As I mentioned in my “Why This Blog?” post, I am a classic dispensationalist. However, since dispensationalists don’t have a creed or a confession of faith there can be a lot of variation in the doctrines taught, terminology, etc. This post is my attempt to quickly fill readers in on my “spiritual roots.”
Starting when I was seven years old my parents began listening to bible study tapes produced by Berachah Church in Houston, Texas. The pastor of Berachah was R.B. Thieme, Jr. (those of us who were part of his ministry just called him Colonel Thieme or “the Colonel”) who I have to say has had more of an impact on my spiritual formation and beliefs than anyone else.
As a little background, my parents had a very difficult time finding a church which they could call their own. I was baptized as a Lutheran when I was a baby and then again when I was about ten as a Southern Baptist. The list of issues and problems with the different churches would probably bore you so I won’t go into details. It is fair to say that when the pastor of the Baptist Church we were attending introduced my parents to Col. Thieme’s teaching it struck a chord with them. Over the next ten years (until I left for college) my parents, sister, and I listened to a bible study every single day (as in 365 days a year). The studies generally ran about an hour long so you can see that this was a true commitment on my family’s part.
Colonel Thieme always emphasized daily intake of bible doctrine so we listened every day. We were limited as to the number of tapes (reel-to-reel in those days) that we could get in a month but we could never get thirty new lessons a month. Whenever we would run out of new lessons we would begin re-listening until the new order arrived. I have estimated that I have probably listened to between 3,000 and 3,500 hours of unique (not counting lessons listened to twice) bible studies of the Colonel’s. My family and I are members of a local church (whose identity I won’t disclose) where I get a weekly sermon that lasts about 15 minutes. At this rate I will have listened to as much of my church’s teaching as Colonel Thieme’s sometime in the 24th century.
I still think in terms of Colonel Thieme’s unique vocabulary. This has often made it very difficult for me to communicate with other Christians. If you would like to see what I am talking about, check out the definitions of terms at Robert McLaughlin’s web site (he was one of the Colonel’s students) and you will see what I mean.
When I finally got established in a career I continued to listen sporadically to the Colonel’s teaching. However, as time went on he seemed to include more and more psychology in his teaching and it bothered me. I didn’t want to be without bible teaching but I didn’t have a lot of options so I did what most people do and let it go (I stopped listening and searching) for a while.
When I met my future wife we began looking for a church where we could join as a couple. My wife was raised Roman Catholic but she was at a point in her life where she was willing to leave the Catholic Church. Of course we had a tough time finding anything (mostly my fault) and we still had not settled on a church when we married (in a Methodist Church).
Well, over the last fifteen years a lot has changed. We have joined a local church (not Catholic and not dispensational) that teaches a lot of truth. I however, due to the wonders of the internet, have been able to find some great dispensational teaching that I listen to on my little mp3 player while commuting to work. I currently alternate listening to Bruce Bumgardner’s series on the Life of Christ and Jeremy Thomas’ series on the Book of Acts. To top it all off I often listen to Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s Life of Messiah From a Jewish Perspective on weekends. I am back to hearing the word on an almost daily basis and loving it.