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Why I am a Christian

May 21, 2011

I enjoyed reading Kate’s account of why she is an atheist. I was particularly pleased to find no real surprises in the account, which suggests that she and I have managed to keep the conversation going pretty well over the years.

There are several things in Kate’s account that I am longing to follow up as these conversations continue, but I won’t snatch at them – and that is not the purpose of this post anyway. But I will say that I thought Kate’s definition of the mainstream view of the Christian God was a good working basis for this debate.

Why I am Christian is because the world-view contained within the faith gives the best coherent “fit” to both my intellectual search for truth and my experiential (emotional and spiritual) journey through life so far.

As I said in my earlier post, I was brought up with a Christian world-view, and with a personal Christian commitment, but that both of those have been reviewed and renewed on a regular basis. Over the past 51 years – since my first remembered “personalising” of the faith that I had “inherited”- clearly my reading and study have informed my understanding of the world, and indeed of the universe. Equally obviously my life experience has widened since my upbringing in south London.

What I have found is that whenever I have encountered new experience, or come into contact with new ideas, these things have enriched by Christian journey rather than derailing me from it. So my faith today is in essence the same as it was in West Croydon Baptist Church when I was baptised by immersion aged 17, but my response to the core truths is worked out through a mind that has been shaped by many strands of input, and through a personality that has similarly been moulded by life (which for me of course includes the life of prayer and worship and fellowship).

And yes there are challenges on both fronts! Kate raises the problem of pain. When shouted at by a father as he has just seen his second child die a cot death just months after a similar death of his first child I am confronted with this one! And when, despite much prayer and study and thought I still find myself being impatient and judgemental, and therefore not very much like Jesus my Lord, I am challenged by my inconsistencies.

But they are challenges which actually drive me deeper within my Christian faith, rather than lever me out of it.

For example, my study of relativity back in 1969-72 broadened my enjoyment of the universe that I live in, and actually enriches my Christian worship and discipleship (by which I mean my daily attempts to apply the teachings of Jesus). St Paul wrote about how the world around us displays some of the power and nature of the Christian God , and practically every day my life is brightened by that thought.

And my struggles to remain patient and humble whilst working within the structures of the Church of England make sure that I have enough material within myself to work with and work on that I don’t spend (on a good day!) too much of my time trying to organise other people’s lives for them, or have too much energy left for criticising their behaviour.

As I said earlier, I’m looking forward to coming back to some of the things Kate said about atheism, and some of the things she said about the Christian faith. But for now I’ll stick with what I was tasked with – why I am a Christian – because the Christian faith gives a coherent account both of the world I live in, and my life as I live it!

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 11:33 am

    I know you do a lot of good work comforting the bereaved, etc., and I’m glad that someone is doing that.

    However, doesn’t the above boil down to ‘”I’m a Christian because it works for me?”

    If so, how would you actually go about persuading someone to be a Christian, or arguing with my points? If being a Christian doesn’t work for me (as I know it doesn’t because I’ve tried it), do you just say never mind?

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