The day apologetics saved my life
by Laura Droege
Laura Martin, over at her excellent blog Enough Light, posted today about being cautious with apologetics. She quotes Austin Farrer:
Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. –Austin Farrer, writing on CS Lewis
This brought a memory to my mind of a time in my life when this principle proved true. It’s a bit of a painful one, as many of the ones from my college days are, but I think it might be worth sharing here.
(Trigger warning, though. Don’t read if you’re vulnerable. I’m going to write this as honestly as I can, and that means talking about eating disorders and depression.)
All throughout my elementary and high school years, I went to Christian schools. There was a great deal of emphasis on apologetics. My mother was very “into” apologetics as well, so I was surrounded (almost overwhelmed) by rational arguments for the Christian faith. This was heightened at the Christian college I attended my freshman and sophomore years. We analyzed worldviews, critiqued pop culture movies and music and books, and generally filled our minds with this simple equation:
Christianity = right, Everything else = wrong.
No ifs, ands, or buts; we had the rational arguments on our side.
At the same time, though, my moods were darkening. I had wrestled with a nameless beast of darkness for years until stumbling on its true name, depression. Even then, I didn’t realize the full extent of what was happening. (It took years before anyone diagnosed my bipolar disorder.) All I knew was that this horrible depression had covered me and I was powerless.
I sat in Biblical worldview class, listening to students debate the origins of the universe, and fantasized about cutting myself.
I sat in French lab, listening to unintelligible French babble, and scribbled hate mail to myself in the margins of my notes.
I looked in my medicine cabinet and wondered if someone could overdose on Tylenol.
I hid my binges and purges and darkness and mental chaos from everyone as best as I could.
And all the while, I wondered if Christianity was really real.
After all, if God loved me, then why the pain? And if Christians were supposed to have the corner on the truth and be love and all that, then why were the Christians surrounding me so awful? Not all the time, of course. But why all the gossip? Backstabbing? Pettiness? Hypocrisy? Why had my childhood church split? If Jesus came and made us all equal, then why was there a double standard of behavior for men and women in this subculture? Why didn’t I feel the joy that everyone else claimed that they felt?
What if—I swallowed back fear—what if this whole Christianity-thing wasn’t true? What if it was a big game that everyone else was playing? What if God wasn’t real at all?
I didn’t dare tell anyone…
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