Well now that I made a whole lot of generic blanket statements in part one of this subject I want to be a little more specific and zero in on my fellow Christians. the title itself is a very broad umbrella under which just about anyone might be included because it doesn’t simply pertain to Christian belief. Speaking broadly for a moment everyone has a view of the world although some are more militant about pushing their philosophical wheelbarrows than others.
In the Christian sense this is also true. Anyone who isn’t a Christian or isn’t religious who lumps us all together and says we are all like this or we all believe the same thing is simply ignorant; Christianity is not an homogeneous group who all think and act alike.
For example Liberals do not hold to the same high view of the bible as conservative Evangelicals and fundamentalists do. Evangelicalism and fundamentalism differ in how they interpret different parts of the bible although they hold nearly identical beliefs regarding the person of God, salvation and how it is obtained through Jesus Christ. Liberals on the other hand may regard salvation and the personage of God in a variety of different ways including the relationship between the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Once more even among some fundamentalist groups who take the bible fairly literally there is a broad range of opinions regarding miracles and whether of not the more dynamic gifts that the Apostles displayed are in operation today. Many Christians are divided on eschatology (last things) and put a different emphasis on how God has acted salvifically through out history.
Still yet again some Christian groups put more emphasis on actively evangelising the world while other groups prefer to model Christianity through their actions rather than words. So anyone who thinks we are an homogeneous group that all think and act alike simply have no clue how different we are from one another.
So far as Christianity goes the type of Christianity one is won to depends on the type of Christians that one was evangelised by. This doesn’t mean of course that if one is converted through a Pentecostal view of the gospel that they will only ever be Pentecostal or fundamentalist will remain fundamental or Liberals remain Liberal. After ones initial introduction to faith it then depends on the information or lack thereof that one is exposed to.
So when we are asked to explain or defend our position both to other believers and nonbelievers the impact that our testimony can have could be very powerful but it may also completely turn others off as well this is what we might call the content that makes up our testimony of faith.
For some this might be a fierce defence of who Jesus is based on the internal and external evidence for the bible. Others might use the approach that presupposes the bible is an authoritative proposition that God Himself inspired the words that each author wrote down and still others will use a combination of the evidentual and propositional approach… To be honest there is such a wide variety of methods and perspectives that there isn’t the time or space to comment on them all. What I will say is that not all the methods and perspectives are equal or even the genuine article.
This is where each one of us faces the challenge of asking ourselves if our faith is based on the genuine article? What do I mean by this is? Is your faith based on truth? When you came to know Christ or when Christ revealed Himself to you was it based on biblical testimony? The person who presented the Gospel to you; did they believe all the central tenants of the Christian faith? Did they tell you that the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ are essential parts of the Christian faith? Did they tell that the bible is the inspired infallible word of God and the only authoritative rule of faith?
I can already see the critics and sceptics eyes rolling as they shake their heads in dismay and mutter under their breath, “Blind irrational faith! No actually it’s not! Much of what we believe can be established as facts of history however how they interpret those facts depends on which scholars they give preference to; something that we call research bias. On the other side they accuse us of confirmation bias meaning that we only look for information that confirms our beliefs; what they are often blind to is the fact that their own non-belief is also confirmed by whatever negative source they referenced. Of course they will always claim they are being rational and logical and we aren’t. Both sides to be fair are equally biased although I don’t believe that the fair amount of scepticism and criticism is as balanced as it likes to think it is. This is not a digression from the main subject it is an integral part of the problem of whether or not ones faith is genuine.
Now I have to be specific and name one group of so called believers being the Liberals among us. The Liberals emerged out of the enlightenment period of the 1800’s where scholars began to question the miracles and authority of the bible. For them it didn’t matter in the end if Jesus really rose from the dead or there was actually a virgin birth what mattered was the altruistic actions and words of Christ not whether He was in fact God incarnate. For the men of the enlightenment Jesus was the model of faith so why get bogged down in all the detail and try to prove it was real. This is the real meaning of blind faith it is faith without any substance it is faith without any real hope it is faith in man’s own ability to be good and moral. The the logical conclusion of this thinking ultimately leads to moral atheism because God is really no longer necessary man is naturally a good organism that can determine good and evil for himself albeit that what is good and evil is an ever evolving inconclusive process. We would argue that without God even a good atheist has no purpose or meaning for existing so why bother? The retort is why does life have to have a reason?
So lets say that your a nonbeliever and some liberal starts talking to you about belief in God. What can the Liberal say that might persuade you to begin activating faith in Jesus? Who is this Jesus and who is the god they claim exists? Or is Jesus just an idea? The bible is very specific about whom Jesus Christ is. The liberal can never be specific because in nearly all cases they don’t believe the Jesus of the bible is an historical person or that his actions happened in real time. Jesus is only a type that we should model ourselves upon; the stories of the bible only represent an ideal model that we should emulate.
Ask yourself this: What real hope or promise does this provide for you? What is it you really want to get out of this God thing? Ask your liberal proselytiser what it is they hope to get out of all this do they even have a hope of salvation and eternal life, why or why not? Do they believe in an afterlife? If they say no to most or all of the questions and they reply that their purpose is to do good in this world but there is no afterlife you can conclude that they are a theistic atheist. I have a friend on YouTube who refers to himself as an agnostic atheist; I really don’t see the difference between what I call a theistic atheist and an agnostic atheist.
Here is the thing: What ever your world view is and however you came by that world view determines your belief system; what ever it is and whoever it was that won you to that position is what guides you.
Belief doesn’t happen by osmosis we don’t just absorb a whole bunch of ideas and suddenly have an epiphany where the light bulb goes on and we discover we are an atheist or a Christian. We are won to those positions through a process of persuasion and argument.
Where I mentioned in part one about disillusionment also being an integral part of falling away from belief I meant to say that when you discover it doesn’t really work or it was artificial people give up. That doesn’t mean the belief isn’t real in all cases; there are other much deeper motivations that drive us and will cause us to either persevere or bail out. Not all of those motivations are determined or even generated by us. I use the term determined very loosely what I should say is that to my mind we are predestined by divine decree to either persevere or bail out. In other words it is God who predestines us to faith and elects us to salvation and if we are one of His chosen children we will persevere to the end.
I know that last statement will offend many if not most who read it but I don’t apologise because at the end of the day it is God who wills and works in us to transform us into His likeness. Even where we get it wrong in our efforts to evangelise others because we have bad ideas based on false premises God can turn that around and correct them.
My own testimony is that I started my Christian journey a long way from where I am now. Many of the ideas I held then I don’t hold now. The essentials of the Christian faith however remain the same. All Scripture is inspired by God, Jesus was born of a Virgin He was God incarnate and lived a sinless perfect life here on earth fulfilling the requirements of the law and in doing so turned aside God’s wrath satisfying God’s requirement for us to have fellowship with Him by His willing sacrifice atoning for our sins and raised from the dead as a sign and promise that the work of redemption is complete. I look forward to the day I enter into eternal life.