If you choose to believe in a God or gods, why choose Christianity in particular?
I guess the answer I’d give is the same answer a child might give when asked why he thinks the man he lives in the same house with is his father. He’s just always been there.
I don’t mean that in the sense that I grew up in a Christian household, even though I did (a fact an atheist could skewer me with). I don’t mean it in the individual sense. I mean it in the corporate sense, the humanity sense. The God of the Christian is rooted in the God of the Jews who has a long, robust history. And the Bible is the testament to that history.
“But the Bible is unreliable!” Yeah, ok. For the sake of the argument, let me grant that. The four Gospels don’t align completely. It’s difficult to tell where the line is between the genres of myth and history in the Old Testament to be sure. But to say that all of it is legend betrays a crass cynicism.
Read it for yourself. Do the writers of the New Testament sound like they are attempting to write a mythology? Do the prophets in the Old Testament sound like wise men sitting on stones next to rivers, spouting platitudes about the way the world works? Hell no. They testify as eye witnesses to the reality of God.
I used to think I couldn’t lean into this argument for the truth of my faith. The Bible is the first thing so many opponents of the faith take a shot at. But even if the document weren’t divinely inspired, it reads like nothing less than a real attempt at a legitimate history of the God of the Jews and Christians. Even if you don’t believe it, you have to assume the writers mean what they say.
Nowhere does this play out more forcefully than in the Gospels – the four books written about Jesus’ life. The writers leave the reader with no doubt that they fully believe Jesus was everything Christians say he is. They make every effort to prove it and expound on it. The resurrection of Christ was an earthquake in history, and at risk to their very lives, they had to tell everyone.
Sure, believing a guy rose from the dead sounds implausible. Many have come up with alternative explanations for why people suddenly started running around the Roman Empire claiming Jesus had risen from the dead, but none of them are all that convincing. Here are a couple though:
Maybe his followers just thought he rose from the dead. Maybe Jesus was only mostly dead after the beatings, crucifixion and stabbing. Then, after being starved in a tomb for three days, he rolled away the ten-ton stone door locking him in, did jiu-jitsu on the Roman soldiers guarding him, and managed to look put-together enough to make the disciples think he was perfectly fine.
Or maybe the disciples all convinced themselves Jesus resurrected out of grief. They were all so sad over him dying and couldn’t take it, so they fooled themselves into thinking he was still alive, managed to convince everyone around them of the same thing even though this never happens and they couldn’t produce the body. They went to their deaths without ever denying his resurrection because they were so sad Jesus had died that they convinced themselves he was alive?
I know that saying Jesus rose from the dead sounds crazy on the face of it. But what Biblical historians – both the ones that believe the Bible and those who don’t – pretty much all agree on is that there was a man named Jesus who lived and died. Then, almost immediately after this – in a matter of years – people were worshiping him as God and claiming he had risen from the dead, ready to face the lions for their belief.
They, along with everyone else in the Bible, are witnesses. And they are not the only ones. There are countless others over the last 2000 years as well. But even though it sounds simple to say, belief in Christianity begins with the Bible because the Bible is remarkable. It’s a library of books spanning hundreds of years attesting over and over again to a God who isn’t distant or merely nebulously spiritual – some deistic watchmaker who made the universe and stepped back.
The Bible is a record of all the places and times God stepped in and dealt with humanity on a personal level. It is a record of all the tangible experiences people of faith had interacting with this God. And it culminates in God himself coming to earth and walking among us.
This isn’t the only reason to believe in Christianity, but it’s a hefty piece of evidence.
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