That sounds odd, yes? But it’s true, and why 2016 is going to be a year of taking apologetics and the study of “why” more seriously and studiously.
I was saved (the longer I reflect upon this, the more grateful I am) when I was very young. Yes, I was really saved. The pastor of my church at the time personally examined me prior to baptism – he was very nice, but that was intimidating. I wouldn’t have done it if I weren’t pushed by the Spirit. Asking to be baptized was the only time I responded to an altar call for at least the first 35 years of my life.
So I’ve been in the family of God since I was old enough to realize that I should get that done. I was given good teaching (church, Sunday School, AWANA) from the get-go. God has never not been real to me. I’ve never gone without His presence in my heart.
My rebellion, when it came, was much like rebelling against the strictures of beloved parents – it was because I thought I’d figured out a better way to do things, not because I was angry or wanted to cause a fuss. And like loving parents who are letting you go your own way, while waiting for you to come home and be sensible… God was always there. I didn’t always want to look at Him, because I knew I was in the wrong, but I never thought He didn’t exist or didn’t love me.
And eventually I came home. And after coming home, I submitted my life to my Father, realizing at last that His rules were good and right, and that my good intentions were sending me straight to Hell. There was no moment when He distanced Himself from me, when I came home, He forgave me and put things right. No moment without His truth, His presence. Since then, I’ve turned more and more of my life over to Him (meaning, when I find a bit that isn’t submitted under a rock somewhere, I give it over), striven to serve Him, and grown closer to Him.
I can *always* feel God’s presence, all I have to do is look.
And that makes proving His existence to a skeptic really difficult. The parts of the Bible that I study and think about are the instructions for living, or nifty bits of theology, or eschatology…. I have never needed proof that this whole thing is true.
So. I’m going to be going through my Bible with a fine-toothed comb (and those page-points) and marking up proof texts for the JW and Mormon folks who come by wanting to debate. And I’m going to look into some of the “why can you trust the Bible” things for skeptics… in the best sources I can, looking into it for myself. I am too well-trained a scholar to be convinced by “this person told me so it’s good” – I can start with “this person” and then look up their source material myself, see what I think for myself.
I’m going to take my time and answer questions properly, really looking into the issues, not just finding a quick answer and being done, but going to the scary place of asking myself that question and looking for an answer that truly satisfies. (Cassie, that + Christmas psychosis is what has happened to my answer to you on your blog – it deserves a proper bit of research and thought, not a sound bite).
I want to understand things for myself. I expect this will be a bit uncomfortable at times… that’s okay. I’m a big girl… and God never, never, NEVER leaves me. Taking time to look at these questions from other angles will only make me better able to defend my faith.
And of course, I will pull all of you along for the ride.