What is the only good reason to hold a belief? Because it is true; any other reason (pragmatism, comfort, tradition, experience) is secondary, at best. I am a Christian because I believe that the truth claims of Christianity are evidentially supported. This blog is primarily about showing those evidences and applying the discovered truth of Christianity to daily life. As such, in this post, I won’t go into these evidences in detail. Instead, I want to talk about how I came to believe that the Christian worldview reflects reality the way it truly is.
As a child, I was raised in a very Christian environment. Born in the buckle of the Bible belt, I grew up in a Christian home with two Christian parents, studied at a Christian school from K5-12th grade, and regularly attended Sundays and Wednesday night services at a Christian church. But, “God doesn’t have grand-children,” as my father once told me. My Christian upbringing did not itself guarantee that I would place my trust in Christ, although it did ensure that the knowledge of the Bible was in my head. The “fear of God” (and parents) kept me, no doubt, from getting into serious trouble as well, so don’t misunderstand me: I don’t disparage my Christian upbringing. I (and every one of us) needed to take ownership of the things I claimed to believe for it to “stick.”
In hindsight, I believe the process of my taking ownership began around age eighteen, when I began college. I never had classes with aggressive anti-Christian professors or belligerent atheist student groups. What I had was a new freedom of schedule, action, and disposable income (as I was working off and on during that time) that I did not have in the more rigidly controlled high-school days. This time of new choices was exhilarating and intoxicating. However, at the same time, very slowly, a cloud of depression began to form around me, one that would continue to grow over the next decade. I finished college, began a career, married a wonderful woman, began a family, and took on a mortgage. There I was, living the American Dream, but I had days of terrible depression and desperation, and I did not know why.
I was for a short while under the care of a very attentive psychiatrist, who prescribed some anti-depressants. These did not seem to have any effect, and after a while, I stopped taking the meds and seeing the psychiatrist. My depression reached its peak shortly before my 30th birthday. I wanted a change. I had to have a change. I considered options, some very desperate indeed. I did not know what was wrong, though, so I could not decide the proper application of a solution. A counselor at my church recommended a Christian psychologist, and I began to attend regular counseling sessions at her office, which has led to a long, and sometimes painful process of recovery.
Through a process of self-reflection and discovery, led by skillful questions and insights from my doctor, I began to recognize in myself a lot of emotional repression and unasked questions. My understanding of the Christian life needed an overhaul as well. For one thing, I had a deep mistrust of emotion and experience in the life of the Christian. My perception was that a whole lot, if not all of it, was manufactured in the mind of the believer, or manipulated by the man behind the pulpit. For another, my evaluation of my own poor spiritual state was because I was not praying enough or reading my Bible enough, but I had no particular desire to do either. It began to be clear to me that I had not allowed myself to consider questions about the truth of the Bible and Christianity, silencing the doubts when they would begin to surface. While I have no memory of anyone saying so explicitly, the impression I had grown up with was that doubt was sin and questioning the claims of Christianity showed a lack of faith, which was also sin. These things which were repressed were not eliminated though, and were now coming back in strength, demanding to be dealt with.
I gave serious and lengthy consideration to both atheism and deism, the two alternative worldviews that seemed the most likely contenders with Christianity. However, there were in my life a handful of Christian men, in particular, my father and a couple of pastors, whom I respected. These were men who I knew to be intelligent and thoughtful, and I could not easily dismiss the fact that they held to a Christian worldview. I felt I owed it to them and myself to find out if the Christian worldview could withstand scrutiny, or if it was inferior to other views.