When I was very young, I had a religious and spiritual experience by which I asked Jesus to be a part of my life. However, at that time I did not fully know what that really meant or entailed. Actually, I think it is safe to say that I really didn't know Jesus well at all, intellectually or existentially. My parents were (and still are) very committed Christians, and they took me to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Unfortunately, the evangelical churches we attended were not strong on explicitly teaching theology (the study of God and His nature) and explaining doctrine (core beliefs of the Christian faith). As a result, I did not grow deeply in faith or knowledge. I knew the basics of Christian belief, but I didn't know why I believed them, nor could I explain why these beliefs were true.
As one could imagine, I was an easy target for the anti-theistic skeptics at university. During my undergraduate and graduate studies in English, professors and fellow students bombarded me with harsh critiques and tough questions about the Bible, miracles, the historical Jesus, prayer, the nature of morality, the existence of purpose and meaning, and the attributes of God (if God even existed). My mind was steeped in postmodern worldviews that informed all aspects of my education. I was taught to be critical of everything, to question everything, to doubt all traditions, to discard grand narratives, and to revel in the subjective. Apparently, this was true freedom. I was told all that God talk and moral rigidity of Christianity was too confining and restraining. I came to believe that skepticism meant true liberation.
Looking back now, I see that Jesus is a loving Friend, Lord, and King. Even as I strayed from Him, He never left me. When I received my PhD and took my first university teaching position in New York, God brought special people into my life who challenged me intellectually and spiritually to reconsider the historical claims of Christ that are fully revealed and clearly expressed in the Bible. After some brief reflection, I realized that my skepticism encouraged me to question and doubt everything around me'¦except my skepticism. I never thought to be skeptical of my skepticism. I began to ask different questions: Are there rationally satisfying arguments for and evidences of God's existence? If God exists, is He accurately revealed in the Bible? If so, how can I know? Who was the historical Christ, and how can we know? Is the New Testament mainly myth and story, or is it reliable historical testimony? If it is reliable history, what does it say about Jesus Christ? Is it reasonable to believe in miracles? Are there intellectually viable reasons to believe the resurrection of Jesus? If so, then doesn't this validate His claims and teachings? If so, then what is the justification for my skepticism and unbelief?
These, and other related questions, led me on a quest for answers and knowledge. I knew what my skepticism taught me (I now find it rather ironic to consider skepticism as teaching anything at all, but that is another discussion). However, I didn't know if there were rational arguments and reliable evidences supporting the Christian claims. I figured there HAD to be SOMETHING behind it; after all, it had survived nearly two thousand years of constant intellectual assaults from a variety of ideological perspectives. That a little over two billion people today believe Christianity to be true suggested to me that either there were a lot of duped folks or that maybe, just maybe, there was something behind the claims of Christ.
I began reading such Christian apologists (those who explain and defend the Christian faith) as Ravi Zacharias, Norm Geisler, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, and Paul Copan. I also read C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. Wow! I realized that I was the one who had been duped. My academically imposed skepticism did not show me truth but rather hid it from me. My mind was not liberated by skepticism; rather, it was imprisoned by cynicism, deceit, and intellectual dishonesty. Skepticism did not free me to think for myself. I was forced into an academic group think through emotional manipulation, bandwagon appeal, and the constant threat of ad hominem attack if I dared to think for myself and disagree. The light of truth broke the enslaving bonds of dark deceit. I was free at last.
In 1997 I renewed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, fully accepting Him as not only Savior but also as Lord. Ever since, He has continued to bless me with a deep and abiding faith that is spiritually nourishing, existentially relevant, and intellectually meaningful. There is no greater relationship that one could ever have, for it transcends mere religiosity, binding the physical with the metaphysical, imbuing all reality with meaning, and preparing the soul to praise Him for eternity. How can I not but love and worship Him, the only One who loved and accepted me despite my rejection and hatred of Him?
Please let me know if you have any specific questions about faith in Jesus Christ, for I fully believe in God's invitation to "Come now, and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus calls us to love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds (Matthew 22:37). Therefore, what we believe in our hearts must make sense in our minds. It is my prayer that God's grace may rest upon you such that you too may experience an eternity in the presence of the Infinite Creator, the Great I AM. If I can be of any help, please let me know.