I thought of this every time I saw something beautiful, and God delivered me from my depression (and my porn addiction).
I read Dallas Willard’s , a manual for how to fall in love with God so that following his ways is not a burden, but a natural and painless product of loving God.
I moved to Minneapolis for college and was attracted to a Christian group led by Mark van Steenwyk. my life to Jesus, releasing myself from all cares and worries, and filling myself and others with love.
Mark’s small group of well-educated Jesus-followers were postmodern, “missional” Christians: they thought loving and serving others in the way of Jesus was more important than doctrinal truth. Then I began an investigation of the historical Jesus… I do not think I am strong enough to be an atheist. I have a broken leg, and my life is much better with a crutch…
That resonated with me, and we lived it out with the poor immigrants of Minneapolis. I’m going to seek genuine experience with God, to commune with God, and to reinforce my faith.
By this time I had little interest in church structure or petty doctrinal disputes. So I decided I should try to find out who Jesus actually was. What I learned, even when reading scholars, shocked me. I studied the Historical Jesus, the history of Christianity, the Bible, theology, and the philosophy of religion. If only I could books by the very best Christian philosophers. I couldn’t force myself to believe what I knew wasn’t true. I am going to avoid solid atheist arguments, because they are too compelling and cause for despair.
The gospels were written decades after Jesus’ death, by non-eyewitnesses. Almost everything I read – even the books written by conservative Christians – gave me reason to doubt, not less. I felt like my best friend – my source of purpose and happiness and comfort – was dying. The atheists made plain, simple sense, and the Christian philosophers were lost in fog of big words that tried to hide the weakness of their arguments. On January 11, 2007, I whispered to myself: “There is no God.” The next day I emailed my buddy Mark: I didn’t want to bother you, but I’m lost and despairing and I could really use your help, if you can give it. I do not WANT to live in an empty, cold, ultimately purposeless universe in which I am worthless and inherently alone.
They are riddled with contradictions, legends, and known lies. And how could I accept the miracle claims about Jesus when I outright rejected other ancient miracle claims as superstitious nonsense? I made a historical study of Jesus, which led me to a study of the Bible, historical and philosophical arguments for and against God, atheist arguments, etc. I hope that I find a real, true God in my journey of blind faith. Even the smartest ones just made lots of noise about “the mystery of God.” They used big words so that it sounded like they were saying something precise and convincing.
I do not need to convince you of that God, since you seem satisfied as an atheist. Matt responded to my every sentence with care, understanding, and reason. My dad told me I had been led astray because I was arrogant to think I could get to truth by studying.
Humbled and encouraged, I started a new quest to find God. I was “doing discipleship” in my own strength, because I thought I was smart enough and disciplined enough.
I grew up in Cambridge, Minnesota – a town of 5,000 people and 22 Christian churches.
My father was (and still is) pastor of a small church.
My mother volunteered to support Christian missionaries around the world.