Student Testimony: Apologetics as an Aid to Faith’s Renewal

by Joshua Johnstone

My name is Joshua Johnstone, and the following is my testimonial concerning my renewal of faith in Christ. First, a bit of background: Born and raised in North Carolina, my family sporadically attended an Episcopal church as I was growing up. I participated actively in the church as an acolyte and cross bearer, and was confirmed at the age of fifteen. Towards the end of high school and into my undergrad years at NC State University, I fell out of practice with my faith, and grew more and more distant from God. I tend to think very analytically, and I started to ask myself difficult questions. Why does suffering exist if there is an active, benevolent God? Why do we ask God for things through prayer if He already has a plan? How could Christ have performed miracles, and how could he have been raised from the dead? Is there a need for God when science can explain such a great deal?

Faced with such questions, I gradually transitioned from Christianity to atheism. I became indifferent about faith and religion. After a few years at college, major clinical depression slowly set in. I was wracked with self-loathing and suicidal thoughts for months, until eventually I was hospitalized. At this lowest point in my life, I realized a change was needed, and auditioned at UNC Greensboro to transfer into a degree in piano – an instrument with which I have lifelong experience. I was accepted, and spent the next three years completing degrees in both music and mathematics.

My time at UNCG has not only yielded learning and education, but has also been a time of healing, maturing, and reflection. I was given an opportunity by my choir director to sing in the chancel choir at First Presbyterian Church in Burlington, NC. Through this experience, I was exposed to the Word again through hymns and anthems, through the sermons of Dr. Ron Shive, and the compassion of choirmaster Patrick Murphy and my fellow choristers. This went on for a while, and I began to ask myself the difficult questions again. I conjectured that the emptiness I had felt for so long might just be the spot where Christ was supposed to go. I wanted so very much to believe, but still my analytical mind refused to surrender reason to faith.

In my last semester at UNCG, through some fellow pianists in the music department, I was invited to come to Ratio Christi…

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