Welcome to Meet Me at the Oak. I’m Matlock Bobechko, and this is my online journal for no fine print, freethinking Christians. While I write a lot on theology, apologetics, and philosophy, and dabble a bit in film and art, I largely focus on maturing a deeper understanding of worship and worldview, examining the subtle yet significant intricacies that tether the faith together, and responding to the difficult questions and conflicts that plague the Christian Church at large. Not bound to a particular tradition or denomination, I am always thinking things through in good faith and working out my own salvation in humility and conscience no matter where it leads.
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A little about me…
After returning to the faith some odd years ago, Church unity has, more or less, dominated my theological thought process. It played a big role in why I left Christianity in my youth, yet played no role in my prodigal return.
From a very early age, I was inundated with a variety of counter-Church perspectives, though no deep-seated animosity was held against anyone within the family, from what I recall. But I would be lying if I said there wasn’t real tension. Familial tolerance just so happened to prevail. One side of my family was Orthodox, the other side Catholic, and my immediate family was Protestant. I went to Catholic school Monday to Friday and a Baptist church on Sunday. My father is Protestant, his brother is Catholic, and their cousins are Orthodox. My baba, their mom, was from a line of Greek Orthodox priests and had to convert Ukrainian Catholic when she married my gigi, but later left Catholicism for Pentecostalism of a Charismatic bent. While my gigi seemed comfortable with her decision, he was still very fond of tradition, even attending mass now and then. After the lead pastor at our Baptist Church retired, my parents decided to attend a small, growing interdenominational Evangelical Church from then on, where I am now an Elder (by no merit of my own).
One of the main reasons I left Christianity as a teenager was due to this inner conflict and counter-interpretations that most, if not, all Christians held, laymen and leader alike. Pastors rejected priests, priests rejected presbyters, presbyters rejected pastors. And not just on the minute details, but on dogma–––incontrovertible truth. While one side claimed a doctrine was an absolute truth, the other sides contended its veracity, yet all sides taught Scripture for a living and claimed to be the true Church passed down from Christ to the Apostles, holding fast to the rightful interpretation and tradition of our spiritual forefathers. It really put into question everyone’s sense of discernment. Despite what they did agree upon, say, the bodily resurrection or deity of Christ, the fact remained that what qualified as an ‘absolute truth’ seemed questionable, contrived, or unwarranted at times, which, consequently, put Scripture into question later on. Scripture claims to be true – the Word of God, no less – but to what end? If no one could get the story straight, what use was this ‘truth’? And even more so, how could I, a kid not trained in Greek, Hebrew, or even Scripture, make sense of it or make the ‘right call’ on what is true in Scripture if these ‘experts’ couldn’t either? It was intuitive that truth was above opinion, more than just mere preference or platitude that a person could freely disagree with. Truth is obligatory. This tension was more than just pragmatic, it was compounded by its truth claim. If Scripture claims to be the truth of God, how could we have differing dogmatic views on what is incontrovertibly true? He is, after all, a personal God, no? A God who speaks to and through people. And yet, each Church claims to be the direct spiritual line of the Early Church, to possess the Holy Spirit and some degree of infallibility, to possess intimate experiential and intellectual knowledge of God in some way. Granted, I’m articulating a much clearer vision of the inner storm now than it was, but it was there, and it was a real concern. As a young man who was weak in faith, limited in understanding, and lacking articulation, Christianity, in broad sweeping terms, just sounded confused. And so was I.
From that point on I pursued truth anywhere and everywhere I could, largely through conscience and dialogue. Long story short, after six years of wandering somewhere between pluralism, agnosticism, and deism, which was arguably longer if I include my gradual subliminal deconstruction from Christianity, I repented and returned to faith in Christ in the autumn of 2012. It was then and there that I was confronted by the unseen reality of God—a truth I could not deny.
What I do, here.
For that reason, a lot of my theological work has an irenic edge to it, but not without its convictions. It would be deceptive, then, to deny my strong sense of urgency to unify the Church in a real way, not through institutional or sociopolitical means alone (though that is an important edge of it), but through genuine sanctification of the Spirit, even if that unity is not possible in my lifetime. That is not to advocate ecumenism at the expense of truth—Christian pluralism, if you will—social unity alone is still disunity. It is that clarity in dire tension benefits everyone. I am convinced that if Trinitarian Churches even so much as desired to become of one heart and mind, no matter the long-term difficulty, heartache, vexation, or stress it may bring, our Christian witness would be unhindered, stumbling blocks dislodged. As Christ says, “I have given them [Church] the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23) Christ’s heart we cannot abandon, and we cannot do so under false pretences. It is my firm belief that we all ought to mutually strive for this Christlike unity in all things. While I often delve into the apologetic arena, we would do well to realize that apologetics exists in lieu of just that: True unity in Christ.
That is the reason why I called this space Meet Me at the Oak instead of, say, My Blog. Matlock means, ‘meeting place at the oak tree’, in the sense of a council or local assembly. It is in this spirit of togetherness and council that I write—to shield and sharpen the saints for every good work. And because of them, their friends also: the sincere skeptic, agnostic, fence sitter, and doubter, and to those who have, perhaps, moseyed away from the faith yet desire a meaningful depth in their life. To combat the cultural plague of emphatic nihilism, megalomania, inner emptiness, and purposelessness. To inspire a culture of enchantment, transcendence, humility, and self-realization. That meaning, goodness, truth, and genuine relationship begin and end with God.
Distinct from my explicit in-house focus, I am a perpetual student of world religion, philosophy, and art, with a keen interest in consciousness, communication theory, and narrative, all of which seem to coalesce in film. So, I will post content of like-manner here, as well, when I can. There is an intimate yet universal relationship these subjects share. In fact, before joining Bible Discovery, I ran a media company called Garafraxa Film & Media Group, which focused on exploring these deeper topics through film/art. While I am not an active filmmaker at the moment (being a dad of three boys will do that), I have won awards for screenwriting and short filmmaking, such as the Award of Excellence and Best Screenplay for Our Beneficiary (2017) in the One-Reeler Short Film Competition, placing next to John Malkovich for Best Actor. I also won Best In Show for Douchebags (2010), a mock trailer on reality television, as well as my first film The Odyssey Ecclesiastes / L'Odyssée Ecclésiaste (2011), a short foreign language film shot on 16mm Black & White Negative. I also regularly consulted other screenplays and draft films prior to the festival circuit. Not too long ago, I was a creative consultant and illustrator for my brother Blake’s first novel, Frog of Arcadia. There is no question, I am a storyteller and artist at heart. In spite of my analytical slant, it is my passion.
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