• Caleb Harrelson

Why are you a Christian?


What would you say if someone were to come up and ask you: “Why are you a Christian?”

Here are a few of the common responses I hear from believers:

“I am a Christian because…

… I experience God’s love every day.

….I prayed to God and felt like I got an exact answer!

…I have experienced God when I worship….I have experienced the supernatural.

…I am a Christian because I grew up that way.

…I was welcomed into the church and since people were so loving, I knew it must be true.

…I have a testimony- I overcame a bad addiction or painful circumstance in my life through trusting in Christ. Therefore, I know Christianity is true…

…I like to serve others and Christianity teaches us to do that. Thus, Christianity must be true.

…I can receive forgiveness when I come to Christ.

…I read the Bible and it felt like it was speaking directly to me.

…because Christianity is true."

Most of these answers are good and valid. In no way do I want to discount these answers. I am a Christian and believe Christianity is true and these answers can be reflections of legitimate experiences with God. However, what happens when we hear these answers from someone from another worldview:

"I am a Mormon because...

…I prayed about it and felt like God gave me an answer as to why it’s true

…I felt so welcomed into the Mormon Church (i.e. Latter Day Saints/LDS). People are so caring, and service oriented there, so it must be the true church.

…I read the book of Mormon and I feel like Joseph Smith is a true Prophet

…I have a testimony of overcoming my doubt by the assurance that God gave me a “ (a feeling in my heart that LDS gospel is true is a true prophet).” Therefore, I testify that the Joseph Smith is a true prophet and has restored the gospel and the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood and the book of Mormon is true.

...I have had a supernatural experience confirming to me that the mormon gospel is true."

"I am a New Age/Buddhist/ Pantheists because...

…I feel like I get to use my connection with the energy in the cosmos to help people (tarot angel cards, channeling, reiki energy healing, etc.)

…I feel like it is the most accepting viewpoint because we don’t judge anyone. Therefore, it must be true.

…I have experienced spirits that are comforting to me and assure me that I am of service to the rest of all of humanity. I have seen the supernatural. Therefore, it must be true.

…I believe that we are all one in the universe anyways and must learn to tap into that oneness and power within ourselves.

…meditation makes me feel more relaxed and like I’m discovering who I really am and connect with the universe more.

...I feel like if I follow the 8 fold path and get rid of my ego I will have good karma."

"I am Secular Humanist (atheism) because…

...I don’t think there is any need for God. I can determine the purpose of my existence by myself and do what makes me feel good. I believe in “personal autonomy” and don’t want to submit to a divine being that I’m not even convinced exists or is good. If He is good, why is there evil and suffering in the world?

...I don’t need God to live a moral life.

… “Science” has shown that there is no need for God to bring everything here today. Evolution explains away any need for God. Any religious text written in the past is just a reflection of wishful thinking of trying to control the masses or make you feel better yourself. Jesus was probably just a good teacher and then religious zealots distorted his message.

… I think that “empathy” is the best way to determine morality. If we just thought about how other people might feel more, then we would have a better society.

…I have overcome my bad habits and addictions through some self-help programs. I am my own higher power. I believe in the power of human will; thus, why should I listen to Christians talk to me about a need for God?"

Do you see the similarities?

Almost every worldview (except primarily secular humanism) bases their starting point for why they believe what they do off of these basic reasons:

  • Feelings- what makes you feel loved, have belonging and/or purpose

  • Connection with others or the supernatural

  • Service to others

  • A Testimony of life improvement/change

Do you notice the big differences with Secular Humanism:

Reasons for rejecting belief in God can be summed up as follows…

  • Arguments from morality, science, the problem of evil, and bad historical arguments dealing with the motivations of the first century disciples of Jesus.

So where are we supposed to go from Here?

Christians starting point for why something is true can’t be primarily or exclusively based off their experiences, personal testimony, or encounters with the supernatural, or how their life has changed.

As shown above, those same points can be brought up from several other worldviews. Yes, I know that if Christianity is true, those experiences REALLY are with the living God and are important to share and powerful when heard.

However, if your starting point is ONLY a variation of “I’m a Christian because I’ve had an experience” then what happens when you have a DIFFERENT experience? What if you feel more welcomed around atheists, Mormons, Muslims or new agers? Does that make it true? What if you experience something supernatural that is different than before during a card reading that made you “feel” excited about your future?

If your starting point is mainly your experience, then you can easily be persuaded to abandon your views for a different experience. If your starting point isn’t mainly grounded in good reasons and the inerrant word of God, then any “fine sounding argument” (Colossians 2:4) will persuade to you another view.

You need to have God’s objective Word as the filter and standard by which you test all things against (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).

However, if your starting point is based off of that last line in the “Christian Responses” you will have sound logical conclusions. Oh, did you miss that last line? You might need to scroll back up and see it.

Or you can just read below:

“I am a Christian because it is true.”

No, it is not circular reasoning. Circular reasoning would be saying, Christianity is true because it’s true. However, this statement is a shorthand way of saying that you are a Christian because Christianity corresponds to reality. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Truth is, by definition, exclusive to that which is false and is unchanging. Nothing else in all of reality makes sense unless Christianity is true.

Christianity is true because it is the only worldview that best explains reality in these areas:

1. The Triune God best explains the cause of the universe.

2. The Gospels are true.

3. Since the Gospels are true, we have the answer to the problem of evil in Jesus.

Now, lets focus on each of these 3 sections in more depth....

1. The Triune God best explains the Cause of the universe:

Only in Christianity do you have an adequate explanation from all that exists in the cosmos. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The Universe had a beginning; therefore, it has a cause. This cause must be beyond space, time and matter since they all had a beginning. Also, since we have an immaterial reality to us, the soul, the cause must be immaterial. The cause also must be personal because impersonal forces to choose to do anything, they have no being.

Additionally, if God was not a triune being (one in essence, three in persons) then he would not be an eternally loving and personal being. We would not have PERFECT Love. He would be dependent on something in creation to manifest love. Yet we see from John 17:24 that Love within the Trinity has been in existence from since “before the foundation of the world.” God is not dependent on anything to be loving. His nature is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) and is always a Holy and perfect Love (1 John 4:7).

Lastly, the cause of the universe must also be incredibly powerful to bring all that exists into existence.

Only the God of the Bible fits these attributes:

God is a space-less, immaterial, un-caused, timeless, all powerful, perfectly good, loving & personal being.

Atheism fails to explain love, the first cause, the soul and more….

Atheism is illogical here. What is their space-less, timeless, immaterial cause? Everyone must explain what the un-caused cause of everything is. The atheists cause is nothing. That doesn’t make any sense. Out of nothing, nothing comes. Always. Something must have the power of being within itself or it is dependent on something else to explain its existence.

The atheist dilemma: Either everything came from nothing and was caused by nothing or everything came from the un-caused Triune God. Which one is more logical?

What about Mormonism? Does it explain the un-caused cause of everything in the world?

Mormonism teaches that matter has always existed and that God the father was once a man and then became a god and then ORGANIZED that matter…therefore you have a logical problem. Something must have the power of being within itself. Something must be the un-moved mover. The Uncaused cause. Also, matter has not always existed. We know this because of Einstein’s generally theory of relativity that demonstrates that space-time and matter are interdependent on each other. All three of them need each other to exist. Also, the existence of spiral galaxies demonstrates that the universe is finite. According to scientist Dr. Brian Thomas, spiral galaxies should be wind up beyond recognition if the universe was infinite or billions of years old (see link for more on this topic icr.org). Therefore, space-time and matter had a beginning and has not existed eternally.

What about Pantheistic views of origins?

New Age/pantheism/Buddhism/Hinduism is illogical in that it tries to have the cause of the universe also be a part of the universe. Philosophically and logically this doesn’t correspond to reality. Can you create yourself before you exist? No.

Now, lets look together at these last two reasons you should believe in Jesus.

2. The Gospels are true

3. We have an answer to the problem of evil in the work of Jesus.

You must not ignore the historical evidence for Jesus.

Consider how there around 13 non-Christian authors confirming most of the major details about Jesus’ life within 150-200 years of His earthly life.

  • Here is a short list of the Extra-Biblical writers who mentioned Jesus:

  • Historians: Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, and Phlegon

  • Government officials: Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian and Pilate

  • Other sources: Jewish Talmud, Greek Writer Lucian, Celsus, Mara-Bar Serapion

Just from their quotes we can know these 12 things about Jesus :

  • Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar

  • He lived a virtuous life

  • He was a wonder-worker

  • He had a brother named James

  • He was acclaimed to be the Messiah

  • He was crucified under Pontius Pilate

  • An eclipse and an earthquake occurred when He died.

  • He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

  • His disciples believed he rose from the dead.

  • His disciples were willing to die for their belief

  • Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome

  • His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

* to read some of the quotes by these authors click on this link:

coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/

Also, the New Testament should be trusted, because it was written early. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in Matthew 24 (which happened in A.D. 70), yet it was not mentioned in the New Testament. Why is this? Could it be because most of the authors wrote before this event happened? Therefore, it seems reasonable to believe that most, if not all, of the New Testament was written before A.D. 70. If that is the case, why shouldn’t you trust that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses in between A.D. 33-70? Since they were written by eyewitnesses, why would they die proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, if he didn’t? People will die for what they THINK to be true (modern day Muslim martyrs), but no one dies for a lie if they know it is a lie. The disciples dying saying that Jesus had risen from the dead is the best explanation of the facts. To ignore this is to ignore history.

Since Jesus has risen from the dead, it shows you that one day all evil will be vanquished in His return. Perfect Justice will be given out. Jesus dying on the cross also shows us that the problem of evil was answered that day. God took on flesh in the person of Jesus and died the death that we, as wicked sinners against a just God, deserved to die. Jesus took the penalty for sin and bore the wrath against sinners from God the Father (1 John 2:2).

According to Romans chapter 1, all people inherently know that God does exists, yet they suppress that knowledge (see Romans 1) in order to go their own way. This is out of a desire to have “self-autonomy.” Thus, they end up worshipping some form of creation instead of the creator. This results in various forms of self-worship with fine sounding words.

A couple of examples of these phrases are below:

“Self-Actualized ”

“Humanism- man IS the measure of all things”

“Tap into your divine consciousness”

“You can become one with the universe”

“you can eliminate evil if you have the right thoughts”

“You can become a god someday”

“YOU can be good enough to earn eternal life….follow these pillars…do these rituals…”

“Do what makes you feel good…follow your heart.”

Other worldviews may admit that they can DISCOVER morality (Romans 2:14-15 agrees), yet they cannot ground WHY something is wrong. You can only explain WHY anything is good if there is an unchanging, morally perfect standard to measure something against. Otherwise, your standard just depends on what you FEEL is best. Feelings are changing. God is not.

Only in Christianity do you have the perfect and unchanging standard of God’s nature. Only in Christianity do you truly have forgiveness for breaking that perfect standard. Only in Christianity does the creator bear the penalty himself for your guilt. Only in Christianity can you cease from trying to be a “good enough” version of yourself.

How does Mormonism answer the problem of evil?

Mormonism has a different Jesus than the historical Jesus and consequently the answer to the end of evil and suffering will be different. In Mormonism Jesus was a spirit child of “Heavenly Father” and “Heavenly Mother” and brother to Lucifer. Eventually he worked his way to Godhood, just like all humans can become gods someday too (see the Joseph Smith “King Follet Discourse” for more). Yet, the apostles John wrote in the New Testament that Jesus has eternally been God in John 1:1. Joseph Smith re-worded John 1 to avoid this around 1800 years later. Why should you trust a deceiving prophet like him? Also, can trusting in a false Jesus save anyone? Galatians and 2 Corinthians 11 would argue that trusting in a false version of Jesus will not save anyone. The LDS church may claim that Jesus died for their sins, yet also claim that they are “saved by grace after all we can do.” Thus, in essence, they deny that the historical Jesus did enough to actually secure sinners for salvation (forgiveness from sins).

Either Jesus alone is enough, or he is not? It is not Jesus + temple recommends, mission work, special ceremonies, etc. It is Jesus + nothing= salvation. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone to the Glory of God alone. We don't get any glory or credit in our salvation, God does.

You can be saved by the work of Christ alone because he perfectly completed all that he intended to in his life, death and resurrection on behalf of all sinners that trust in Him for salvation. Additionally, without a perfectly just and unchanging being, justice is arbitrary. Justice would not be perfect and consistent since his nature isn’t constant. Therefore, since the Mormon view of God and Jesus is not in an unchanging being, the problem of evil and the need for perfect justice remains. Only in Biblical Christianity is this issue addressed logically.

Does the Atheist and the Pantheist view of Jesus and suffering/evil work?

Atheism and New Agers consistently ignore or misrepresent the robust historical facts about Jesus and blame shift the problem of Evil.

Even atheist scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman believes that Jesus existed historically. It is not feasible for any atheist to deny his existence. As mentioned above, even non-Christian writers confirmed major details about Jesus life that are discussed in the gospels. Even if we didn’t have the New Testament documents everyone in world history would have to answer the question: “Who is Jesus?”

(We barely scratched the surface regarding the evidence for the historical Jesus. However, if you want to dig into the topic more, you should read The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Dr. Craig Blomberg or Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace.)

It is high time for atheists to seriously examine the historical reliability of the gospels and stop dismissing it in order to pursue a worldview that they want to be true. Only the truth will set you free. Christian, you do NOT have to be ashamed of the message of the gospel. It is true. As said before, if the gospels are true, then the problem of evil/suffering is not an unanswered but is answered in the work of Jesus.

Atheists believe that the problem of evil is their giant trump card against believing that God exists. However, by what standard are they saying that something is even wrong? In order for something to not be the way it “ought” to be, there must be a standard of “oughtness” that they are measure it against. However, in atheism there is no objective unchanging standard. Humanism is a self-defeating and circular reasoning standard based off of changing “empathic feelings” or which “government is in control.” Something becomes good because you feel that it is good in your own eyes. What if someone has a different empathetic standard than you? How do you know what feelings are good and which ones should be discarded? Their worldview is broken and will have no justice to evil in the end. Atheists have the problem of evil issue too. They can’t just shift the problem to Christianity and get away with it. If they are consistent in their worldview: there is no right or wrong. There are just subjective feelings about what is “good” in a consistent atheist worldview.

Most Pantheist believe that evil is an illusion and that we have to atone for our own mistakes over and over and over again (Karma). However, this is a never-ending burden of living in denial and trying to measure up to unattainable standard. Therefore, only the gospel is good news:

In Karma you pay for your mistakes and get what you deserve, in Christianity, Jesus gets what you deserved (justice) and paid for it once for all.

I’m a Christian because Jesus alone is the solution to the problem of evil and suffering.

Christians, we can do better moving forward

I heard earlier this week from a well meaning believer online how we need to just “invite others, even atheists, into an experience with God….you can’t argue with that…people don’t really need arguments or reasons for God.”

Hold on a minute.

My first concern is that he is making an argument against arguments. Also, the undercurrent of this statement is that our primary starting point for knowledge about God is not based off of reason and true statements about who God is, but based off of “feelings and experiences.”

This is very dangerous and produces an anti-intellectual Christianity that has a lot of passion about a God they don’t know or understand.

Zeal without knowledge is dangerous.

Also, for unbelievers to believe in Christ, they must have knowledge about Who they are placing their trust in. Biblical faith is never characterized as a blind faith but faith that is active trust in the God that we have good reasons to commit our entire lives to.

So, why are you a Christian?

You can say something like….

“I am a Christian because it’s true. (then give 1-2 reasons. What you share may vary depending on your context of conversation and where the person is at with things).

I don’t just believe something because of my experiences. Faith should be grounded in reality. I trust in Christ because He is real. I don’t just know that He is real because of what I have felt in my heart, but I know because the evidence points to Jesus being risen from the dead. I believe that there are not just “spiritual truths and then objective scientific truths.” Truth is not segmented into two spheres. There is truth, things we don’t know or understand and then there are false statements. Either Jesus is God and Lord over all creation and the only Savior or he is not. There is not a third option. Since Jesus has been raised from the dead, then that is a truth that is totally and objectively true for all of reality. I have also had many amazing experiences with God that confirm my knowledge of who He is. Can I share with you how God has been working in my life?”

Christianity best explains reality. It is total truth for all of reality.

We must boldly proclaim the truth that Jesus is alive today and is our current mediator between God the Father and all sinners who trust in him for salvation.

If you are not a Christian and are reading this, I urge you to place your faith in Christ now.

Why?

Because Christianity is true!

If you still have more questions about Christianity, I encourage you to start reading the gospel of John, take notes and write down any questions you have. From there, I encourage you to reach out to a Christian friend and talk with them about your questions.

Also, please feel free to email me, check out our Engage Truth podcast, or attend one of our Engage seminars or classes.

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