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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

The Story of My Faith

I was born in 1994 to Scott and Wanda Carr in Southern New Jersey. Both of my parents were public school teachers, though have since retired. My dad was the son of a Baptist pastor and was himself serving as minister of music at Bethany Presbyterian Church. I was baptized as a newborn child and raised in the church. When I was four years old, our family gained my twin sisters, Alisha and Melody.

Faith has always been a high priority in my family. We have always been involved in the church and I have been exposed to a variety of expressions of faith. When I was born, my family attended a PCUSA church. During my elementary school years, we attended an Assemblies of God church where my father served as worship leader. In middle school, we joined a nondenominational church plant. Not only was church an essential part of my upbringing, but so were devotions. My family has always had a time of Bible reading and prayer each night and personal devotions were the normal expectation from the time I learned how to read. In addition, my sisters and I attended Christian school from Kindergarten until we graduated high school.

While I am grateful for my strong Christian upbringing, I also have found it difficult to make sense of my own faith in the context of the larger Christian community. As I entered high school in 2008, I changed schools (my previous school did not extend beyond eighth grade) and developed a new set of friends. I had a new resolve to take ownership of my faith as I began, but I also learned the diversity of the Christian church I had grown up in and found myself growing cynical about the state of the church. I had experienced mainstream Protestantism, Pentecostalism, and a mix of charismaticism and Methodism in a non-denominational church. My family’s devotional materials were broadly evangelical and my Christian school experience was largely fundamentalist Baptist. It was in high school I became aware of these different strains of Christianity and realized they all wanted me to chose a side. Each side decried the other as something sub-Christian, if it was Christian at all, and where I chose to fall on any given theological subject could be a matter of life or death for my soul, or so I was led to understand. As someone who had always loved to read, I began to wander in and out of many books. I wandered through the pop-evangelicalism of Max Lucado, the questioning yet optimistic Donald Miller, beauty of St. Augustine, and the rigid Reformed orthodoxy of John Calvin himself. I had also witnessed the scandals that ended various Charismatic revivals my home church had endorsed, leading me to doubt the spiritual leaders that had served as mentors to me. I settled in the Reformed tradition and with my parents blessing, left our family church to join the local PCA congregation. For a moment, I thought I had found a home, but I soon learned my high school wanderings through the church would not allow me to settle so easily.

During my high school wanderings, I had come to identify with the music of Switchfoot, a band prone to ask many questions and wrestle through the complexity of faith and life through their songs. As a young pianist and guitarist, I first delighted in their music, but I quickly learned their lyrics spoke to where I often found myself with my own faith. As I prepared to enter college, I was beginning to wonder if “picking a side” was an excuse to stop asking the difficult questions of life. I found my only solace from these doubts in songwriting and so decided to enter college to study music. I enrolled in Eastern University for the excellence of their music program and their emphasis on social justice, something I thought to be important, but was unsure how to make sense of with the conservative Reformed viewpoint I was trying to make myself at home in.

At Eastern, I encountered even more pluralism within the Church. I encountered “those darned liberals who will try to lead you astray” and the liturgies of Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy. What was interesting about Eastern was that no one expected its students to “pick a side” amidst this pluralism, and, in fact, “picking a side” was frowned upon, perhaps an opposite extreme of what I had encountered in my earlier years. What was encouraged was discussion, careful listening to other viewpoints, and coming to respect even those you disagreed with. While a Calvinist and an Open Theist may vehemently disagree, we both lived in the same space and had to learn to love one another beyond the theological debate. I find it interesting that I began to encounter this kind of harmony within the church at the same time I was learning how to compose music in the classical style with its rich harmonies and beauty.

During my years at Eastern, I began to read the Early Church Fathers as part of my devotions. In them, I found a world that confronted nearly every side of every debate I had encountered during my life. They contained a theological richness and complexity that no modern sect, even those that claimed to be their descendants, possesses. Instead, I found myself face to face with the Creator God who Himself became a creature to unite us to himself. It seemed I had found a home for my wanderings.

At the time I was studying the patristics, I was a leader in the on campus Anglican Fellowship and a member of the worship committee and high school Sunday School teacher at my home church. I was growing excited about my faith for the first time and enjoying the ministry experiences I was having. During my college years, I felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Calvin Seminary upon graduating. In conjunction with my seminary education, I apprentice at Liberti Church Center City and Main Line (RCA) in Philadelphia in the mercy ministries department. Finally, I have found a place that makes sense of my Reformed beliefs, patristic understanding of creation and the centrality of the Incarnation, and a concern for social justice. My hope during seminary is to grow more rooted in these areas and through prayer, further study, and the church develop this faith that for the first time feels truly rooted so that I might be able to aid others in their own wanderings.

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