Along with my regular blog here at seanmcdowell.org, I am now featuring occasional guest posts from some students in the Biola M.A. in Christian Apologetics that I personally had the privilege of teaching. This post is from my friend Tim Stratton, who has an excellent and growing ministry of his own. I simply asked him to write anything on his heart and mind. Check out his ministry and enjoy this post! Sean McDowell
Can Christians Answer One Simple Question?
Why are you a Christian? As a youth pastor and professor at a Christian college, I ask this question to all of my students. The typical answer in response is nothing but a blank stare. After a little coaxing, sometimes I get answers like “’cause I was born in ‘Merica!” With that I respond, “Oh, so if you were born in Afghanistan, then you would be a Muslim?” The blank stare typically returns.
Many in the church today, cannot articulate why they are Christians. Unchanged lives within the church, unfortunately, serve as evidence.
Preaching "Your" Truth
The problem starts at the pulpit. When pastors do not really know why they believe what they preach, people in the pews hear it loud and clear. Attendees will have caught what was not intentionally meant to be taught.
I once heard a pastor say, “The Biblical truth is that Jesus was raised in Nazareth.” While this statement is true and possesses good intentions, statements worded in this manner often lead to postmodern views. People will have caught what was not meant to be taught. Some think “Oh, there is Biblical truth, and there is also Islamic truth, there is Buddhist truth, and there is Star Wars truth. So you can have your Biblical truth, and I will have my Star Wars truth!”
Herein lies the problem: Is it true that Luke Skywalker was raised on the planet Tatooine? Yes, that is a true statement. Next question: Is it true that Jesus was raised in Nazareth? Yes, that is also a true statement. Both of these propositions are true within their narratives, but only one of these statements corresponds to reality. That is to say, only one of these statements is really true.
By definition, statements that are true correspond to reality. If churchgoers simply attend on Sunday mornings because the Gospel story makes them feel good, or merely because they like the people in their small group, you will never see a radical transformation in their lives. This kind of transformation only occurs when one comes to understand Ultimate Reality (God)! Moreover, even if one kept all of the church’s “rules,” but did not really think Christian theism was true, then these individuals are not really Christians.
I have devoted my life to truth. In fact, I like to say that I am more committed to truth that I am to Christianity. Since I am devoted to truth, and I am fully convinced that Christianity is really true, I am willing to die for my faith. Moreover, if I am willing to die for my faith, you better believe I’m willing to live it out 24/7!
When churchgoers know what they believe (theology), and why they believe it (apologetics), radical transformation occurs (Romans 12:2)! When a churchgoer is transformed into someone who understands reality and knows that Christianity is true, the “compartmentalized” problems of the modern church come to an abrupt end. That is to say, churchgoers will do so much more than only act like a Christian on Sunday mornings. Rather, they will strive to live for Jesus Christ all the time — even when no one else is watching.
The Jesus View of Truth
I am committed to truth and since I sincerely believe the Bible is true in all that it teaches, I think we should read it to see what Jesus thought about “truth.” Click on the following passages of the Gospel of John:
According to the last verse, the reason the Creator of the universe entered into the universe was to testify to the TRUTH. If Jesus has this attitude toward truth, as His followers we ought to testify to the same thing. If there is any confusion regarding Jesus’ attitude toward truth, consider Paul’s words in the following verses:
Return to the original question. If confronted by someone asking, “Why are you a Christian,” I hope your response is more than a blank stare. Instead, I encourage you to boldly proclaim, “I’m a Christian because I believe it’s TRUE!”