I was born in 1963 in Dallas, Texas in a family belonging to the Southern Baptist Church.  Our particular local church was moderate to liberal and did not provide a sufficient degree of sound doctrinal and spiritual nourishment.  While I was younger though I was very interested in the study of the scriptures.  My grandmother and great aunt read the Bible with me, and my mother made sure I went to church each Sunday.

During my middle school years I wandered from the Christian faith.  I embraced Darwin's theory of evolution, which I realized was contrary to the creation account of scripture.  From there I doubted the veracity of much of scripture, and became an agnostic.  My highschool years were marked by worldly achievement (captain of my school's cross country team, member of my school's academic quiz team, National Merit Scholar, valedictorian of Highland Park High School, and acceptance to Princeton University), but virtually no spiritual achievement or improvement.  I was sceptical of most forms of Christianity I encountered, and I remained an agnostic.

It was in my freshman year at Princeton University that I began to re-examine Christianity.  I came into contact with some very serious, thoughtful Christians on campus in the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship. The Lord changed my mind and heart, and I embraced Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.   In this group I came to understand many of the fundamental doctrines of the faith, ultimately becoming president of this campus group.  Also in this group were some Reformed Baptists who challenged me to consider issues like the doctrines of grace, the regulative principle of worship, and the Christian Sabbath.  While at first opposed, over time I began to admit that these doctrines were consistent with scripture.

As a result, upon graduation in 1986 from Princeton University (graduating cum laude with a major in Philosophy) I joined a Reformed Baptist church in northern New Jersey.  There I met and married Charlotte Tejada, my better half.  Charlotte had followed a course which paralleled my own in many respects, but half a world away.  Charlotte had rejected Christianity in her youth, and embraced Darwinian evolution as an agnostic.  She was valedictorian in her highschool in Manila, the Philippines; and later she received her bachelor's degree in nursing at the University of the Philippines.  While there she was introduced to the evangelical Christian faith through a Christian campus ministry.  She later became Reformed Baptist, leaving dispensationalism, as she studied the word of God more fully.  So when she moved to the United States to practice as a nurse, she joined a Reformed Baptist church in the area- the one that I "happened" to start attending within a month of her arrival.  Charlotte had really wanted to be a teacher even though practicality and her parents' wishes led her into the nursing profession.  I suppose you would say I made her dreams when she recovered from the shock that I wanted her to home educate our children, if the Lord would bless us with them in the future.

At the same time I obtained my MBA in Accounting from Rutgers University (graduating summa cum laude), became a CPA, and worked for the CPA firm Ernst & Young.  When our first child was on the way, we decided to settle long term in the 'capital of reformed Christianity', Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I joined a CPA firm in Grand Rapids.  And we have been blessed with two sons, D. Parnell and Calvin.

We remained Reformed Baptists for a number of years in Grand Rapids, but I came under increasing conviction over time that the presbyterian and reformed view of baptism and other issues was correct.  It has been my privilege since then to learn more fully the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity.  I adhere to the original versions of each of these standards, and I believe they excellently summarize the chief doctrines taught in scripture.  My family currently attends a Presbyterian church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It is my privilege both to labor on behalf of the projects of The Puritans' Network, as well as to engage in financial management for a manufacturing company based in Grand Rapids, and to superintend my children's education.

- J. Parnell McCarter

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