04 June 2012


I do not think that we had thought, really, about having children.  I suppose we assumed it would happen - happen! - one day but, showing how modern we were, it would be 'when we were ready.'

Nature, however, has a way of taking its course.  Perhaps it was sometime in November, 1974, when we discovered that Susan was pregnant.

I remember very little about our experience - and particularly about Susan's experience - during those first six months of her pregnancy.  I just talked with Susan, because, I said, I assumed my own lack of recollection was simply typical male self-centredness - and that she would be able to give me a detailed rundown of what it was like for her - morning sickness?  swelling of ankles?

She says she remembers little about it herself.

She does recall that she spoke to her boss at World Vision about it - and that he was very positive.  This encouraged her greatly.

Sue's pregnancy pushed forward the religious question: were we Baptists - and thus did not believe in infant baptism - or were we Reformed - and did?

The ferment that all of this produced is something I recall without much emotion - by great contrast with my initial conversion to Christ and my becoming a Catholic.  Yet I know that at the time I was in considerable distress over the matter.

By now - the end of 1974 - I had been a Christian for five years.  I have a considerable tendency - as those who know me can testify - to leap into things very rapidly - at times too rapidly.  So by this time I had digested a great many books about Christianity - including having read the Bible several times, and by now quite comfortable with the Greek New Testament.  I had started where I was - in a Baptist church.  Thus I read Baptists and those sympathetic with them, the dispensationalists in particular.  There was a system implicit - and often explicit - with these writers.  I had at one point in this been sure that I now understood all the outline of Christianity.

But my reading did not stop with them.  My reading branched out.  It branched out, as I have said, to Reformed writers - to writers of what is sometimes called the magisterial Reformed churches (basically Lutheran and paedo-baptist churches of the Calvinist flavour).  And I was seeing that the Reformed viewpoint did, indeed, embrace all that I was certain was good and true in the Baptist - but that it was fuller.  In particular, the dispensationalist view specifically made much of the Gospels and much of the Old Testament to be irrelevant - or only tangentially relevant - to our lives in what was called the Church Age.  I think, also, there was an attraction in the Reformed spiritual genealogy, as it were, being longer than that of the Baptists - and particularly of the dispensationalists, which stems from the early Nineteenth Century.

The Reformed writers believed in baptising infants.  Here was an example of viewing the New Testament and the Church not as radical changes from the Old, but as its completion.  They pointed out that male infants were marked with the sign of the Covenant in the Old Testament - on the eighth day of life.  They reminded me that St Paul calls the Church the 'Israel of God' (Galatians 6:16).

And Sue and I had a child coming.  A decision would be forced on us, positively or negatively.

Making the change to being Reformed was painful.  We felt disloyal to our friends at Hillsborough Baptist.  Especially upset was my dear friend Ross Jackson (now Reformed himself, however!), who was very unhappy with our changing views.

Change we did, however.  At some point - perhaps January or February of 1975 - we asked to be made members of Avondale Reformed Church.  Seeing the photo on that page is nostalgic for me.  The members of that church were very close and dear to us.  It was our church home not only in 1975, but officially - and in a very practical way, as will appear - during our eight years in Yap, 1976-84.  Our membership in a church of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand governed our lives from that time, the beginning of 1975, until the time, both painful and yet intensely joyful, at the beginning of 1995, when we left the Reformed Churches of New Zealand for the Church in which subsists the fulness of Christ: the Catholic Church.

No comments: