I was 15 years old when my faith got rocked. There was no tragedy in my life that sparked a firestorm of doubt that would last for nearly 18 months. There was no catastrophic event that birthed my skepticism. It was a simple question, one posed by a good friend of mine as we debated philosophy, worldviews and religion. We were in art class and our teacher allowed us to talk as long as we continued to work. Theories, arguments and counter-arguments were volleyed across the heavily varnished, yet gouged, worktable. Like a great game of table tennis, we served, put spin on the return and tried to slam home one point after the other. These discussions were nothing new, in fact, they were the fabric of our friendship. We each could hold our own, but that’s when his question came. Like a player expecting a spike, I wasn’t ready for the drop shot, “You’re only a Christian because your parents are Christians. Can you honestly tell me that if your parents were Buddhists, Muslims or Atheists you wouldn’t be the same?”
Game. Match. Point.
I had memorized arguments. I had answered questions of what, how and who but I had not examined the most important question of faith: why? Why do I believe in the things I do? Why do I believe that my worldview is somehow more correct than hundreds of millions who hold to a differing one? What ensued over the next year-and-a-half was a personal journey in which I privately questioned everything. On the outside I still kept up the ‘good church kid’ image, but inside I was searching. I read everything I could get my hands on about other religions. I pestered my friends from other faiths with annoying questions. “Why are you Jewish? How does atheism explain life’s origins? How is Mormonism better than Christianity? Why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate anything?” Eventually, I began asking tough questions about my beliefs. “Can I prove God exists? Was Jesus real? How reliable is the Bible?” Eventually I came out on the same side I started on: Christianity. But now I could answer the ‘why’ question. So why am I a Christian?
1. Historical Evidence
History has always been a favorite subject of mine, and history is not based on scientific observation, but on eye-witnesses, written records and archaeology. Even a cursory glance at Christianity reveals that it boasts all three of these in abundance. Quite frankly, no one credible disputes whether Jesus lived or whether the Church had an early doctrine concerning the resurrection of Jesus. The historical proof is overwhelmingly on the side of Christianity.
2. Origins and Design
We had to have come from somewhere. So I ask, where? Where did all this ‘stuff’ we see come from? The ‘Big Bang’ just doesn’t satisfy my doubt. Order does not erupt out of chaos, but that is exactly what big bang theorists want us to believe. That the complexity of life, the information in DNA and a functioning earth all resulted from an explosion. That sounds like it takes more faith to believe in than a God who could create it.
3. The Resurrection
I, like Aaron, believe the resurrection to not only be the central tenet of the Christian faith, but also the most provable event of ancient history. I’m not going to rehash arguments that have already been made, when you can go read them in the Rabbit Room.
4. Changed Lives
I am amazed at how a group of Galilean rednecks became the founders of the Church. These men, who refused to recant, even when faced with death, all chose execution over denying their faith. I count that pretty significant considering the picture of them in the gospels is of a bunch of power-hungry, egotistical, guys who ran away whenever the pressure got to them. What accounts for such a change? An encounter with the Risen Christ. I’ve seen addicts kick their habits and drunkards put down their bottles. I have seen men who neglected their families turn into men who cherish every moment they get with their families. I have seen the stingiest penny-pinchers transform into the most generous givers. Why? Because, each, in their own way, encountered the Risen Christ. He is, because I am changed, and I am changed because He is.
Did I ever go back and win that debate with my friend? No. Because once I answered the why question, I realized that my friend was not an argument to be solved, but a person to be loved. I still talk with him from time to time, and it is my sincerest desire that he too encounters the Risen Jesus.