Without revealing all of the intimate details of our courtship, just allow me say that I fell head over heels for my wife almost instantly. She’s Dutch, has tons of backbone, and knows her catechism. When she was able to tell me her “only comfort in life and in death,” that pretty much sealed the deal. I knew I had to get her off the market before somebody else did.
So we wound up dating for about a year before we got engaged, and then we got married six months after the engagement. During that 18 month period, I spent a good bit of time struggling with the whole concept of infant baptism, but it was good that I thrashed it out then so that my wife and I wouldn’t have any huge disagreements about it later down the line.
Particularly persuasive were two works: John Murray’s Christian Baptism, and The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism by Pierre Ch. Marcel. I fought for dear life to cling to my position on credo-baptism, but what objections Murray didn’t destroy completely, Marcel proceeded to smash to smithereens.
During the midst of all this, I was also applying to seminary. I originally applied and was accepted at Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis, Minn., but quickly came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t cut out for the cold in that part of the world. So I started looking for seminaries a lot closer to home, and found a lovely little Presbyterian school here in the Southeast that was strongly confessional and placed an great deal of emphasis on the original languages of Scripture. I was hooked.
My wife and I got married at the end of July, went on our honeymoon for a week, and the next week, started seminary.
It was once we started seminary that I realized just what an outsider I really was.
I wasn’t raised on the Westminster Standards; all of my classmates were apparently quoting question and answer 1 just seconds after they were born. When it came to knowing the ins and outs of Presbyterianism, I was way behind the curve. There were debates (Federal Vision, intinction, republication, two-kingdoms, etc.) that were happening that I knew nothing about. A goodly portion of my first year was spent trying to wrap my head around Cornelius Van Til, which was no easy task.
But I also flourished. I discovered my three greatest theological influences: James Henley Thornwell, John L. Girardeau, and Benjamin Morgan Palmer. It was by reading Thornwell, Girardeau, and Palmer that I discovered that I wasn’t just a Presbyterian, I was a Southern Presbyterian.
But there is something of a downside to discovering you’re a Southern Presbyterian.
It means you also discover that you currently have no home in Presbyterianism.