As a child I was raised going to church every Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night. I heard all the Bible stories and as far as I understood at the time, believed them. I even went to the pastor in the 5th grade and told him I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart to forgive my sins, but was told I didn’t need to do that again since I had already done it when I was younger. I couldn’t recall the first time, but took his word for it. I continued in church and was involved in youth group activities during middle school and into high school.
But in 10th grade I became an agnostic while taking biology class. The teacher said nothing in class about God one way or the other. He was simply teaching out of the standard biology textbook. And what I was taught was that life came about through natural processes.
In church I had never heard anything about the intersection of the Bible and science, so had no way to evaluate what I was being taught in school. In church there was just faith in ancient Bible stories, but in school I was learning what I understood to be the facts of modern science. And, of course, facts will win out over blind faith every time. At least it did in my thinking.
So if the diversity of life on earth came about naturally, I figured there was not much for God to do. With God out of a job, I began to think that maybe God did not exist. I quit going to church since I could no longer see going and singing about a God I no longer believed in. To me, God seemed like some mythical character the ancient Greeks wrote about, and Jesus was just a religious teacher who lived a few thousand years ago, nothing more. I didn’t see how I could continue believing any of those old Bible stories I’d grown up hearing. They no longer related to my life in the modern world.
However, during my first year in college I met a guy who seemed to know some things about the Bible. He pointed to the lives of men and women who had lived and worked with Jesus and the accounts they gave of Jesus being raised from the dead. I had heard about Jesus’ resurrection in church and knew that’s why we celebrated Easter. But I don’t recall hearing about eyewitnesses or historical evidences for this actually happening. This was news to me and caused me to reconsider what the Bible, as a historical document, had to say about Jesus.
After considering the historical evidence from the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, I reasoned that if Jesus pulled off rising from the dead, then he must be who he claimed to be, the Son of God. And if he was the Son of God, then God must be real, and I better pay attention to what he had to say about life and re-connecting to God. I found out later that “faith” means “conviction based on evidence.” So it was in this sense that I placed my faith (conviction based on evidence) in the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection for my life and became a follower of Jesus.
Over the years since then, I have read a number of experts on the life of Jesus, both pro and con, and found the evidence for his resurrection to be more and more compelling. What anchors my commitment to Christ is the apologetic force of the historical evidence, the inescapability of the resurrection as the only reasonable explanation for an empty tomb, the appearances of Jesus to his followers, and their transformation from lowly commoners to bold heralds for what they had experienced.
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