This is a blog I’ve created to investigate the claims about the Christian faith and general questions about whether there is a God, as well as other difficult issues. You could say it’s a Christian apologetics site, though in a lot of ways, I’m just trying to be a thinker who searches for truth.
Almost anything related to faith is fair game, whether it’s a well-thought-out position on an issue or simply a response to some YouTube video out there. The goal is to be as objective as possible, rather than appealing to emotions or faulty assumptions. Even tradition is subjected to careful investigation.
I sincerely hope that people will feel challenged or even informed by the things written here. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot in the process as well. I admit, because of the informal nature of this blog and constant inner reflection, I am often editing or adding things to my posts…I’m trying to limit this practice, but it persists for now.
My target audience is probably people with genuinely open hearts and minds (everyone says they’re open) who just want to hear and consider different perspectives. Maybe they’re hung up on some logical point, or they need “intellectual permission” to believe.
If even one person out there is helped along the way, then this blog has been worth the effort. Also, please feel free to challenge my conclusions or assumptions (hopefully, with respect). As I say on many occasions, there are probably no people on earth who get every point of theology right, and there’s about a 100% chance I’m included. There are bound to be some oversights, but I can assure you that I’m honestly and earnestly searching for truth, so any light shed on the issues will be greatly welcomed.
My name is Joe and I was raised in a Christian home, so there’s no dramatic conversion story to regale you with. But I don’t think I fully appreciated the depths of Christ until my first year in college when I grasped him with my mind and not just my heart. It was a time of great growth and I even felt his presence beside me in my dorm room as if it were literal (I know this sounds hokey, but I know what I experienced). Even spiritual gifts were made evident to me and I was fortunate enough to share in some experiences that I will never forget.
Toward the end of that first year and before the second, some events took place in my life that left me disillusioned and bitter toward God. I knew it was a heart issue, so I didn’t fall away or anything like that, but it also made me very cynical toward the campus ministry in which I was involved. I found myself finding errors in the pastor’s words every Sunday, and looking around, I couldn’t help but feel like some of the people around me were blissfully ignorant.
What followed for the next few years was a coldness that I just couldn’t shake. I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart, but I didn’t want to submit. I went to retreats and other Christian events, but they generally didn’t have any lasting impact. If anything, I was turned off more.
One distinct memory I have is of a large annual retreat involving multiple college fellowships. During one of the nights, everyone was in deep prayer. After wrestling with God in my heart, I was enjoying a great time connecting with him. I was overjoyed at reconnecting with a seemingly lost love. But then I saw two staff members going around doing puzzling things. One would push praying students backward while the other would catch him or her. As these students would fall back, many of them had smiles on their faces. Maybe they were symbolically submitting to God by falling to the floor or something.
But when the guys came around to me, I didn’t want to fall. I was perfectly fine praying to God on my feet and lifting my hands. So for an awkward five seconds or so, I made it clear that I didn’t want to be pushed and I resisted. Puzzled, they walked on to the next person.
I’m sure some people thought I wasn’t spiritual enough or something, but it’s always been my view that God doesn’t need gimmicks. People are sometimes so overcome with spiritual joy that they do strange things, but I find it very disturbing that others will try to impose these experiences on them manually or artificially. While I came away from the retreat with some hope, my disapproval of the ministry was deepened. In those days, disagreeing with the ministry was almost construed by my peers as disagreeing with God, but I felt there was a big difference.
Fast-forward a few years and what began in my life was a subtle and gradual shift back to the steady and firm foundation laid by God. I left the home church of my youth, which I no longer felt was suitable or age-appropriate for my spiritual growth. I started attending a large nondenominational church where the pastor seemed to speak God’s words directly. I had always been skeptical of “mega” churches, thinking the pastors of such places must have enormous egos and only deliver soft, palatable messages for the masses. But he was different and spoke unabashedly about the truth of the Bible in ways that really made the word of God come alive. It made me realize that all those other preachers I had heard who had infused great amounts of personal interpretation into the scriptures were missing the point. The most effective and powerful messages come from the Bible and don’t need to be dressed up.
Another very important factor for me was that this pastor was meticulous and never loose with his teachings. I’ve read opinions where some people have accused him of being a “control freak,” but the results show in high accuracy and biblical soundness. I just can’t deal with sloppy preachers anymore.
My wife (girlfriend at the time I started regularly attending this church) played a big role in helping me shed my old skin. Not only did she push me to get right with God in a patient way, but she prayed for me for years without my knowledge. I’m convinced her prayers helped it to all “click” eventually. I remember reading a book one night in my bed and being so convicted of the reality of God and his presence that I broke into tears. I felt this wave of gratitude come over me and my heart opened in a way I thought was no longer possible after the naivety of youth had passed.
After reading books and websites to expand my knowledge, as well as engaging with the atheist side, I found myself continually challenged to learn more about God and to never be content in ignorance. I was excited to find that the word of God was doubly confirmed with logic and not faith alone. It lit a fire in me and convinced me that living apart from Christ was pointless.
One trend I have noticed—in churches, but especially apologetics—is that lack of rigorous formal training in spiritual matters really shows. It’s completely transparent. So it’s with great excitement that I began seminary in August 2011. Who knows where God will take me? I hope to grow as an informed lover of the truth and to combat fallacious thinking for as long as I am competently able.
Last updated: 5/29/12