Why the Church needs existentialism

Something crazy is happening around us. Cynicism is high, anxiety is tremendous and we’re questioning our existence. We, a new generation, are in the midst of a tremendous identity crisis.

For moral guidance, we have turned to Tiger Woods, and, when it comes out that he was human all along, we feel abandoned and betrayed. For spiritual advice, we turn to Joel Osteen, who’s do-do-do mentality to obtain the perfect possession of health and wealth. For emotional support, we log into chat rooms and social networking sites, to have an indirect conversation with someone who cannot sense the ways in which we are directly feeling.

We, a new generation, is deeply struggling with our identity. When so often our communal needs are met through things like Facebook, Online Dating sites and texting (these things are not bad, but, they can be used as a way of hiding), we are no longer known by other human beings. Being known by human beings is utterly foundation for our own existence. It is when we lose our lives to others, that we being to find our own. Because, for some of us, we fall in love with the idea of the person that we are talking to, not, who they actually are. So, for us to invest ourselves, in the idea of something, when it does not reciprocate the love we desire, we feel empty.

If you take one second to listen to my generation, we are screaming to be heard. While previous generations built there empires on a can do attitude and efficiency, they failed to recognize the deep desires of their own hearts. This is easily recognizable when the values of the Church have been compromised by things like nationalism, the American Dream and the glamorous church.  The Church actually made an attempt to out sexy the world, with their movie theater churches, there “heavier” worship and there BMW stadium seating in their churches, and, in return, compromised the heart of what is truly true, the heart of Jesus.

While, this may seem like a hostile critique, my generation could be headed on a different destructive path. For my own generation, we are digging and we are seeking, because, we have been burned out by this can do attitude. We are exhausted and worn out. And, instead of taking a new route, we have instead turned to cynicism and sarcasm. Our hearts are trying to go to the right place, however, our words are equally damaging because we don’t say what we mean, or, we do and its empty because of the delivery.

Soren Kierkegaard, I believe, gets it right when he says “A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.”

If we ascribe to be the type of Church that we need to be, then we need to look within to discover the happiness within. And, out of this happiness, so our words and actions must reflect it. We need to be seeking within our own existence, find the damage and beauty within us and bring it forward to our community.

We need the types of people who can provoke us into our own humanity. People, who are in touch within their own existence and can bring forth the thoughts and questions of the hearts, so that we may find the necessary healing and restoration our souls crave. Without this, we will continue down our trend of cynicism and sarcasm, producing nothing more than a beautiful answer wrapped up in grotesque clothing.

As Kierkegaard says “Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.”

Who are we? And, what are we willing to become?

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8 thoughts on “Why the Church needs existentialism

  1. Travis Berry says:

    I really appreciate that you say that the church should not be an entertainment experience but a God-experience. With that said there is one main thing that I disagree with and it happens to be your main point. Kierkegaard did have a crazy mind but he is wrong when he says happiness lies within. The Bible is clear that worth and joy are not found inside the man (Jer. 17:9, Rom. 3:12, Rom. 7:19). So, I would have to reject the assertion the the Church needs existentialism I think the Church needs God (the trinity) and nothing more or less. What we really need is not be look within but to look without for that is where my strength comes from. I believe the more we look within the more we will try and “do” more to try and please God rather than allowing God to do the work he has promised in Romans 8:28-30. I hope this makes sense cause I kind of rambled.

    • mfries05 says:

      Good response Travis. I think you and I can agree that overtime Christ is working in us, Pre-Conversion, Conversion, and Post-Conversion. If Christ is in us, then it is ultimately true that when we seek within, if Christ is there, we will find him. The more we ask, seek, and knock, the more we will find. The more we search within for the Christ that is imminently there, and the God that breathed life into all people, the more we find. If God is love, and, we are called to love him, others, and ourselves, then the more we can love ourselves within, the more we are capable of loving others and God. An narcissistic man neither loves himself, nor others. Kierkegaard knew what few knew, God was there, but, we never recognized him. (Gen. 28:16)

  2. Travis Berry says:

    I think it is true that Christ is working through us but I think we need to recognize the importance of the Holy Spirit. I know that’s a little thing but he doesn’t normally get his due! You have a point about loving God and others as ourselves. However, that love cannot come from within. God is the one that instills that love into his people. My problem with what you said was simply that if a person who does not the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them really doesn’t know how to love. Their view of love is defined by what they know. So, if God is love and you don’t know God you don’t know love. A person who looks within will only find more dirt and sin but those who look to God will be made clean and new. Realizing what God is making us into is important however a person who does not believe in God will look within and only find despair.

    • mfries05 says:

      I would challenge your statement, since we are all made in the image of God, and, God has breathed life into all, God is within all. However, the person who looks within will find this. Now this creates a whirlwind of a dialogue on what it means to be saved, and, when someone is saved, something I think you and I already vastly disagree on (And, i’m okay with that). However, the person who looks within is searching into the paradox of life. Its like the sermon on the mount, blessed are the poor in spirit, and, continuing on, blessed are the poor whatever’s, creating, the very emptiness within us. It is once we see Jesus within that is the moment in which we can experience the blessing. The person who looks within and only finds the junk, is not a person who loves himself, nor is he content as Christ has called us to be, rather, he is living in a place of self hatred. To sum it up we are becoming who we have already been deemed, holy and blameless. To participate within this, inside of us, allows us to experience what it means to be holy and blameless. It is at this point when we begin to experience truth, rather, than knowing truth. It as this point when we begin being Christ, not just doing Christ.

  3. Travis Berry says:

    Yes we disagree greatly on how someone is saved and probably what salvation means. However, I do not agree that when someone looks within they find God or even the image of God. What they will find is a deceitful heart. That is why we need to die to ourselves and live in Christ. The only way to experience Christ is submitting to the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Anything less is a fake or sub-par Christianity. I know that you want to see the best in man and that is something a lot of people want to do but the fact is there is no good in man. The image or stamp of God is on every person however that image does not mean the person is good it simply means the person was created by God. no one is righteous and no one does good according to Romans 3 and without the power of God a person will remain that way.

    • mfries05 says:

      Kind of last thought on this, potentially. Why does Jesus accept someone as they are, if no one is good? If he sees us as perfect, holy and blameless, and, accepts us as that? I think that we live in the cracked eikon (it’s greek, look it up 😉 ). Meaning, we live in a false image of ourselves. We all have this true and beautiful image about us, in fact, its the most true thing about us. However, we live from a false view of ourselves, and, project that upon others, this view of ourselves, is ultimately false. However, as I can relate too, when we live in a certain behavior for long enough, it eventually becomes us.

  4. Travis Berry says:

    Oh Mike, only God is good my friend. Romans is a great theological book that happens to be inspired and I do derive a lot of my theology by understanding Romans. But Romans is also good for discussing how God views men and the truth about what humans are. Romans is clear that no one is righteous and no one does good. I believe you are speaking in philosophical terms, which isn’t bad just not where I start, where I am speaking more in a theological sense. Now you may disagree with that because I could be interpreting you wrong (which I am human) but I do believe the Bible speaks clearly that men are not good and they do not actually seek God! So, to look inward is missing what God has for us.

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