Why Are You a Christian?

By Tim Stratton

Why are you a Christian? As a full-time church youth pastor and a part-time adjunct professor at a Christian college, I like to ask this question to all of my students. In fact, I ask this question quite often to many active churchgoers these days. The answer I typically receive in response to my simple question is nothing but a blank stare. After a little coaxing, sometimes I get answers like, “because my parents were Christians,” or, “’cause I was born in ‘Merica!” With that I respond, “Oh, so if you were born in Afghanistan, then you would be a Muslim?” The blank stare typically returns.

What frightens me about the state of the church (including many pastors) today is that by and large, we do not know WHY we are Christians. I think that if pressed, many churchgoers today simply like the story of the gospel, but they don’t really think it’s true! Perhaps they like the “country club atmosphere” the church provides and the community they can find there, but they sure don’t think Christianity is really true!

This is evidenced by so many unchanged lives. We see this play out every week when we see churchgoers in the pews on Sunday mornings, singing praise songs, opening their Bibles, and whispering “amen” to the pastor’s message, but during the week you couldn’t tell a difference between the churchgoer and the atheist. In fact, it doesn’t surprise me to see the atheist living a more moral life than the churchgoer on Friday and Saturday nights. But as soon as Sunday morning comes around, they will put on their Sunday best and come back to the good ol’ country club (I mean church).

Speaking of atheists, it is these hypocritical churchgoers who are the greatest cause of atheism in the world today. Why do we find this dilemma in the modern church? Because people don’t think Christianity is really true! Sure, if you ask them they will tell you that they think it’s true, but deep down, they have been influenced by atheistic naturalism if they realize it or not. They really don’t think any of this supernatural stuff is true at all.

As a pastor, I believe the problem starts at the pulpit. When pastors themselves don’t really know why they believe what they say they believe, the people in the pews hear it loud and clear. The congregation will at  least have caught what was not intentionally meant to be taught. Many times pastors will say things like, “According to the Bible, Jesus was raised in Nazareth,” or “The Biblical truth is that Jesus was raised in Nazareth.” While these statements are true (and the intention is good), statements worded in this manner can often lead to postmodern views. People will have caught what was not meant to be taught. They will think, “Oh, there is Biblical truth, and there is also Islamic truth, there is Buddhist truth, and there is Star Wars truth. So you can have your Biblical truth, and I’ll have my Star Wars truth!”

Here’s the problem: Is it true that Luke Skywalker was raised on the planet Tatooine? Yes, that is a true statement. Within the Star Wars narrative, Luke Skywalker was raised on the planet Tatooine. Next question: Is it true that Jesus was raised in Nazareth? Yes, that is a true statement. Within the Biblical narrative, Jesus was raised in Nazareth. Both of these propositions are true within their narratives, but only one of these statements corresponds to reality. That is to say, only one of these statements is really true!

By definition, statements that are true correspond to reality. Reality is the way things are. If churchgoers simply attend on Sunday mornings because the Gospel story makes them feel good, or merely because they like the people in their small group, you will never see a radical transformation in their lives. This kind of transformation only occurs when one comes to understand Ultimate Reality (God)! Moreover, even if one kept all of the church’s/country club’s “rules,” and acted like Mother Theresa, but didn’t really think Christian theism was true, then, these individuals are not Christians.

Saving belief requires three essential components that can be remembered via the acronym, “K.A.T.” Let’s apply this to John 14:6 (one of my favorite Bible verses). In this verse, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The “K” stands for knowledge. This means, understanding the proposition that Jesus is the only way to the Father. The “A” stands for assent. This means, believing this proposition is really true. If you don’t really think it’s probably true, then you do not have saving belief.

It’s important to note that merely having the “K” and the “A” of K.A.T. is not enough for salvation as James 2:19 states that even “the demons believe and shudder.” One must possess knowledge and assent, but then they need the “T” to complete saving belief: trust! Have you put your trust (a.k.a. “faith”) in what you believe is probably true? If not, you have the same kind of belief the demons have. Let that sink in a bit!

There are many churchgoers today that only have the first two aspects of saving belief as they understand the Gospel and think it’s probably true; however, they have never put their trust/faith in Christ. With that said, I am starting to see that many today (including some pastors) at least struggle with the “A.” They do not really think Christianity is true. They might really like the story, and they can tell you what the Bible says, but they don’t really think it corresponds to reality.

Now, I’ve devoted my life to truth. In fact, I would say that I am more committed to truth that I am to Christianity. However, since I am devoted to truth, and I am fully convinced that Christianity is really true, I am willing to die for my faith! If I’m willing to die for my faith, you better believe I’m willing to live it out 24/7!

When churchgoers know what they believe, and why they believe it, radical transformation occurs (Romans 12:2)! When the churchgoer is transformed into someone who understands reality and knows that Christianity is true, the “compartmentalized” problems of the modern church come to an abrupt end. That is to say, churchgoers will do so much more than only act like a Christian on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday nights; rather, they will live for Jesus Christ all the time, even when no one else is watching!

I am committed to truth, and since I sincerely believe the Bible is true in all that it teaches, I think we should read it to see what Jesus thought about “truth.”

John 4:24

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 8:31-32

“… If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:6
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 18:37

“… For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Wow! The very reason the creator of the universe entered into the universe was to testify to the TRUTH! If Jesus has this attitude towards truth, I see nothing wrong with being devoted to truth our selves. In fact, if we are truly Christ followers, we ought to be committed to the same thing. If there is any confusion regarding Jesus’ attitude towards truth, Paul makes it clear:

Ephesians 4:15

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Ephesians 4:25

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Philippians 4:8

“Whatever is true…. think about these things.”

1 Timothy 2:4

(God) “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Let’s get back to the original question. I hope if someone inquires and asks, “Why are you a Christian?,” you can respond with more than just a blank stare. When someone asks me that simple question I respond with a simple answer:

I’m a Christian because I believe it’s TRUE!”

Christianity is so much more than simply being true according to the narrative found in a book. The gospel message found in the Bible also corresponds to reality. That is to say, Christianity is really true!

Stay reasonable my friends (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton

 

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35 replies
  1. Matthew Griffin says:

    I really enjoyed this article. The Bible is true from start to finish. A lot of people compromise at Genesis. They incorporate man made ideas such as evolution… Truth is truth regardless of how many people believe it.

    Reply
  2. Brian says:

    I’m repeating myself from another post, but this is exactly why I no longer talk about Bible “stories”. That term ‘story’ has rhetorical force. It implies that Jesus and his miracles or akin to Harry Potter and his spells. I now use the term “account”. I tell my kids, that the Biblical accounts tell us that Jesus performed miracles, or that he raised himself from the dead, etc. This indicates that I believe what I read in the Bible is similar to reading about what happens around town in the newspapers. They are records of what actually happened, not “stories”.

    Reply
  3. Tom Rafferty says:

    Good question. I know why I am not a Christian: there is no evidence supporting it. Now, seriously, why are you a Christian and how do you objectively justify it? Personal revelation/experience does not cut it. Science shows too much about the workings of the mind to allow one to slide on that apologetic.

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      Tom, I am a Christian because I, like Tim, believe it to be true. And I believe the evidence to be quite compelling. If someone could convince me beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth did not rise from the dead, I would give up my Christian faith in a moment. Personally, my heart cannot rejoice in what my head rejects.
      After having studied the evidence, I can say that I agree with N.T.Wright when he says, “The historicity of the empty tomb and the appearances of Christ to his disciples are as well-established historically as the death of Augustus in AD 14 and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.”

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        What evidence is there specifically for the resurrection? There are stories/accounts in the Bible, but what is there that backs them up? There are no contemporaneous accounts of Jesus life outside of the bible, so I don’t get how evidence for him rising from the dead can be compared to evidence for the death of Augustus. O perhaps there’s simply not that much evidence about Augustus…

        Reply
        • Richard J. Woerner says:

          Andy, you ask, “What evidence is there specifically for the resurrection?” Actually, this is a tired argument from atheists complaining about some absence of evidence.

          Define evidence Andy? What exactly is acceptable evidence that pertains to events from the 1st century and before? And for that matter, who determines the validity of that evidence? You? What is acceptable in a court of law? In fact, what makes the evidence for events prior to the split of BC and AD acceptable?

          For that matter, did folks who were historians in Israel record history as we do today? NOPE. Many recorded what they chose to record based upon what they believed fit their genre of history. This you would know if you came out of our century and looked at the genre’s and styles of ancient historians. Try reading the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. In that book, he interviews those that are more capable then yourself in terms of evidence.

          So also complain that their are not contemporary writers that did not write about Christ. WRONG. But even if there was just one outside of the Bible, that would be enough. So how many writers does it take Andy to become acceptable? If you actually searched the net and writers that have knowledge on the subject, you would see that there are a multitude of writers. Just because you may not accept their authority are what they wrote does not make it untrue.

          So basically, what you are really saying is that you have taken a volitional position to not accept what we have available today.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Define evidence Andy?”

            Mark quoted NT Wright as saying the evidence was as strong as for Augustus’ death in 14AD. So, I’m asking what that evidence is. I don’t really see why it’s up to me to defined ‘evidence’ here, as it’s not me claiming evidence exists for it.

            “Actually, this is a tired argument from atheists complaining about some absence of evidence.”

            I asked a simple question, Richard. Someone made a claim, and I asked what’s backing up the claim. You seem pretty defensive in response.

            “And for that matter, who determines the validity of that evidence?”

            Well Mark thinks the evidence is strong enough such that it convinces him Christianity is true. So Mark has determined it’s very valid. I’m asking what this evidence is that’s so strong.

            “Try reading the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel”

            Do you care to summarise summarise some of the best arguments contained in the book?

            “So basically, what you are really saying is that you have taken a volitional position to not accept what we have available today.”

            Not really – I’m just asking what the evidence is that’s convinced Mark. I can’t say any of your reply on his behalf has been very helpful.

          • David says:

            Richard you say, “So basically, what you are really saying is that you have taken a volitional position to not accept what we have available today.” In this particular instance Richard there is no one more guilty of that which you accuse Andy than you. You may not realize it but most of “what we have available to us today” was totally ignored by Strobel in “The Case For Christ”. Richard, you may be ignorant of this fact but Strobel stacked the deck to gather the answers he wanted to hear? He did not speak to one bible scholar that was not a conservative, inerrantist, evangelical. Strobel totally and deliberately ignored mountains of evidence that contradicts the arguments he put forth in his book. His work is pure apologetic spin. If you doubt this Richard, go read Richard Carrier’s refutation of the claims of Jerry Vardaman and his magic coins (search Vardaman, Richard Carrier, magic coins). I think you read about Vardaman in chapter of five of Strobel’s book. The fact that John McCray puts this forth as evidence and that Strobel accepts it, totally discredits McCray as a scholar and Strobel as an objective journalist. Richard, if you really want a balanced treatment of the topics covered in Strobel’s book read Robert Price’s book, “The Case Against The Case For Christ”. Then come back and accuse Andy of ignoring the evidence we have “available today”.

  4. David says:

    Really Brian, the bible is full of “accounts” that are obviously borrowed from the mythologies of Israel’s neighbors but when we see them in the bible they are “accounts”, not stories or folklore? Even Justin Martyr saw the problem of the parallels between the bible and ancient mythologies that pre-dated the new testament. It was so obvious to him that he came up with the ridiculous apologetic that Satan knew in advance the circumstances that would surround the advent of the messiah and that he counterfeited these circumstances in the mythologies of the ancient near east to discredit the Christ story when it arrived. I’ve even heard modern day pastors claim that the Jesus story is the myth that came true. Really? When is the “account” of Christ’s return going to come true? 100 more years? 1,000? 5,000? 20,000? I know, I know, 2 Peter 3:8. Jesus said it would be during the lifetime of his disciples. I think we can all agree that that didn’t happen. Christians constantly claim that Christ will return within a generation of Israel being re-established as a nation, 1948. There was a lot of hype in 1988 (1948 + 40 years, the typical number used to describe a generation in the bible). Nope. Again, nothing in 1998. Nothing in 2008. I figure 70 years as the number for a “generation” is about as long as one could ask for so to me, Dec. 31st, 2018 looks like the end game. But apologists, just like the writers of the bible will reconfigure the “prophecies”, recalibrate the time tables, add a multiplier to the failed prediction of years and go on believing.

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      Brian, you are talking about a method of interpreting end-times prophecies called dispensationalism. For the first 25 yrs or so of my Christian walk I held to this view until I could no longer overlook its flaws (some of which you mention above).
      Check out preterism online.. It makes MUCH better sense of end-times prophecies, and reveals what the early believers were really expecting to happen in their generation. It also perfectly interprets the “soon/near at hand/at the door” prophecies with the fact that it’s been 2000 years and still nothing?
      A good book to start with is Gary DeMar’s End-Times Madness. I think you’ll find it a fascinating read and a real eye-opener into what really happened in the first century, and how so much end-times prophecy was fulfilled just as Jesus said it would be: in THAT generation.

      Reply
      • David says:

        Mark, I’ve read a little about preterism and it seems to me just another desperate attempt to rescue Christianity from the unfortunate fact that “Jesus was wrong”. If you read the passages that follow Peter’s “Good Confession” in Matthew, Mark and Luke and the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” I think it’s pretty obvious that Jesus was talking about His return to earth with his heavenly angels, the general resurrection of the dead, the final judgement and the end of the age, within the lifetime of those who were hearing him speak. The only reason to interpret these passages any differently is to explain away a failed prophecy, by Jesus no less. Mark, if the passages I referenced above and the prophesies in the book of Revelation have already been fulfilled, what’s left? For a nice treatment of this topic check out Thom Stark’s book, “The Human Faces of God”.

        Reply
  5. David says:

    And Tim, there’s nothing free about your thinking. Your thinking is a complete slave to the doctrine of inerrancy. If I’m wrong, admit to a single error, contradiction, ethical deficiency or failed prophecy in the bible.

    Reply
  6. David says:

    “This is what frustrates me most about apologetics. Its practitioners decide in advance upon a set of non-negotiable conclusions that must be defended. They then work backwards, accepting or rejecting evidence, not on its merits, but on the basis of how it comports with their preordained conclusions.” Chris Massey from his website Cognitive Discopants

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      Then what about all the skeptics down through history (Sir William Ramsay, CS Lewis, Josh McDowell, Simon Greenleaf, Frank Morison, General Lew Wallace, etc. etc. etc.) who set out to destroy/discredit Christianity, worked FORWARD from the evidence, and ended up becoming Christians, based on the evidence ALONE, and not some emotional crisis? How are we to account for them?

      Reply
      • David says:

        How are we to account for all those that went from belief in Christ to skepticism? The movement of individuals in either direction proves nothing. And how do you know they didn’t have a crisis?

        Reply
        • Mark says:

          “The movement movement of individuals in either direction proves nothing.”

          It seems to matter to the fellow you quoted above (Chris Massey). That is what I was responding to.

          The only way to truly go from “belief to skepticism” is to disprove the resurrection of Christ. Christianity stands or falls with the Resurrection. Disprove that (beyond reasonable doubt) and Christianity collapses. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).

          Reply
          • David says:

            Mark, this claim is ridiculous, “The only way to truly go from “belief to skepticism” is to disprove the resurrection of Christ.” You speak of the resurrection as if it is some scientifically testable event. To say that Jesus was raised from the dead is not a truth claim. It is a faith claim. Your confirmation bias is misleading you. Mark, please “prove” for us that Christ was raised from the dead. Read Price’s book for just a sampling of reasons not to accept apologetic constructs as “proof” for the resurrection. Your standard for disconfirmation is as ridiculous as me asking you to disprove all the dying and rising god stories in ancient literature.

          • Mark says:

            Of course belief in Jesus’ resurrection is a truth-claim, David. It either happened in history or it didn’t. This also makes it an historical claim, as nd thus subject to the same tests we would apply to any event in history.
            And as for faith, the first disciples’ belief in Christ’s resurrection didn’t rely on ONE OUNCE of faith, blind or otherwise. This cannot be stressed enough.

            They said they SAW Him.

            They said they TALKED to Him (and He with them).

            They said they TOUCHED Him.

            They said they ATE with Him.

            They said FIVE HUNDRED of them SAW His ascension together.

            The central claim of Christianity is not based on “faith”, hearsay, rumor, visions or anything else.

            THE CENTRAL CLAIM OF CHRISTIANITY, THE RESURRECTION OF ITS FOUNDER, IS BASED ON MULTIPLE EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY BASED ON HARD, EMPIRICAL HANDS-ON PROOF.
            They would have to have been crazy NOT to believe such proof.
            Now, does all this mean Christianity is true?
            NO. We must examine the evidence. We can’t travel back in time to witness it ourselves, so we must examine it ourselves, as we would any event in history. We’re the eyewitnesses telling the truth? We’re they reliable? Did they have anything to gain by lying? Are the records we have of this event accurate? Is there any extra biblical support for this event? And so on.
            Of course we can’t prove/disprove the resurrection scientifically. Can’t do that with hardly any event in history, esp. ancient history. But we CAN examine the above evidence and come to a conclusion, I believe, beyond reasonable doubt, yes or no, as to the truth or falsehood of the empty tomb. Which I have.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “They said FIVE HUNDRED of them SAW His ascension together”

            Who are these 500? Do we have 500 individual accounts, or just one account that there were 500 witnesses?

            “They said they SAW Him.”

            Do we have direct accounts from the disciples themselves? I believe that common thought is that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John themselves. How do we know exactly what their claims were?

            “We’re the eyewitnesses telling the truth?”

            It’s more ‘are the accounts we have of what they claimed accurate’? If someone had burnished or added to their claims – or simply made them up decades later – how could we actually tell?

            “Did they have anything to gain by lying?”

            I’d say lots, yes. Two billion people venerate them 2000 years after their deaths, so if they were lying then it worked out well for them!

          • toby says:

            This is what I put on the post regarding Wallace knowing that the disciples weren’t fabricating events:

            Suppose you’re a lawyer in a court room hearing about a cold case and you hear this evidence presented:

            Detective: Here is the written eyewitness account of the murder of Woodrow Woodpecker. He was dragged behind a lawnmower, then beaten to death with a fly swatter. Popeye was there and said, “Well swab my deck!” Goofy said, “Gorsh.” Woodrow’s body was never recovered. An additional 120 people witnessed this event.

            Lawyer: May I see that document? (examines it) Detective, this case is 100 years old are any of these people still alive to verify this?

            Detective: No.

            Lawyer: When was this written?

            Detective: Soon after the events.

            Lawyer: Yes, but when?

            Detective: I don’t know.

            Lawyer: Who wrote this?

            Detective: I don’t know.

            Lawyer: Do you have the names of any of these 120 other witnesses?

            Detective: No.

            Lawyer: So you have presented us with a document of indeterminate age, you don’t know who wrote it, you don’t have any physical evidence of Woodrow’s existence or the death described here, you have no direct account from Popeye or Goofy or even know if they existed . . . what evidence do you have?

            Detective: I have a gut feeling.

            Lawyer: You’re a poor detective. Your “evidence” is hearsay junk. Move to dismiss this case.

            Judge: Case dismissed.

        • Mark says:

          They said they didn’t. CS Lewis for example (arguably the greatest Christian APOLOGIST of the 20th century), said this about his conversion: “That night I knelt by my bed, perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all Christendom.” But he said he was convinced by the EVIDENCE, and so, had to convert.

          Reply
  7. David says:

    Tim, you nailed it. You said, “Oh, so if you were born in Afghanistan, then you would be a Muslim?” A resounding YES. They absolutely would be Muslim. Unless perhaps, they were born into one of the relatively few Christian families in Afghanistan. Do you think they would magically be Christian if they were born into a Muslim, Afghanistan home? Tim, if you had been born in Afghanistan do you think you would be a contributor to this blog? Do you think you would speak English? Do you think you would have made this post on Thursday? I don’t. Surely you don’t either.

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      David, it sounds like you are objecting to Tim’s beliefs based on the Genetic Fallacy, which basically says that a belief is true or false based on its origin, rather than on its merits. Where we are born or who we hear truth-claims from has NO bearing on the truth or falsity of those claims. They must be judged on their own merits.
      For example, my 9th grade math teacher was a world-class jerk. Everybody in his classes hated him. Therefore, because he was a jerk, all the math he taught us was wrong, correct? Of course not. Jerk or not, his math skills were correct.
      Just so, it doesn’t matter that my folks dragged me to church every Sunday and told me Bible stories. HOW I learned about these things has no bearing on whether or not they are TRUE.
      Does God exist? Did Jesus even exist? Is the Bible true? Did this man really rise from the dead? Is the NT reliable? These are all questions that must be answered based upon evidence. It makes no difference who told us.

      Reply
  8. David says:

    Mark you said, “Just so, it doesn’t matter that my folks dragged me to church every Sunday and told me Bible stories. HOW I learned about these things has no bearing on whether or not they are TRUE.” So what I hear you saying is that the cultural setting in which you were born and raised has nothing to do with the perseverance of your belief in Christianity or your acceptance of the apologetic explanations put forth to confirm those beliefs. You could have just as easily been born in a Muslim home in Bagdad and turned out to be an evangelical Christian? That your culture did not play a critical role in the formation of your world view? Surely you don’t believe that. What I’m saying is that if a person is born into a Christian home and indoctrinated in Christian thought, they are absolutely more inclined to view the “evidence” offered up by apologists as true. I could try to refute all of the apologetic “proofs” of the “truth” of Christianity but others have already done it and much better than I could. Reading Lee Strobel’s book, “The Case For Christ” then reading Robert Price’s book, “The Case Against The Case For Christ” pretty much convinced me that there wasn’t much merit to the “truth” claims of Christianity. And by the way, I grew up in the home of a conservative, evangelical, Southern Baptist minister and spent most of the first 50 years of my life dedicated to following that course. You speak as if Christian apologetics has once and for all settled the debate over whether or not Christianity is true. Mark, as much as you would like to believe so, you can’t “prove” Christianity is true. And I’m not saying I can “prove” that it is not true. I’m saying that to me the preponderance of the evidence shows that the bible is some history, some myth, some folklore, etc. but not “true” in the way that an evangelical defines “true”. It appears to me that those who find solace in apologetics are the unwitting victims of confirmation bias, belief perseverance and illusory correlation. In my opinion the skeptics have the stronger argument.

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      “So what I hear you saying is that the cultural setting in which you were born and raised has nothing to do with the perseverance of your belief in Christianity or your acceptance of the apologetic explanations put forward to confirm those beliefs.”

      No, what I am saying is that said cultural setting has nothing to do with the TRUTH or FALSITY of the truth-claims of Christianity. Virtually everyone born and raised in Saudi Arabia is raised to believe that the Koran is the word of God, that Allah is the one true God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, and they therefore probably have “confirmation bias” and many will no doubt believe these claims to be true all their lives.

      So what? All of the above doesn’t make the claims of Islam TRUE. To claim otherwise is to commit the Genetic Fallacy: “Christianity/Islam is true/false because I was raised in a Christian/Muslim country.”

      Rubbish. We must evaluate all historical truth claims as we would examine any events in history: with the historical method. Eyewitness testimony, corroborating/disconfirming evidence, manuscript evidence, all must be taken into account.
      And as for “proving ” Christianity is true, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth did exist, did perform miracles, did claim to be God, did predict His own death and resurrection, really was crucified, really died, and REALLY ROSE FROM THE DEAD three days later.

      Proof positive, like 2+2=4? No. But convinced beyond reasonable doubt? Yes. Regardless of what I was raised to believe.

      Reply
      • Mark says:

        BTW, just to be fair, David, I totally agree with you when you say that “if a person is born into a Christian home and indoctrinated in Christian thought, they are absolutely more inclined to view the ‘evidence’ offered up by apologists as true.”

        Amen and amen. If we are too be honest seekers of truth we simply MUST put aside our biases, and THAT AIN’T EASY.

        Reply
  9. David says:

    Richard J. Woerner, if you are an honest truth seeker you will read Robert Price’s book that I mentioned above. I was excited to get to engage you regarding Strobel’s book. Are you there?

    Reply
  10. David says:

    Mark, the disciples didn’t necessarily say anything. The writers of the books of the bible, whoever they were, said the disciples did this or that. Joseph Smith made a lot of claims too but you don’t believe those based on “eye witness testimony” do you?

    Reply
    • Mark says:

      That is why we must examine the evidence, David. How reliable are the NT records? When were they written? And not just the Gospels, but the epistles, esp. of Paul, which were written much earlier and would be much closer to the events themselves. How do we know they were transmitted accurately? How many copies of the NT do we currently have? And so on.

      All this falls under the category of textual criticism, which is a very interesting field, dominated by scholars of all stripes. Just as an aside, I find it fascinating that an ATHEIST NT scholar (I forget the name) claims that the earliest Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, was written in AD 37, less than TEN YEARS after the Crucifixion.

      Reply
      • toby says:

        I find it hard to believe that anyone takes Paul seriously. He’s the Joseph Smith of the bible. “I saw a vision! Really! I did! Trust me!”

        Reply
  11. David says:

    Mark are you aware that textual criticism has lead the mainstream of bible scholars to conclude that Paul didn’t even write many of the epistles? And, that Peter had nothing to do with the writing of 2nd Peter and very possibly not even 1st Peter? And I love how biblicists claim that the books of the new testament have been preserved with no significant change in their message since their original writing. Never mind the fact that the oldest extant copies (scraps actually) of the new testament are late second century, early third. And the oldest copies that we could consider “complete” are from the 4th century CE. How on earth could you know they were faithfully handed down over 370 years? This too is a purely apologetic claim that cannot be supported with evidence. Who cares how many copies of the NT we have from the 4th century CE forward. Those copies tell us nothing of their contents when they were first penned and circulated. With the exception of conservative evangelicals, almost no one believes that Paul wrote the pastoral epistles. Luther himself sought to reject Esther, Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation as canonical. And we are just talking about the NT. The OT is full of obvious redactions and changes that demonstrate attempts to harmonize theological contradictions. Here’s an example from the NT to think about. When was Jesus born? Was it around 6 AD as Luke tells us or was it some time between 4 and 6 BC as Matthew’s gospel tells us? These two dates are irreconcilable but apologists will posit ANY imaginary scenario to explain away this contradiction rather than just admit that there is a contradiction. Does any of this mean anything to you Mark? Josh McDowell is ok if all you’re interested in is a conservative, evangelical source for information but you can’t stop there. You can’t just read Habermas, Licona and Turek. Read some critical scholars too. I find them much more honest and reasonable. Sit down with a copy of Lee Strobel’s “The Case For Christ” and Robert Price’s “The Case Against The Case For Christ” and read them side by side. I don’t know how anyone could read chapter five of Strobel’s book and Price’s related critique and not conclude that Strobel and John McRay are either total fools or just outright liars. Read some Thom Stark and Richard Carrier. Read some agnostics and atheists. Read some scholars from The Jesus Seminar. I know your pastor told you that doing such might cause you to spontaneously combust but it won’t happen. It’s ok. This exercise forever ended my trust in the integrity of evangelical apologetics. The paradigm change was at first disturbing and disorienting yet, in the final analysis, a huge breathe of fresh air. And just on a practical note, it’s been 2,000 years. Let that sink in, 2,000 years. 20 decades. Not exactly the definition of imminent to me.

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  12. Keith says:

    I have a question for Tim Stratton and each of the Christian responders thus far. Would you explain in some detail not only why you are a Christian, but as well how did you become a Christian?

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