This blog project is on a “nuanced kind of Christianity” and aims to acknowledge the tensions found throughout life as well as the many postures, convictions, theories we might consider along the journey. We all have questions, we all want answers, and most of the answers don’t seem to satisfy enough. Consequently, most of the questions grow to become either annoying, boring, or painful. So we keep looking, form better questions, examine different paradigms, consider newer perspectives. At worst, we chase the wind, at best, we tangle with God’s wisdom.
Maybe you and I are old friends and we’re on Facebook together or perhaps someone shared this post with you. Some of you know me as a pastor (would love to connect in person too), or your former youth pastor (I miss you!), or just another blogger you found through Twitter (thanks for clicking, really). But whether you know me well or not, here’s what I want to make sure you do know: Like you, I am trying to make sense of this world and I don’t want to waste these days.
In fact, I want to find enough of a handle on life so it can be enjoyed earnestly, to enjoy life the way it was intended: in community with family, friends, society and ultimately, with the One who created all things. In some ways, this is in part of how I imagine the Christian vision of heaven, and if there is the notion of heaven on earth, then how much actually be experienced now? Even further, how much can I contribute towards this idea of heaven on earth? I mean, imagine contributing to heaven – that’s a question worth pursuing and I think it will take some nuance to get there.
Somewhere along the way of the degrees and the readings and the conferences and the conversations over coffee and beers, I started to really become convinced that it’s not going to be a new guiding set of principles to organize my life or a particular tribe of belonging or a specific sub-set of Christian philosophy that was going to provide the framework I was hoping that would give this handle to life. Most of us know we’ll never arrive, but do we over-value our philosophical vehicle or our lens of life? To me, this increasingly felt as part of the over-selling of finding the right knowledge and track and my own heart’s foolish desire for answers with the least amount of complication and pain.
Though such resources and lens are not only helpful but necessary, life is too complicated, too tangled, and too charged with mystery to be explained too readily. The truth of God is too mighty for our feeble systems (and our finite minds). But yet, we must try as part of our humanity is to wonder, seek, be curious, doubt and believe for both, logical and arbitrary reasons. And we do this with intentionality and diligence.
To complicate this further, there are competing perspectives of thought and they each contain some truth. Whether organized or personal, there is both a sense of objectivity and subjectivity and they are blurred when in conversation with a fellow human with all their strengths and frailties. This is true for the Christian who is just as committed to Scripture, logic and prayer, this is true for any adherent of any other religion or a set of philosophic ideologies they hold – we all have a some part of the truth.
This does not make me a relativist. I’m not suggesting that all our views are equally truthful, nor am I suggesting that it doesn’t matter what view one holds. In fact, what you think, believe and practice really do matter. But all of our beliefs and convictions are broken to some degree, some more than others, and when we sit down with each other, it becomes possible to discover our shared truths, our shared hope, and thank God, sometimes we stumble upon beauty, though it’s incomplete. But let us consider, even incomplete beauty can be a gift to the soul.
And so we need nuance – that sense of formulating, holding and sharing a belief with both strength and openness. Such nuance is needed in our inner life, in our relationships and in how we engage with our world.
The next post will pick up with what nuance in our inner life looks like. Part 3 will focus on nuance in relationships and 4 will be on our engagement. Thanks for reading, friend.