A Faith Journey: No Boundaries, No Conclusions
by Robert L. Maddox, Jr.
This is a memoir. Elements of the journey are informed and framed by developing faith/theology just as life experiences frame faith and theology. Years ago a friend/minister/colleague asked me: “What keeps you going, exploring, reaching out?” Reflecting, I decided my process answer this way: an existential confidence and a restless ambiguity. Just as the physical universe has no known boundaries, neither does my faith journey. Risky? Yes but it fits me.
I have been blessed with (1) a basic sense of call to Christian ministry. That (2) sense of call has known no boundaries–sailing on the sea of faith. I am (3) bold enough and grounded enough to believe my faith story can be both illuminating and liberating to folks who are willing to take some deep breaths, leaps along the way. For many years in college, seminary and pastorates I sensed that I was on the edge. I just did not understand the edge of what? I knew there was much in “here” and out “there” I did not know. I just did not know what I did not know nor did my Baptist education provide satisfactory tools for finding out. For many of the past fifty or so years I have been trying to fill in some of the blanks only to find more challenging, exciting, demanding blanks to fill in. In 1992 I found the Jesus I had been looking for when I read Borg’s “Meeting Jesus Again For the first Time.” An epiphany. A burning bush.
• Experiences as a young pastor in the storm of the civil rights movement,
• Undergraduate university work, a Baptist seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University,
• Two years in the Carter White House, all in all happy, productive pastorates and beyond flow in and out of my faith journey. No need to tell those stories again. Filter through them. I have been on and remain on an incredible faith/life journey.
• I invite folks with a similar itch to scratch along with me for a hundred or so pages.
I affirm that I am a praying
• God person,
• a Jesus person,
• a Bible person,
• a church person.
People of forming faith who are willing to push the outer edges of their own faith–not mine, but theirs–could have a romp taking this trip with me. They do not have to wind up where I am. But they surely would profit from taking a similar faith journey. I hope my experiences can give them the curiosity and security to push their own outer limits. I hope they can come upon the generous, limitless God who lets us run freely, who never grows weary of our push and who we can be sure we can never outrun, outhink or outlove.
About the Author
Born in Atlanta, 1937, Robert L. Maddox, Jr. is eldest of four sons born to Robert and Virginia Maddox of Atlanta. He is a graduate of Clarkston High School, Clarkston, GA, Baylor University, Waco; Southwestern Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Doctor of Sacred Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta. He was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1963, and became a United Church of Christ minister in 2006. In addition to church staff positions, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Vienna, GA; First Baptist Church, Calhoun, GA; Mayfield Road Baptist Church, Arlington, TX; Briggs Memorial Baptist Church, Bethesda, MD; and Minister of Discipleship and Interim Senior Pastor, Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, Bethesda.
Currently, he is the Executive Director, Briggs Center for Faith and Action, Bethesda, an organization founded by Robert Maddox that grew out of the former Briggs Church. He is adjunct professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, for student pastors.
Maddox was a speechwriter and religious liaison with President Jimmy Carter at the White House, and has an ongoing relationship with President and Mrs. Carter.
He served as Assistant to the president, Pitt Community College, Greenville, SC; Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.; and Editor, Capital Baptist, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, Washington, DC.
He is author of Preacher at the White House; Acts, Layman’s Bible Book Commentary; Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom; Prostate Cancer: What I Found Out & What You Should Know. In addition he wrote eight Bible studies for the Southern Baptist Sunday School, numerous articles, and editorials.
Maddox was Chairman of the board, Interfaith Conference, Metropolitan Washington, DC.
He has been married to Linda Cook of Thomaston, GA, since 1959. Together, they have three children and five grandchildren.