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Why I'm still a believer
It's the middle of a long, cold winter - so a non-storm/weather post is OK every once in a while. This post was originally a letter I wrote to a longtime friend. I thought it would be appropriate to post it here (with some minor edits), since it is intended to explain to someone who has lost/is losing their faith why I am still a follower of Christ.
I have passed the 17 year mark since becoming a Christian. For that reason, I do admittedly approach the challenges to Christianity with a strong bias. But that shouldn't be too much of a surprise to anyone. I'll try to explain it this way. Throughout those years, I've had quite a substantial first-hand experience with the ups and downs, the joys and challenges of choosing to follow Christ. It has been more difficult than it has been easy, and I'd have plenty of practical reasons to not be a believer, as far as this earthly life is concerned. Through it all, God has proven Himself faithful in ways I don't have to contrive rationalizations to attempt to hang on to faith for its own sake. In other words, if it was just a dogmatic set of beliefs that had no impact on my life, I might be more apt to give up the faith upon encountering a formidable set of compelling objections. But having experienced God time and time again has made my faith something that I'm not likely to just toss aside suddenly upon encountering arguments against the Bible/Christianity, no matter how daunting they may be. I hope that makes sense. In a nutshell, my bias isn't so much a refusal to be open-minded, but a reluctance to flippantly 'put on trial' such an impressive resume God has with me, every time the latest new objection comes up.
As important as my initial decision for Christ are my continued decisions to follow Him in the face of the challenges. I am a skeptic at heart, and if any of the opposing evidence I've encountered was ultimately convincing to me in light of my past 17 years, I'd become agnostic myself. I'm not interested in building my life around a fairy tale, and if I wasn't certain beyond a reasonable doubt that this was real, I would not continue following it. In other words, my faith isn't blind - it requires strong foundational evidence and an objectively tangible result in how it affects my life. My years of experience with the Lord have satisfied those intellectual requirements. Again, without rationalization or 'head in the sand' hopefulness being necessary.
As far as the Bible and its credibility - the objections we see today are not anything new as far as the angle taken to discredit scripture. All of the alleged inconsistencies and unreliabilities have always been answered to my satisfaction, to the point now that when I see a new challenger arrive on the scene, I expect there to be answers, even if no one has developed any yet. And regardless of any supposed inconsistencies, I've always concluded that the foundational, core tenets of Christianity are well established - as far as Jesus' existence, who He claimed to be, His death and His resurrection. I would invite anyone to investigate those four points with an open mind (I don't have time to go into those in this post, but the information is widely available online for anyone who wants to look it up - check the sites linked below for a starting point).
So to summarize, my continued faith is based on 1.) the sufficient evidence that Jesus is real and was who He claimed to be; and 2.) the nearly two decades of following Him and seeing the impact that has on my everyday life. I think that if only one of those were true by themselves, it would still be enough for me to not cease to be a follower of Christ. It would take a systematic destruction of both to bring me to the point of giving up my faith. Attempts are always made at doing that to point #1, but it will be very difficult if not impossible to eradicate point #2. Those who try to attack point #2 must do so by presuming motives, actions, thoughts and experiences that no one but me can truly know. They'd have to get inside my head and somehow convince me that I didn't really experience what I did. It's sort of like if I was cured of a major disease, I'd believe in the cure no matter how many scientists declared that the cure doesn't work. And since I'm not a doctor and wouldn't understand the hows and whys that cure worked, I might lose debates with those scientists, but I'd still be cured in the end.
Here are a list of links that I personally recommend and consider to be full of intellectually rigorous and rational cases for Christ and the Bible. I would challenge anyone with a true commitment to finding truth to be open to listening to what the sources at these links have to offer.