Is Christianity True?
This is a retro-post. I am posting it in 2008 to fill out my archives a little bit, but I first wrote it in June 2006. Here are the issues I was going through then:
I became a Christian after one summer when God got a hold of my life. Suddenly I became convinced that God was real because of the experiences I had had with Him that summer. All my objections to Christianity were circumvented when I found out that it was real, that God is real and wants us to know Him. I soon joined a charismatic church and had even more encounters with the power of God. I was so hungry for something that was spiritually real, and here I found it.
My dilemma came when I encountered one of the basic commands of the Christian life: go and share the good news with others. Now I had a commission to share my faith in order to be obedient to the one I had found was real. I soon found that not everyone else was as aware that He is real, and I had serious difficulty telling others. Specifically, I found myself butting up against the issue of pluralism. It was easy to use my experience to counter atheism, since I had personal evidence that God does in fact exist. But it was not so easy to prove that my interpretation of my experience was the right one. To put it another way, I could be sure that I had encountered God through Jesus, but I had no experiential grounds to tell people they had not encountered God unless it was through Jesus.
In my first semester at seminary I took an apologetics class where we discussed this question thoroughly. I learned that the Christian answer to other religions is (and always has been) the resurrection of Jesus. I had always been aware that the crucifixion and resurrection are the theological center of the Christian faith. Now I found that it was also the epistemological center. In other words, everything we know to be true within Christian theology, we know because Jesus rose from the dead, plain and simple.
The disappointing part about this discovery is that it seems like an awfully shaky foundation to base one’s entire life on. If my entire faith is based on this point, then I cannot use the rest of my faith to support it, or else it results in circular reasoning. However the historical reasons for believing in it are not terribly convincing. Oh, the counter-arguments that he did not rise from the dead are not very strong either, but that is not enough to prove that it did happen.
Two thousand years ago, a handful of people became thoroughly convinced that their leader had risen from the dead, and therefore that he was truly the Messiah, and therefore so-on-and-so-forth. They became so convinced that they were willing to be martyred for it. So every alternative explanation for what happened is faulty. So what? When I watch illusionists to performance tricks I have no good explanations for how they did what they did, but I know that there is some explanation – they told me so themselves. Just because I can’t come up with the alternative explanation doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good one (and probably way out of my ability to conceive of).
And then there is the problem of the ascension. If the whole basis of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus, then why didn’t He stick around?
If the resurrection did not happen, then Christian doctrine is not true. However, a Christian’s faith in God may continue to be just as real. In other words, if Christian theology is not accurate, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t meet us where we are at anyway. This would leave me at the point of a more broad-based theism. Seeing as I am still a thoroughly committed charismatic, it leaves me at the point of a sort of supernatural theism.
This is my current roadblock. Until I can get past this, I don’t think I can continue to pursue training for Christian ministry. Help me Lord.