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Craig Keener is a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies and Christian Origins from Duke University. Prior to Asbury Theological Seminary, he was professor of New Testament at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University for nearly 15 years, where he was also one of the associate pastors at an African-American Baptist church in Philadelphia. He has authored a number of commentaries on New Testament books as well as books covering a range of topics on Jesus, Paul, miracle investigations, and the African-American church.
Please understand that I recognize that every Christian’s experience of coming to Christ is different. I am simply recounting my own story. By the age of nine I was openly asserting that I was an atheist. Although I thought I had sound philosophic reasons for my view, I did not disrespect all religions (and especially enjoyed studying ancient Greek and Egyptian ones), if I believed that those who followed them had some genuine reasons for their belief. Yet it seemed to me that of all the religions of which I was aware, only Christians did not take their faith very seriously (a perspective I unfortunately extrapolated based on the assumption that most Americans were Christians); I reasoned that if one really believed that there was a God, one would give God everything one was and everything one had.
I thought that atheism was “smart.” When my grandmother argued for a first cause, I replied by postulating an infinite regression of causes (my arrogance left me unaware that my response violated modern physics!) Yet unknown to me, my father’s mother, sister, and the sister’s family were praying for our family. When I was 13, reading Plato raised for me the question of life after death, but Plato’s answers did not seem adequate. I began to realize that only an infinite Being could guarantee the hope of eternal life. Yet if such a Being existed, there seemed no reason why that Being would care about me, even if that Being were perfectly loving enough to give life to some. I was incurably selfish and undeserving of a loving Being’s attention; it seemed to me that if I pretended to love, it was only for the self-serving purpose of getting that Being’s attention. Yet shortly before I turned 15, I began to secretly cry out, “God, if You are there—please show me.” Months passed with no resolution…
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