Why I Am A Christian: If the Cross of Christ saved me, it is the Resurrection of Christ that sustains me.

Derek Ouellette —  April 23, 2011 — 15 Comments

The very title of this post (Why I am [still] a Christian) presupposes a sad situation. It may shock many who know me that I have – on more than one occasion, and quite recently actually – had a crisis of faith of sorts.

I can relate with those who either refuse to become Christian or those who leave the Christian faith on the grounds of hypocrisy, and I believe that the standard Christian response is inadequate to address the emotive thinking of such a one. To say for example “if you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it because it won’t be perfect anymore”, while being true, this cliché response fails on so many levels to address the real issue: I think for most people the issue is not that there are imperfect people in a church that ought to be perfect; the real issue is that the church ought to be held to a higher standard then secular society, a standard that is, which reflects a Christ-likeness. When the church – it seems – is as bad if not worse than the secular society then this is what the critic means by saying we are all a bunch of hypocrites.

Now let me get personal: It took a good five years from conversion before my rose colored Utopian styled glasses came off and I began to see “the Church”, the people in it, and its’ leadership for what it really was – human. When this happened it rocked my world and shook my foundation. Since then I have seen friends more or less sent to the guillotine for reading the bible and asking questions. I myself experienced my own inquisition by way of a preemptive strike by a young arrogant pastor who perhaps feared my influence or else (and more likely) feared the fact that I would dare use my brain without his permission. I have seen Jelly Fish with more backbone and godly conviction then board members. I have seen entire “spiritual churches” filled with young “Christian” guys knocking up all the young “Christian” girls, while nerdy kids in youth group get ignored by the “cool” youth pastor, and I have seen the adults who preached a “lofty Christian-ise” who were more interested in maintaining the status quo and keeping traditions “as usual” then in living with sincere Christian conviction. Gossip, backbiting, judging, criticizing, two-facing and the such, all the while “playing Church” at their finest.

That was when I looked at the outside, at the Christian community around me. But I am a reflective guy, it did not take long before I could no longer avoid the ugly truth inside of me: that I was just as bad, just as susceptible to being corrupted by the alcohol of power and authority as any pastor is, just as tempted to sleep with any pretty girl as any young guy is, just as quick to judge from my lofty throne as any elder is. Hadn’t I read somewhere in the Old Testament that the heart is desperately wicked, who can know it? So yes, I have considered leaving this Christian religion in the past. After all, where is this Christianity which the bible speaks of?

But the secularization of the church (and of my own soul) is but only one poignant reason among many. There are other issues. For example, I have struggled in the past with science and the creation account of Genesis. I believe that it is impossible for the earth to be only 6,000 years old (following James Usher’s date of creation: 4004 BC, October 23rd – my brother’s birthday). Yet macro evolution is an absurdity (the Darwinian concept of macro-evolution is hogwash gift wrapped in the guise of science). I have now solved this nagging problem to my own satisfaction, but in the past it was a real struggle. Furthermore, what about the issue of “theodicy”? Theodicy addresses the question: If God exists, if God is all powerful and if God is all good then why is there evil in the world? If God is good he is obligated to stop evil; if he does not it either means that God is not “all good” or else he is not “all powerful” – that is, he is either not strong enough to prevent evil or he just doesn’t care (or worse, he is the cause). If none of these answers are adequate then perhaps the only answer remaining is that God doesn’t exist at all. There is no easy way to answer this question; brilliant holy men have addressed it for centuries (the best answer – I believe – is found in the doctrine of Atonement called Christus Victor). And if these issues are not enough, the worst of all is the biblical teaching of Hell. I have known friends and relatives who have died over the years, and for most of them, unless some type of thief on the cross experienced occurred which (let’s face it) is possible but no likely to have happened all the time, at least some of them went down stairs instead of up. This reality probably more than any other makes me wish God didn’t exist because I would rather my loved ones die and go into oblivion then for them to be burning right now in the horrible down under. As a faithful bible believing Christian I must accept the reality of Hell (however it is conceptualized), but I hate it!

And there are more reasons still. More recently some of my most fundamental convictions have been inwardly challenged. The more Christian books I read, the more Christian people I dialogue with, the more views I encounter the more difficult it is to maintain the belief in “essentials”. There are so many views of the atonement, so many views of hell, so many views of scripture, so many views of the nature of God, so many views on “how to get saved”, so many traditions – the Orthodox, the Reformed, the Roman Catholic et cetera, and that’s just scratching the surface. And so many of those arguments are legitimate. How can we even speak of essentials anymore? How can we even speak of a Christianity anymore? It’s more like “Christianities“. And if that’s the case how can we know for sure which form of Christianity has the truth?

What more can I say? Many have left the faith for less and yet, despite all of this I remain a committed Christian, why? It is because when I lie awake at night and ask myself if God really exists (where did my childhood faith go?) and when I ask myself if I cannot still find purpose in life by caring for others without the prerequisite of believing in God (C.S. Lewis would swiftly and decisively take me to task here), there is one reality that I cannot escape: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is not simply an intellectual response (though it is partly that); when the Resurrection creeps into my forethoughts it does so from the deep recesses of my soul. What about the Resurrection; if God doesn’t exist then how did Jesus rise from the dead? The Apostle is surely right when he says: “If Christ has not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain”. And if the Resurrection of Christ is true then surely so is the gift of the Spirit, for He was given as a result of the Resurrected Christ to us as a down payment (a seal, a guarantee) that we too will raise from the dead. If we have the Spirit then it must also be true that it is by the power of this Spirit we may live Christ-like; that is, the evidence of the Holy Spirit (Paul uses the term “fruit”) is that we are being transformed into the character of Christ. From this reality I am overjoyed whenever I meet humble and godly pastors, teenagers, and everyone else who I must take up as examples of Christ to imitate! They’re out there and they are not hard to find. My church is filled with them… and so are many other churches I’ve attended over the years. When you live from the perspective of the Resurrection you see things differently.

Furthermore, if the Resurrection is a reality then nothing “pop science faith” can throw at us can change this fact and everything that flows from it. If Christ rose from the dead, then God exists. It’s as simple as that. And if Christ rose from the dead, then we have both the answer to evil and the answer to Hell.

If the Cross of Christ saved me, it is the Resurrection of Christ that sustains me.

Why am I still a Christian? Because of the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_cr_dp_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

    Re “Yet macro evolution is an absurdity (the Darwinian concept of macro-evolution is hogwash gift wrapped in the guise of science). I have now solved this nagging problem to my own satisfaction, but in the past it was a real struggle.

    Could you explain (or refer me to a blog posting where you have already explained) how you solved this nagging problem to your own satisfaction? I ask this as a person who is still struggling with reconciling biological evolution and Scripture, particularly with the historicity of Adam and Eve.

    • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

      There is no compelling reason arising from the text itself to insist upon the historicity of “Adam” and “Eve”. “Adam” after all, means “human” (see Genesis 5:2) and “Eve” simply means “mother”.

      However, that said, C.S. Lewis somewhere suggests an intriguing idea, this being that after the process of evolution has produced homo sapiens sapiens, at some point God takes a male-female couple of this species and “breathes into them the breath of life” and “creates them in the image and likeness of God”. That is, God creates a specific and special relationship with them and with their descendants which can be described in these biblical terms. This would also explain, of course, how Cain got his wife.

      But for all that, I think we risk missing the theological message when we focus overly much on the question of historicity here.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Good answer Fr. Greg.

      Hi Paul,

      Let me begin by saying that this post was originally written a few years ago, and was slightly modified for today. I added the line, “I have now solved this nagging problem to my own satisfaction, but in the past it was a real struggle” and in so doing I wished (in hindsight) that I would have deleted this line: “the Darwinian concept of macro-evolution is hogwash gift wrapped in the guise of science“, just because it comes off as arrogant and presumptuous.

      Now that I have gotten my confession out of the way, click here for where I explained how I feel I’ve solved the problem to my own satisfaction: Soul-Journey into the Lost World of Genesis One

  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_cr_dp_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

    Fr. Greg,
    I agree that there is no compelling reason arising from the text itself to insist upon the historicity of Adam and Eve, but it would sure make life simpler in discussions with Young Earth Creationists if one could plausibly argue for biological evolution AND an historical Adam and Eve.

    Derek,
    Thanks for the link to your Oct. 23, 2010 post. It was very helpful. I continue to be optimistic that I will eventually be able to solve this nagging problem to my own satisfaction too.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      I’m glad it helped Paul. As you now know, I still cannot accept biological Darwinian evolution, so I probably wasn’t that helpful to you. But thanks for the dialogue. Let me know if you find answers. :)

  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    Derek, if you haven’t read it already, may I suggest that you read Dr. Francis Collins’ “Language of God”?

    http://www.amazon.com/Language-God-Scientist-Presents-Evidence/dp/0743286391

  • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_cr_dp_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

    Derek,
    One step in the right direction would be to delete the word “Darwinian” from the phrase “biological Darwinian evolution” and see if that makes biological evolution more acceptable. Biological evolution has more possible mechanisms than Charles Darwin could ever have imagined. I find the arguments for biological evolution to be compelling. See, for instance:
    “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation,” edited by Keith B. Miller
    “Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe,” by Simon Conway Morris
    “Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology, and Biblical Interpretation,” by Stephen J. Godfrey & Christopher R. Smith
    “Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution,” by Denis Lamoureux, and
    ” Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose,” by Denis Alexander,
    not to mention on-line material by Dennis Venema, Stephen Matheson and others, and a number of secular works.

    I’m still working on how to reconcile biological evolution with Scripture, particularly re an historical Adam and Eve, for which I am finding the following books somewhat helpful:
    “Theology after Darwin,” edited by Michael S. Northcott and R. J. Berry
    “Darwin, Creation, and the Fall: Theological Challenges,” edited by R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble, and
    “Reading Genesis after Darwin,” edited by Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson.

    It is interesting that among the Christian writers who have expressed an opinion about the existence of an historical Adam and Eve, as near as I can tell, the following say YES:
    R. J. Berry, Henri Blocher, C. John Collins, Robin Collins, Dennis Harrell, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, John Piper, John Polkinghorne, Vern Poythress, Hugh Ross, John Sailhamer, R. C. Sproul, John Stott, and Bruce Waltke.
    As near as I can tell, the following say NO:
    Karl Barth, Francis S. Collins, James Dunn, Peter Enns, Karl Giberson, Denis Lamoureux, Alister McGrath, George Murphy, Arthur Peacocke, Paul Seely, Christopher Southgate, John Walton and Keith Ward.
    And as near as I can tell, the following give a definite MAYBE:
    Denis Alexander, Darrel Falk, Timothy Keller, C. S. Lewis, Tremper Longman III, David Wilcox and N. T. Wright.

    I’m thinking maybe it’s time to switch to an easier topic, like Calvinism vs. Arminianism. 😉

    • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

      I don’t know exactly when Scripture scholarship started asking about genre, but understanding that the creation stories of Genesis are not historiography, but something else, goes a long way toward getting away from having to conflate textuality with reading literally.

      What I mean is this: since these stories are not history, but rather some type of prose-poetry, the most literal reading would not require, or even posit, that “Adam” and “Eve” are historical, any more than a literal reading of “Tom Sawyer” would posit that its characters are historical.

    • http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A10ULJVWJGVUYD/ref=cm_cr_dp_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview Paul Bruggink

      Fr. Greg,
      I assume that I can add you to the NO list. :-)

      I’m inclined to agree with you, but your view of Genesis, as correct as it may be, makes discussing creation and evolution with Young Earth Creationists that much more difficult, and being Baptist, I have frequent opportunities to do that, including but not limited to the Lead Pastor of our church.

      Having dealt very nicely with Genesis, how do you go about explaining St. Paul’s references to Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15?

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Paul, thanks for those lists. Very helpful.

      “I’m still working on how to reconcile biological evolution with Scripture, particularly re an historical Adam and Eve” – that is my biggest dilemma too. I’ll remember this post and look into those books as time permits.

      As you and Greg point out, the issue at stake is not really Genesis 1-3 (even though most people think that is where the battle ground is). The real issue is theological and involves such things as how to understand the “fall” and the need for atonement or a perfect creation and Paul’s conviction that Adam and Eve were actual real human beings. A lot more is at stake then whether or not we read Genesis 1-11 as literal history or myth.

  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    Paul: in dealing with a Young Earth person, I think I might just stick to C.S. Lewis’ proposal. 😉

    Also Gerald Schroeder is an Israeli physicist who is also an observant Orthodox Jew. Proceeding from the Talmud, he has an interesting idea with regard to the Genesis timeline which suggests that the “days” are counted off from the center of the Big Bang, but that the billions of years as perceived by science is from the earth’s position in the every expanding universe.

    Derek:

    The question of the fall is objective one. Each and every one of us recapitulates it and places our own barriers between God and ourselves, even while doing so in the context of a world that makes this behavior all but inevitable. However, we ourselves cannot remove these barriers. Only God can. Thus God must reconcile us with Himself. We cannot do so. I don’t think there is any need to posit that creation was ever “perfect”. Augustine taught that the primordial couple fell from perfection. St. Ireneus, several centuries before Augustine, taught that they fell from ignorance, being deceived by satan. Ireneus also taught that they had not been created immortal, but that, rather, the question of their mortality was decided by the fall, that had they not fallen, at some point they would have been made immortal.

    In the interest of keeping this comment short, with regard to Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15, I would simply point to how St. Paul uses (presumably historical) stories from the Old Testament in Galatians 4:21-31 (especially note verse 24) and I Corinthians 10:1-6. In any event, the essential issue in Romans 5 is that Christ saves us from the common human condition of fallenness and alienation from God which, even though we indeed recapitulate it, exists objectively prior to our existence. The theme is similar in I Cor. 15, but focused on the resurrection.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Thanks Greg for attempting to offer some answers. But they do not satisfy me. “Each and every one of us recapitulates it.” What is “it”? How can we speak of “it” if “it” never happened? Did God create humans as sinners? If the end of the story is about restoration, what are we being restored to? How can we speak of creation being restored if creation – from the moment God created it – was corrupted? Did God create humanity “alienated” from him and in a “condition of fallenness”? Why would he do that?

      I realize that you cut your comment short for brevity sake (thank you by the way!), but it seems you side-stepped Paul’s question. Even if the main point of Paul the Apostle is the resurrection, we cannot deny that to reach that point he presupposes two historical figures and a historical fall.

  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    I’m not at all denying an historical fall, Derek. However, I am denying that such a fall requires two and only two primordial humans, or that it requires that creation ever have been free of biological death, especially when it comes to other species.

    There is another factor that we have yet to touch on. At what point in this process did Lucifer, et. al. rebel? My suspicion is that this occurred before the Big Bang and that, therefore, evil has always been active in the cosmos.

  • John

    Well said, Derek! And I respect the fact that you have been so open and vulnerable with such confessions. The church is filled with hypocrites (always has been and will continue to be) and because of that “she” is desperately in need of disciples like you.
    Thank you!
    John

    • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek Ouellette

      Thanks John