3 Reasons Why Christians Should Be Evidential Investigators Instead of Experience Junkies

by Alisa Childers

Two men.

Both grew up in Christian homes in suburban America. Both have famous Evangelical fathers. Both made personal decisions for Christ and became actively involved and well-known in ministry. One walked away from his faith and became a secular humanist. The other has become one of the top apologists and defenders of the Christian faith.

Who are these two men? The first is Bart Campolo, son of evangelist and author Tony Campolo, and the other is Sean McDowell, son of evangelist and author Josh McDowell.  Why did their fairly similar paths lead them to such radically different destinations?

Recently, the two came together to have a discussion on Premier Christian Radio entitled, “Why Bart Lost His Faith, Why Sean Kept His.” It was a fascinating discussion, and the thing that most struck me was the reason they each gave for having become a Christian in the first place. Campolo described how he converted to Christianity after finding a youth group he connected with and attending one of their retreats:

There’s hundreds of kids there. It’s Saturday night, there’s candlelight and firelight and everybody’s singing “Our God is an Awesome God,” and “We Love You Lord.” And in the midst of that kind of environment I had what I guess you would call a transcendent moment…I felt something. It felt like there was something happening  in that room that was bigger than the group. I felt like I was connecting to something. And in that moment ….that was God.

I heard something. It was real to me. People that don’t believe in transcendent experiences—I always think like, “You haven’t been to the right concert… You haven’t used the right drugs. You haven’t fallen in love with the right partner.”
These experiences are real, and I think whatever narrative you’re in when you have one, it confirms that narrative. If I would have had that same transcendent moment with my friends in a mosque in Afghanistan, it would have confirmed Islam to me. But I was in the Christian world, so from that point on, Jesus was real to me.

In Campolo’s own words, he became a  Christian because of a transcendent experience….a feeling that resonated deeply in his heart. Later in the conversation, McDowell gave his reason for becoming a Christian. Having believed in Christianity as far back as he can remember, he experienced some serious doubts about his faith when he was a college student. When he shared his doubts with his father, his dad encouraged him to not believe something simply because it’s what he was told. He urged him to investigate the evidence for the truthfulness of Christianity for himself, and to reject anything that was untrue.

After doing some significant evidence investigation, McDowell arrived at the conclusion that Christianity is true….and this is the reason he is a Christian. His faith was not built upon a “transcendent moment,” but on a painful search for objective reality.

Campolo’s Christianity was confirmed by experience, while McDowell’s was confirmed by evidence. Here are 3 reasons why Christians should be evidential investigators, instead of experience junkies…
3 Reasons Why Christians Should Be Evidential Investigators Instead of Experience Junkies