Thursday, December 09, 2004

Why I Believe Christian Faith is True, Part 1

Recently, I was asked, “I’m a Christian; but how do I know that our faith is true and other religions aren’t?”

First of all, no Christian believes that every aspect of all other religions is completely false. C.S. Lewis, the writer and British intellectual who turned from atheism to faith in Christ, once wrote:
“When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most [the existence of God]; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view.”
This mirrors my own experience in moving from atheism to Christianity. As an atheist, I dismissed all religious belief as vestigial superstition.

But after I came to faith in Christ, I could see that there is a broad consensus among all the religions of the world that there are such things as right and wrong and an amazing agreement about what they are. As a Christian, I’m able to commend the Muslim tenet of giving to the poor, for example. And I see good points in other religious beliefs.

But, like the adherents of other faiths, there is a point where I believe that Christianity is the truth and other religions deficient. As Lewis puts it,
“...being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic---there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”
So, what is it that I believe makes faith in Christ right as compared to others religious approaches?

One thing is Christianity’s uniqueness. The faith commended on the pages of both the Old and New Testament (the differences casual readers claim to see between these two segments of the Bible are, on close examination, more apparent than real) is unique among the religions and belief systems of the world.

In the Judeo-Christian faith tradition, a relationship with God or the acquisition of holiness come, not from a seeker’s spiritual efforts, but as a free gift from God to those who simply trust Him.

That’s true in the Old Testament, where we’re told that the Jewish patriarch Abraham believed God and God counted his belief as righteousness (or rightness with God). It’s also true in the New Testament where it says, “For by grace [God’s charity] you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God---not the result of works...” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This is so different from every other religion and world belief system that one must conclude that the faith of the Bible is either completely true or completely false.

So, the first reason I believe that Christian faith is true is its uniqueness. It commends an utterly unique approach to God which, while not appealing to my ego, does promise me relief from guilt and shame and something which a lifetime of New Year's resolutions has demonstrated I am incapable of securing on my own: peace with God, peace with others, peace with myself.

More on why I believe Christian faith is true tomorrow...

1 comment:

Myunque said...

I say, old chap. I think you have missed it on two points.

First, you have failed to act faithfully by providing the promised "more tomorrow” (There is a chance that, like the 17 year locust your, tomorrow could not be the same as mine.)

Secondly, I think you have mistranslated "righteousness". In the Hebrew tradition and language "being righteous" meant to act the right way - including all the virtues of justice, honesty, kindness to strangers, etc. expounded in the Law, Profits and Wisdom. So the translation from Gn 15:6 is that Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness - means given the credit due one who had acted rightly (which he did not). That is why the statement is so impressive, such a revolution. If we said, "He believed god and it was counted to him as having a good heart." That is a small gain. But to say, "He believed God and it counted as if he had actually done nothing but righteous acts," is really impressive. It is also the exact same message of redemption by faith that is taught in the gospels and epistles.

Oddly enough, I will be attempting to lead a small group study of Mere Christianity in the New Year at our Lutheran church here in Princeton. Any and all pointers would be welcome. (I have a blog "dimlyscene" or can be emailed at markyuque@yahoo.com).

Your post was good for some thought starters. The issue here is that the congregation is growing and full of seekers with a bit of jumbled view of what Christianity is. I will look through your other posts for any tidbits I can use (if you don't mind).