Chris Stedman: “Faithiest”

Joe Kasper (class of 2015) wrote about one of the speakers during “World Religions Week” at Taylor:

Chris Stedman is a self-proclaimed atheist, although he seemed to be in the agnostic category after hearing him speak.  In either case, it was very fascinating to hear his atheistic “testimony” and some of his thoughts on faith.  Perhaps the most shocking thing about him was that he has been shown the kind of unconditional love that seems to permeate and reach many non-believers.  His pastors and leaders were not the overly legalistic types, but instead continued to maintain friendship after his leaving the church.  Besides this point, however, I found his talk to be fairly underwhelming.

Since he works as an interfaith chaplain and is a big supporter of churches for their societal role, he said that one of his core values is pluralism.  This seems illogical to me, because it is actually anti-truth-seeking.  It does seem to explain why his heart is hardened to the love that has been shared with him.  Rather than trying to decide and think critically between several worldviews, he seems to want to stop short and float on an amorphous and abstract cloud.  Instead of truth being an end and dialogue a means to it, dialogue has replaced truth as the end.  Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend in modern thought to which I think we as honors students are especially prone.  Having a “good discussion” without any impact on your thoughts or opinions is really just entertainment and missing the entire point.

Nevertheless, I did appreciate a few of his questions and thoughts.  One was asking “Who am I?” and then “Who can we be together?”  While it was certainly spoken from a purely humanist point of view, I think the set of questions has value for Christians as well.  It is easy to forget the incredible gift we have of a church family who is with us for love and support.  On a larger scale, this is essentially the same question that the ecumenical movement asks.  The last comment I thought was interesting was that calling atheists “unbelievers” is a misnomer since they do believe in a lot of things.  From the same line of thought though, everyone would then be both an “unbeliever” and a “believer”, as everyone believes some things and not others.  But while the semantics may not be helpful, it is a good reminder to be more clear and thoughtful of the word choices we use in discussions with those of differing worldviews.