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Category Archives: Christian Testimonies

Christian testimonies are authenticating evidences of the new life of Christ in someone who was once lost, alienated from God, and spiritually dead. May God encourage you through these testimonials of the transformation of the gospel wrought in the various lives of those giving testimony to the amazing grace of Christ!

Lee Strobel: HOW APOLOGETICS CHANGED MY LIFE!

Lee Strobel

By *Lee Strobel

Skepticism is part of my DNA. That’s probably why I ended up combining the study of law and journalism to become the legal editor of the The Chicago Tribune–a career in which I relentlessly pursued hard facts in my investigations. And that’s undoubtedly why I was later attracted to a thorough examination of the evidence–whether it proved to be positive or negative–as a way to probe the legitimacy of the Christian faith.

A spiritual cynic. I became an atheist in high school. To me the concept of an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe was so absurd on the surface that it didn’t even warrant serious consideration. I believed that God didn’t create people, but that people created God out of their fear of death and their desire to live forever in a utopia they called heaven.

I married an agnostic named Leslie. Several years later she came to me with the worst news I ever thought I could get: She had decided to become a follower of Jesus. My initial thought was that she was going to turn into an irrational holly roller who would waste all of her time serving the poor in a soup kitchen somewhere. Divorce, I figured, was inevitable.

Then something amazing occurred. During the ensuing months, I began to see positive changes in her character, her values, and the way she related to me and to the children. The transformation was winsome and attractive. So when day when she invited me to go to church with her, I decided to comply.

The pastor gave a talk called “Basic Christianity” in which he clearly spelled out the essentials of the faith. Did he shake me out of my atheism that day? No, not by a long shot. Still, I concluded that if what he was saying was true, it would have huge implications for my life.

That’s when I decided to apply my experience as a journalist to investigating whether there is any credibility to Christianity or any other faith system. I resolved to keep an open mind and follow the evidence wherever it pointed–even if it took me to some uncomfortable conclusions. In a sense, I was checking out the biggest story of my career.

At first, I thought my investigation would be short-lived. In my opinion, having “faith” meant you believed something even though you knew in your heart that it couldn’t be true. I anticipated that I would very quickly uncover facts that would devastate Christianity. Yet as I discovered books by atheists and Christians, interviewed scientists and theologians, and studied archaeology, ancient history, and world religions, I was stunned to find that Christianity’s factual foundation was a lot firmer than I had once believed.

Much of my investigation focused on science, where more recent discoveries have only further cemented the conclusions that I drew in those studies. For instance, cosmologists now agree that the universe and time itself came into existence at some point in the finite past. The logic is inexorable: Whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist, and therefore the universe has a cause. It makes sense that this cause must be immaterial, timeless, powerful, and intelligent.

What’s more, physicists have discovered in the last 50 years that many of the laws and constants of the universe–such as the force of gravity and the cosmological constant–are finely tuned to an incomprehensible precision in order for life to exist. This exactitude is so incredible that it defies the explanation of mere chance.

The existence of biological information in DNA also points to a Creator. Each of our cells contains the precise assembly instructions for every protein out of which our bodies are made, all spelled out in a four-letter chemical alphabet. Nature can produce patterns, but whenever we see information–whether it’s in a book or a computer system program–we know there’s intelligence behind it. Furthermore, scientists are finding complex biological machines on the cellular level that defy a Darwinian explanation and instead are better explained as the work of an Intelligent Designer.

To my great astonishment, I became convinced by the evidence that science supports the belief in a Creator who looks suspiciously like the God of the Bible. Spurred on by my discoveries, I then turned my attention to history.

I found that Jesus, and Jesus alone, fulfilled ancient messianic prophecies against all mathematical odds. I concluded that the New Testament is rooted in eyewitness testimony and that it passes the tests that historians routinely use to determine reliability. I learned that the Bible has been passed down through the ages with remarkable fidelity.

However, the pivotal issue for me was the resurrection of Jesus. Anyone can claim to be the Son of God, as Jesus clearly did. The question was whether Jesus could back up that assertion by miraculously returning from the dead.

One by one, the facts built a convincing and compelling case. Jesus’ death by crucifixion is as certain as anything in the ancient world. The accounts of His resurrection are too early to be the product of legendary development. Even the enemies of Jesus conceded that His tomb was empty on Easter morning. And the eyewitnesses encounters with the risen Jesus cannot be explained away as mere hallucinations or wishful thinking.

All  of this just scratches the surface of what I uncovered in my nearly two-year investigation. Frankly, I was completely surprised by the death and breadth of the case for Christianity. And as someone trained in journalism and law, I felt I had no choice but to respond to the facts.

So on November 8, 1981, I took the step of faith in the same direction that the evidence was pointing–which is utterly rational to do–and became a follower o Jesus. And just like the experience of my wife, over time my character, values, and priorities began to change–for the good.

For me, apologetics proved to be the running point of my life and eternity. I’m thankful for the scholars who so passionately and effectively defend the truth of Christianity–and today my life’s goal is to do my part in helping others get answers to the questions that are blocking them in their spiritual journey toward Christ.

*SOURCE: The Apologetics Study Bible. Nashville, TN.: Holman, 2007, pp. xxvi-xxvii.

 

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How Dr. R.C. Sproul Met Jesus Personally

*R.C. Sproul’s Christian Testimony: A Personal Pilgrimage

The quest for the meaning of life was a troublesome problem for me from an early age. The “why” questions were the ones that gripped my mind—not so much physical questions but metaphysical questions. Many children are fascinated by “how” things work. They may even pester their parents with questions like, What makes a car run? How does a clock work? How does a seed turn into a flower? I had childhood friends like that, forever tinkering with cars and lawnmowers and skeletons. Some became engineers, some doctors, one a geologist and one a physicist. But I was bored with those questions. I knew they were very important questions, but they simply were not the ones on my mind.

As a youth I had two consuming passions. One was sports and the other the “why” questions. I saw no relationship between them at the time but in present reflection I think I can see how they fit together in my own circumstances.

I was a wartime child. The earliest question that plagued me was the question of war. I wanted to know why there were wars. They seemed pretty silly to me at the age of four. I couldn’t sit at a table and resolve their differences without using tanks and bombs and ships. Of course I had a personal vested interest in the question. What the war meant to me personally was the absence of my father. From the age of two to age six my father was a picture of a man in uniform. He was the one who wrote air letters to us. He was the one my mother talked about and typed letters to every night. She let me punch the X and O keys at the end of every letter. For some strange reason none of my childhood friends’ fathers were away at war. I kept wondering, “Why does everyone else have a dad at home and I don’t?

The plaguing question of war evaporated for me with a happy ending. Playing stickball on the streets of Chicago I was startled by a sound of people screaming and beating on pots and pans. I watched them hug each other and behave in a strange manner. I was upset that their antics interrupted the stickball game until I understood what it was all about—V.J. Day, 1945.

The full implications of their jubilation did not hit me until I stood in a railroad terminal that looked as if it was filled with a million men in uniform and a lot of weeping women. Then the troop trains came in. In the midst of a multitude of soldiers who all looked the same, one of them caught my eye. Fifty feet away he dropped his duffle bag, dropped to his knees and threw open his arms with a flashing grin on his face. I broke from my mother’s hand and covered fifty feet in Guinness record time. Dodging servicemen and running around duffle bags I flew into the arms of my father. The war didn’t matter anymore.

Then came school. From day one I didn’t like school. It is still something of a mystery to me how I ever ended up in an academic vocation. I remember walking to school on Mondays dreaming about Fridays. The thought that plagued me was why do I have to go to school five days a week and get to play only two? It didn’t make sense to me. My father’s schedule looked even worse. It seemed like he was always working. I wondered what life was all about when you had to spend so much time doing what you don’t like so you could spend so little time doing what you do like.

I was a good student but my heart wasn’t in it. Sports were my passion. Sports made sense to me. I took a sensuous and intellectual pleasure in them. I liked the feel of my body responding to action moves: dodging a would-be tackler, driving through the key for an “unmakeable” lay-up; skirting across the bag at second and firing to first for a double play. I was consumed by sports. I read every book in the town library on sports. I was a walking encyclopedia of sports “trivia.” My hero was the fictional Chip Hilton. He excelled at everything; he was a pristine model of fair play; he was a champion.

Practice for sports was never work. I was never so tired that I wanted practice to end. I loved every second of it. There was a reason for practice. The game. Victory. The game had a starting point, a goal, and an end point. Victory was a real possibility; defeat never entered my mind. When we were behind my thoughts were never “What if we lose?” but rather, “How can we win?” Like Vince Lombardi, I never lost a game but just ran our of time on a few occasions. My coaches were my real life idols because they always pointed ways to victory. We would be willing to die for them on the field as a matter of obvious course.

But something happened that changed all that and changed me so radically that I’m not over it yet. I was 16 years old when my mother came to me and said, “Son, your father has an incurable disease. There is nothing the doctors can do for him. You can still play some sports but you’ll have to cut back and get a part time job. Dad is dying and you have to be the man of the house.” I took the message outwardly with stoic heroism. Inwardly I was enraged. I could not believe there was something as an unsolvable problem. We won the war, didn’t we? We always found a way to win ball games. Why can’t we beat this? There must be a cure. The doctors are wrong. But there was no cure. The doctors were right. Dad didn’t die right away. He died a day at a time. Every night I fireman-dragged his emaciated body to the dinner table.

I still played sports for a while but it was different. They were foolishness. The coach said, “Sproul, I want you to take this football and carry it with you everywhere you go. I want you to take it to dinner ad sleep with it. You have to eat, drink, and sleep football.”

Two weeks earlier if had said that to me I would have loved him for it. Now I wanted to scream at him, “You idiot!” Don’t you know this stuff doesn’t matter at all!” Practice was misery. The games became a nightmare. Sports, like life, were an exercise in futility. Chip Hilton was a myth and life a bitter joke. When the referee blew his whistle and called a foul I pushed his whistle in his mouth. When the umpire called me out I took a swing at him. Bitter, frustrated, confused, I knew only defeat. Now there was no way to win. I quit.

The last time my father fell I picked him up and carried him to bed, unconscious. Twenty hours later he was dead. No tears from me—no emotion. I “quarter-backed” the funeral arrangements. When we put him in the ground my soul went under with him. The next year was a year of unrestrained degeneracy. (Anger can do a lot of things to a young man.) I became the paradigm of the angry young man. In junior high I graduated second in my class, legitimately; from senior high I was one hundred fifty-seventh by every crooked means available.

Sandlot football won me a scholarship to college. Then came radicalizing number two. One week on campus and my life was turned upside down again. The star of the football team called me aside and told me about Jesus. I couldn’t believe this guy. In my eyes ministers were “pansies,” and “Christian” was a synonym for “sissy.” I don’t remember what he said to me; but it drove me to the New Testament. Truth breathed from every page. It was my virgin experience with the Bible. It was a spiritual experience of revolution. I always knew there was a God but I hated Him. In this week my anger and bitterness dissolved into repentance. The result was forgiveness and life.

It would perhaps be appropriate to relate a story of coming to Christ via the route of intellectual inquiry. But that’s not how it happened with me. The intellectual drive came later. For one year I had a consummate passion to learn the Scriptures. I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t believe them. Most of my professors were skeptics. The campus atmosphere was mostly secular. I was quickly faced with every conceivable objection to Christianity. I was most vulnerable, in light of my past history, to the charge that my faith grew out of my emotional trauma and psychological need for Jesus to be my “Father” and to give me hope in my despair and bitterness.

I wasn’t a Christian long until I had to face the question squarely: Was my conversion rooted in objective reality or was it merely an expression of my own subjective needs? I began to experience what Saint Augustine called, “Faith seeking understanding.” Thus I turned my attention to the study of philosophy as my major academic pursuit.

The study of the history of philosophy exposed me to virtually every serious alternative to Christianity the world has brought forth. I began to see the bankruptcy of secular world views. I found valuable insights in Spinoza, Kant, Sartre, and others. But no one seemed to have a consistent and coherent life and world view. The philosophers themselves were their own best critics. Hume critiqued Locke; Kant critiqued Hume; Hegel critiqued Kant, and so on it went. There emerged no “sure results” of speculative thought. The study of philosophy did provide very important tools for critical analysis which proved very helpful for my own pilgrimage. The more I studied philosophy the more intellectually credible and satisfying Christianity became.

After college came seminary. Naively I expected seminary to be a citadel of scholarly interpretation and defense of Christianity. Instead I found it to be a fortress of skepticism and unbelief. A negative posture toward classical Christianity prevailed which exposed me to a wide variety of contemporary critical theories that rejected orthodox Christianity. Thus seminary exposed me to a wide variety of scholarly criticisms of the Bible. This forced me to face the question of the trustworthiness of Scripture. Fortunately I was blessed with two crucial support systems. On the one hand I was well enough equipped with the tools of analytical philosophy to spot the philosophical assumptions that the negative critics were using. Through philosophical tools I was able, to some degree, to critique the critics. I was intellectually unimpressed by the weak philosophical assumptions of the “liberal” professors. On the other hand I was fortunate to study under one professor who did affirm classical Christianity. He was our toughest professor and most academically demanding. His “bear-trap” mind and singular ability for “close” and “tight” reasoning impressed me. He seemed to tower over the rest of the professors both in knowledge and analytical brilliance.

From seminary I went on to a doctoral program in Europe. It was a difficult and exhilarating experience. Almost al of my work had to be done in foreign languages which required a new kind of intellectual discipline for me. Studying under G. C. Berkouwer of the Free University of Amsterdam exposed me to all the latest theories of theology and biblical studies. The European system exposed me to the method of approaching theology and biblical studies as a technical science. Studying the primary sources in original languages such as Dutch, German and Latin gave new tools for scholarship.

From Europe I returned to America and began my teaching career. Teaching in both college and seminary I had an unusual pattern of teaching assignments. At one college I taught almost exclusively in the field of philosophy. In another college I was responsible to teach theology and biblical studies. My first seminary appointment had me teaching philosophical theology which combined both philosophy and theology. Oddly enough I was also asked to teach New Testament theology. In an age of specialization I was forced into being a “generalist,” working in several different but related fields.

The science of apologetics which offers intellectual defense of the credibility of Christianity finally became my point of “specialty.” That is usually what happens to generalists.

My training was not in a conservative “hothouse.” I have been through the gamut of liberal scholarship. I am a first-generation conservative—by conviction, not heritage or training.

The teaching arena has been the crucible of my thinking. The more I study and the more I teach and engage in dialogue with unbelievers and critics the more confident I have become in the rock-solid intellectual integrity and truth of Christianity. In fact, I am overwhelmed by the profundity, coherency, and intricate internal consistency of Christianity. I am awed by the majesty and brilliance, not to mention the power, of the Scriptures. Take away the Scriptures and you take away Christ. Take away the Christ and you take away life. My conviction is one with that of Luther: Spiritus Sanctus non scepticus: “The Holy Spirit is not a skeptic and the assertions He has given us are surer and more certain than sense and life itself.”

*This article was published in the Introduction to the book Reason To Believe (originally published in 1978 as Objections Answered) by R. C. Sproul, pp. 11-18.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books (including some of my all time favorites: THE HOLINESS OF GOD; CHOSEN BY GOD; KNOWING SCRIPTURE; REASON TO BELIEVE; and PLEASING GOD) and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul also serves as president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and Reformation Bible College. He currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, FL. (The picture to the left was taken approximately around the time of Sproul’s conversion as a College student).

 

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PEYTON MANNING: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

PEYTON MANNING

This season Peyton Manning, the quarterback of the Super Bowl bound Denver Broncos, completed the greatest statistical regular season at the quarterback position in the 94-year history of the National Football League (NFL). This regular season saw Manning set records in yards passed in a season (5,477) and touchdowns thrown in a season (55), and he led his team to accumulate more points (606) in a regular season than had ever been done before. Manning also tied the record for touchdowns thrown  in a game (7) in the Broncos Week 1 win over the defending Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens.

Any fan of Peyton Manning or the NFL generally knows that Manning is the consummate professional. He treats the fans, media personnel, teammates, and opponents with respect. He works as hard–and probably harder–at his craft than any other player in the league. And he produces one fun, family friendly commercial after another, showing his sense of humor and a humble assessment of his own importance. But what many fans of Manning and the NFL may not be aware of is Manning’s Christian faith. In the excerpt below from Peyton’s book Manning (available on Amazon), which he co=wrote with his father Archie Manning in 2001, the record-breaking quarterback gives a rare description of his faith and its importance to him. The description is a rare one, not because Peyton’s faith is an insignificant part of his life, but because, as Peyton explains in the excerpt, he has intentionally chosen to speak more by his actions than by his words.

Here is the excerpt:

Like my dad, I make it a point when I speak to groups to talk about priorities, and when it’s schoolkids, I rank those priorities as: faith, family, and education, then football. And I tell all of them that as important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth. My faith is number one since I was thirteen years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: “If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven?” Cooper was there and Eli (Peyton;s two brothers) but it didn’t hit them at the time the way that it hit me. It was a big church, and I felt very small, but my heart was pounding. The minister invited those who would like assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did. Then he invited us to come forward and take a stand, and my heart really started pounding. And from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.

But I got up and did it. And I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been the most important thing to me ever since. Some players get more vocal about it–the Reggie Whites, for example–and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me less of a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder, and I don’t want to be more of a target for criticism than I already am. Somebody sees you drinking a beer, which I do, and they think, “Hmmm, Peyton says he’s this, that, or the other, and there he is drinking alcohol. What’s that all about?”

Christians drink beer. So do non-Christians. Christians also make mistakes, just as non-Christians do. My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me with the assurance I looked for half my life ago. I think God answered our prayers with Cooper, and that was a test of our faith. But I also think I’ve been blessed–having so little go wrong in my life, and being given so much. I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.

But I consider myself fortunate to be able to ask Him for guidance, and I hope (and pray) I don’t do too many things that displease Him before I go to Heaven myself. I believe, too, that life is much better and freer when you’re committed to God in that way. I find being with others whose faith is the same has made me stronger. J.C. Watts and Steve Largent, for example. They’re both in Congress now. We had a voluntary pregame chapel at Tennessee, and I attended chapel every Sunday with players on the team at Indianapolis. I have spoken to church youth groups, and at Christian high schools. And then simply as a Christian, and not as good a one as I’d like to be.

How do I justify football in the context of “love your enemy?” I say to kids, well, football is most definitely a “collision sport,” and I can’t deny it jars your teeth and at the extreme can break your bones. But I’ve never seen it as a “violent game,” there are rules to prevent that, and I know I don’t have to hate anybody on the other side to play as hard as I can within the rules. I think you’d have to get inside my head to appreciate it, but I do love football. And yes,, I’d play it for nothing if that was the only way, even now when I’m no longer a child. I find no contradiction in football and my faith.

Ah, but do I “pray for victory?” No, except as a generic thing. I pray to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability. But I don’t think God really cares about who wins football games, except as winning might influence the character of some person or group. Besides. If the Colts were playing the Cowboys and I prayed for the Colts and Troy Aikman prayed for the Cowboys, wouldn’t that make it a standoff?

I do feel this way about it. Dad says it can take twenty years to make a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. I want my reputation to be able to make it through whatever five-minute crises I run into. And I’m a lot more comfortable knowing where my help is.

 
 

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THE DEBT I OWE C.S. LEWIS by Dr. Holly Ordway

The Chronicles of Narnia

I owe more to C.S. Lewis than I can ever express. On this day, Nov. 22, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of his death and the day that he is honored with a memorial in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, I wish more than anything to say ‘thank you’ to this great man.

And so I decided to share a glimpse of how Lewis helped change my life. In my memoir Not God’s Type, I’d alluded to Lewis’s significance in my conversion to Christianity, but not gone into detail. In the revision, significantly expanded and revised, which will be published in 2014 by Ignatius Press (and tentatively retitled The Sword and the Cross) I write a great deal more about the role of Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles in my journey.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 12 of my forthcoming book.

At this point in my journey of faith, I had accepted the arguments for the existence of God; I had become a theist. But what about the idea of a personal God? And in particular, what about Jesus? I found myself struggling, resistant, terrified . . . and so we jump in as I wrestle with the meaning of the Incarnation:

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE

I had rejected the idea of ‘talking to God’ in prayer – not from intellectual disagreement, but from a visceral reaction of fear and anger, and although the cause was new, the feeling of baffled rage was all too familiar. I had felt it when I was eight or nine years old, weeping over my long-division homework (and refusing to do it); in high school, my stomach in a knot as I stared at geometry proofs that meant nothing to me; as a college freshman, sick with frustration as I struggled with my chemistry problem sets. I knew that there was some meaning locked up in these figures, these equations and problems, but I was unable to see what the teacher (and the other students!) seemed to find so obvious, and my inability easily to understand made me both angry at myself and, eventually, dismissive of the subject.

The idea of a personal God was almost impossible for me to grasp to begin with, let alone the Christian claim that the Creator become a human person, flesh and blood like me, yet also fully God. The ‘watchful dragons’ (as Lewis calls them) of my rebellious self spoke up loud and clear, insisting, “It can’t possibly be true that the Creator of the universe would respond to you, or even be aware of your existence. Who do you think you are, anyway? And these Christians are obviously talking nonsense. How could it be that the First Cause of the universe would somehow become a man, an actual human being walking around, getting his hands dirty, getting killed. Ridiculous. Who can believe that?”

I had nothing to say.

These new philosophical ideas about God made rational sense of the world as I saw it, but they did not show me that the God of the philosophers would have anything to do with me as an individual – much less that His concern for human beings would extend to becoming incarnate, as the Christians said that He had. God’s morality might apply to me, yes, but like gravity, indiscriminately to all people; or like a law code, written down and handed over, with its authority coming from the Law-Giver, but at a distance. Surely He could not, would not, take notice of me: I was too small; He was too big. Surely He would not enter into His creation; it was grubby and messy and material, and He was spiritual and orderly and infinite.

I could understand the definition of the word ‘Incarnation’ but not grasp its meaning. It seemed unimaginable that God would come close enough to be touched, would become man.

Or was it? I began to recall glimpses of something I’d been intrigued by, yet had been unable to name, from an earlier, deeper vision.

What if the idea of the Incarnation did not have to be solved like a math problem . . . what if I could get hold of its meaning in a different way?

I picked up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: this time, not to analyze it for my dissertation, but to enter Narnia like a little girl again.

And I encountered Aslan.

First just as a name, a glimpse of hope – “Aslan is on the move” – and then as a hope fulfilled, the great Lion really present in Narnia, bringing an end to a hundred years of winter. Aslan was a force to be reckoned with: he led the Narnians into battle, and killed the White Witch himself; when he roared, “they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind.” No tame lion, indeed.

And yet he was touchable, playful, personal. If I could have stepped through the wardrobe door and seen this character for myself, I don’t know if I’d have first run up and buried my hands and face in his shaggy mane, or fallen down before his great velveted paws with their terrible claws, afraid to look at him, but love and awe would have been mingled in both.

In Narnia, I found that the Incarnation was not a bizarre idea, out of place in the world. It infused the very atmosphere; I breathed it in and was strengthened by it. That God would join His creatures by becoming part of creation Himself seemed, here in Narnia, as fitting as the fact that winter’s end brought crocuses peeking brightly through half-melted snow; as right as the fact that sunlight warms chilled limbs and water quenches thirst.

In Narnia . . . but here, in real life? It might not be true that God was involved with His world; it might not be likely that Jesus was God incarnate . . . but it was no longer unimaginable.

From The Sword and the Cross – forthcoming, Ignatius Press, 2014

Deo gratias.

*ARTICLE ADAPTED FROM: http://www.hieropraxis.com/2013/11/my-debt-to-c-s-lewis/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Holly Ordway is a poet, academic, and Christian apologist. She is the chair of the Department of Apologetics and director of the MA in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, and the author of Not God’s Type (2010; revised and expanded 2nd ed. forthcoming as The Sword and the Cross, 2014, Ignatius Press). Her work focuses on imaginative and literary apologetics, with special attention to C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.

 

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R.C. SPROUL’S TESTIMONY: INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY DICK STAUB

RC Sproul smiling image

How did you first become a Christian?

I had actually gone to a church-related college, but I went on a football scholarship, not because of any interest in the church. And at the end my first week, which had been spent in freshman orientation, my roommate and I decided to head out to town to hit some of the bars across the border. We come to the parking lot and I realized that I was out of cigarettes. So I went back in the dorm and went to the cigarette machine. I can still remember it was 25 cents for a pack of Luckys. And I got my Luckys and turned around and saw the captain of the football team sitting at a table. And he spoke to me and to my roommate and invited us to come over and chat. And we did. And this was the first person I ever met in my life that talked about Christ as a reality.

I’d never heard anything like it. And I was just absorbed, sat there for two or three hours, and he was talking. He didn’t give a traditional evangelism talk to me, he just kept talking to me about the-the wisdom of the word of God. And he quoted Ecclesiastes 11:3: “Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” I just feel certain I’m the only person in church history that was converted by that verse. God just took that verse and struck my soul with it. I saw myself as a log that was rotting in the woods. And I was going nowhere.

When I left that guy’s table I went up to my room. And into my room by myself, in the dark, and got on my knees and cried out to God to forgive me.

What was it that made you head down this highfalutin, rigorous academic preparation for your life?

To tell the truth, I hated school from first grade all the way through high school. The last thing I wanted to do was even go to college. But because it was a church-related college I had to take a course in the introduction to the Old Testament, first semester, and second semester an introduction to the New Testament. I’ll tell you, I just absolutely devoured the scripture. I just read it all day. At the end of the first semester I had an A in gym because I was on an athletic scholarship, an A in Bible, and all the rest Ds.

At the beginning of my sophomore year I had almost like a second conversion. And it was a strange thing. I had a required course in introduction to philosophy. The first assignment was on David Hume. I just thought this was so much nonsense, and I was so bored. I sat in the back of the class and I had Billy Graham sermons stuffed in behind my notebook. And while the professor was droning on about this stuff, I was getting edified by the Reverend Billy Graham sermons.

And then this one day he started to lecture on Augustine’s view of creation. And he got my attention. And I sat there, and I had an experience that was almost as powerful as my conversion where all of a sudden my understanding of the nature of God just had exploded. I went downstairs and changed my major to philosophy just so that I could learn a more in-depth understanding of God.

After I graduated from college then I went to seminary for three years, and then I went and did doctoral studies at the University of Amsterdam.

What was it that made you decide that you were called specifically to try to fill this gap, as you say, “between Sunday school and seminary” for everyday Christians?

Well, actually, when I went to graduate school my life’s ambition was to teach at seminary. And that came to pass when I was still in my 20s. I got an appointment at a seminary, and it was fun, but I was also involved in the local church. The pastor of the church asked me to teach an adult course on the person and work of Christ to the laypeople. I had doctors and lawyers and housewives and farmers and all kinds of adults in that class. And what I discovered was they were more interested in these things than my seminary students.

When our seminary left town, I had an opportunity to go with the seminary or I had an opportunity to teach laymen in a large church situation. And I took that route. And I always wanted to keep my hand in the academic world, but I always felt like if we were ever going to make a difference, we had to get to the people.

5TECNTG Sproul

Tell me about the inspiration behind Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. You’ve written 50 books, some of them very scholarly, And now we get to this little volume that really is back to the basics.

We have a lady that works at Ligonier Ministries, who is our chief financial officer. And really she’s a genius. I’ve never seen anybody so bright in her field. Yet she has a simple faith. And she said to me at a meeting a couple of years ago, “I like to hear you teach, but your books are too heavy for me. Can’t you write something for people that are just starting their Christian walk?”

I thought about the basic means of grace that God gives us, the ways in which he has provided for his people to grow from infancy, spiritual infancy, in the maturity and in the conformity to Jesus. And so I tried to make a very basic, practical, tool. Not just a teaching tool, but one for training.

You’ve recently started to learn the violin?

One of my dreams for heaven was to learn how to play the violin. And we started this church a few years ago. And we have a string quartet, and they’re so beautiful. I listen to violin music all the time. And I said, why wait? Why not get started now?

My teacher is this world-class performer from Russia. And she trained with some of the best teachers in Russia, so she tries to impose the same rigid Russian strictness on me that she went through. And so when I’m doing it wrong she smacks my hand and says, nyet, nyet, nyet. I’m learning more Russian than I am violin from this woman, but I am having an absolute ball. And when I have the opportunity, I’ll practice three hours a day. I just love it. It is so hard. And I screech so much. But it is so beautiful and worth it when you do get it right, you know?

It is a discipline, and we are called to be disciples. Millions of people start on piano lessons. They play one note with one finger and then they go to two fingers, and then two hands. There are different plateaus. And at each plateau another percentage of people get off the boat and give it up.

With people who start out in learning the Bible, it’s the same thing. I’ll frequently ask people if they have read the whole Bible cover to cover? Not just new Christians—we’re talking about people who have been Christians 20/30 years. And a very small minority say that they’ve read the whole Bible.

Almost everyone has read Genesis because it is narrative. People start off with good intentions to read the Bible through, but when they get into the technical dimensions of the Levitical purification codes and that sort of thing, it’s so foreign to the world they’re living  that they’re confused, they get lost, they lose their interest, then they give up.

So what’s your advice to them?

What I do is I give them an outline in this book on how to get the skeletal overview of the Bible. You read Genesis and Exodus and then you skip over to Joshua. Stay with the history. And read Judges. It’s like a novel. Then 1 Samuel. I get them to get an historical overview of the whole of the Old Testament. And I’ll have them read one major prophet, one minor prophet, a few psalms, a few proverbs, just to get a taste of it. Because if they get that overview, that overall structure and then they can go back and fill in the gaps.

[In violin,] if you’re not trained yourself, you have to get under the discipline of somebody else. I have to see this teacher every week and put up with her smacking my hand and saying, nyet, nyet, nyet, because if I didn’t I’d never get anywhere. For people who start out in learning the Bible, it’s the same thing. If you have trouble being disciplined, get in a Bible study group.

*Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/decemberweb-only/12-30-21.0.html

MORE ABOUT SPROUL AND STAUB

Dr. R.C. Sproul was born in 1939 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He is president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies and the founder and chairman of the ministry that began in 1971 as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. In an effort to respond more effectively to the growing demand for Dr. Sproul’s teachings and the ministry’s othereducational resources, the general offices were moved to Orlando, Florida, in 1984, and the ministry was renamed “Ligonier Ministries.”

Ligonier Ministries is an international multimedia ministry located near Orlando, Florida. Dr. Sproul’s teaching can be heard on the programRenewing Your Mind with Dr. R. C. Sproul which is broadcast onhundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in more than 40 countries worldwide. He is executive editor of Tabletalk magazine and general editor ofThe Reformation Study Bible, also known as The New Geneva Study Bible. Dr. Sproul currently serves as the director of Serve International and senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, FL.He is ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is the author of more than eighty books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. 

Dr. Sproul has produced more than 300 lecture seriesand has recorded more than 80 video series on subjects such as the history of philosophy, theology, Bible study, apologetics, and Christian living. He signed the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which affirms the traditional view of biblical inerrancy, and he wrote a commentary on that document titled Explaining Inerrancy.

Dr. Sproul holds degrees from Westminster College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam, and he has had a distinguished academic teaching career at various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Dick Staub was host of a eponymous daily radio show on Seattle’s KGNW and is the author of Too Christian, Too Pagan and The Culturally Savvy Christian. He currently runs The Kindlings, an effort to rekindle the creative, intellectual, and spiritual legacy of Christians in culture. His interviews appeared weekly on our site (CHRISTIANITY TODAY) from 2002 to 2004.

 

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A Journey From Atheism to Jesus

This is a beautiful story of Jordan Monge, a Harvard University student, and her journey from atheism to Christ.

I read the Qur’an and Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. I went through The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and looked up Christian rebuttals to apparent contradictions. But nothing compared to the rich tradition of Christian intellect.

The Atheist's Dilemma

The Atheist’s Dilemma

By Jordan Monge

I don’t know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party: “But how do you know what the Bible says is true?” By age 11, my atheism was so widely known in my middle school that a Christian boy threatened to come to my house and “shoot all the atheists.” My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.

As I set off in 2008 to begin my freshman year studying government at Harvard (whose motto isVeritas, “Truth”), I could never have expected the change that awaited me.

It was a brisk November when I met John Joseph Porter. Our conversations initially revolved around conservative politics, but soon gravitated toward religion. He wrote an essay for theIchthus, Harvard’s Christian journal, defending God’s existence. I critiqued it. On campus, we’d argue into the wee hours; when apart, we’d take our arguments to e-mail. Never before had I met a Christian who could respond to my most basic philosophical questions: How does one understand the Bible’s contradictions? Could an omnipotent God make a stone he could not lift? What about the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God declared it so, or does God merely identify the good? To someone like me, with no Christian background, resorting to an answer like “It takes faith” could only be intellectual cowardice. Joseph didn’t do that.

The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

And he did something else: He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories. Defenseless, I decided to take a seminar on meta-ethics. After all, atheists had been developing ethical systems for 200-some years. In what I now see as providential, my atheist professor assigned a paper by C. S. Lewis that resolved the Euthyphro dilemma, declaring, “God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.”

Joseph also pushed me on the origins of the universe. I had always believed in the Big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I’d happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on.

By Valentine’s Day, I began to believe in God. There was no intellectual shame in being a deist, after all, as I joined the respectable ranks of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers.

I wouldn’t stay a deist for long. A Catholic friend gave me J. Budziszewski’s book Ask Me Anything, which included the Christian teaching that “love is a commitment of the will to the true good of the other person.” This theme—of love as sacrifice for true good—struck me. The Cross no longer seemed a grotesque symbol of divine sadism, but a remarkable act of love. And Christianity began to look less strangely mythical and more cosmically beautiful.

At the same time, I had begun to read through the Bible and was confronted by my sin. I was painfully arrogant and prone to fits of rage. I was unforgiving and unwaveringly selfish. I passed sexual boundaries that I’d promised I wouldn’t. The fact that I had failed to adhere to my own ethical standards filled me with deep regret. Yet I could do nothing to right these wrongs. The Cross no longer looked merely like a symbol of love, but like the answer to an incurable need. When I read the Crucifixion scene in the Book of John for the first time, I wept.

NO WALK IN THE PARK

But beauty and need do not make something true. I longed for the Bible to be true, but the intellectual evidence was still insufficient.

So I plunged headlong into apologetics, devouring debates and books from many perspectives. I read the Qur’an and Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion. I went through The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and looked up Christian rebuttals to apparent contradictions. But nothing compared to the rich tradition of Christian intellect. I’d argued with my peers, but I’d never investigated the works of the masters: Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Pascal, and Lewis. When I finally did, the only reasonable course of action was to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But my head and my heart suddenly switched places. Though I began to know the evidence for the Scriptures, my head full of answers, I began to feel distant from the story that had brought me to tears a month prior. When reading through the Passion narrative on retreat on Cape Cod in the spring, I remained utterly unmoved. I went out to pray.

I walked to a pond surrounded by trees and began praying by the water’s edge. I felt disconnected from God, from the friends I’d begun to hold dear, from my body itself. I begged God to make it all click, as a test for me to know that he was there. After an hour with no progress, I started to walk.

Following the pond to a stream, I began climbing through the surrounding thicket to see if I could reach the ocean a little ways down. I kept pausing, thinking, Do I want to go back? I left all my stuff behind. But each time, I renewed my steps, believing that I couldn’t quit until I’d made it to the end. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I just gave up and went back to where I’d started. I had some sense of direction of where I needed to go, but I didn’t know how to get there.

I climbed over branches and under bushes, sometimes going in the opposite direction for a while when the bramble grew too thick. I treaded lightly through marshes only to have the mud swallow my leg up to the knee. After pulling myself out, I started walking through the stream, since I figured I couldn’t get any dirtier, and the ground seemed to be most trustworthy along the middle of the river where the water had worn the path. So I followed it until the last light of day was waning.

I quickly realized that my journey through the briar patch was an apt metaphor. I’m trying to get somewhere, but I’m not sure how to get there. There’s no clear path, so I must proceed by trusting my instincts. I might even go off in the opposite direction for a little while. In the end, I may arrive right back where I started. But that’s okay too, because I’ll get there with a clearer head and everything will be waiting for me when I’m done. It won’t be easy. Sometimes I’ll get mired in the mud, or caught up in thorns. But I’ll make it through, though not without a few cuts.

If I wanted to continue forward in this investigation, I couldn’t let it be just an intellectual journey. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). I could know the truth only if I pursued obedience first.

I’d been waiting for my head and my heart to be in agreement. By the end of the church retreat, they weren’t completely in sync. Many days they still aren’t. But I realized that the unity could come later. If my heart had agreed at one point, and my head agreed now, then my heart would follow. I couldn’t let a malfunctioning heart delay the logical course of action, the obedience required by true faith.

I committed my life to Christ by being baptized on Easter Sunday, 2009.

This walk has proved to be quite a journey. I’ve struggled with depression. I would yell, scream, cry at this God whom I had begun to love but didn’t always like. But never once did I have to sacrifice my intellect for my faith, and he blessed me most keenly through my doubt. God revealed himself through Scripture, prayer, friendships, and the Christian tradition whenever I pursued him faithfully. I cannot say for certain where the journey ends, but I have committed to follow the way of Christ wherever it may lead. When confronted with the overwhelming body of evidence I encountered, when facing down the living God, it was the only rational course of action.

I came to Harvard seeking Veritas. Instead, he found me.

Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/atheists-dilemma.html

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in Christian Testimonies

 

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The Power of the Gospel in Kirsten Powers Life

Kirsten Powers

She is a political analyst, blogger, columnist and commentator. She is a Democrat who regularly contributes to USA Today, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal among other publications. She formerly served under the Clinton administration from 1993-1998 and was appointed Deputy Assistant U.S Trade Representative for Public Affairs.

In an interview with Focus on the Family, she shares how she converted from atheism to Christianity. She said: “I was not looking to be a Christian. The last thing in the world I wanted to be was a Christian. I had grown up as an Episcopalian, but not evangelical, born again, or any of those kinds of things. It was very high church, kind of mainline, protestant, episcopalian. I did believe in God, but it wasn’t anywhere near what would come to happen to me later in life.

“When I went away to college, whatever little faith I had, I lost. I ended up graduating from college. I worked in the Clinton administration. All my friends were secular liberals. At this point, I really got even more deeply into an incredibly secular world because now, all my friends were basically atheists, or if they had any kind of spirituality, they were very hostile towards religion, Christianity in particular. So, I really didn’t have any interest in it.

“I started dating someone who went to Tim Keller’s church, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Out of curiosity, I went with him. But I told him upfront that I would never become a Christian; that it’s never going to happen. After about six or seven months, I began to think that the weight of history is more on the side of what [I was hearing at this church] than not. Tim Keller had made such a strong case, that I began to think it’s not even smart to reject this. It just doesn’t seem like a good intellectual decision.

“Really, it was like God sort of invaded my life. It was very unwelcome. I didn’t like it. Obviously, I started having a lot of different experiences where I felt God was doing a lot of things in my life. It’s kind of hard to describe, but I did have this moment where the scales just fell off of my eyes, where I was saying, ‘this is just totally true, I don’t even have any doubt.’ …I don’t really feel like I had any courage when I became a Christian, I just gave in. I wasn’t courageous; I didn’t have any choice. I kept trying to not believe but I just couldn’t avoid [accepting Christ]. If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.” Her name is Kirsten Powers.

Article adapted from: Kirsten Powers: How a Liberal Democrat and Former Atheist Came to Know Jesus Christ as her Savior – Gospel Light Minute ^ | 2 June 2013 – Posted on July 14, 2013 5:59:59 AM PDT by Gamecock

 

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