1. Recognize that you can become a Christian if you want to become a Christian - there is no conclusive evidence against Christianity, it cannot be disproved: therefore Christianity is a perfectly valid option. Becoming a Christian is up to you and nobody else, an active process; and only you can decide to become a Christian.
2. Recognize that there is significant evidence in favour of Christianity - the evidence is not conclusive, for sure; but there is plenty of positive evidence, and of many types.
3. Recognize that being a Christian is not trivial - but a meaningful, significant thing: it has major implications for how you feel, what are your aims, motivations and behaviours. It makes a difference to be a Christian.
4. Then, to be a Christian is first a simple choice, a statement - to yourself and others that you are now a Christian. This is faith.
5. To have faith is an essential first step but is only a first step: you will want to have knowledge that your faith is valid; you will want certainty that Christianity is True.
And this step requires work from you.
For faith to become knowledge, you need to know what it would be like - how this happens.
And the answer is that certainty comes to you personally and only to you personally by divine confirmation, confirmation by revelation - direct communication from God to you.
(Only to you personally, because each person must chose and learn this for himself - each person must go through the process.)
A revelation and confirmation of knowledge could happen during prayer, by a personal miracle, fulfilled prophecy, sure guidance and other signs intended to convince you (not other people).
In other words, step five - the getting of certain knowledge - is something that happens by you, personally, experiencing some divine communication and confirmation. It is not a matter of teaching, scholarship and study; but instead an inner, subjective knowledge and certainty.
But always the whole process at every level, and afterwards, is underpinned by and sustained by choice - free choice to accept or to reject.
Again I emphasize: The matter is personal. Do not expect to be overwhelmed or coerced by force of argument or power external; but rather convinced by the kind of gratitude, love, hope and delight that you glimpse from the best of human relationships.
Choice, Faith, Revelation.
Statement, Work, Knowledge.
Choice and Faith is the end of it. Once acceptance comes, once faith comes, the rest neatly falls into place. Reason is subjugated (rightfully). Even if the heart takes time, from acceptance everything else springs forth. The Christian must first submit to Christ. Knowledge is the reward! You let him into your heart and he sets your mind at ease.
Thus the primacy of, and fundamental importance of free will. It has been made easy for us, we ourselves make it difficult.
@Bruce - I wonder how many who grew-up Christian and then turned apostate did not really understand? My personal experience was such, but now that I have returned after a long stint among the secular-right, I am amazed at how little I knew (almost nothing!) and how the more I read and understand, how deep, sensible, and logical traditional Christian theology is. Certainly, my own understanding now is very different from that I had at adolescence in a radically liberal denomination.
Thank you for this post Bruce. It has helped me untangle myself from my intellectual tendency to use my head over my heart all the time. Or to paraphrase a quote I read recently but do not recollect the source "The intellect is a wonderful servant but a poor master." Perhaps this is a modern problem, I wonder, a tendency no longer to value 'intuition' sufficiently to guide us to truth. Or maybe that is my idiosyncracy alone. The bottom line is that when the waves of philosophical argument continue to rage, as they always have done and always will; when they threaten to carry us off with capricious changes in direction: nihilism, empiricism, Leftism...an ocean of isms...we must CHOOSE to dive down through the turbulent waves to calmer depths;transcendental and peaceful depths where there is an abiding clarity not to be found at the surface. If you are lucky. On a good day. Pearls of wisdom can be found there. Without CHOOSING and using our free will to do just that, well, buffeted by waves for an eternity would appear to be the alternative... I think, therefore I am; I have free will, therefore I can CHOOSE :-)
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle was between two "wolves" inside us all. One was Evil. It was anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other was Good. It was joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed.”
Excellent. This is sound, practical advice.
"...personal experience of the presence of Jesus."
We must thank Nicholas for this proposition. This is the perfect example of feeling clouding reason and preventing real assent to Christian faith. Faith has almost nothing to do with feelings, since it can be accompanied with all kinds of feelings. It is not determined by reason either, but it is never averse to reason. As Dr Charlton outlined in his post, Christianity stands very well to reason, but it is embraced by love, that is, the will directed to the good. Feelings can go this way, too, but they can be violently contrary either.
Note: I have removed some of the comments, since they had gone considerably off-topic.
This post is intended to be helpful to wavering possible Christians; and I do not want comment discussions to interfere with this far more important possibility.
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