A quality that the evangelical church seems to lack is empathy. There is a feeling that we (Christians) are somehow “found” while everyone else is “lost” and all these stubborn people have to do is listen to the truth and convert. Simple enough. Except that we often forget what it was like before we were “found” and that, since we are not God, in some acceptable way we will always be “lost”. John Caputo puts it this way:
The sense of being “lost’ I have in mind is confirmed by a simple test (which does not mean it is easy to pass), a little imaginative experiment devised by Edmund Husserl, the “father of phenomenology”. The experience of the “other person”, Husserl maintained, requires us to undertake what he called an “imaginative variation” to the effect that, were I there, “there” would become “here” for me and I would see things from that point of view. Simply ask yourself what you would think and believe were you born “there,” were “here” for you made of entirely different things, were you to wake up one fine day and find yourself in a very in a very different time and place- the cockroach in Kafka’s The Metamorposes – speaking a very different language, reading different books, having very different teachers, belonging to a very different culture. Would you still be you? How do you now who “you” are? Where do “you” begin and all the saturating influences of culture and education leave off?
Is not the first step of self-knowledge to concede that we do not know who we are? When we go to church on Sunday morning and join hands and sing communal songs and recite the ancient prayers of the community, must we not ask ourselves what it would be like were we joining other hands in some other community, singing other songs, and saying other prayers at other times in other traditions where the way is different, where they (which has now become we ) would follow different ways? Were you “there”, and were everyone there agreed about following “in his steps” that would mean following someone different, following a very different way, but all with the same heartfelt conviction and deep faith of the “here”.
That is our common situation and the basis of a common understanding and compassion.
From What Would Jesus Deconstruct by John D. Caputo