Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reasons to Believe

The following is taken from an online conversation that I had with a friend on why I believe in God and Christ even though they cannot be scientifically proven. Let me know if you agree or disagree and why. Is there anything you would add or take away?P.S.- Sorry for the length

That's not an off-the-wall question, so don't even worry about it. It makes total sense. One of the obvious answers to what made me initially decide to be a follower of Christ would be the fact that I was raised in a "Christian" household (I use the quotes because it didn't really embody the love of Jesus). Eventually, I had to get real with myself and ask some hard questions. I asked, "Why is Christianity the only right way?" "Who was Jesus?" "Who is God?" "What role does my upbringing play in how I think? Has it made me biased one way or another?" "Has it messed me up?"

Here's what I found...Some may consider the answers debatable, but it's what I've found to be true:

God hiding in the hearts of humankind: C.S. Lewis talks about something called a "Universal Consciousness." What that means is that everyone is born with certain desires, laws, and modes of thinking. These can be found in the most random places, but they are universally true when viewed within society. Here's an example: You could take someone from a remote village with no technology and place him in downtown OKC. If he sees a woman being raped or taken advantage of, something inside of him might say, "This isn't right!" If there is a moral consciousness found in most societies or a need for law and order (even those cut off from others), who placed it there? A philosopher named Immanuel Kant said it this way: "There can be no moral law without a moral law giver." To me, God must be the moral law giver (This is not just limited to moral law but also ideas like love, hope, and desire. For those to exist in all people, it had to be programmed into us by something other than society. We call that something God).

When it comes to Jesus: We know that there was a man named Jesus who founded the movement called Christianity (even atheists believe this). We know that he was a Jewish Rabbi whose followers spread his message of good news inspite of the threat of immanent death. We know that Jesus made claims to be the Son of God and in some mystical way, also claimed to be one with God. We also know that he eventually died for making such claims. The decision we have to make is whether we take Jesus' claims seriously. C.S. Lewis said that Jesus was either one of three things: 1. He was the greatest con-artist who has ever lived, because all of history has been turned upside-down by the message he taught and the movement he founded. 2. He was a raving lunatic, because only a crazy person would claim the things he claimed and actually be serious enough to die for them. 3. He was who he said he was. The questions you and I have to answer are, "What do I think of Jesus? Do I take the things that he said seriously?"

Is Christianity the only right way?: If I take seriously Jesus' claim to be the way, the truth, and life, then what he said must be true. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of truth.

What about other religions (this is going to be controversial)?: There is alot of truth in other religions. All truth belongs to God, and since we belong to God, all truth belongs to us. Truth is found in a variety of forms and through a variety of channels, though it must always fall in line with the Bible. Paul used truth from Pagans when he was preaching to Greek philosophers (Acts 17:24-27). That is how I can listen to music and read books and watch movies made by nonbelievers and find biblical truth that will speak to me (I still believe Christianity to be exponentially more true than any other, hence my devotion to Christ. Remember that he is the embodiment of all truth).

Will people from other religions go to Heaven (again... controversial)?: In Romans 2:12-16, I think Paul makes a small allowance for some who have not heard the true message of Jesus to enter into righteousness and Heaven by following, "the law written on their hearts." This is also an example of the Universal Consciousness I was talking about earlier. However, I believe that if someone denies the message of Jesus, creates "Hell on earth" for others, or denies the law written on their hearts, Hell awaits them in the afterlife (That is why we need missions work and to spread the message of Jesus, because everyone needs to hear it.).

Do I believe what I believe just because of the way I was raised?: We would be lying to ourselves if we denied that our upbringing didn't have something to do with what we currently believe. However, just because we were raised to believe a certain way does not make that way untrue. Through asking honest questions and giving honest answers, we can find what it is we are truly looking for.

In the end, there is an element to following Jesus that science and reasoning cannot explain. A leap of faith has to take place. There are alot of things in the Bible that sound far-fetched and unexplainable, except that a force more powerful than ourselves orchestrated them. Is that so hard for us to believe? When I look at the world and the universe around me, I see alot of things science can explain, yet there are innumerable others things that science cannot explain. Science and reason can take us quite far, but eventually, it only completes part of the puzzle. Faith in something greater and more powerful than us has to be integrated at some point.

When you're hungry, you know that food exists because it will satisfy that hunger. If food didn't exist, then you wouldn't ever be hungry. You can know that water exists because you get thirsty. If water didn't exist, then you would never thirst. You know there is something more to life because you sense it. Maybe you can't explain it. Maybe it doesn't make total sense, but you long for something that goes beyond your five senses. You long for spiritual rest and peace. You long for an answer to the questions that keep you up at night. You may not get all of your questions answered in this life, but you find rest and trust in the love of Jesus Christ and voice of his Spirit inside of you. That's why I believe. That's why I follow Christ.

1 comment:

Heather Cherry said...

This was good. In my opinion, the historical Jesus figure is the most convincing thing. The fact that He couldn't have just been
"a good guy" or a "great teacher" or "special prophet" but not the Messiah. You pointed out the reasons why, i.e., He was either a liar, a raving lunatic or He was telling the truth and He was and IS what He claimed.

P.S. My word verification for this comment is "scarf". How do you feel about that?