Michael Fessler (M.A. '14)
The center of the Christian faith involves a relationship with Jesus Christ, and such a relationship carries significant consequences. However, while the notion of relationship with God through Christ is still a leading notion, it is often overshadowed by a focus on the rational mind inherited through a massive movement from centuries ago: the Enlightenment. Whether a theologian or lay Christian, we have all, to some degree, been impacted by this focus on 'proper thinking' and doctrine as it pertains to God, to the point that we inadvertently apply salvific qualities to them. What's more is that, according to contemporary research, roughly 15% of the American population considers themselves open to spirituality but lacks any interest in Christianity or any other organized religion. This accounts for more than double the percentage of atheists and agnostics combined. Author Michael Fessler suggests that the 15% of nonbelievers are not looking for something to appeal to their intellect per se; they're looking for something to stir excitement and truth within their hearts. Moreover, Fessler suggests that Enlightenment philosophy brought about a false method of knowledge, truth, and belief. We are more than rational beings. We are also beings of emotion, spirit, conscience and will. All of these aspects are involved in our pursuit of truth. Fessler promotes the "faith of a wrestler" and that the church should share the gospel with others through this particular lens of faith; a faith which is centered on a relationship with Christ, one which acknowledges that in any relationship there are times of struggle, confusion, doubt, and uncertainty - times of wrestling. And of course with such times of wrestling comes the opportunity for deeper trust and intimacy. It's a faith which recognizes too that we live in a fallen world, a world which holds terrible misfortunes and suffering. It's with this that we wrestle as well. According to Fessler, the 15% are just not interested because the church as a whole has failed to appeal to them with the simplicity of God's powerful gospel message, and in a way that embodies the faith of a wrestler. In fact, many Christians today need to rediscover their faith and the authentic gospel for themselves. Within this theological journey is the author's own personal journey which helps to accentuate the core of his message. They're just not interested. But perhaps they will be.