Saturday, September 26, 2009

so, finally part 3

Sorry it took so long, had a hard week in more ways than one.

So far all we have is a very weak cultural religion that was passed on by my family, and one experience. Not much to build a world view on there. But if you asked me back then if I believed in God, I would have said yes, and if I believed in Jesus I would have said yes. But if you asked if I cared, I would have said no. I think if anyone really tested me at this point, it all would have fallen apart, because it was based on very little.

So then my mother started going to a different kind of church. This church was what I call a popcorn pentecostal church. Because through out the service people just pop up, and "give their testimony". To be honest I thought it was all a bit weird, but Catholic church wasn't exactly normal, so...

I would go once and a while to make my mom happy. At this time I also started Portuguese bullfighting, which is pretty nuts as the picture shows. So I would ask for prayers as a superstitious kind of belief. Never really thought they did much, but they couldn't hurt right? Well I got smashed up pretty good lots of times, but never anything really serious, but didn't attribute that to the church or God at all.

Then, as often happens some very attractive girl showed up at church, and she had a really scratchy voice that I found very appealing as well (found out later she had vocal nodules from singing too much and that cleared up). Well, I decided to hang around a bit more, and try to hook up with said young lady. Eventually I decided I had done enough prep work and asked her out, and she said yes. She was from a sister church, and I didn't know her, or any of the others from her church, but when she invited me to go to a New Years eve party on our second date, at her sister's house.

Well, I had never been to a Christian New Years party, was expecting much boringness, and I wasn't disappointed at first. No alcohol, or other more potent party fuel, soft crappy Christian music, and a whole house full of Ned Flanders (before there was a Ned of course). But a strange thing happened as I hung around, these people seemed to have a very intense, and palpable love for each other that was more than I had seen before. Now remember, I was part of a group of men that actually risked our very lives for each other, so I understood close community, but this was different. And what was more, they seemed to welcome me into this family for no other reason, than I was there. I began to want to be more like those people.

Then at midnight, everyone got in a circle and took turns sharing what God had done in their lives the preceeding year. So about thirty individuals, one by one, declared first hand experience with their God. There were answered prayers, there were deep life lessons, there was comfort in the midst of tragedy. It was very moving. But combined with the community love, it was overwhelming to me. I also felt, as best as I can describe, this internal belief that I was made in my very core, for this. To live in love, and community. I felt an inner witness, that felt like a drawing voice (didn't hear anything, just trying to explain it). I wanted what these people had, and they sure believed it was God, and I was willing to make a leap.

I will point out, it was a leap of faith. There was external factors, and I believe they were, at least subjectively, compelling, but nothing approaching evidence. I took a dive based on faith, but I felt myself land into loving arms. I felt like I really met God at this point.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why part 2

Please understand that I am trying to be totally honest here. I am also being completely subjective. This is not a presentations of facts, and logical insights that lead to certain understanding. I am not following an evidence that demands a verdict style of presentation. Rather I am telling my story, I am trying to do so honestly, and trying not to edit myself for effect.

With this in mind, I do not expect to convince anyone, but rather to explain myself. This is not an exercise in debate, or argument, but rather one of revelation. There are some things I will not talk about in depth, this is because I have a huge amount of respect for them, and will not subject them to public scrutiny or ridicule, I hope you can understand that.

So lets start with my beginnings. I grew up in a very marginally catholic home. My dad was more of a deist, he believed that there must be some kind of creator, but that this being whatever it was was both unknowable, and disinterested in its creation. My mother was a very strong believing catholic, but did not practice regularly for most of her life. I went to catechism, made first communion, and later went to Catholic school in Jr High and High School.

When I was very young, 10 or 11 years old the charismatic movement was effecting the catholic church that I was associated with. This belief was that the Holy Spirit, (the spiritual influencing part of the community of God) was active in our lives, allowing us to understand God's voice, and even doing miracles. It was very emotional, and of course this emotion was believed to be evidence of God's presence in our midst, which is how I took it as well.

During one meeting they left a mic turned on at the front of the church and asked people to come up if they believed God had given them a message for the church. I believed, and still believed that certain words came into my head that were not my own. I didn't hear a voice, but more realized a few sentences. So I walked up and said what I thought was God's message. I was told later that my voice sounded different, and a number of different things, but at the time I just felt like I had responded to God. I did not stay in the church for much longer. I began to drift further and further away, and though I did believe in God (and Jesus, as this is how I was raised to understand God) it had nothing to do with the day to day living of my life. I went to church once and a while, or when I had to, but there was no real faith in my life.

I learned a lot in school, they were actually quite forthright about church history, and gave the ugly side of things as well as the nice. But my cultural bias towards Christianity was actually quite small, but it was prevailing. The experience with the charismatic prophecy or whatever you want to call it, was the only personal experience I had until I was 18 and it wasn't enough to hold me.

I will continue, this is a long process, so please be patient

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I am a believer in Jesus

I have been asked many times by my atheist friends why I believe in Jesus, or God in general. The question is usually unintentionally pretty aggressive. It often goes something like this, "john, you seem like a fairly intelligent guy, and you aren't brain washed, how can you believe in God?"

Well, this might take some time. So sit back and relax, I will tackle this issue over a few weeks most likely. In doing so I will borrow or steal from NT Wright, Alvin Plantinga, CS Lewis, and probably a few others that I just can't remember. I most likely won't deal with questions in the comment section, unless they are about clarifying what I already said. If I don't answer you, it is because I am scared of your question and buried my head in the sand...

or I will be addressing it in later posts.

I will do this in this order:

The subjective reasons that I personally have come to this belief

The less subjective reasons why I think that a belief in God is reasonable

The less subjective reasons why I believe that Jesus, and Christianity is the most correct path of many

The less subjective reasons why I do not believe in a godless abiogenesis

And how I deal with some tough questions about the nature of evil, difficult bible passages, and biblical interpretation

I will most likely begin the first part tomorrow morning


Atheist church (I was guest speaker)

My brother does an atheist church every week, he asked me to be his guest speaker last week, hope you enjoy, and pardon my potty mouth

part one

part two