Written sometime in the mid-1990’s
An e-mail response to a friend telling of my journey to the REC
by Robert Himes
In August, 1973, God converted me through the ministry of a fairly liberal SBC church and called me to His ministry at the same time. He began to open my eyes to His Word, for I was a young pagan when He called me. I was new and fresh to His Word with no denominational indoctrination. I began to devour the Word.
Over the next few years, God brought certain men into my life to lead me where He wanted me. I married a faithful SBC woman, and we began our journey together. God sent Ted into our lives, and he led us into a fundamental, independent, premillennial, missionary Baptist church in the World Baptist Fellowship. In this church, even with a lot of legalism, we learned to truly appreciate the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God. They also persuaded me to continue my college studies at Arlington Baptist College completing a BA in Bible with a minor in Biblical Languages.
My study in the Greek New Testament, particularly an intensive study of 1 Timothy in preparation for my Ph.D. dissertation, was used by our Lord to lead me to the truth of a multiple-elder ruled church and a rejection of the legalistic dogma of the independent Baptist fellowship. I started listening to Stuart Briscoe on the radio and prayed to God that I would be able to expound Scripture as he was doing. I was exposed to historical, grammatical, isogogical exegesis at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary while I was attending there and began to approach Scripture in that way.
I can’t remember exactly when, but I was teaching an adult Sunday School class through the Book of Acts when I came to the passage that says that those who were ordained to eternal life believed. I was to teach on that passage the next week so I decided I had best find out something about predestination. My Bible College had “outlawed” any discussion about predestination or Calvinism because it was too controversial (can you believe it?) – I went to a local Christian book store, and God providentially led me to a Reformed clerk who recommended to me for study Loraine Boettner’s work, “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination,” and a book called “The Five Points of Calvinism” by Edwin Palmer. That week I became a full, five point Calvinist and began my walk away from the Baptist church into the Bible Church movement.
I joined with a Bible College friend of mine who started listening to John McArther about the same time I started listening to Stuart Briscoe and began co-pastoring a Bible church in Saginaw, Texas. Gary through this time completed a degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, and we preached and taught the Scriptures expositionally for several years. However, we were discontent with our worship and didn’t know why.
One thing you might not know about me is that I am a Police Officer for the City of Fort Worth. I have been since 1982. In 1986 I was involved in a gunfight where I had to kill a young man. I won’t go into it much, just let me say that as a result of that shooting and the years prior to it, witnessing much violence in many forms, I experienced what I would now call clinical depression. The Department psychologist, an ex-spook psyche (CIA), was a strict behavioral theorist and a non-believer. He was no help. The Departmental Chaplain wasn’t much help either. I struggled with this depression and PTSD for about a year until God led me one night to Deut. 32:39. When God opened my eyes to that passage, He lifted the responsibility for that man’s death off my shoulders and I, for the first time, understood Calvinism experimentally. What a profound difference that made in my life! Our Lord is full of grace!!
At that time, my wife and I felt God’s call to missionary work very strongly. We thought that such work could only be done through foreign missions, so we applied to, and were accepted by, Global Outreach Missions in Buffalo, NY, to go to Spain. Since GOM is a faith ministry, we began the task of deputation, raising money to go to Spain. Everywhere we went, people were receptive, but God didn’t let the funds develop. While we were with Global, we were exposed to the larger Church. What a mind opening experience that was!
Global was great! I highly recommend them as a missionary agency. We met people there from many denominations who are truly doing God’s work. It was through such exposure that I began to want to know what Covenantal Theology was all about. In Bible College and Seminary I had been only taught Dispensational Theology, and had even written a book about it. I had also been taught that anyone who believed in Covenantal Theology was a liberal and did not interpret Scripture literally. How ignorant I was!!!
One thing I had learned over the years was that if you want to know what a particular group believes, go to those who believe it to get a proper understanding. In other words, if you want to know Roman Catholic doctrine, don’t depend on a Baptist author to present an accurate picture of it, but go to a Roman Catholic author. So, I decided I would find someone in my area who believed in Covenant Theology and ask them to recommend readings. The Lord led me to Dale Smith, pastor of Colleyville Presbyterian Church. We hit it off immediately personally. His first recommendation was to read Ray Sutton’s book, “That You May Prosper.” Beginning there, and reading theology with Dale for the next year, praying together with much study, I embraced covenantal and Reformed theology and transferred my ordination to the PCA where I became a teaching elder functioning at Colleyville Church as a ruling elder.
I enjoyed the PCA and worshipped and ministered at Colleyville for several years, finally finding satisfaction in worship. Colleyville Church is liturgical in its worship. It was while there that I met such men as Gary North, James Jordan, and others from what is popularly called the Reconstructionist Movement. I devoured their literature, and finally, after several years, understood and believed in Post-millennialism and Theonomics.
I moved to Lynchburg, VA, for three years to attend Liberty University and complete a MA in Counseling. While there I looked for a Reformed Church where my family could worship. We tried the OPC church there and it was doctrinally sound, but was not suitable for us. We went to the local PCUSA church and it was a blessing. They were conservative, reformed, and Covenantal, but had women elders. Plus, as you know, they had been declared anathema by the PCA. The best fit we could find in that area was a REC Mission Parish. We were uncomfortable for a while with the Book of Common Prayer and the other “foreign” things in the worship, like robes and the common cup. But after about two months, we began to grow to love the liturgy. We found there everything we had been searching for: sound Reformed and covenantal doctrine, expositional preaching, liturgical worship, and a Biblical ecclesiology. We had finally come home.
Over about twenty-four years, God has led us step-by-step from legalistic Baptists to liturgical Episcopalians. We now are missionaries in Texas, where we grew up. Providence Church is a Mission Parish which we started on Easter Sunday, 1994. And God is blessing.
This might be more than you wanted to know, but I have been blessed just remembering it all. Thank you.
NOTE: I retired from the pastorate at Providence Reformed Episcopal Church, Weatherford, Texas, after 20 years of service, Easter Sunday, 2014.