Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote of the Day: "People Say"

"You can never find a Christian who has acquired this valuable knowledge, this saving knowledge, by any process but the everlasting and all-sufficient 'people say.'" -- Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, via PJ

My path to Christianity included the following elements;

1. Introspection as to who I was, what was the meaning and purpose of life (if any), and the implications of mortality -- the extinction of the self, the "I". Was I the product of God, as taught by the Church, or the product of impersonal forces, as taught by secular voices?

2. As I was pondering these things, one day I noticed a cartoon with little human caricatures running around on the page, speaking. I concluded that just as it is unbelievable to believe in a cartoon but not a cartoonist -- without knowing anything about who he is or what he is like --  it is reasonable to infer a Creator from man -- infinitely more complex and wonderful than the pale shadow of a two-dimensional cartoon character.

I chose to believe in God. I chose to believe that life was not meaningless and without ultimate purpose, and that there was at least a chance that the deepest aspirations and longings of a young heart could be valid and not the cruel results of a mindless, impersonal, indifferent process. It was an existential choice made against the prevailing ideology of my day. It would not make me popular.

3. I studied all major world religions to see if this Creator who I now believed existed had a name or an identity. How can all these religions "see" all these incompatible different things? God may be in one of them, or none. Expecting not to find a religion I could believe in, I planned on a "roll your own" faith that would allow me to maintain a substantially independent lifestyle, while enjoying the profession of being a "spiritual" person"!  Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Egyptian...

But I was seeking, and I was seeking with sincerity of heart.

4. I was impressed with the Judaic portrayal of God which stood out in contrast with all the other surrounding religions (and deities) of their day. How did an obscure tribe scratching out an existence on the hills of Judea manage to come up with such a portrayal of God -- omnipotent, just, Creator?  That left an impression on me, as we headed into the second year, second university semester -- and destiny.

5. Most of all, I was impressed by the person and words of Christ, when I studied Introduction to the New Testament. Although not a believer, I found myself defending him in class. I thought the Passover Plot was a second-rate attempt to discredit Christ and the disciples.

6. I concluded that the words of Christ were more than the words of a mere man who lived then died. They are the words of a man who lives. That was my tipping-point. And it was that conviction that led me to bow and pray out loud in my dorm room at university, "Jesus, I believe you are alive, and therefore, Lord. Because I believe this, I will follow you".

7. I later read in Romans 10:9-10 that if a person "believes in his heart that God raised Christ from the dead, and confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus, he shall be saved".

And that is what I had done.


Dollops said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. "People say" is the great mystery behind all of human knowledge and wisdom. We could live unquestioning lives like other species but instead are inspired to "discover" some of the hows and whys of this universe. My personal journey to faith took nearly a lifetime and I'm still looking for the meaning of the link between Christ and God (surely there are other sapient creatures in the universe - do they too have a Divine Intervener?) Huge questions, puny intellects.

RkBall said...

I would be interested in hearing more about your personal journey to faith.

"Huge questions, puny intellects".

So true.

Joe said...

If Christianity were the most complete explanation of our existence and it is.

If Christianity were the most complete philosophy and it is.

If Christianity were the highest morality and it is.

It still would not explain Christianity. Christianity must be lived not observed. Before the philosophy or the morality or the science Christianity is EXPERIENCE. Experience pressing against the locked door and discovering it to be ajar. Experience the joy of discovery and revelation. Experience of LOVE that exceeds all expectations.

To those who have begun I say, "Press on for you have barely begun". To those who have not experienced I ask, "Why not?".

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"