Why I Believe

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
1 Peter 3:15, NIV

So why do I believe?  Because the more I study, the more it all makes sense, and the more I find veracity in the wonderment of the Scriptures.  That veracity substantiates Christ as Lord.

Paris Carousel

Eiffel Tower Carousel, 2009

Personally, coming to faith is a lot easier if you’re somewhat of a thinker.  For example, take a moment to study the above photograph.  How much do you see?

People, a carousel, an interesting vignette?  A mother caring for her infant, an artist sketching a little girl, a father holding his small son on the ride, a man taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower at nightfall, people out in the late spring air?  Go a little deeper.  A street-corner amusement ride, yellow horses, lights, inertia, centripetal motion, commerce?  A woman enjoying a chocolate gelato—thermodynamics? Barely scratching the surface.  A woman wearing a Palestinian scarf—the struggles of displaced people.  What about the sounds and smells?  Music, emotion, soulful awareness?  A bunch of energy holding together particles interacting with their environment bound by the laws of the physical sciences bathed in photons?  All of this is happening in three-dimensional space and time.  Deeper still.  What might each of these people be thinking and feeling?  Love, loneliness, heartache, guilt, helplessness, grief, a moment’s rest, joy?  Now we’re getting somewhere.

Two overarching questions:
1.  Where did all of that come from, and
2.  Why is it there?

Intellectually speaking, this is where a lot of people just stay on the merry-go-round.  For whatever reasons they get lazy or distracted in their thinking and just try to enjoy the ride.  But that approach to life ultimately leads to the back end of where you were.

Conversely, if you think that picture through to a logical conclusion you can find Jesus Christ.  If you want to check the underpinnings of my faith, go to the Kaqexeß page of the Veracity blog and start reading.  I would recommend beginning with the Judge for Yourself post because it frames some really interesting facts that support Scripture, and because it challenges you to think about your burden of proof.  Specifically, it may be important to check your biases with objectivity.

But if you want me to give a reason for the hope that I have, here are just 50 of the reasons (in bulleted form).

Observation and Science

  1. The universe is far too finely tuned to be anything less than divinely created.
  2. Recent discoveries about subatomic particles continue to demonstrate this amazing fine tuning.
  3. The Big Bang is a scientifically verifiable, widely accepted event.  (How light and radiation from distant planets, stars, and galaxies are analyzed to support the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis and the Book of Job is a fascinating study indeed.)
  4. The Big Bang Creation demands a Creator.
  5. Our universe could not have come into being without intelligent design.
  6. Science and Faith are completely—actually wondrously—compatible.
  7. Genetics supports the biblical accounts about the history of the human race.
  8. God is still creating wonders in the heavens.  A simple Internet search on discoveries from deep space quickly leads to an undeniable realization that God is indeed more awesome than we can begin to imagine.
  9. If you need reasons to believe, check out Reasons To Believe.  (These folks are very smart, and quite kind and wise in their approach to apologetics.)  Christianity is not for dummies.

Archaeological & Historical Evidence (the Bible is tied to the ground—it didn’t happen in a fairy tale)

  1. The blood red moon in Acts 2.
  2. The tomb is indeed empty.
  3. The Erastus Inscription.
  4. The Carcer (Mamertine) prison.  I have had the privilege of standing in this dungeon.
  5. Catacomb uncovered with the image of Peter in Mamertine.
  6. The Bema in Corinth, the Synagogue in Corinth, the Gallio Inscription.
  7. Peter’s house and other archaeological discoveries in Capernaum.
  8. Machaerus.
  9. The Temple Mount and the City of David.
  10. Extra-Biblical accounts: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, the Talmud, Lucian.
  11. Discovery of the Pool of Siloam.
  12. Hezekiah’s tunnel.
  13. The Golden Gate.
  14. Luke’s “Politarchs”.
  15. Archaeoastronomy—mathematical and astronomical explanations of the Star of Bethlehem? Check out Rick Larson’s explanation.  Even if you don’t accept Larson’s explanation—which I do—it does throw open the door to astronomical possibilities.

The Bible

  1. God reveals himself in Scripture (Special Revelation) and nature (General Revelation) as stated in the Belgic confession, and by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:20, and by David in Psalm 19.
  2. The Bible was written by 40 inspired authors over 1,500 years—far too great a span for a conspiracy.
  3. The New Testament builds historically upon the events recorded in the Old Testament.  The New Testament authors, and Jesus himself, quote heavily from the Old Testament Scriptures.  Jesus’ cry on the cross “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” is an Aramaic translation of the words in Psalm 22.  The two testaments are inextricably linked.
  4. So very much of what is recorded in the Bible deprecates the authors and pillars of the faith.  Their shortcomings, self-centeredness, poor judgment, and treachery are painfully recorded—not as with heroes in other ancient literature.  The first century church was so inept that apart from God it could not have survived.
  5. Among ancient documents the Bible has no peers in terms of manuscript evidence.
  6. The accuracy of the Scriptures is being studied and quantified by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.  Their findings demonstrate a very high degree of reliability through Textual Criticism.
  7. The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated amazing accuracy in the reproduction of Old Testament manuscripts, providing manuscripts that were 1,000 years older than anything that had been seen previously by modern man.
  8. Paul’s words in 2 Timothy, and his enduring suffering (recorded by Luke and others) only make sense if indeed he “knew whom he has believed.”

Logic, Faith, and the Veracity of Scripture

  1. Too much Scripture is written contrary to our worldview for the Bible to be made up.  If the writers wanted to appeal to our sense of self this isn’t the way they would have done it.
  2. The Ascension was not enough—it takes God before us and God within us.
  3. Jesus never promised us earthly rewards—in fact he taught the opposite.
  4. The unlikelihood of Saul becoming Paul and being accepted first by the early Jerusalem church, then as the super-apostle.
  5. Jesus also came down very hard on his followers.  Nowhere is he making a sales pitch.  The Bible is not written as an attractional document.
  6. Jesus said that if we didn’t believe him, we should believe the miracles.  How long would it take to discredit him on that statement if he didn’t deliver?  Likewise, consider why he said to believe the miracles (to give credit to the Father—another central tenet of Jesus Christ).
  7. God has a purpose for our lives.  For reasons only he knows, God wants a relationship with us, his creatures.
  8. God calls us to service in this life and beyond.
  9. God values sincerity.  Rather than make us all robots, he gave us free will.  As difficult and painful as it can be to accept evil and suffering, it makes sense in the context of sincere love and a bigger picture than what we can see and understand here and now.
  10. God played by his own rules, suffering torture by Roman crucifixion to prove his love for us.
  11. God works by processes.
  12. The entire focus of the Christian faith is on others, not on self.
  13. The price Paul was willing to pay for his faith.  His willingness to suffer so much for so long proves his motivation.  This suffering was widely recorded by others, not just Paul.
  14. The fate of the apostles.

Prophecies (events in Scripture happened according to God’s plan, which he made known in advance)

  1. The blood-red moon in Acts 2, prophesied by Joel.
  2. Daniel prophesied the year that Jesus would be crucified.  Other facts lead to a crucifixion date of Friday, April 3rd, 33 AD.
  3. Jesus’ unique fulfillment of prophecy.
  4. Here’s a list of key Old Testament Prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment.

That should provide plenty of material for starters.  Enjoy!

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

11 responses to “Why I Believe

  • Jim Shaw

    Great summary and testimony, John!

    Like

    • John Paine

      Thanks Jim. Marion said it was too “blue” (i.e. male). I tried to avoid adding all the personal “because God has been so good to me” reasons because from an apologetics standpoint not everyone feels that way. I’m thinking of doing a related follow-up on gratitude, where I could get into those reasons. I figured 50 was enough for starters (and it took a while to boil all that down to hyperlinks). Thanks for following!

      Like

  • fred nice

    thanks john….great stuff!

    Like

    • John Paine

      Thanks Fred! A coworker told me she thought this blog is written from a “blue” perspective as well. So, I will definitely wind up a “pink” post on gratitude–just to show that it can be done. 😉 Thanks for reading!

      Like

  • Virginia

    John – you are SO right that Jesus calls us onto a path of faith so contrary to the world’s values around us (some things haven’t changed in 2,000+ years!) He was ‘despised & rejected’ …& sometimes as His followers we are too (especially when we try to love our enemies & forgive others vs that revenge thing…)

    Thanks for this comprehensive list! Virginia : )

    Like

    • John Paine

      I listened to an Andy Stanley podcast today on our “national conscience.” Quite a lot to think about in terms of worldviews changing over time, particularly when it comes to conviction and courage. When you get right down to it, our culture is not that different than what Paul was dealing with in Corinth, Ephesus and Rome. You have to be brave (and wise) to be a disciple. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  • Dave Rudy

    Another great post, John! Regarding your comment to Jim, I don’t think it’s really a “blue” issue. William Lane Craig in his book on apologetics addresses this question:

    “Before we attempt to build a case for Christianity, we must come to grips with some very fundamental questions about the nature and relationship of faith and reason. Exactly how do we know Christianity to be true? Is it simply by a leap of faith or on the authority of the Word of God, both unrelated to reason? Does religious experience assure us of the truth of the Christian faith, so that no further justification is needed? Or is an evidential foundation for faith necessary, without which faith would be unjustified and irrational?”
    (William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed., Crossway, 2008, p. 29)

    Our personal experience is certainly important and confirms our faith but the experience has to be interpreted in light of the truth of Scripture, which leads to the apologetic approach you’ve taken.

    Like

    • John Paine

      I recently started reading atheist blogs, and it really highlighted my imbecilic ideas about atheists. One comment I read really stuck with me, namely that atheists get extremely frustrated when Christians pull out the Bible to debate, and the atheists say, “But I don’t accept the Bible,” and most Christians cannot deliver their apologetics without the Bible. We just keep going as if everyone should accept the Bible. In other words, let’s just skip over the reason part and get to the Bible. At that point you’re not debating or trying to win them for Christ, you’re making a circular argument (where the conclusion is part of the premise). Without reason, we are just drinking our own Kool-Aid. Sometimes it’s best to start with the carousel and work your way in. The really sad part is that too many of us miss the joy that comes from discovering just how reasonable our faith really is. Thanks for the comment…and can I come stay at your house until this blue thing blows over?

      Like

  • Clarke Morledge

    Reason for My Hope:

    Jesus loves me, this I know, but not simply because the Bible tells me so,…but that’s great place to start.

    Clarke Morledge

    Like

  • Dawn Linton

    My Christian faith is based on how God has revealed Himself around me generally, and also on how He has revealed himself to me personally. I believe because I see God revealed through creation, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the Scriptures. God began to shine light in my heart when I was as a child. To me, He was powerful and majestic. I entrusted my eternal destiny to God as a young teenager by acknowledging Jesus as my Savior.
    What began as a simple childlike faith has been strengthened as God revealed Himself to me through personal experience. Life is difficult if we are blessed to live long enough. I can recount times when I doubted God’s goodness, His power, and even His presence. But not for long. I believe more deeply today, because looking back I can see how God has been true to His promises. He has engraved his powerful presence on my heart where He continues to redeem, renew, and give purpose.
    Dawn Linton

    Like

  • Steve Linton

    My early adult belief in God was based primarily on my reasoning that such a complex and amazing world had to be the work of a masterful creator. It seemed logical to me that something so vast and complex must also have a significant purpose in the mind of that creator. My problem was that I was searching by all the wrong methods to find the truth and enlightenment that I believed existed. In spite of myself, Christ relentlessly pursued my heart even as I ran from the childhood faith handed down to me by my parents. It was during these times when my poor decisions left me most vulnerable, that I would sometimes sense His voice. I can point to times when my awareness of Him seemed to be the one thing that sustained me. So why do I believe? I believe because Christ Jesus has shown His great love and mercy towards me. I believe because He has made himself known to me in significant ways at very significant times in my life, and because I experienced His forgiveness and acceptance as I yielded to Him as the sin bearer for my sins. So that is my experiencial reality with the Lord, but what about why I believe in the true authority of the Bible and what it says about Christ? This has been a process that has slowly added to my experiencial faith, a faith also based on the the word and the sound biblical teachings of many mature Christ follows. The fulfillment of old testiment prophesy by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus alone has been faith building regarding the word and who Christ is. The historical validity of the bible and the ongoing treasure chest of information validating the truth of scripture have been equally significant. Still, it is the reality that the amazing creator of all things would chose to express to me His character of love and grace, that I believe best represents the contact point in my believing and my recieving of Him. If there is one thing, aside from His love towards me expressed through Christ, that I am most taken by, I believe it would be His amazing redemptive power. His ability to take that which is broken and to somehow use that brokeness to produce something even more beautiful is most amazing to me. As I have seen this reality in life, it has reafirmed my faith that God spoke everything into existance out of nothing and that He remains at work in us and around us.

    Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: