Sunday, February 03, 2008

Why I Am A Christian

This week one of my philosophy students asked me why I am a Christian. And why, among the world religions, I would choose Christianity. I always enjoy dialoguing with students, so much appreciated the questions. Here's the letter I wrote to him.

Hi _____ – I’m glad you wrote me.

Briefly, my answer to your question as to why I am a Christian is this. My faith is absed on the following.

My conversion experience
My reflection on that experience
My ongoing studies
My ongoing experience

My experience

From age 18-21 I was heavily into alcohol and drugs. I flunked out of college. A lot of things were getting ruined in my life as a result of my habits.

I began to see that I was in a deep hole dug by myself. I didn’t know where to turn.

One day I prayed to God and said, “God if you are real and if Jesus is real, then help me. If you help me I’ll follow you.”

That was the last day I did drugs. Now it’s 37 years later. I have not even been tempted to do drugs again which, to me, is nothing short of a miracle.

I attribute this to Jesus.

My reflection on that experience

I began to study about Christianity. Even though I was raised in a church I really did not pay much attention to religious things. I just went on Sundays. I didn’t hate it. It just, practically, meant little or nothing to me.

So when I became a follower of Jesus I wanted to know: is Christianity true? I changed my major in college from music theory to philosophy.

In philosophy I was trained in, among other things, the Enlightenment Euro-centric worldview that is reductionistic and, thus, extremely skeptical of religious and spiritual things.

I began to conclude that even when I applied the best reductive analysis to my conversion experience I could not shake the idea that there really is a God and that Jesus is God the Son, come to us.

My ongoing studies

My ongoing studies continue to confirm my initial act of faith. Here are some things I believe to be academically sound.

That there is a God, and that good reasons can be given to believe in God. I believe it is more rational to believe in God than to disbelieve.
That the New Testament documents are reliable in their witness to the historical person Jesus.
That a strong inductive argument can be made for the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
That, among the world religions, there are reasons why only Christianity has truly gone global. The other major world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism) are profoundly ethnic, whereas Christianity is truly multi-ethic. Also, only Christianity tells us that God loves us not for what we do but for who we are. The Christian word for this is “grace” and, to me, this is huge. It makes Christianity more plausible than the other major alternatives.
I have also taught in various places around the world and observed the world religions close-up, as well as studied them.

My ongoing experience

For the past 27 years I have spent many hours each week praying. I have kept a spiritual journal, which is a record of the voice of God to me. I have written over 2500 pages of journal entries.
I am experiencing and seeing more and more evidences of the reality of Christianity in my own life and the lives of others, to include those in my church and in the various places where I go to teach and speak. So, I find much experiential and even empirical confirmation of what I believe.

I hope this helps.

If you want to ask questions that are more specific let me know!


John Piippo