In this episode John and Gregg round-out their “coaching versus Christianity” discussion. Gregg begins by affirming his perspective that it is both normal and potentially helpful to find oneself more deeply engaged or compelled by pursuits other than Christianity.
John wonders: what core questions could help listeners ask themselves to evaluate theses types of situations?
In response, Gregg advocates “bracketing out” any guilt that one may feel about the matter, instead ask oneself: What do you value about this other activity? What keeps you coming back to this other activity? In short, ask What is it about who you are and about the nature of this this other activity that forms a “vital connection”?
John wonders where Gregg has most experienced this. Gregg explains that it was becoming and living as an agnostic that provided him some of the most profound insights about himself and about the faith that he had been living before (and had rejected because it was unliveable). However, Gregg notes the significant difficulty with this idea: few Christians could seriously value an activity or orientation that results in the rejection of Christianity.
In this sense, Gregg is not so much suggesting that Christian listeners reject their Christianity but is asking all listeners to be really focused on truth and really focused on love. Further, Gregg is asking listeners to be rigorous and deeply honest in evaluating how well Christianity—as the framework that is supposed to be the most effective in invigorating and perpetuating love and truth—in really working out for them?
So Gregg notes that the same orientation that led him to agnosticism (i.e., not wanting to believe a lie and instead wanting to believe what is most truthful) eventually, through the context of new understandings and new experiences, led ‘back’ to a new and different Christianity. Thus Gregg sees similarities between coaching and agnosticism: it has a different theory (and approaches matters from a different perspective) than Christianity.
Yet this is not an attempt to harmonize coaching and Christianity, but rather to allow what is integral to both to “come out” in order that certain inputs from coaching can inform Christian belief and practice and vice versa. Gregg also contrasts this with the typical Christian way of engaging with non-Christian perspectives, which is “to start with Christianity” in order effectively to Christianize the new perspective—to make a “Christian version” of coaching, for example.
Instead Gregg advocates starting with the other perspective in order to allow its full content and real strengths to be most evident (and then allow this content and strength to positively impact Christianity). By leveraging the strengths of this other perspectives Christians may be able to overcome a narrower—and less helpful—way of engaging with their faith and with the world, such as Gregg saw when facilitating the Sunday morning class at his church.
So Gregg recommends holding one’s Christian views and the contrasting perspective (for instance, coaching) in tension and taking a much more indirect approach to one’s faith when doing so. In other words, asking questions about the general understandings or larger content of Christianity rather than becoming pre-occupied with smaller, more isolated notions (such as using individual verses or a single biblical passage to “trump” coaching rather than comparing coaching with the larger understandings of the whole of Christian Scripture).
John notes the power of understanding our values. Values can be a huge informer into our identity, and working with values requires removing judgement. Values are the things that make us fell most alive and when violated (or in opposition to our values) make us the angriest. They are an intrinsic part of us and usually don’t change very much. So for John clarity and the absence of chaos are major values, and so he experienced dissonance when looking for that clarity in Christianity.
John and Gregg also discuss Gregg’s new Integration Project: a set of services for churches and Christian organizations designed to, as the per the podcast’s tagline, “defuse destructive ideologies, unsnarl confused ideas, and consider love and truth in Christianity.” Gregg is especially focused on presenting love and truth in the context of Christian formation. Further, Gregg explains a new, “in lieu of” church global program called Life & Faith. So if church is mostly for Christians, Life & Faith is simply for people.
Thus the Integration Project integrates life and faith and incorporates love and truth, and it comprises a curriculum, a series of seminars, a mentorship program and the global program, Life & Faith. Gregg is now actively promoting the Integration Project and seeking to provide his services in facilitating this project in a variety of contexts.
John and Gregg close the episode by John explaining that he will be taking a step back from the podcast as he finishes his coaching certification and considers some new options for the near future, while Gregg embarks on some solo efforts, presenting and explaining the Integration Project on the podcast.