It is difficult at the outset to know which direction to take: to discuss how/why evangelical Christianity has value, or to hold this in abatement and examine how (and how much) evangelical Christianity is broken. I’ll explain my choice by way of analogy.
After completing my graduate studies I ran across something that I had never experienced or had an interest in: a community dance. I fell in love. After so many years of living “in my head” I was suddenly aware of just how much of me simply could not be expressed through my intellect, or even my voice or pen. Unlike church I attended regularly for several years, finding it a catalyst for catharsis: within my dance I could bring out my pain, my frustration, and loneliness. I did not dance them away, but let them be.
Before I left Vancouver I had a chat with the founder. He had started this dance—a family-friendly, no drugs / alcohol, not-for-profit event—because he just wanted to dance. No club scene, no strings. I was considering starting a similar community dance in my new town but had no skill as a DJ. The best tip he gave me was this: play what you like. You won’t please everyone, so if you can’t into it then it’s not worth doing and really, it won’t work.
As with dancing, so too those who read these entries may have diverging views about what should be said first in a blog making such big claims (i.e., Christianity is real—prove it! Evangelical Christianity is deeply flawed—prove it!). Yet in keeping with my favourite DJ’s perspective, I’m going with what’s on my front burner at the moment and will move on from there.
But my story about dancing is more than a long-winded analogy. Beyond being cathartic for my negative emotions dancing was also the space where I could best express my response to the fullness of the love and truth that I encounter: through my existence, my family, my world, and my experience(s) of a God who actually shows up. Joy.
And that too is why I’m doing this—why I’m writing. (As an aside I think it should be odd to us, and evoke some suspicion, that the word joy itself is weird nowadays and that its connotation seems, somehow, deeply awkward). So if you’re expecting me to start by laying down proofs you’ll be disappointed, or perhaps happily surprised. Because being intellectually convinced of something, as important as that is, comes second. Or rather, where any truth claims to be absolute—making a claim on my existence and on all of existence—and also to be supremely about love, it must be as philosopher Søren Kierkegaard notes: truth that is “for me,” and intimately so.
In my own experience the greatest “truth-for-me” is to be deeply beloved on one whom I deeply love. Thus my view that truth and love are co-central to both human existence and Christianity / the Christian God comes not out of intellectual intuition or theological obligation, but because it has been my experience, and this experience has transformed my life. Absolute truth may be such, but as I have no absolute access to it, it means nothing to me unless it is true for me.
So which road am I taking? Neither. I refuse the view that the binary opposition between proving Christianity or disproving it is the only way to go, nor do I believe that “proving” in any modernist sense even represents a valid option. Instead the path, full of detours and discursions, will take love and truth as joint polar stars towards a way of being that looks for validation through reason and experience, even the experience of joy.