Posts Tagged ‘doubt’

“One of the crucial roles of servanthood needed in our day is brokenhearted boldness in the proclamation of God’s truth. I mention this, because the spirit of relativism in our day has created an atmosphere in which speaking the truth with conviction, and calling others to believe it, is not considered humble. The typical condemnation of Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven (John 5.23, 14.6) is that it is arrogant.

G. K. Chesterton saw this coming in 1908, when he wrote,

‘What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction, where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth. This has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert: himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt: the divine reason. The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. There is a real humility, typical of our time, but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.'”

Piper, John. “Humble Yourself in Childlikeness, Servanthood, and Brokenhearted Boldness.” What Jesus Demands from the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006.

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I grew up in the church and always considered myself a Christian. All through high school and college, I knew that I was a sinner and that Christ was the only one who could save me. I could not save myself. I knew this in my mind. However, I never felt affection for God, especially not over my affection for things in the world, like videogames and girlfriends. I lived a moral life, by human standards. My friends deemed me gentle, considerate, and loyal. All my classmates and teachers held me in high esteem. But the status of my salvation was always uncertain to me. I never rested in the assurance of faith.

At the end of my sophomore year at BGSU in 2007, I learned about the concept of predestination. It threw me into despair because I felt utterly powerless in my salvation. This, along with atheist literature, eventually spurred me to reject God. I decided to openly abandon my faith. I lived as I wanted, striving after the impulses and desires of my heart, caught up in the affairs of the world. I flaunted intellectual objections to Christianity and religion, but I still favored my reputation as a gentle and loyal human being.

After about a year of reading atheist and Christian arguments, I returned to God in my mind. With a refreshing change of perspective, I discovered that Christianity had the answers to the big questions in life. I even found it more reasonable intellectually than the atheist arguments against it. Over the next three years up to the present day, God has drawn me closer to Him so that I acknowledge Him in my heart, not just my mind. At first, I followed Him because it made sense. But the more I learn about Him from His Word, the more I recognize my need for Him, the more I genuinely love Him and desire to glorify Him and obey Him.

God has now given me grace to look at my past and see it with clarity. Prior to 2007, I did not have a change of heart. I did not live in a lot of sin, but I counted that as my own self-righteousness. I never had much affection for God because I gave myself my worth. In my eyes, God saved me because He saw value that I had apart from Him. That is to say, I didn’t need Him entirely. This is exactly the kind of belief that would not renew my mind, would not lead to repentance or self-denial, would not humble me, would not let me trust or love God, and would not produce authentic good works pleasing in His sight. It would send me to hell.

So it was God’s glorious will that I be exposed to the concept of predestination (the doctrines of total depravity and unconditional election,) that would show me that I really was completely devoid of any good or value. In that summer, I felt so helpless and powerless to attain my own salvation, and that was the right way to feel. That is exactly what leads me now to throw myself on the ground before Him who is my only hope and salvation. It is my joy to fear the God who can destroy my body and soul in hell, who loved me despite my utter lack of loveliness, who came Himself down into the world to save it, who crushed Himself whom He loved so that sinners could be justified and His wrath satisfied, who has all authority on earth and in heaven. Glory be to God!

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During my time in agnosticism, I obviously had many different questions and doubts about Christianity. One particular objection that I remember having is one that I find pretty simple to refute now. I chose to start with this objection because it requires no outside research and extra work on my part, which many of the other topics are going to involve.

I remember thinking to myself that the only reason I was ever a Christian was because my parents raised me that way. Most of our family and friends were Christians, and when someone has certain beliefs and values, they tend to pass them on to their children. If I were born in the Middle East, say, odds are that I would be Muslim. Looking back now, I don’t really see why I considered this one of my objections. I guess it just bothered me that one’s religious beliefs seemed partly dependent on the region of the world in which one grew up. The majority of South Americans are Roman Catholic, the Middle East is known for its Muslims, and most Indians are Hindu. So any children born in these places are very likely to be raised with the dominant values and beliefs of that society.

But of course, to believe something just because someone else does or because most people do isn’t a good idea. That would be foolish. I don’t believe the New Testament just because it’s part of the Bible and my pastor tells me to. I believe it because I have seen strong evidence that the books of the New Testament are historically reliable and true. I’m not a Christian because my parents raised me so; I’m a Christian because I’ve realized that I am fallen – I deserve eternal death. But God has forgotten my sins – He’s forgiven them and thrown them out into the depths of the sea so that He doesn’t even remember them anymore! I have faith from Him that He is the only one who can – and does – save me, give me eternal life.  My mom and dad first brought me to church and let me hear about Jesus, but they are not my reason for believing what I believe.

Likewise, people who were raised in other countries can look critically at their own belief systems and decide for themselves whether or not they’re worth believing. I hope they are not content to just take their society’s word for it.

So in the end, what I thought was an objection to Christianity was actually just a general objection to blind beliefs with no basis or regard to other possibilities. Silly me. 😀

-hasta pronto

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