Thursday 3 July 2014

Why I became a Christian - Why I remain a Christian


The reasons are different.

I was asked the first today and answered as honestly as I briefly could that I became a Christian because I realized that if I believed in anything I had to believe in God.

(And, having believed in God, it seemed clear that the Christian concept of God was correct.)

But I realized this sounded rather as if I was saying that it made no sense for anybody not to believe in God - that belief was logically-entailed...

That can't be right, because that is not how it is supposed to work - and the fact that something seems incoherent does not mean it is certainly false.

Nonetheless, historically that was pretty much why I became a Christian - but I remained a Christian because I saw that there was enough evidence to make it plausible that Christianity was true; and that since Christianity could be true, then I decided that was what I wanted to believe: therefore that is what I chose to believe.

(I had to choose something; I had to choose one way or the other - that was my choice.)

And, having made this choice; some time later I was granted the conviction - the revelation - that God was real, Jesus Christ was real, and His Son - and all the rest of it.

So that was (in a sense) an end of it - no doubt, no need to doubt. No going round and round asking the same questions. Just the quest for clarification, for spiritual progress, for theosis. That being the hard thing, and the main purpose of mortal life.



Nicholas Fulford said...

(And, having believed in God, it seemed clear that the Christian concept of God was correct.)

I am curious: Why do you think that you came to see that it was the Christian concept of God that seemed clearly correct? Do you think your exposure to Christianity in culture, art, and other forms that are common to where you live and grew up were influential? (I know that it is difficult to parse these things out, and easy to fill in the uncertainties of memory of oneself at that time, so if you don't think you know that is fine.)

Do you think that others might come to realise a different concept of God in a similar fashion, and would legitimately hold quite different views, beliefs and practices? Do you think they are in error if their Imago Dei is different, even though their devotion, piety and practices differ from the Christian view as you see it?

I have met people of many faiths over the years, and observed many quite different forms of religion. The devoted and pious share a certain level of commitment and sincerity across different traditions. In that regard they are extremely similiar, even though the form of religious practice and belief deviated significantly.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NF -You ask "Why Christianity" - I think that - in my history - the argument in Discovering God by Rodney Stark were persuasive; although I found the question a bit of a 'no brainer'. It probably took a couple of minutes to settle!

This was retrospectively clinched by reading Blaise Pascal's Pensees.

I would have though the only group that - understanding the matter - might have genuine difficulty about choosing Christianity would be real, Orthodox Jews.

@D - Thanks for your comments, but I don't really want to discuss such personal matters in that detail.

Donald said...

Great post.

I have come to realize that 'apologetics' for me really functioned to remove the apparent intellectual barriers/delusions to then choose to become a Christian.

That is not to say that philosophical and historical arguments for G-d are merely instrumental - but they just bring you to the beach - you have to CHOOSE to jump in to the Ocean of G-d!

Bruce Charlton said...

@D. Yes. In retrospect, trying to convert someone by logic and weight of evidence is pretty silly - especially in an age of short attention spans and ultra distractability.

I think all that is needed is to demonstrate that there is enough evidence that it might plausibly be true (evidence on both sides).

What Pascal shows is that if you can properly understand Christianity, you would be mad not to want it to be true - it 'offers' more than any other actual religion.

So is it is plausible and unsurpassed, it makes good sense to believe - but there is nothing to compel belief; and indeed it is vital that no such attempt should be made (indeed, real Christianity cannot be compelled - it is impossible - only conformity to practices. That is another contrast with some other religions).

(I got this understanding of how conversion best works under modern conditions from Mormonism - specifically from Terryl Givens - as I have explained elsewhere.)

Mark Citadel said...

Donald, me too! Apologetics is truly fascination. I was an atheist for most of my life, but once the intellectual barriers were debunked, I just realized this is what I had to believe. It turned out I actually fell in love with what it entailed.

It baffles me how some resist Christianity on the emotional level. This truly is the Good News. Life has meaning, you have purpose, you have destiny. What could be better?