We were sitting at a long table at a brew pub, playing pub trivia. The fellow beside me jovial, bow-tied, changing his beer order each time the waitress came by to check on us. The fellow beside him baby-faced, quick with high fives, leaning across bow-tie-guy to talk to me. Turns out they grew up together, both sons of pentacostal preachers. "He's my best friend," they each told me. One grew up to be a lawyer, and one grew up to be a preacher.
I asked the preacher to tell me about his church. When I hear pentacostal I think preaching in tongues -- is that an accurate association? He danced around it. We call it being moved by the spirit, but it doesn't happen in our church so much as in other churches. We're a church for seekers, we get a lot of people who were raised catholic or from other denominations. They're a little bit more staid. The lawyer listened and made faces, pursing his lips here and there, raising his eyebrows, nodding, tilting his head as the preacher explained his faith to me. I asked the lawyer if he believes anymore. "I don't know," he said. "I don't think so. I'm not sure." His friend, the preacher, looked on. Do you believe in the divinity of Christ? I asked. "Man, you go right to the quick, don't you?" He said, "I'm not sure. I'm really not sure. I don't think I do." The preacher shook his head, listening in. "I believe in loving your neighbor as yourself. If there's any god, that's the way I would believe. I try to do that." I asked the preacher, "Is that enough? Is he a Christian, if he emulates Christ in the way he lives but he does not believe?" Absolutely not, the preacher said.
I sat back and listened to the two of them pushing and pulling. Maybe it was just my ears, but their southern accents seemed to deepen when they were quoting scripture at one another, a thickened tapestry of sounds that occasionally left me completely behind. The fellows across the table, who had been talking about mountain biking, looked up and raised their eyebrows at the two preachers' sons, debating what it means to be saved.