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Reaching a verdict: the end of a long journey
I have not told many people, even among those close to me, that I've been on a long journey of investigating Christianity that recently has come to a close. I can't pinpoint the day I decided to do it, nor was there a day or time it ended. It started with more of a gradual exposure to the arguments and accusations against the Bible (particularly the New Testament and the canonical Gospels), and finally faded just as gradually as I repeatedly discovered not only the solid answers to those charges, but the nature of most of those making the charges. Although my experience with Christianity has been overwhelmingly positive since I made my decision in 1993, my intellectual side demanded a solid rational foundation that would ensure that my take on faith in Christ wasn't entirely subjective.
Heading down this road was surreal, frightening and somber. I remember the feeling several years ago I had standing in worship services, staring at the lyrics on the screens and wondering what I was going to do if I found information that pointed to Christianity being a sham. I knew that if I found compelling evidence to that effect, I'd have no choice but to not be a Christian any longer. I could not fathom what that was going to be like, and almost couldn't bear the thought. I knew that at worst, I'd end up being an agnostic theist - never able to reject God due to my experiences with Him, but having to let go of the Bible as a credible source of His revelation.
And so, I'm overjoyed to report that considering all of the evidence and information I've read from both sides of the coin over the course of the past 6 or 7 years - my verdict is that the Bible is trustworthy, Jesus was who He said He was, and every Christian can not only rest easy in their faith, but be bold and confident in it. The case against Christianity (by *most* - hear me, *not all* of the opposition) is generally misguided, uninformed, unwilling to admit the strengths of evidence that opposes their views, unwilling to admit the academic bankruptcy of their primary sources, and guilty of grievous mischaracterizations and outright lies against the church, the Bible, God, Jesus, and even general theism.
Strangely enough, I have to give due credit to atheism for its part in my journey. The questions it raised challenged my faith - and in the end, made it stronger when I discovered the answers to the questions. It's as if I've dug deeper under the foundations of my faith and rather than destroy it, replaced it with an even stronger, reinforced version many times deeper than the original.
This past Sunday, I stood in worship service watching the lyrics on the screens and remembered what I felt back when I started this journey, and how I feel now. What a relief and a joy it is to be able to leave those questions behind (in ruins, I might add) and move on to something greater, what God intended!
I pray that those that know me who are facing the same questions will have the tenacity to hang on to their faith through the process - the answers are there, and they are what you've always known deep down. I have been very encouraged to see signs that many who are truly open to all of the evidence are beginning to come around and 'see the light'.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a huge credit and thanks to God for several outstanding sources and speakers that greatly helped me, and I believe will be helpful to others who find themselves amidst the questions in our rapidly declining culture. I've posted these here before, but they deserve repeating!
- Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig - Dr. Craig is one of the foremost speakers in Christian apologetics today, and the most articulate and thorough in his presentation.
- Ravi Zacharias - It is difficult to stop listening to a talk by Zacharias once you start. One of my favorite speakers.
- Michael Licona - Mike's material and publications on the history of Jesus' resurrection are some of the most thorough and detailed available.
- John Lennox - Lennox has some of the best video talks available on the internet. He's another speaker that I never get tired of hearing.
- Youtube Debates: These are not links, but rather search terms you'll need to enter into Youtube (or Google) to find the videos. These should be required viewing for every Christian and atheist alike! You will learn the essence of both sides' major points in these debates. And yes, I actually encourage Christians to listen to the predominant atheist speakers of our day. They are becoming influential in western culture, and I think knowledge of the arguments of both sides is critical.
- Richard Dawkins and John Lennox debate
- Christopher Hitchens and John Lennox debate
- Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig debate
- Michael Shermer and John Lennox debate
- Bart Ehrman and Michael Licona debate
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