How did I– of all people– become a Christian?
by Prioleau Alexander
My blog, There Be Dragons Here, is a series of writings completed over several years that explain my take on some of Christianity’s really difficult questions. In order that you might understand my perspective, let me tell you that in the year 2000 the following sentences applied to me:
1.)I was a happy agnostic. Expanded a bit, let’s say I was fairly certain there was “a God,” but the concept of Christianity seemed irrelevant to my life.
2.)I thought the Bible was pretty much a collection of Holy Canterbury Tales that, uh, beseeched me to be a good person.
3.)I thought there was virtually no real evidence supporting the idea that a man named Jesus walked the earth. In fact, I thought that the “reality” of the Bible was one of those things that all Christians had to “accept on faith.”
4.)I had a list of objections to Christianity that I viewed as iron-clad, and felt very smug playing “stump the believer” with any Christians I met. In short, I was in the same place as tens of millions of other Americans.
Then, in 2000, I was forced to attend an Alpha Course at the church where my fiancé and I wanted to be married. Alpha is a 12-week course in Christianity 101, and I had about as much desire to attend as a sheep invited to the Annual Wolf & Bear Pot Luck Supper. I thought for sure I would walk in the door, and Moonies would assault me with questions about my faith and my relationship with “my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I had thus determined in advance that I would attend two sessions: The one and the only.
To my surprise, no born-again assaults occurred—and there in the room I heard a video presentation by an Anglican Priest named Nicky Gumbel explaining the mountain of evidence that the New Testament is both factually correct, and was passed down through the centuries with incredible accuracy.
I learned, in fact, that virtually every scholar of ancient books, be they Christian or Atheist, will agree that the story written in the New Testament is the most historically accurate writing in ancient history– by a mile.
There are a lot of books that explore “the historical reliability of the Bible” in whatever level of detail you desire, but for a wonderful layman’s explanation, read Amy Orr-Ewing’s book, Is the Bible Intolerant? And, for the moment and for the sake of this discussion, let’s just assume I’m not totally making this up: It is a fact that the majority of modern ancient history scholars do agree that the New Testament is an accurate and near-perfect record of the life and times of Jesus.
Note: I did not say they’d agree that Jesus was and is the Son of God. I did not say they’d agree that the reported miracles were actual miracles. I did not say they’d all agree that Jesus was really raised from the dead. I said they’d agree that a dude named Jesus of Nazareth did, for a fact, walk the earth as reported—He said the things they wrote down… he did many things that bystanders believed to be miracles… he was crucified on a cross for blaspheme… and his believers claimed he was raised from the dead.
Now, Nicky explained, if we can ascertain that he really did live, and he really did proclaim to be the Son of God and the only way to heaven (which he clearly did on numerous occasions), the real question is, “Was he right?” What evidence supports his claim?
None, I remember thinking— this is where we’d finally get to the Christian cop out where they say, “You’ve just got to have faith.”
Far from it…
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