So what do you have left, once you’ve recognized that behind every dearly-held, well-reasoned belief lurks an assumption that may or may not be as well-reasoned? To take my Fannie Lou analogy way too far: I know Gretchen. I don’t know everything about her, and I certainly don’t know her in the same way you do. (That would be weird and relationship-destroying for both of us.) Underneath all of my crazy assumptions about whether she will or will not allow your daughter to be named Fannie Lou is a friendship that has been built over a span of, um…a lot of years. (I knew Gretchen when she had bangs.) My beliefs about her taste in baby names are not based on logic (though they are not contrary to it), they are based on relationship.
My beliefs about the Father and Jesus and the Spirit are not based on logic (and some of them are not contrary to it), they are based on a relationship that’s been going on in fits and starts for as long as I’ve been alive. I know Them. I don’t know everything about Them, and I don’t know Them in the same way other people do. But there is a friendship.
We’ve spent a very long time trying to make the Christian experience the smartest game in town, the one that makes the most sense. And I really think there is an important place for reason and logic and stuff – we’re not golden retrievers, after all. But most things don’t make sense outside of relationship…and Jesus clearly understood that, since he was always saying things like “Follow me,” or “Remain in me,” or “Do you love me?” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”…not “Beliefs about me are the way, the truth, and the life.”
This opens up a whole discussion about evangelism that I’d love to get into sometime…