why i believe (part 1)

I’ve been pondering the core of where my belief in Christianity comes from recently – not so much what do I believe, but why do i believe it? Below is an excerpt of free writing from my journal on Easter Sunday as I thought about this, with a couple minor edits for clarity sake.

I am a Christian.

And I am a Christian because I believe.

The Bible tells me that whoever believes in Christ as Savior will have eternal life. I believe this.

But why?

The short answer is that I don’t know why I believe. The Bible is full of things that I say I ascribe to and accept… much of which I don’t understand or am even aware of. But yet I do believe.

It’s not a matter of questioning what I believe. I guess in my heart I sense I know truth. That somehow I have found the right way, but I’m not sure how I came to this comprehension. Certainly my parents, grandparents, friends, teacher, and pastors over 26 years have had a lot to do with it.

Which begs the question, did I make a decision to believe as the result of a logical decision after considering all the options?

I know that I didn’t. I cannot comprehend even a fraction of all the options. Furthermore, the belief I ascribe to says that God called me – I didn’t seek him. Interesting.

But does that make it any less important that I understand why I believe? In order that I might explain my belief to others in a way that makes some semblance of sense, I don’t think so. It’s a fascinating point though… my belief is only possible and only validated because God allowed me to believe. Some are called to believe, but before they know that they have been called to believe I feel I must be able to talk to them about Christianity in a manner that can be comprehended outside of the certainty of faith.

So then, is belief the sum of knowledge of certain things known to be true and the balance of things that must be accepted simply through faith?

Faith is described as the “assurance of things hoped for” and the “conviction of things not seen”… things that we cannot approach physically. Is it possible that the entire crux of all religions – even atheism – require a certain degree of faith in things we cannot prove in a tangible world?

So belief systems boil down to two questions:

  • What are the things we can know which we can prove beyond a doubt, that can be verified and upheld in the physical world?
  • Second, what are the things that must be answered through faith – things out of reach of our finite minds and bodies which must simply be accepted with imperfect understanding?

I feel like if I can get my head around what these elements of Knowledge and elements of Faith are, I will have a better understanding of why I believe… and as a result, a fuller understanding of what I believe.

Someday (hopefully soon) there will be a Part 2 to this post, and where I’ll tackle this question. Until then, do you agree with my conclusion that a belief is founded on two primary elements of Knowledge and Faith? Is it necessary for us to understand why we believe what we believe? Do you understand why you believe what you believe?

    • jon arnold
    • March 30th, 2008

    I agree with your assertions. I do think, however, it’s critically important to constantly evaluate these facets and don’t rely on the Bible as your only source.

    By that statement, I don’t mean other religious texts or belief systems. I mean use logic, reason, historical texts and inference to glean your assertions.

    You should also use those methods to reject other religions (since you should fundamentally disagree with them, according to what the Bible says).

    Not sure how accepted this thought process is, but if you approach Christianity from a philosophical and historical perspective, the meaning and message are still intact. I also feel like certain aspects of “traditional” church culture can be rejected based on this analysis.

    I’m hoping to have some writing time on this soon and I’ll be sure to discuss it with you. Pretty sure you’ll disagree with me, as I find some aspects of Reformed Theology to be in opposition to logic and reason.

    • burnshead
    • March 31st, 2008

    @ Jon – Thank you for the lone comment so far. I think you have summarized what I was trying to convey as well… approaching Christianity from the viewpoint of one who does not believe, what elements combined together lead to a full acceptance of the faith?

    Begin with what you can Know – logic, reason, historical texts. But you reach a certain point where “a leap” of Faith becomes necessary. I’m interested in breaking these two elements down to their bare components.

    Reformed theology provides a twist, especially in terms of our understanding, but I absolutely do not believe they are in opposition to logic and reason.

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