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I am an atheist who wants to believe in Christ

Discussion in 'Struggles by Non-Christians' started by Davoarid, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. Davoarid

    Davoarid New Member

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    I'm a 32-year-old guy who spent roughly 32 years as an atheist. And not just any atheist.... for most of this time (especially in my teens!) I was the very obnoxious kind, the one who read Dawkins and Hitchens and took delight in trolling boards like this very own with the same old arguments I'm sure you've all seen a thousand times before.

    But now? Now I find myself.... extremely confused and more than a little terrified. The proximate cause was a series of books I read over the last couple months: The (extremely profane) novels of Michel Houellebecq which first began cementing in my mind the emptiness and hopelessness of the atheist/materialist mindset, and this was shortly followed (by pure chance!) with Elizabeth Prentiss's Stepping Heavenward, which expounded on the benefits and comforts of Christianity in a way I hadn't ever experienced before. And it was shortly after that I read the big--and more common!--one: CS Lewis's Mere Christianity. For the first time, the world began to make sense: what before seemed full of chaos and despair suddenly became orderly and hopeful. For the first time in my life I have begun reading the Bible with an open mind and an open heart.

    And.....that's where I am at now. (This has all been very, very sudden.) I am in the position of the man who oh so desperately wishes to believe in Christ, but whose lifelong background in "rationalism" is making such a conversion very, very hard.

    (This was all copied form the Introduction thread--sorry! This next part is new though!)

    I suppose I will zero in on the current specific issues I am having, though I urge you to consider this within the wider context of my biography:


    One part of Lewis that hit me especially hard was the section on Christian marriage. Specifically, the realization that the Vow to "love" one another isn't describing the "feeling" of love--it's describing the decision to love, the active choice every single day to value and respect your spouse and your family. (Indeed, we can't promise to always experience the feeling of love towards our spouse, no more than we can promise to never have a the feeling of a headache.)

    And... up until recently, I've always understood Faith to be a "feeling." That Christians do not make the active decision to (I will phrase this very delicately, as I do not mean to offend) set their traditional reasoning abilities aside and accept Christ into their hearts; rather, it's a "feeling" they have, a "feeling" that Christ is with them and wants them to accept Him.

    Which one is closer to how actual Christians feel?

    (Perhaps a specific example will clear things up: in Mere Christianity, CS Lewis employs his famous "Lord, Liar or Lunatic" argument to explain why he believes that Christ was literally the Son of God. Now, when I read that, I find his argument to be logically unsound--poor, and unconvincing. However, of course, to be a Christian (which, again, is something I desperately want) I would need to get past these mental roadblocks. Can I just say "No, I will make the decision to ignore these misgivings, and accept Christ on faith" or is this terrible theology (and worse psychology)? And if that's not the answer....then what is?

    So: How can I get past this? How can I get to Christ from my current miserable state?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
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  2. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    The first step is to follow the board rules so you never get
    kicked off and have to start all over with post#1 trying to
    get a entire new group of people to be concerned.

    Spend your first 30 to 40 posts helping other people.
    This helps to break the ice and open up convesations
    of trust that are usually missing from your first
    30 - 40 posts. And of course this takes time for
    people to trust you and care for your well being.
     
  3. Targaryen

    Targaryen Scripture,Tradition and Reason

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    I will speak from my own point of view on this but I'm sure others will pop in with their own opinions.

    For me though, it's a mixture of both the decision to love and the feeling we are loved. Perhaps that is a bit obtuse. We as Christians accept Christ by our own actions first and foremost, we make the conscious effort to follow Him and his teachings. I could get into the bigger theological concerns for why it jointly depends on our choice as much as it depends on what we feel but, for us the biggest action about being a Christian is the decision to love. to pick up our cross and follow Him, to accept that this person, out of no actual fault of blame of his own, was sentence to suffer and to die. And died in our own place. the very act of what we call atonement, which is significant for us, cannot be done if we don't make the active and conscious decision to acknowledge our own faults or misdeeds and seeking to correct those faults or misdeeds honestly and fully, even if they do rear their ugly head up at times.

    But feeling also comes into play of course. Part of the issues I think so many people have is that act of faith is based entirely on a process of mystery. You could explain it, but if you can't feel it, it might as well be written in archaic Sumerian to a modern day layperson. We feel that there is something behind it all, in other words. A sense that, not matter how complete we may objectively, evidentially look at ourselves and the universe around us, that there is a bigger thing that we still sense, and for us, we desperately with to know about. But when we start to put the pieces together, and we feel pulled (Christians commonly refer to this as called) towards a certain message or a certain person, for us it's Christ. We seek to learn about that thing that calls us, and if the message resonates within us, that feeling that we found what we had sought fills us.

    For me, that was as simple as feeling lost, picking up my baptism Bible one day and turning to Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Lost son:

    11 Then Jesus said, "There was a man who had two sons.
    12 The younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them.
    13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.
    14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
    15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.
    16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.
    17 But when he came to himself he said, "How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!
    18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
    19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands." '
    20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
    21 Then the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
    22 But the father said to his slaves, "Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
    23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
    24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.
    25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
    26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.
    27 He replied, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.'
    28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.
    29 But he answered his father, "Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.
    30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!'
    31 Then the father said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
    32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.' "

    I hope this helps begin to explain
     
  4. Another Lazarus

    Another Lazarus Old Newbie

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    You can watch this short movie which explains how Almighty God loves our world that He sacrificed His son to save the people.


    The train speaks about the world filled with ignorant people of various professions and the train has violated the Red Light (sins) and heading toward destruction.

     
  5. paul1149

    paul1149 that your faith might rest in the power of God Supporter

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    I've read your intro post as well, and think it is absolutely awesome that you have come this far.

    I really like the way Lewis clears up that faith is a decision rather than a feeling. Sometimes the order is reversed at the outset. This seems to have happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. He was overwhelmed by what he experienced, and his decision to follow Christ came almost instantaneously. But eventually we find that there are times when feelings alone do not have the power to pull the train. We get into trouble if they are all we were depending on. That's when we seek to deepen our roots in Christ, as He Himself tells us to do at the end of the Sermon on the Plain:

    Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:
    He is like a man who built a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, because it was founded on a rock.​

    And the one who just went by feelings:

    But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great." -Luke 6:47-49

    As to your last question, about the qualms you still have, I can give my own experience. I came to Christ with many doctrinal misgivings because of some erroneous teaching that had been drilled into me. It troubled me greatly, and I visited my pastor at the time about it. Wisely, he put no pressure on me to believe anything. I went home, and about a week later I came to the realization that I should give this to the Lord and trust that at the right time He would show me the truth. A peace enveloped me, and I see out to continue serving Him the best I could, knowing what I did. It took some nine months, but at that point the truth I was seeking was revealed to me, and consequently I am very solid on it, because I came to my conclusions not based on what any man said, but on God's revelation to me.

    Basically, I'm saying that you don't have to be settled on everything. You can pray, "Lord, I want to know You better. If You're real I want to know it, and I want to follow You. I am going to trust You to lead me, even as I continue to seek You. And whatever Light You give me, I will obey".

    If you pray that prayer of willingness with sincerity, you give the Lord all He needs to work. And He will.

    If anyone determines to do His will, he will know concerning the teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from Myself. -John 7.17​
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  6. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF

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    It's completely logically sound:

    1) According to the Bible, Jesus claimed to be God.

    2) Either Jesus believed the claim, or he did not.

    3) If Jesus did not believe the claim, he was a liar of an abhorrent sort.

    4) If Jesus believed the claim, either he was right, or he was not.

    5) If Jesus believed the claim but was wrong, then he was a lunatic of an extreme kind.

    6) If Jesus was right, then he was indeed God.

    7) The Biblical description of Jesus rules out the "liar" option.

    8) The Biblical description of Jesus rules out the "lunatic" option.

    9) Therefore Jesus is God.


    Here (2), (4), and (6) are undeniable, and (9) certainly follows logically from (1) to (8). Where's your problem, exactly?
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  7. Traveling teacher

    Traveling teacher Well-Known Member

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    You need to pray and ask God to reveal Homself to you
    And in time He will
     
  8. Alicia Schout

    Alicia Schout Member

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    You are welcome to believe in the one and true God. Start reading the gospel.
    Ask God to guide you by the Holy Spirit as you read the gospel. The gospel is the first four books of the new testament. Don't try to understand the why's but He will reveal all things to you by and by. Join a Church that is real. Go to a Bible Study Class conducted by a true believer. Seek those who really believe what Gods says and not only believe but also practise love for God and his/her fellowmen.
     
  9. Spirit Reborn

    Spirit Reborn His beautiful work-in-progress ♥ Supporter

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    @Davoarid
    First off, a warm welcome to CF :)
    I am more than happy to read of your testimony thus far. I pray that you will give this video a chance. It has a powerful message by a very engaging and passionate guy who talks about the significance of Jesus Christ. I can't tell you how many times I've watched it. He's around our age range. It's far from boring. I really encourage you to give it a chance whenever you find the time :)
    please fast-forward the video to 52:22 as that is when the message starts. I also believe that what he says will help you get past whatever it is that is making it hard/challenging to get to Christ.

    For what it's worth..I don't think you're in this forum by accident. I think God led you here for a reason. And I genuinely hope to see you around CF often. : ) God bless

     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  10. The Brown Brink

    The Brown Brink Well-Known Member

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    Is it rational...to look at this world and think it is "rational" that it's even here?

    It shouldn't be here, rationally.

    Mass and Matter don't just pop into existence...rationally...

    So how did you figure the universe got here when you were being "rational"?
    You didn't have an explanation, did you...

    Evolution and science and logic and reason don't give an explanation for original creation.

    Nothing within our rational grasp can explain original creation.

    Thus, the explanation must not be... rational...

    Right?

    So you can let go of "rationality" when you think about God.
    It doesn't apply.

    You have freed yourself, sweetheart.

    Run with it.
     
  11. xianghua

    xianghua Well-Known Member

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    first: do you now believe in god, or do you still have some doubt? i post a thread about it here:

    My favorite argument for the existence of God

    if you have any question feel free to ask.
     
  12. xianghua

    xianghua Well-Known Member

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    actually its very rational to believe in god. see my argument here for instance:

    My favorite argument for the existence of God
     
  13. The Brown Brink

    The Brown Brink Well-Known Member

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  14. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    For me, I'd say that the marriage analogy is a good one. I choose, day by day, to act in ways that are good for the well-being of my husband and children.

    I think of faith as a combination of trust and commitment. Trust, in the way that I might say "I have faith in my husband" -- I don't mean "I believe my husband exists", but rather "I believe him to be a person of good character". Commitment, in the sense of "keep faith with". So I choose to trust that God is good, and that the early Christians were mostly right in the way they evaluated their experiences of Jesus; and I choose to stay committed to following the path that Jesus taught.

    Faith isn't suppressing or ignoring your misgivings. If the Christian path is true, then it can stand up to your questions.

    Blessings to you in your journey.
     
  15. Dirk1540

    Dirk1540 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well I can tell you what I've done over many years of being a back & forth believer/non-believer, in order to reach a conclusion historically. I tried to learn as much as I could about the historical Jesus, tried to learn as much as I could about the world in which Jesus lived in (the contexts, the belief systems surrounding his Jewish heritage), and I observed all of the things that Jesus "Successfully passed himself off to be to his contemporaries." Notice, I have done nothing religious, I merely looked at patterns. I then analyzed detail after detail through 2 separate lenses...lens #1 is that historical Jesus was just a mortal. Lens #2 is that historical Jesus was more than mortal and he accomplished supernatural feats. My conclusions are that time & time again I can't wrap my head around how a mortal Jesus could possibly have pulled off the reputation he pulled off with nothing more than the gift of gab! And time & time again I see that a supernatural Jesus on the other hand fits like a glove.

    My opinion is that had Jesus not been supernatural the entire Christian movement was the most bone headed, and the luckiest movement in all world history. They did nothing but dream up ways to shoot themselves in the foot over & over (had Jesus just been mortal). This is not the way smooth talking religious prophets like Muhammad operate when founding a successful new religion. You have to know how to keep things ambiguous so people don't call you out on pure absurd blasphemous nonsense. You don't point to a Jewish carpenter peasant and say to people "There stands the Son of God in the flesh!" Historical patterns show us that it doesn't work that way. Now Emperors, Pharaohs, Caesars, etc, could get away with such claims, that's a different story. Historical patterns prove that that was fairly common. But Jesus' success was a completely baffling historical enigma had he merely been mortal. When I look through the mortal historical Jesus lens nothing adds up. When I look through the miracle Jesus lens everything fits like a glove.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
  16. KWCrazy

    KWCrazy Newbie

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    You can't come to Christ without first being called by Christ. To hear that call you have to open your heart and your mind. It helps if you understand the foolishness that the world has been teaching you. For example, matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. So the universe could not be created. Matter is in a constant state of decay, or you can say entropy is a constant which says the exact same thing in different words. The universe is winding down. It is not eternal. It WILL burn out. It had to have a source of origination but science cannot account for that source. Life exists, but live comes only from life. It can't originate. The most simplistic life forms are too complex to ever form through natural processes. Science can't account for the origination of life either. You have a soul; an individual thought process which is unique to you. Part of this thought process is a conscience; an internal voice that defines good and evil and assigns guilt when you do evil. That knowledge is unique to mankind. Science would like to tell you it's learned social behavior but that is not the case. The knowledge of good and evil dates to the Garden of Eden. Science cannot explain it. Science is the study of the physical world around us. It can't study the supernatural. It can neither confirm nor deny maters supernatural in origin.

    So we look to the Lord for answers and we have them; how the universe started; how life began; why we know good from evil. These answers require a world governed not by its own physical laws, but by a supernatural force. If such a force exists, then everything science has told you about our origination is false. If you read the miracles God performed over the years you will see that he always chooses to do things the most impossible way. He rained fire on a hill soaked with water and ignored one soaked with fuel. He chose a six day creation instead of millions of years because it wasn't "natural" He works in antithesis to science so you will know that He, not science or nature; is Lord.

    You ask about love. All love comes from God. God is love. Christian marriages fail because they don't have God foremost in their lives. You won't always be madly in love with your wife, but you can always love her. When times get tough if you both turn to the Lord there will be plenty of love to get you through. Christians aren't perfect. Christ is perfect. God is perfect. Love is perfect. The only difference between Christians and other sinners is that we have a Savior who paid the price for our sins and who offers Himself as the perfect example of how to serve God. When we don't live as Christ lived we delude ourselves by calling ourselves Christians. What matters is that God calls us Christians. Anyone can say they believe. Those who truly believe will demonstrate it.
     
  17. Phil 1:21

    Phil 1:21 Well-Known Member

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    I absolutely love reading testimony like this. God truly is good.

    When you get the time, you make want to check out "The Case For Christ" by Lee Strobel (the book, that is). It's an excellent apologetics book that breaks down the rational, reasonable case for faith in our Lord and Savior.

    Stay in the word, stay in prayer...God is leading you to Him.
     
  18. Davoarid

    Davoarid New Member

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    A somewhat pleasant update:

    So over the weekend, at a housewarming party, a friend of mine casually mentioned that he hosted a weekly Bible study/community outreach event in his home, where they discuss in more detail the subject of that Sunday’s sermon (at his Baptist church.)

    And.....So, there are several things keeping me from church right now, and the vast majority of them are intellectually-based (I’m still not even 100% sure I believe in a personal God, much less the Trinity). As CS Lewis might say, it’s snobbery and laziness. But another biggish part is....I’m just *nervous*, in that it brings back memories of my first day of school where I don’t have any friends and have no one to sit next to in the cafeteria and “oh dear everyone’s staring at me what did I do I just want to go home.” (Plus, there are all the even more inconsequential but still anxiety-inducing fears—“I can’t sing! What if someone singles me out and asks a question I don’t know! What if I’m over- or under- dressed?!?” etc)

    Anyway, when my friend mentioned that....all those fears in the second half melted vanished. I wouldn’t have anything to worry about! Heck, if I wanted, the first few times I could ease into it by avoiding church and just showing up at his place for Bible study. He even said they serve beer—I couldn’t dream of a more perfectly casual environment to ease in to church!

    And for the slightest of moments I was able to take the Leap, the Leap to convince myself that this random coincidence was in fact no coincidence at all, that it really was the Holy Spirit acting through that friend to help me overcome my fears and come to Christ. Like, I was able to move beyond the strictly rational part of my brain that stops me in my tracks by shouting “No, you’re being stupid.”

    Anyway, last night that friend and I met up for drinks and I shared with him basically all the details in my intro post (making him the first real-life person beyond my wife I’ve opened up to about this) and it was a wonderful, wonderful conversation, and I felt so much better afterwards. (He was, to no surprise to any of you I’m sure, extremely excited by this and eagerly invited me to join him and his friends at their church and his home for study and worship.)

    Now, it’s not all good news—I am unfortunately not there yet (and would honestly feel odd attending church when I have only just begun reading the Bible)—but I can see the path before me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
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  19. Dirk1540

    Dirk1540 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I like Bible studies way more than church. I will NOT sing!! I'm just not into emotional group worship that's just me, not knocking it, I just refuse to be a fish out of water and act like I'm comfortable. I'm more comfortable in personal prayer. The churches where "AMEN!!" Is constantly shouted out is as far from my personal style as it gets. But again I'm not knocking it.

    Let me clarify though, I did find a church that I liked a lot once when I lived elsewhere, but ones around me now aren't my style. And I'll admit I don't exactly try hard to find one that I like, I just stick with Bible study.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  20. Alicia Schout

    Alicia Schout Member

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