Once when I told a skeptic that I was a Christian he responded, “I prefer to inhabit reality.” While my agnostic friends tell me that wishful thinking does not make Christianity true, I ask them, before dismissing Christianity, to do the following:
Look at the created order. Years ago, while on a train passing through Switzerland, I entered into a conversation about Christianity with the man sitting across from me. He described himself as an atheist. In the course of our discussion the train passed a waterfall cascading over a mountainside. Both our jaws dropped and the man remarked, "That makes a believer out of me."
So King David wrote, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). The Apostle Paul explained that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20).
The vastness and intricacy of the universe; the delightful spectrum of flowers and food and geography and people; the complex biochemical processes of the human body; our ability to reflect, to reason, to love – these are all, in Peter Berger’s words, “signals of transcendence.”
Read the Bible. "Faith comes from hearing…the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). If you're unfamiliar with the Bible, I would suggest you begin by reading the four accounts of Jesus' life in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Christians believe the Bible because of its self-authenticating character. We see the fulfillment of predictive prophecies (e.g. Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). We recognize its unity: though the Bible was written over a period of 1500 years in three languages by forty authors from various backgrounds, it presents one unfolding message of God’s work to redeem his people through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. We have discovered that the Bible knows us better than we know ourselves. It explains our behavior. It understands our aspirations. It exposes our motives. "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). We have come to see that it works when we put its teaching into practice (John 7:17).
Consider the evidence for Jesus' resurrection. How do you account for the transformation of Jesus' disciples from whimpering cowards to fearless martyrs? Explain how the tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, was empty. How does one account for the conversion of Saul (Acts 8-9) who was renamed Paul and became the greatest evangelist who ever lived? If Jesus was not raised from the grave, what led the early Christians, who were Jewish, to change the day of Sabbath observance from the seventh day of the week to the first?
Reflect on the reasons for your unbelief. Years ago I had a conversation with the pastor of a church in Cambridge, England. While a number of Cambridge University students attended his church, many others rejected Jesus Christ. I asked him, "What is the biggest issue that keeps Cambridge students from embracing Christianity?" This man, who has a Ph. D in biochemistry, said, "I can answer most of their questions to their satisfaction. I’ve found that in most cases their objections are not intellectual but moral. The fellow does not want to give up sleeping with his girlfriend.”
Our church regularly offers a seven-week class, Christianity Explored, for inquirers who are interested in a friendly discussion. Let me know if you would like more information. We’re interested in having honest, respectful conversation.
Peter Kemeny, Pastor
Good News Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 1051, Frederick, MD 21702