Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why I Remain a Christian

I was raised in a Christian home. My parents took me to a Southern Baptist Church. I believed what I was taught because the people who cared about me had no reason to lie to me, and I had no good reason to not believe them. I asked a lot of questions, and many times that led to frustration as I didn't get satisfactory answers. However, the lack of satisfactory answers from the church and my family wasn't sufficient for me to kick God to the curb permanently. Fast forward 18 years from my birth.

When I was a freshman in college my parents got divorced. That shattered my worldview. I basically walked away from God and the church for a number of years. I didn't become an atheist. I just stopped asking the hard questions. I preferred hedonism, so I followed the advice of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 8:15. For the most part, I didn't have anything to do with God or religion as that would have interfered with my party lifestyle. I didn't bother reading Solomon's conclusions in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 because I was selfish and wanted to do whatever I wanted to do without some Cosmic Killjoy getting in my way. Fast forward another 10 years.

I got married, and I got divorced. I was raised in a loving home, and I'm very thankful for that, but I managed to unconsciously reproduce the same dysfunction modeled in my parents' 25 year marriage into my own four year "starter" marriage. What can I say? I'm a fast-track overachiever. When I remarried, my childish party life came to a halt because my wife had two sons from a prior marriage, and then we had a son of our own. My boys are 18, 21, and 24 now, but back then I had a bun in the oven, a two year old, and five year old. All of a sudden I had a lot of responsibilities that limited my selfish behavior. Growing up tends to do that. I learned a lot of painful lessons, and I'm still living out some of those consequences. But my most important discovery back in the mid 1990s was I had no idea what to teach my boys about God.

Did God really exist? What did I really believe? After living as a hedonist (i.e. selfishly) in one of the top ten most materialistic cities on the planet (Dallas, Texas), I realized I had no idea what I really believed other than the so-called "American Dream" which is to get a good education, get a good job, make a lot of money, and teach your kids to do the same thing so everyone can have an ever increasing standard of living. In a nutshell: (1) get all you can, (2) can all you get, (3) and sit on the can.

When you don't know what to do, a lot of times you go with what you know. I knew Christianity. I was raised in it, but I mistakenly believed I had to check my brain at the door to be a Christian. My college major was physics, and I thought I had learned critical thinking skills in college, but the truth is I had been thoroughly indoctrinated with Darwinism and secular humanism at the Presbyterian liberal arts college I attended. I had to unwind a lot of nonsense to really figure out what the facts were when it comes to issues of origin of both humanity and the universe itself.[1]

What I discovered is that I am passionate about the truth. Truth is my highest value. If Christianity is not true, I don't want any part of it. So, I set out on a quest to figure out if Christianity could be trusted as being truthful. I asked a lot of hard questions. I did a lot of study. I read the Bible carefully from cover to cover for the first time, and I looked into some other worldviews as well. After evaluating the evidence, it became clear to me that Christianity's core claim that Jesus was God was either the biggest lie ever foisted upon the human race, or it was true. The evidence as I understood it stacked in favor of Jesus being who he claimed to be, so to this day I am still a Christian.

Over the last 25 years, I discovered I don't have to surrender my brain or my physics degree to maintain a Biblical worldview. That doesn't mean I don't have any questions or that everything makes perfect sense. And I'm far from perfect. I'm a work in progress as is my understanding of who God is, and what that means. There are still a lot of areas where I have questions like the age of the earth, but I believe Intelligent Design (ID) has better explanatory power than Darwinism when it comes to the origins of life, and the Big Bang proved scientifically that the Bible was right all along that the universe had a beginning. At the risk of my atheist friends saying "I told you so," it is only a small step from ID and a universe with a beginning to theism. The step from theism to Christianity is relatively simple once you conquer the Biblical text, which I admit is no small thing. It is over 750,000 English words, and if you want to do some deep digging you need to do at least a little spade work with ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek. But it has been worth the effort in my experience.

I still live in one of the most materialistic cities on the planet, which ironically is sometimes considered the buckle of the Bible Belt. It is an interesting juxtaposition of worldviews. Many people who live around me claim to be Christians, but only a small number of them actually submit their lives to Jesus Christ. Even fewer have their belief anchored by evidence to the point they can give a reasoned answer for why they believe what they claim they believe. I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with someone who professes to be a Christian based on a personal experience, but I remain a devoted follower of Jesus Christ for primarily one reason: The evidence is clear Jesus is who he claimed to be. If that one fact is objectively true, then anyone who follows any other man, method or manner is a fool. And I don't want to be a fool. 

[1] My alma mater was established in 1849 and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas operating under its original charter and name. Austin College was modeled after the colleges and universities established before the Civil War in the United States, and many of these institutions were initially set up to train ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today those same institutions are bastions of progressive liberalism with primarily atheist-leaning faculties, so this isn't just an indictment of my alma mater. It is just as bad or worse at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the rest of the old Ivy League.

4 comments:

  1. Some of my closest associates say the same: i.e.
    "The evidence is clear that Jesus is who he claimed to be."
    It makes me wonder how, in my 30+ years of intensive looking for such evidence, I never found it.

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    1. Cary - thanks for your comment. The first thing that comes to mind is what the Bible itself has to say about this in Jeremiah 29:13, Hosea 5:6, Proverbs 1:28, Proverbs 8:17, Matthew 7:7 (and parallel Luke 11:9), John 7:34-36 (especially due to your BibleJesus vs HSJesus dichotomy), and finally Acts 17:27. There are probably more seek and find verses in the Bible, but these are the ones that come to mind from my hide and seek experiences with God.

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    2. Oh my, a Dallasite too....I am currently on that quest. Found something very interesting that you may like. On Youtube, punch up Hugh Ross PHD, and see what he has to say about all of it. Very interesting and does not compromise us either way yet marries it nicely.

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    3. Penny - I'm familiar with Hugh Ross. He is an old earth creationist, and I actually do feel like his position is somewhat of a compromise. I used to be a young earth creationist, but these days I'm more comfortable saying "I don't know."

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