It is a stronger faith that not only knows what to believe, but how to know it is true. I polled a few Christians to learn what they find convincing about our faith. What follows are their responses with my editorial elaborations.
“For me it is fulfilled prophecy.” In fact by some counts, Jesus fulfilled over 350 prophecies penned hundreds of years before his birth. He was aware of that, and to the scholars of his day he said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about me” (John 5:30).
“It makes sense of the world as we observe it.” This refers to the glory of creation, awareness of self, yearnings of the human heart, and dignity of humans. The world seems caused and sustained by something outside of it while struggling against that which decays and destroys. Our hope is that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4). G.K. Chesterton believed Christianity “because the thing has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing.”
“The miracle of changed lives.” The Christian message is that we can be released from that which drags us down. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). We are empowered to live righteously. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
“I am strengthened by believers from elsewhere.” The news of brothers and sisters in Christ remaining steadfast in harsh places like China, Iraq, Syria, and North Korea emboldens those who know their sacrifice. As a college student, the first time I heard my Ethiopian friend pray in Amharic left me quite aware that God is not American. “We hear them in our own languages speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:11). God transcends time, nation, race, and language.
“Answered prayer.” Such claims can seem quite subjective to skeptics. But a sincere believer with an active prayer life does not treat God like a cosmic genie. C.S. Lewis said, “I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” When I am changed by God’s answer to prayer, I can be God’s answer to my neighbor’s prayer.
The Bible is not a primary proof of the faith to the modern skeptic who can’t countenance the circular logic of proving the book by quoting from it. But it is still sweet to remember the children’s song from Sunday school: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That’s the epistemology that convinced me.