn a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care and Counseling (1999) and a Master of Arts in Philosophical Theology (2002). In 2014, Ivan earned a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Spirituality from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. His dissertation: “Searching For God When You Have Lost Your Dogma: The Promise of New Life for an American Baptist Congregation by Increasing Passionate Spirituality through Devotional Consideration of the Doctrine of the Trinity and Natural Church Development.” He served as the senior minister at First Baptist Church of Wood River, Illinois (1999-2006), and Central Baptist Church of Quincy, Illinois (2006-2016) prior to joining the staff at West Side Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Ivan enjoys French cooking, fly fishing, gardening, and playing games with family and friends. Ivan and his wife, Rexanne, live in Topeka with their three children – two daughters and a son.
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1 Response to Searching for God When You Have Lost Your Dogma

  1. CommonSenseGuy says:

    It’s not just “young” people who are looking for something. Many Baby Boomers (who are far from young) left the churches of their youth long ago, and now are casting about looking for “something”… when it’s been there all along, right where they left it.

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