I was pretty happy as an evangelical Christian, but I doubted a lot, especially over the course of the past year or so, and I couldn't find many plain answers, so that landed me in agnosticism. I am not trying to persuade my Christian friends to change their beliefs or actions in any way, except to recognize that many of the evidences for the truth claims they make are not as solid as they might think; doubters and nonbelievers ought not be dismissed saying, "They don't believe because they don't want to", belief in God ought not be considered obvious.
In particular, the Christian agnostic label falls strangely on evangelical ears, and understandably so, because of the evangelical emphasis on salvation through personal faith in Christ. While I might use those words to describe what I think, I mean something a little bit different by "faith" and "Christ", and I want to be careful not to play a linguistic shell-game -- I do believe something different from evangelical Christians. I'll talk a little more about Christian agnostic soteriology later, but I do want to describe what I mean by "faith" and "Christ".
When I say that I have faith in Christ, I don't mean that I make any particular truth-claim assertions about the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, or the inspiration, authenticity, or inerrancy of the scriptures. Instead, I mean only two things:
- Living like the Bible says that Jesus lived is the best way to live.
- I am not Jesus.
Point 2 is more subtle, and you can tell, by seeing what people in our culture think. There seems to be an understanding that "good people" deserve to go to heaven, regardless of how they relate to God. There is a general agreement that Jesus things like loving people and listening are good things. What is missed, though, is that I'm not the main character in the story of my life, and that if I was, my story would be a very sad and boring one.
Dan Liebert, Verbal Cartoonist, wrote:
If they ever make a musical about my life, there will probably be a lot of songs about jacking off and pizza.One of the funny things about The Onion is its stories about Don Turnbee, describing the challenges he faces in fast food restaurants (in one, he isn't sure what to do with extra ketchup packets, so he stockpiles them). The joke, as I understand it, is that The Onion reports on life not based on what is really important, but on what Don Turnbee, for instance, would think is important.
Don Turnbee is lame, and I don't want to be lame.
There was a guy I knew once, I took classes with him. He's a very good person, an excellent student, and a good friend to have. He was just stunningly lame. He was the reincarnation of Marty McFly's dad from Back to the Future, with bonus lameness for looking like he accidentally stepped into the wrong decade. He wore coke-bottle glasses and velcro shoes and a Mister Rogers sweater. You could ask him about President number, say, 23, and he'd tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Benjamin Harrison -- when and where he was born, when he took office, his family members' names, his cabinet... I had to check Wikipedia to know that we ever had a president named Benjamin Harrison. Every day, at noon, he'd say, "High noon, time for lunch".
The thing that I always wondered about this fellow was whether he was aware that he was lame. I think that if you're lame, and don't know it, that's bonus lame points.
I very much like the Jesus Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.I think that the theology behind that prayer is the best lens through which I can see the world. The repentance in the Jesus Prayer is my antidote for lameness, found by my embracing my lameness.
The purpose of this world view is up in the air. At the least, it can function as a layover on a spiritual journey. It's nice, because it insulates living a good life and having a wise direction from doubt in the goodness of God. That is, if I can find God to be real, and basically congruent with who the Bible describes Jesus to be, I can find inspiration and hope from that, but, if not, I still have some idea of what the right thing to do is.
One major problem with Christian agnosticism is that it doesn't give me much hope. I don't know that God will make everything turn out well in the end, and I would like to be able to have that hope. I don't necessarily think that Christian agnosticism is a good idea, but it's what I've got to deal with right now. One of the good things about Christian agnosticism is that if there's anything at all to the Christian claims in the existence and goodness of God, and the historicity and divinity of Jesus, I'll find them to be true, eventually, by God's grace.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." -- Matthew 5:8