I mentioned in An Introduction to PP that I wanted to share my testimony, despite the prospect being quite unsettling. Although this is a site that will be largely devoted to philosophical explorations of the Christian truth claims, I wanted to share my story so readers can understand where I’ve come from and why I’m writing.
If you’re new to this type of stuff, a testimony is Christian-ese for a recounting of God’s story in one’s life. Often it is telling the story of how one became a Christian. What did God do? Why did you follow Him? However, it is also often extended beyond one’s initial choice. What has God been teaching you over the past year? That type of stuff.
Because this is really God’s story in my life, not my life story, “My Story” isn’t really the best title. But I’m sticking with it anyways, partially because talking about God’s story is too massive a subject and partially because it’s God’s story as it pertains to me specifically. To be honest, though, it’s really because this title will probably get more readers. I’m shameless that way.
The nice thing about my life is that it splits into nice little parts; or at least I’ve compartmentalized it that way. Things happen and a few more things happen. Then there’s an epiphany regarding those happenings. And we start over. It’s very convenient for story telling. It’s also easy-ish to split up over multiple posts. So that’s what I’m doing.
We’re going to start with how I became a Christian. At other points in my life, I might have said my conversion story is boring. In my life, all the exciting stuff where I really grew came after that. But any theologian (i.e. you, whether you like it or not), could recognize after just a touch of study, there’s no such thing as a boring conversion (see here for a sweet Adam4d comic on that).
I grew up going to church and the like. It was normal, at least by white church kid standards. Boring. But normal. I had a few Christian friends. A few not-so-Christian friends. I was a pretty standard church kid, at least from my experience; I guess.
As I got a bit older, I still went through the motions, at least when people were watching. When the people watching weren’t Christians, I molded to them. I was like water. I just filled whatever environment I was in. I had/have the phenomenal ability to say what someone wants me to say and act the way I’m supposed to act.
But I still had those Christian influences. I could still see the difference faith made in their lives. I still heard others’ stories. I still trusted my parents.
And since this is a largely Christian apologetics website, I guess that was their defence: lives of righteousness and self sacrifice. It was the indirect defence that I talk about in the intro to this site. Why did I come to believe Christianity to be true? Apologetics played such a huge role later in my life because I later thought God probably didn’t exist. But pure, philosophical or scientific apologetics didn’t play a role early on. I guess I sort of thought about it. I remember in grade 2 my atheist friend tried arguing we came from stars and I was like, “Where’d the stars come from?” It was a budding cosmological argument, perhaps. I guess I originally believed Christianity was true because of my parents, just like my grade 2 atheist friend probably thought God didn’t exist because of his parents. Some might scoff at that (let the genetic fallacies fly!). But we’re allowed to trust our parents, especially as kids. It’s a sad world where we can’t.
And I certainly don’t now believe because of my parents. As they probably lament about, I disagree with my parents on many-a-claim. Kids must grow up. But we’ll talk about that in a later post once we get to that point in my life.
So then I got to about mid high school, and I thought, “Why not? What’s holding me back? I believe Christ both lived and died for me. I do believe I’m not good enough to be worthy of God on my own. I know how sinful I am. I know how sinful He wasn’t.” So I chose to give my life to Christ, being baptized and publicly declaring Jesus is not only God, but my God.
That’s the beginning of God’s story in my life. Of course, I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis said this about Aslan the lion, who, as it happens, symbolizes Jesus:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
It turns out Lewis was right. Jesus isn’t safe. Well, He is. He’s the safest being in existence. But He won’t leave you where you are. He won’t let you be comfortable. He’ll make you grow, but there will be growing pains. He’ll make you go, but there might be turbulence. You’ll be better for it in the end. But it won’t feel nice at the time. It certainly won’t seem safe.
God did not let me stay comfortable. And we’ll talk about that more in Part 2. In the meantime…