Last week I saw a friend on Facebook post a question that has intrigued me. She asked, "What is existentialism? And how do you think existentialism has impacted modern Christianity?"
First, I believe existentialism is the idea that truth is discovered or becomes known through experience. For example what we see, hear, and feel (our life experiences) shapes what we believe to be true.
Second, I believe existentialism has impacted modern Christianity in many ways; some positive and some negative.
One positive way that I believe existentialism has impacted modern Christianity is that God is becoming more than just a theory. There are two ways by which we come to know God - through His word and His Spirit. The Spirit reveals God as we experience God at work in us and around us. The danger of a purely doctrinal (word-based) understanding of God, or understanding God and truth merely through propositions or statements, is that God becomes stale, predictable, and less than He is as the living God. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life ..." Jesus is more than a proposition. He is a really living being we can come to know through real life experience.
A negative way that I believe existentialism has impacted modern Christianity is that God has become known only through our personal experiences. If God is only known through the experience of the Spirit, then our knowledge of God will always be limited to our personal experience. The fact that God has given us His word as a means to know Him can become discredited unless what the word says can be verified by my personal experience. This makes God arbitrary and inconsistent, so that no one knows if the God we experience is really the true God.
I believe there is much more to be said in this regard. These are just a few of my thoughts, and I invite you to share yours as we journey together along the way ...