Monday, 30 December 2013

Why I am a Christian

How many of us have really given the title of this blog too much thought? 

Not, why I'm a Christian but why you are, or why you're not (and why you are what you are, if you'd ever go so far as to label yourself at all). Personal faith, like personal politics, isn't part of polite conversation and so we rarely get to know what makes one another 'tick' but I'm interested to find out.

My assumption is that most people don't think they have a faith or at least that most people probably wouldn't describe themselves as 'religious' (what a ghastly word!). 

Now I may be being unfair in saying this next bit but my observation is that most people live their lives with a 'if it seems good and works then do it' philosophy informed by a 'if the majority of people around me agree then it must be right' mentality. It makes sense that my faculties are to be trusted (doesn't it?) and that if the majority believe something to be right then it's likely right (isn't it?). After all, we suppose, we're living in the most advanced time of history, resting on the gathered wisdom of the ages. There's a lot of truth in that of course. 

The trouble is that we do (from time to time) meet other people, from different cultures who believe quite opposite things to us and who experience reality quite differently from us. Fortunately, some might say, most of them have different colour skin than us and live in different parts of the world. They largely keep themselves to themselves (apart from when they make headlines). As such, however I needn't entertain the idea that they may be right about something that I've got wrong... right? Wait, it's probably best to assume that 'right' is merely a matter of perspective. Yes, that's better. I'm not 'right' (that's far too arrogant) I'm simply living out 'my right' and they 'their right'. As long as 'their right' allows me to live out 'my right' then we'll all get along just fine, right? But then how can I be sure that I'm living, well - right?

But I lose track.

If you're still following, well done - I'll get back to the point. 

I once heard someone say that according to sociologists all of us hold to our own particular worldviews, not only because of the majority, but because we're intellectually, existentially (which I take to be a posher word for 'experientially') and socially convinced of them. That is our minds have been convinced, our senses have been convinced and the people we respect and admire approve.  

Try it on yourself with things you hold to, ideas you believe to be true. It works on the little things (why I conduct my love life like I do) but also on the bigger things (why I believe something to be more virtuous than another thing). 

I'm often thinking about the title of this blog. I suppose because it's a step or two out of touch with the world I was brought up in but also because it is increasingly out of step with the society I'm living in. Every day I'm forced to ask the question of myself 'am I deluded?' and every time I make a decision to live in a way that is counter-intuitive/cultural I'm forced to ask it again. 

The question of why I am a Christian can be answered on a purely event by event basis (and I've tried examining that before in an early blog I've written). But I want to examine the question from a slightly more reasoned-out process, sort of way. I'm hardly a great thinker or writer but I don't want that to stop me from adding to a conversation and having a go. 

As it happens my worldview/lifestyle shift away from secular humanism, quaint superstition and evolutionary materialism toward Christian faith falls into the three categories mentioned above: intellectual, existential, social. 

Here's a brief overview within those categories of why I'm a Christian. Feel free to add your own 'why I'm a.... in the comments':  

Intellect: design & resurrection

Design: these were and are the two biggest convincing factors for me. Complex (and incredibly complex) things in the world are not here by random coincidental chance. If I found a watch on the beach I wouldn't conclude it came into being because the waves threw the mechanisms together randomly. Rather I'd attribute the complex design to an intelligent mind. It's the same with our planet and our universe. The universe had a beginning, therefore there must be a beginner a before Big Bang intelligence that/who created the first molecule. 

Resurrection: There are several theories about what happened to the body of Jesus of Nazareth. That the authorities stole his body, that his disciples did, that he didn't really die etc. I find that the most convincing (even with its outrageous implications) is that Jesus rose to life on Easter Sunday. That changes everything.

Experience: inspiration & beauty

Social: well-known & respected people & personally known & respected people who are believers

I'm going to unpack the last two in subsequent blogs, but that's my attempt to try and 'pin down' why I self-identify as 'Christian'.

There's a lot riding on that word 'Christian' and as such it's a risky word to use. It leaves me wide open for misunderstanding... but that also is a subject of another blog.

2013 over and out.