I became a Christian in 1986, when I was two years old. My much older and wiser sister Jenny, of the vintage 1980, sat me down on the fuzzy blue couch that had its back to the street-facing windows in our house on Chadsey drive. She explained to me that Jesus loved me, that I was separated from him, and that I needed to pray to accept Him into my heart. And so I did.
Now, be honest with me. Were you expecting this to be an apologetic post – an explanation of the evidence for the historical resurrection of Jesus, some philosophical arguments for the existence of God, or a run-down of the ancient scriptural manuscripts we have that made long lists of specific predictions that have since come true, or else that the post would have been entitled “How I Became a Christian”? The thing is, this truly is why I became a Christian. I committed my heart to Jesus because my sister told me I needed to. That’s not why my faith remains. But it’s why it began.
My faith has been through ebbings and flowings and its underlying rationale has shifted, and I hope to get the chance to tell you about some of that sometime. And I love the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity. But tonight I simply want to say that one ought not discount another’s faith merely because of how he came to hold it. I grew up in a round-earth believing family and quite honestly, that’s why I began believing that the earth is round. My teacher’s taught me about dinosaurs and so I memorized their names and characteristics. Dinosaurs are cool. And I began believing in their historicity because grown-ups taught me about them. It had nothing to do with rigorous investigation of the evidence.
But pointing out why I came to believe these things does nothing to discredit them in themselves.
Similarly, saying that religion is an emotional crutch, or that someone came to believe in it just because of their cultural or familial context does nothing to disprove the historical and religious claims themselves.
By the way, don’t we all need an emotional crutch? I thank God He is willing to serve that purpose for me from time to time.
I still believe that dinosaurs existed, but there is a very real sense in which my teachers could have been wrong about their existence. Yet, there is no sense in which Jenny could have been wrong about Jesus.
The difference is that I have never met a dinosaur.