Last time I posted, I mentioned, briefly, the power that experience has in forming our perceptions of Christianity. At the time I had thought simply to mention that lack of experience often has a lot do with whether we view something as Christian. That is, if we have never experienced something as part of our Christian walk, then we are more likely to eye it with suspicion than we otehrwise would. For whatever reason, we seem to think that if it were Christian, then of course would have done it or would be doing it. This thinking has a grat impact on our openness to new things in the future.
However my lone commentor, Jord, has aksed a good question: "What about the power of negative experience in determing our views of Christianity?".
The impact of negative experience is very similar to that of a lack of experience. The big diference though is in the power of the experience. A lack of experience will make one distrustful, hesitant, but not necessarily entrenched opposition. A negative experience will entrench opposition, and actually induce hostility to anything that is related to that prior negative experience.
This isn't healthy. The reason that it is unhelathy is that it is evidence that your past, your pain, controls your present, and your judgment. What needs to happen is healing. Forgiveness needs to happen. That is, we need to firgive the people involved in our negative experiences, since often we end up prjuecting negativity on an idea, not becuase it is bad, but because the people who presented it were bad to us. In giving and receving forgiveness we become free to look at the views or ideas those people repesented with fresh eyes.
We may not in the end be able to reconcile ourselves to the ideas, but we will at least havea fair chance to do so and we will certainly be reconciled to the people who present and represent them. That reconciliation is most important.