28/05/12
by

Why I Am A Christian

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What I wish I knew as an atheist

It’s just a coping mechanism. Christians only invent a God because they need to feel loved and don’t get it on Earth. Believers blindly trust an outdated book which doesn’t hold up to science or objective history. That sums up what the Christian faith is, right?

That’s certainly what I thought. As a militant atheist, I dismissed Christianity because I studied science and saw media portrayals of what Christians seemed to hold true. And it all seemed like a load of bull. But a year ago I met someone who took the time of day to sit down and discuss what he believed, why he believed it, and why all my questions about his and my beliefs were not only valid, but answerable. I found this infinitely valuable as my objections to the faith were slowly and gently exposed as illogical, relativistic and worthy of a lot more weighty thought than I had presupposed.

So now, dear readers, though the wealth of words required to allow full discernment of Christianity and its importance in our lives cannot be fulfilled in a one page article, I delight in inviting you to read what I believe and contact me with the resultant questions.

Christianity, despite popular thought, is not some subjective religion. It isn’t just a tingly feeling or the sprinkling of water on your head as a baby, at least not in its true (and consequently only acceptable) form. Christianity is not a human-devised religion dedicated to the job of reconciling God to humanity and humanity to itself. It is about the reality that I do bad things, you do bad things and my Christian friends do bad things. And because God is just and fair, when we fail to live as He designed us to live, He who is righteous and perfect must execute fair punishment (which is something we would demand of any upstanding judge).

But here is the good news: despite our constantly destructive actions which affect us and each other, God loves us and created us to be in a beautiful relationship with Him. He who is madly in love with us wants us back and He has made a way for that to be possible. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the astonishing announcement that God is real and he has done the whole work of our reconciliation without a scrap of human assistance. This was all accomplished in the person of Christ.

This is not about our emotions or our actions to earn our worth. It is about the objective actuality that Christ did it all for us 2000 years ago. A claim that can be supported or dismissed with historical evidence. Faith, like anything else, is putting my trust into something. I put my trust in science’s results, my boyfriend’s loyalty, gravity’s infallibility, and these faiths are only as good as their subject. So, is there any merit in my trust in Christ?

When the Bible makes a claim about what Jesus did, it should be supported with eyewitness accounts and reliable historical transcription methods. Christianity is the only religion which offers a wealth of eyewitness evidence. In fact there are more reports of Christ’s life, death and resurrection than any other historical document in all of human history—with over 5000 more copies than that of the second most attested-to historical document: Homer’s Iliad! This is only one of the pieces of evidence which allowed my reason and logic to change my worldview from atheism to Christianity, and I can only hope that in the small amount of words on this little page you have seen the majesty and goodness of God through the finished work of Christ. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, as well as doing the balanced research to determine what faith-based system is objectively true in this world!

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  1. Saint John of the Cross says:

    Harriet -

    1. If Jesus and the Bible is true like you said, then why do Christians have to resort to bribery, brainwashing, and confrontation to get the point across. Isn’t the message of Jesus enough anymore? Or do free jandals have to be added in as well?

    2. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”. Do you believe this verse to be true?

  2. Tim Smith says:

    The issue is not whether Jesus lived, I think that is quite irrefutable, the issue is finding truth in what the New Testament writers say he’s done.

    “at least not in its true (and consequently only acceptable) form” – I must ask what authority you have to claim to know the truth, and know that religions that go against your assumed truth are wrong thereby. Need I tell you that the Westboro Baptist church proclaims truth when they picket “God hates fags” (Leviticus 18:22). How can we tell them they are wrong when they are obeying the laws of the scripture? to do so would be an admition that the laws of the bible are not morally absolute and infallible, and therefore the God of the bible is seemingly fallible and malevolent.

    “Faith, like anything else, is putting my trust into something” – absolutely. The arguement would be, however, whether your faith is founded on fact or myth. The evidence that gravity exists is infinitely more profound than the evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin. I think these things simply cannot be compared on the same level.

    I feel we have a lot to talk about, perhaps we could meet? or at least email?

  3. Matthew says:

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What evidence do you have for Jesus’ resurrection? The bible seems to conflict on Jesus’ resurrection (http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg07.htm). Is there a more reliable source for Jesus’ resurrection/other evidence apart from the Bible?

    It seems as if you started off an ignorant atheist, but have only endeavored to change the atheist part. What evidence do you have for God being an almighty judge? How can you show that we were created in God’s image?

    And Christ’s resurrection is not analogous to gravity, science, or your boyfriend. We have very good reasons to think that those three will continue to do what we expect in the future. Jesus is on much shakier ground.

  4. Harriet says:

    Hi y’all!
    Harriet here. Awesome to see questions already. I’m a little bogged under with uni work til term ends, so will attempt to answer these questions as quickly as possible but do bear with me if answers are all a little delayed. For now I will respond first and very simply to “Saint John of the Cross””s questions, as they were great questions and very simple for me to do so with the time i have :)

    1. If Jesus and the Bible is true like you said, then why do Christians have to resort to bribery, brainwashing, and confrontation to get the point across. Isn’t the message of Jesus enough anymore? Or do free jandals have to be added in as well?

    I absolutely agree with you on this. Why Christians resort to anything but sharing the gospel is unnecessary and I would love if it were not this way! I think, unfortunately, that the average uni student is not open let alone keen to actually sit down and have a conversation purely about Jesus or the Bible. In that sense, Christians try to reach people where they are at. I don’t think Christians ever go out on a bribery, brainwashing or confrontational mission, but instead if they are able to share the truth of Christ and the Bible by first giving students a free pair or jandals or whatnot, then that may be the (only) opening that is possible to actually talk to a student about Jesus without them brushing it off quickly. Everybody loves free stuff, so its not a surprise that uni students usually know the on-campus Christians for their handouts. If there was a table of Christians at uni NOT giving out free stuff and JUST sharing the good news of Christ, nobody would come (have actually experienced this situation, so know it to be true). It is not a brainwashing or bribery thing, it is instead reaching students with what they want right at that moment (whether it be lollies or jandals or flight center vouchers) and then giving them what we believe they truly need – Christ.

    2. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”. Do you believe this verse to be true?

    Like all scripture, especially New Testament verses, I take the meaning of this seriously. Paul, the author of this book, self-consciously writes with the authority of an apostle (a position held by those who were miracle workers and could bear personal witness to the risen Christ) rather than simply offering an opinion. This statement is given in the context of Paul’s apostolic instructions to the church for the ordering of church practice when the church is assembled together. In that context, two things are prohibited: (1) Women are not permitted to publicly teach Scripture and/or Christian doctrine to men in church (the context implies these topics), and (2) women are not permitted to exercise authority over men in church. (The reference for both “teaching” and “exercise authority” here is within the context of the assembled church.) Women teaching other women, and women teaching children, are not in view here, and both are encouraged elsewhere (on women teaching women, cf. Titus 2:4; on women teaching children, cf. 2 Tim. 1:5). Nor does this passage have in view the role of women in leadership situations outside the church (e.g., business or government). “Exercise authority” represents Greek authenteō, found only here in the NT. Over 80 examples of this word exist outside the NT, however, clearly establishing that the meaning is “exercise authority” (not “usurp authority” or “abuse authority,” etc., as sometimes has been argued). Since the role of pastor/elder/overseer is rooted in the task of teaching and exercising authority over the church, this verse would also exclude women from serving in this office (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). Thus when Paul calls for the women to be quiet, he means “quiet” with respect to the teaching responsibility that is limited in the assembled church. Paul elsewhere indicates that women do speak in other ways in the church assembly (see 1 Cor. 11:5). See also note on 1 Cor. 14:34–35.
    I definitely believe in the biblical doctrine of complementarianism with respect to male and gender roles. God does not put one gender’s worth over another, in fact they are asserted as perfectly equal in worth through Christ (Gal. 3:28). While we are equal, there are some roles which God has assigned for men, and some for women. Teaching within a church context (as explained above) is one of the roles reserved for men, which I support fully. Hope that answers fully!

    Will be back for more questions/answers in the the coming weeks :)

  5. Tim says:

    Looking forward to your reply. Just a few more points on the reply you’ve given already:
    You say “nor does this passage have in veiw the role of women in leadership positions outside the church”, how do you know this? The passage doesn’t specify this, so we must assume that it includes women in all leadership positions on a broad scale. We know from previous passages in the New and Old Testament, as well as non biblical accounts of social behaviour, that women were considered inferior until recently. For example, look at the Ten Commandments: “thou shall not covet thy neighbours wife, nor his oxen nor his ass, nor his servant”, This commandment indecently lumps the women in with the rest of the property, suggesting they were not considered equal to men. This more than the other commandments, proves that the decalogue was written specifically for (and probably fabricated by) bronze age Palestinian MALE farmers (who were presumed to have staff), whose economy was built on agriculture and whose wealth was counted in livestock and people. Women, apparently, were not the target of the decalogue.
    Human rights in a broader sense also seems to be a myth in the bible. Slavery is actively called for and encouraged, Infants are slaughtered at the hands of Moses, virgins are ‘kept for soldiers’, and entire tribes are massacred under divine order. In the New Testament, one has only to read of how Jesus treats his mother to see how little an issue this was to him.
    The rights of women and slaves appear to be of little importance to neither Jesus, Paul or any other biblical figure. And with the above context in mind i would argue that the quoted passage of Timothy is yet another transparent attempt to keep women in the silent and submissive role they had always had.

  6. Chris Allen says:

    Thanks for the read, Harriet.

    Now, down to my thoughts, which I’ve limited down to one for prioritisation. First of all, I describe myself as an secular atheist, liberal, and skeptic (that’s right, spelled with a K; good definition at http://tinyurl.com/6uwugnr). My biggest issue regarded “eyewitness testimony” in the Bible. (Looking here for a general idea: http://tinyurl.com/7zetnmt) “Even the most reliable eyewitness account does not meet the standard of ‘extraordinary evidence’ that we would need to substantiate an ‘extraordinary claim’” – i.e. it cannot be trusted as evidence. Moreover, the New Testament books describe events that happened decades before their composition. Thus, they are not eyewitness testimony in the first place.

    Kind regards,
    Chris Allen

    P.S. What’s with the term “militant atheist”? It’s competely illogical. An atheist who merely wishes to spread his views as religious folk do is not militant in nature.

  7. Harriet says:

    I don’t know how many people will be checking this anymore, but if you do, come to SU218 on the 15th of August and I will be dealing with the various questions I have been asked as a result of this article, as well as expanding more on the article’s content :)

  8. bilbo says:

    Will there be any free stuff???

  9. Coolio (Seriously, my name's Coolio) says:

    If you were ever a militant atheist, you wouldn’t be a Christian, would you?

    Stop giving me cancer in TWO forms of media.

  10. Harriet says:

    Hi! There is no reason to believe that having once been a militant atheist, I cannot do a 180 and become a Christian. Recently the term militant atheist has been used to describe the New Atheism movement, which is characterized by the belief that religion “should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”… I can certainly say that I believed that! Which is why I came to the table thinking I could destroy all the arguments of my theist friends. When I actually looked into the rational arguments for and against, it came to light that my former views did not hold strong, and consequently my worldview changed!