Trans – Prefix, denotes moving beyond a certain state or object.

Identity – The fact of Being; the substance of what something is.

As an existential philosopher I am immediately concerned with the development of the Self. The Self, following Kierkegaard, is a created Being, one which Becomes and fulfills its existential desires. Yet the Christian understanding of conversion is connected with the Self – it is a primary method by which it Becomes.

I find problematic notions in the terminology by which Christians discuss conversion. It is often a discussion of  “old self” and “new self” rather than a Self which Becomes. Conversion is a catapult in the Self’s Becoming into something greater. The “old self” is not eradicated, but compensated and learned from in the sense of Becoming.

There does tend to be issues in viewing conversion as a sense of Becoming. Whereas the Becoming emphasizes accountability for mistakes and takes into account a holistic understanding of life, there does seem to be a clinging to issues instead of relinquishing them to Christ at conversion. Whereas the Christian life demands an identity in Christ, the individual finds identity in the mistakes he or she has made. Or, perhaps, identity is found in some event, perhaps something tragic – a victimization or a trauma. Thus, there may be an identity with Christ and some thing – a sharing by which does not let the Self Become the authentic Self it so desires to be.

I posit what I will call trans-identity, a notion which allows the Self to move beyond certain mistakes or events while still recognizing the existential weight that such things possess to the individual. If one does not allow themselves to move beyond their hurt that captivates them then one is not properly understanding conversion. And furthermore, one does not free the Self to Become in the manner by which it has the capacity to fulfill. The view of trans-identity does not require to individual to sacrifice their past – their hurt, their mistakes, their wounds – but rather push past the identity which those issues hold. Trans-identity frees the individual to move beyond these things, learning from them, into the identity of God.
Free your Self. Find identity not by which you have been hurt, but by that which can take the place of the hurt. It is here where a holistic Self can Become and recognize the magnitude that God’s love is.

Published by michaeldstark

Michael Stark has a Masters in Philosophy from Denver Seminary and a Bachelors in Biblical Studies from Judson University. He has taught philosophy and theology at Colorado Christian University & Trinity Christian College. His academic focus is on Soren Kierkegaard, and the intersection of existentialism & social though and action. He is also the co-founder of IAmProject, a nonprofit organization that fosters spiritual formation and healing for churches and the LGBT community. His cardigan collection leaves many envious. Don’t worry, he shares. Michael has published in a variety of academic journals and books, as well as popular outlets such as Huffington Post, The Other Journal, and RELEVANT. You can visit his personal blog at

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