On “First Things:” American Evangelical Christians seem, at times, to be afflicted by neurosis. But it may not be such a bad thing.
Please take a moment to read my article at First Things, The Christian Neurotic, which is “On The Square” today.
Theology is helpful for many things, but it can be less than efficient in the task of recognizing the competing claims to authority that we live within. As a believer, I subject myself to the authority of my religion, but there are many authorities in my life. There are chains of logic that I follow automatically: the direction of career advancement, cause and effect, getting caught and receiving punishment, the law of the home or oikos and the responsibilities that tug on me there.
Theology, or thinking in general, can help put these systems in their places. However, they are all effective in their own ways; I use them all as “rules to live by.” In that way, I am constantly finding new exceptions, new applications, and even new rules to live by. In the engaged activity of life, there is a constant jostling for position among them within my breast, and faith simply throws an 800-pound gorilla into that mix.
Over time, I hope to gain wisdom. But the course of my life is necessarily made up of jockeying, collisions, reinterpretations, and scrapes and bruises. Not only the theoretical reconciliation of these forces is necessary, but the recognition that I am formed by the process. In this way, Christ can use every piece of me, even the unfinished ones.
Bryan Wandel works in government finance and has studied history, accounting, and religion. He is a member of the editorial board at Humane Pursuits. Bryan’s writing has appeared at Comment Magazine, First Things, and elsewhere.