I hear that clichťd phrase and I groan. Iím not the type of person who will believe something just because I want to believe it, or because itís what Iíve been taught all my life. I wonít hang my hat in thin air. You tell me that God said it, and Iíll respond with two words:
My spiritual journey hasnít been without bias. I was raised in a Christian home. I was taught that the creator-God exists, that Jesus was God in human form, that He died on a cross to pay the death penalty for my sins and that he rose from the dead three days later. I was taught that the proof for all of this was that it was written in the Bible. Godís own personal biography of humanity.
I never thought to question anything. Sure! God inspired a bunch of men to write His message to mankind, to be passed down for all of time until I held His very words in my hands. With child-life faith I received what I was taught, I prayed and ďasked Jesus into my heartĒ and I did my best to live in a way that would make Jesus happy.
And then I grew up.
Gradually, little by little, the answers Iíd been given werenít matching up to the questions that were creeping up within me. I was meeting too many Christians who acted worse than non-Christians, and God seemed a million miles away from me when I needed His help the most. Non-Christian skeptics challenged my faith and shook the core of my pat Sunday-school answers.
I came to the conclusion some time ago that if God is really true, and if the Bible is really Godís word and its contents absolute fact, then Christianityís claims would also have to be grounded in knowable, provable, fact. Science, external historical records, even archeology would have to give testimony to the truth claims of the Bible. If Jesus is truth, all truth would point back to Him.
I embarked on a journey of reading, studying, and searching out the claims of Jesus Christ and the merit of the Bible. A journey on which I remain to this day. I have been challenged by such books as
- The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel
- More Than a Carpenter, C.S. Lewis
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict Josh McDowell
- Refuting Evolution, Ken Ham (I think)
Iím not finished reading, and Iím certain I will continue my digging for some time more. As my answers develop more solidly, I hope to share my conclusions here, down the road.
The apostle Paul says that Christians are always to be ready to give a defense for the faith that is in them, and ďI donít know, I just believe itĒ just doesnít seem like a good defense to me.
KRUSZERíS THEOLOGY KORNER
The following are a few of my favourite topics as of late. I hope to expand and write detailed essays/articles on all of them eventually.
CALVINISM: Currently, I lean sharply towards Calvinistic theology (which espouses the belief that Godís sovereign choice and intervention in matters of salvation, trumps manís so called ďfree willĒ). Iíve written a rather lengthy essay on the question: ďSovereign Election vs Manís Free WillĒ
Books and works that have influenced me in this area of theology include:
The Five Points of Calvinism, Edwin Palmer
- Various writings by the 18th century preacher/theologian Charles Spurgeon
The writings of Pastor William Oosterman, Ottawa Ontario.
FEMALE PREACHERS: I also believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to men AND women, and that, uo put it bluntly, having a penis doesnít make Godís truth more worthy of being spoken out of one's mouth. God has used female preachers tremendously both in my own personal life (Joyce Meyer, Juanita Bynum) and throughout history (Amy Carmichael etc). One day Iíd like to write a book about the work God has done through women.
Books of influence include:
10 Lies the Church Tells Womenm J. Lee. Grady
Why not Women?, Lois Cunningham
SPIRIT MOVEMENT: No I don't speak in tongues. But as of late, I have been attending charismatic/spirit-filled churches. Iím not quite over my childhood skepticism of charismatics, but Iím strongly intrigued by what I perceive to be a spiritual atmosphere quite different from the one I was raised in. I was raised to believe that tongues and signs and wonders were for the early church alone, and yet when I read the Bible, hear over-seas testimonies from missionaries who've witnessed miracles, or hear people speak in tongues and praying over people around me, I am no longer convinced of the old explanation.
Last year, someone laid hands on my head while I was having a massive migraine Ė I felt an instant warmth and then the pain left and didnít return! The Bible says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work inside every believer. The God we worship is Spirit and a God of miracles and power. We may have ceased to move in His realm but He's the same God, and I believe we should expect to see Him and His power working through His truest followers.
THE SLEEPING CHURCH: This is probably one of the things about Christianity that saddens my heart the most. The vast number of people who do Christianity a disservice by calling themselves Christians but acting so little like Christ. Jesus said that in the last day MANY will come to him and say ďLord, LordĒ and heíll say ďDepart from me, I never knew you.Ē Not just some, but MANY.
Christians who hold the Bible with their hands and kick me with their feet have been the single most stumbling block in my Christian walk. But I believe God showed me recently that Iím not to concern myself with the behaviour of the luke-warm Christians who make up the bulk of ďChurchianityĒ around me. Although I should pray for and strive to encourage them, I cannot let those who claim to know God, confuse me or dictate what true Christianity is. My concern is to make sure that I truly know God myself, and that Iím not one of the ďmanyĒ who get spat out of Jesusí mouth when itís all said and done.
Ultimately, it boils down to being a Christian/Christ follower and following Christ and no one else. Because if the others are sitting in puke-warm water and slowly boiling themselves to death, Iíd be a fool to follow them.