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Apologist Matt Flannagan: My Faith Journey
by Matt Flannagan
Like Jacob in the book of Genesis, my spiritual journey has been one of wrestling with God. Not physical wrestling, like that engaged in by Jacob, but wrestling intellectually with the questions and implications that have arisen from my realisation that God exists and Jesus Christ actually, in reality, rose from the grave.
I was not raised a Christian; in my early years my family attended an Anglican Church. This was part of the residual Anglicanism which is part of New Zealand’s heritage as a British colony. We ceased attending in the early 80’s when I was around 6. I was raised in a very secular environment where what are commonly referred to as ‘liberal ideals and values’ were taken for granted.
Something kept drawing me to the reality of God. New Zealand has an amazingly beautiful country-side, which I spent a lot of my youth hiking and exploring in; I kept being aware of a spiritual presence, a glory, an amazingly awesome being reflected in the world around me and I felt it was providentially guiding me. I engaged in theological debates at intermediate and high school as I explored this sense.
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Then at 16 I began to ask serious questions about morality and my life. My parents had divorced, my friends were promiscuous, doing drugs and breaking the law. I had attended a very conservative upper-class boarding school and I had also attended a very permissive public school by then. I began to ask questions about how I should live, were the beliefs I had correct, what sort of person did I want to be? Who was correct, the Christians from the past or the moderns of today? And how do we tell – how can I know?
These questions lead me to attend a Church in 1991, which was enthralled by the teachings of Bishop Spong. Spong was teaching that the bible was not authoritative, Christ did not rise from the dead, Christians needed to revise their views on sexuality, and so on. I was puzzled as to why a Church would teach things like this. The elders recommended I read some “modern critical scholarship”. This led me to encounter the debate over many of these issues for the first time. I discovered Josh McDowell, Alistair McGrath, Francis Schaeffer and serious evangelical scholarship for the first time…
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