Wondering Fair began over two years ago. It seems a good time to remind our readers (old, and new), and ourselves, of our purpose. Having said that, this article isn’t just about navel gazing. At the risk of sounding horrifically self-important, I believe the Wondering Fair experiment contains lessons that wider Western Christianity (and indeed, society) can learn a lot from.
Wondering Fair represents a mind-shift, from classical Christian Apologetics to something so different, that it warrants a new word, Eleutherotics (pronounced “El-oo-thro-tics”). Like most words, “Eleutherotics” is a new word that comes from an old word, much like “Apologetics” itself. That means we’re going to discuss some Greek here, but bear with me.
When our editor, René Breuel, originally emailed potential writers about this project, his subject heading was “Invitation to an apologetic blog”. Back then, that’s the best word he (or any of us) could find. “Apologetics” comes from the Greek word Apologia, which means “defending”. It’s the word Christians traditionally use to describe answering those messy questions that people toss up about Christianity. The implied assumption of “defence” is that these questions are inherently an attack. The mental image that the word “Apologetics” conveys is of a soldier clinging to their shield as somebody charges toward them with a sword.
The issue here, though, is that this is kinda what Wondering Fair does, but not really. Sure, we do deal with the tough questions that seem to hurt the case for Christianity. But we don’t do it with such a defensive attitude. Our attitude is better described in these Bible verses:
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (eleutherosei)… So if the Son sets you free (eleutherose), you will be free (eleutheroi) indeed. (John 8:31-32,36, NIV)
Our goal is to show people that following Jesus and His teaching is a liberating thing. We believe Jesus can set people free from all kinds of issues in our culture – indeed, that we have experienced Him setting us free! But while we believe that our convictions about Jesus are true (in fact the most important truth there is), we also recognise that we could be wrong. And we also affirm that lots of other people are searching for truth, and that the best way any of us will find it, is by constructively talking and exploring. Therefore, we want to check whether our ideas about Jesus are robust enough to withstand constructive scrutiny, and encourage others to examine Christianity’s truth claims for themselves. That way, they can more effectively decide whether Jesus’ promise of liberation really is true. And honestly, we hope you discover that it is, like we have.
While there are certainly people who do use tough questions to attack Christianity, most people I’ve met don’t ask those tough questions for that reason. Usually, they ask these questions because they have “caught a sniff” of Jesus’ liberating power, but still have concerns about Christianity that stop them from embracing that.
To approach such questioning as an attack is misguided and counter-productive. Instead, a more accurate and constructive image is to see these questions as shackles. Thus our answers must seek to help liberate (eleutheroo) the questioner, so they can start following the Liberator, Jesus Christ. If that sounds too condescending of the questioner or their questions, remember our other foundational assumption – that we are all searching for a deeper understanding of the truth, via discussion. That search is restricted by people stifling discussion. Wondering Fair wants to promote constructive conversation, so that the truth can be liberated (even if that risks that we are wrong).
We at Wondering Fair are not primarily Apologists. We do not assume you or your questions are an attack. We are Eleutherotists. Jesus has liberated us, and we want to help Him liberate you too, from your doubts and fears about Him. And we want to liberate the pursuit of truth, through constructive dialogue. We will not lock ourselves behind a shield. We will walk freely, beside Jesus, to find more of the truth, together.
I have many questions, and many arguments; not from an antagonistic position but from one of genuine, maybe passionate, enquiry. As one one who wants to believe, I just find it very challenging! This post is an excellent summation for me; thanks.