Why should we believe that Christianity is true?
In this series of essays, which I wrote for my church's theology website, I attempt to answer the question: why should we believe that Christianity is true? But before asking that question, perhaps we should ask another: why should we care whether Christianity is true? Many people are simply not interested in religion. If they can live a life of happiness and spirituality without Christianity, then why bother investigating its truth? Let me suggest two reasons: the tragedy of human existence and the magnitude of the claims involved.
For millions of people all over the world, life is an unmitigated horror. From the slums of South America and Asia to war-ravaged villages in Africa, life for many people is a tragic succession of misery, hunger, loss and pain. Even here in the America, tragedy forces its way into almost every life. Most of us will live to see our parents and our friends die. Even if we ourselves manage to miraculously escape most personal tragedy, we will almost certainly see others struggle their way through break-ups, miscarriages, affairs, divorces, cancer, and Alzheimer's. I know these reflections are not pleasant. I know we would rather think happy, positive thoughts. But this is the world we live in.
Am I claiming that the tragedy of human existence is evidence that God exists? No. But it does absolutely and finally strip us of any claimed right to apathy. Anyone who has honestly and seriously thought about death, who has seen premature infants in the neonatal ward struggling to live, who has seen malnourished, barefooted children playing next to open sewers, or who has watched their elderly mother slowly drift into the oblivion of dementia can no longer shrug off religion as a matter of indifference.
Second, the magnitude of the claims of Christianity merit our attention. Some truths do not matter a great deal to us. If someone claimed that I owned an even number of pencils, it would make very little difference to me whether they were correct or incorrect. But if someone claimed that I had an undetected brain tumor, they would get my immediate attention. I might reject their claim as false, but I would be incredibly foolish to pretend that the truth of their claim was unimportant. In the same way, when we come to Christianity, we are told that there is a God to whom we owe everything, that He will one day judge the world, and that our eternal future rests on our response to Him. Now we can reject this claim as false or we can embrace it as true. But what we cannot do is shrug our shoulders, yawn, and feign indifference. As C.S. Lewis said, "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
So I urge readers to consider these essays with the recognition of the seriousness of the subject. It is not an intellectual exercise. It is a question to be pondered, meditated on, and wrestled with. And at its heart is a person who has claimed to bring good news to a broken world. I pray that all of us will come to the place where we not only believe it intellectually but where we respond to it personally. A Christian is someone who says to God: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son" and who hears God say "'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him... let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." - Luke 15:11-32
If anyone reading this essay has questions about it or about Christianity in general, feel free to e-mail me at Neil -AT- Shenvi.org. I also highly recommend the book The Reason for God by Tim Keller. It is phenomenal. Free sermons treating many of the topics covered by this book can be found here.