Posts tagged ‘pharyngula’

April 17th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: David Rodriguez

by Max Andrews

I grew up going to a private Christian elementary school down in southern California. Because of my exposure to Christianity and God there, I grew up with a fear and basic knowledge of Jesus and his existence. After being switched to public school, I had retained my Christian identity but I never really followed through as a faithful believer–such as reading my bible, going to church, or praying. It was in the 8th grade when one morning my mother woke me up extremely early in the morning saying, “Get up! We’re going to church.” “What? Church? Huh?” Was my initial reaction. I had never attended a church service, outside of the chapel services I went to in my private school, in my life. I was entirely confused. We never went to church, and, out of nowhere, my mom is waking me up EARLY on a Sunday morning for his. Grudgingly, I stood up, got changed, and went with them to a small church that was couched into a little corner of a shopping center next to a pizza shop and a beauty salon.

April 12th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Austin

by Max Andrews

I was born to Christian parents and I was raised by memorizing Bible verses and being taken to church three times a week. If anyone should have been a Christian by default, it was me. I was homeschooled through a Christian curriculum, and we had meetings with other Christian families quite often.

I was also a people-pleaser, and I knew that my parents wanted me to be a Christian, like them, more than anything, so I did what I could to make them happy and I said the “prayer of salvation” when I was five years old. I thought that was enough. Even as I grew up and matured, I continually ignored any misgivings I might have had about the state of my soul. I dismissed them as an “attack from Satan,” as my pastor would have called it. Eventually, however, these doubts became strong enough that I realized I could no longer ignore them. Then I realized I didn’t care. 

April 10th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Oliver

by Max Andrews

I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is my Lord and saviour.

‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’ C.S Lewis’ oft-quoted remark encapsulates much of what I will say here in rambling form.

I’m not sure how I came by faith (apart from vague notions of grace and providence) but it has been transformative. First an apology: this piece of autobiography will no doubt seem sterile compared to the other inspiring accounts I have read here however I wanted to explore Max’s request (perhaps for self-indulgent reasons): there was nothing dramatic in my conversion and I have never had anything that resembles a full-blown religious experience.

My childhood was one of rather superficial, middle of the road Anglicanism (CoE) but church was reserved for Christmas and Easter which I opted out of upon turning 16. Despite these biannual outings to church, my parents never expressed clear religious leanings and have become increasingly agnostic: once the children left home these excursions ceased. I was an unreflective atheist for much of my childhood but gradually this changed to a self-satisfied agnosticism when I began to study philosophy in a thoroughly secularised environment

Prior to my rather late ‘higher’ education I had begun to experiment with drugs and engage in promiscuous behaviour: my relativistic outlook provided the perfect justification for the self-centred life that I had chosen.  The department in which I studied (and the university as a whole) was unashamedly naturalistic – theism was explored as an interesting historical curiosity that had been vanquished by David Hume and no contemporary theistic arguments were considered on the reading lists (or if they were, they were not highlighted by the lecturers as being worthy of the level of scrutiny which they perhaps deserved).

April 7th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Mike

by Max Andrews

I am a Christian because at the age of six I embraced the Gospel, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior through faith. At that age the Holy Spirit gave me the understanding of the burden of sin I carried after hearing the story of Pilgrim’s Progress and Christian’s journey to the foot of the cross, where upon reaching it, his own enormous backpack came loose and rolled away. I also understood from what my parents, who were recently saved themselves, taught me about God and sin and grace and heaven and hell. I was afraid of hell and comprehended Jesus as the way to heaven. That’s why I became a Christian, but it isn’t why I am a Christian now.

By that last statement I don’t mean to imply that a Christian can lose their salvation. I believe the Bible makes it clear that we are eternally secure once we give our lives to Christ (John 10:27-28; Rom. 8:38-39). But I do see that a believer can be ineffective by walking away from the reality of the Gospel in his life and ceasing to live as a Christian, as many have. I grew up in Sunday school and going to Bible camps, but lived out a pretty mediocre Christianity by the time I reached high school, and it didn’t improve much during a year at Emmaus Bible College. Although I met my future wife there, who influenced me greatly that what I learned at Emmaus was worth living out fully. She seemed to be doing just that. Tons of research suggests that Christians walk away from church and the faith because what they put faith in rather blindly as a youth doesn’t intellectually square when they’re older. I think this was a danger for me too.

April 6th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Jonathan

by Max Andrews

One mistake many people make is to think that our intuitions are largely unreliable or intellectually irrelevant as a deliverance of reason.  I am not one of those persons. To be clear, we generally trust our minds to inform us of a physical universe. Am I supposed to become skeptical just because my mind perceives truths concerning God, sin, and guilt? I think not!

Now, if one reflects on their moral condition with the corollary that God exists, we’ll see that we’re morally guilty before a Holy and righteous God. We’ll also notice that Christianity, as a justifiable set of beliefs, looks really good. The beauty and plausibility of Christianity is not merely it’s positive arguments —though I think there are many— it’s that Christianity, well at least, mere-Christianity, basically agrees with our intuitions about what God would be like in case He existed. That God would be holy, righteous, and just explains recognition of moral failure. That God would be love, explains our sense that He desires to restore us, forgive us, and rescue us from ourselves. When the Judeo/Christian account indicates that God has “lowered the bar” so that everyone can enter into a love relationship with Him, I’m buying it. When our descriptions of God match scriptures declaration that God saves because He is gracious, my intuitions are satisfied. For me the veridicality of my intuitions are satisfied with the gospel of Christ. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the peace I have from a commitment to Christ far surpasses anything I’ve ever known.

April 6th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Alfonso

by Max Andrews

The Christian experience in the Philippines is a typical mixup of misconceptions involving the idea of an all-seeing Divine Entity whose eye is always watching what you’re doing, and ready to zap you with a punishment for a wrong that you commit.  Add to that, a litany of what you should do, and what you cannot do, and continual visits to the parish church for confession, and a lot of practices like not bathing at 3pm on Good Friday and a great many other imaginative theories that make up the uniquely Spanish influenced animist Philippine religious experience.

No wonder we’re confused as a people.

I grew up in a household that was very much influenced by the Hispanic flavored Roman Catholic experience.  Because of our middle class background, we were sent to Catholic schools, and we had Jesuit priests to provide our spiritual guidance.

It wasn’t very helpful.  Specially because they didn’t provide very good answers to probing questions that I had about the God we were supposed to worship and the confusing literature that we had to use for our religious education.

Sometime in the early 1980′s a dear friend in a radio station where we worked together started attending bible studies with another friend and it was there that I discovered the Bible and what it taught about salvation.  It was crystal clear and quite logical, even if it was the King James version.

April 5th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Kyle

by Max Andrews

I was raised by a nominally Christian family.  We went to church every Sunday, but that’s about the extent of our Christian devotion.  Outside of those church walls on Sunday mornings, it wasn’t an important thing.  I was a kid at the time.  I didn’t read the Bible or pray, nor was I encouraged to.  I wasn’t even taught that sex outside of marriage was wrong.  Honestly, I didn’t even see the point in going to church.  When I got a job and started working on Sundays at 16, I stopped going to church.  I was pretty relieved, because I hated going.  It was always incredibly boring!  Just get the service over with so I can have some lunch, I always thought.

In that time Christianity wasn’t part of my life.  Though I never became an atheist, religion wasn’t important to me.  I lived as if God wasn’t there.

Back in 2008 when I was about 20, I began suffering from major loneliness and depression.  I wanted to love and to be loved, but all of my friends were off to college, I wasn’t getting along with my roommate, and there were no potential girlfriends in town.  I wanted my life to have a purpose, but I was stuck in a dead end town with a dead end job.

April 4th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Miles

by Max Andrews

I was not raised in a religious home (unless you count praying over dinner to be religious). I don’t recall having many, if any, conversations about religion with my parents when I was a child. I went to maybe two or three Catholic Masses with my grandparents (not of my own volition). I had no idea what was going on during these services. Moreover, I’ve never really had a “religious” experience, that I can recall except a minor one a few months ago.

I’ve believed in God as long as I could remember, although my definition and concept has not always been clear, consistent, or obvious to me. When I was younger I reeled at the concept of God, not quite understanding His nature fully (perhaps from some terrible definitions and explanations given by my parents and others). I also found myself dumbfounded at the possibility of the universe being infinite in volume (extending in each direction forever), and also the fact that I would cease to be (I was about 8 years old, for reference). So, I’ve always been curious and interested in deeper “philosophical” issues. My parents were not much help in consoling me over the latter concern of death.

April 4th, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Nick Peters

by Max Andrews

I grew up in a small town in Tennessee and went to church regularly with my parents. At the age of 11, I gave my life to Christ and my faith was always an integral part of my life. I was a unique child as at an early age I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum having Asperger’s. This caused me however to have a difficult time socially and was usually to myself a lot of times. I would not even spend much time with my family as I wanted to avoid such situations.

When I was in High School, I started suffering from panic attacks and depression. That started me on a long quest to see what my life really meant. The one area of interest I really had when I graduated from High School was the Bible and I went to Bible College with that. Already, I had been doing online evangelism as the internet had been for me, like it has been for many on the spectrum, a way to improve my social skills.

April 3rd, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Juan

by Max Andrews

I am a Christian because I didn’t choose God, rather He chose me.

I was 18 years old in college. After experiencing the human condition; the lack of love, care, charity and the abundance of pain and suffering in the world and in myself. I realized that although I had a very good life, I was loved and cared for, and suffered comparatively to others very little; my own struggles always took precedence over others and realized that even when I did something good it was often with selfish reasons (It felt good or I will be liked). I looked in the mirror attached to my combination dresser/desk of my small dorm and wondered, why are we the way we are? It was then that I realized that there was something intrinsically wrong with all of us.

In my search for answers; I engulfed myself in searching for that silver bullet that could explain this predicament. It wasn’t until my second year in college that I really started to get depressed over this seemingly unattainable goal; I saw no explanation in sight. Until one night as I cried on my mother’s lap and she asked me what was wrong. I asked her in the hopes that maybe she knew the answer but she didn’t.