Why I am a Christian.

Do you have to sacrifice your intellect for blind belief when you become a Christian?  So many people searching for meaning to their lives are put off by this possibility.  The answer is an emphatic “No!”  For many years before I became a Christian I believed I did.  Now I know the opposite is true.

So what changed?  I stopped listening to what everyone else had to say ‘for’ and ‘against’ about belief in general, and Christianity in particular, and began to examine the possibilities for myself.

It was a succession of inexplicable circumstances that got me involved, to be honest against my wishes – strange events I could not ignore, a feeling the universe itself was conspiring against me and forcing me to a turning point.  I came to a decision for Christ not based on evidence, but on personal experience.  Having knowledge of the heart was one thing, but as a trained doctor-scientist, coming to a ‘head’ knowledge that satisfied my sceptical mind was a challenge.  I needed evidence.

Over the years I acquired this ‘head’ knowledge of Christianity from many sources, finding that science and belief are not in opposition or competition, but that there is a way of looking at both and finding amazing symmetry.  By the time I had all the ‘head’ knowledge I needed, I found my heart out of place with where it should be, and another journey began.

Every journey to belief is different, and every experience is unique.  Some people are indeed blessed by being able to believe without proof.  I was never so lucky.  Throughout my search I found time and time again compelling and challenging evidence that forced me to take the Christian narrative seriously.  But none of it was coercive, forcing a change in belief against my own judgment.  It was all challenging, pushing me towards an inescapable conclusion, a decision I would have to make for myself.

So what was the clincher, the final penny to drop?  How would I recommend others set out on this journey, avoiding the challenges and pitfalls that characterised my own stumbling progress?

Jesus provides the answer.  There is no need to start with the question “Is there a God?” because Jesus claimed he was God.  So if Jesus is real, then God is real.  Meet Jesus, and you meet the God who created you, the universe and everything in it.  Jesus stands alone in all recorded history as the embodiment of good character and wisdom.  He is the ultimate example of a good man by what he did and how he acted.  What he said however is either completely or unequivocally true, or makes him out to be the worst and most deluded of madmen.  There is no acceptable option in between.   We are forced to make an uncompromising choice to either believe him or to dismiss him completely.  In Jesus, God says to us, “Examine me.  Make your choice.”

For me, the most compelling evidence of the reality of Jesus’ claims lie in the actions of his followers after the crucifixion.  There is no other possible explanation for the growth of the very early church and the actions of the Apostles but that Jesus did what he said he would do, i.e. prove his divinity by rising from the dead.  Every other possibility others claim of fraud or invention makes little or no sense whatsoever.  There would be no reason to write the Gospels, or Acts, Paul’s letters to churches and individuals, or anything else in the New Testament if it was not a true account of what happened.

If Jesus was not who he said he was, and did not rise from the dead, his disciples would have remained exactly as they were right after the crucifixion – a beaten, scared haggle of followers of a discredited rebel, executed as a criminal and, like so many others before and after them, they would have vanished from the pages of history.

And yet, they did not.  Against all the odds, these men and women changed the world dramatically.  Only a real event – the reappearance of Jesus and confirmation of his divinity – would have accomplished that incredible feat.

To argue otherwise is to clutch at straws, pleading rational understanding of an irrational event.  It cannot be done.  The last resort of challengers is to question the authenticity of the New Testament itself, using tactics which, if applied to all other ancient scriptures, would force all recorded ancient history to fade into obscurity.

And that is why I am a Christian.