Tell Me Why I Should Become a Christian

Thanks, aage_rendalen.

You asked:

“Why make this about me?”

In response:

I think it already is.

I mean, either a) it’s about me, b) it’s about you, or c) it’s about both of us. Correct?

You’ve written the article, and you’ve asked for a kind of response, one that answers a certain kind of question that you’ve asked, to be answered a certain kind of way acceptable to you.

You said:

“How would you, as people of faith, lay out a meaningful version of the Christian faith to your friends on the other side of the fence, especially to those of us who have found meaning in life. Or can that even be done? Is faith an experience, a rapture, that can only be had apart from from any rational pitch? And if so, without a rational pitch, how do you get people to expose themselves to such an experience? … Or is Christianity doomed to be irrelevant to a culture such as ours?”

There are an almost infinite number of ways to possibly answer the five questions you’ve asked. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of issue. I am eager to address your queries. But I’m not sure that I understand what you mean.

For example, What, to your mind, by definition, would be a true proof for Christianity? What would such a thing be, rationally, and how would you know? Once known, how would you state it?


This is not about what is acceptable to me. I am simply asking if the Christian faith can be preached to the 21st century and if so, how would you approach it. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to respond. I recognize that it is not easy to come up with an answer or we would have seen it done.


Your take on the Christian faith is that “Christians exist to demonstrate love to their enemies so that those enemies might, in turn, be inspired to love their enemies.” As I pointed out in my introduction, threats do not come from our “enemies.” There are so few “enemies” of the Christian faith to worry about these days that it becomes meaningless to predicate the success of Christianity in the 21st century on how you deal with your “enemies.” That is, unless you define “enemy” as friends who disagree with you or are tired of listening to you. The challenge Christians face in the peaceful part of the world is how to make their faith relevant and meaningful to a generation who has rejected the church as God’s airport and tuned out what’s blaring from the loud speakers.

Herold, I’m still mulling over the implications of what you’re saying.

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“Christianity” is not the entity instructed by Jesus to “loves ones’ enemies”, but rather individual humans are instructed to do that. Christianity is a way for individual humans to “be” in the world.

You insist on equating Christianity with an institutional church entity. I do not.

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Thanks, aage_rendalen.

So, let’s walk through this:

You asked five questions, which I posted above. I thought you wanted answers to them.

The title of your piece is, “Tell me why I should be a Christian.” This is another type of request, related to the five, perhaps, but different from them.

You also said, “I was hoping to to find out if it is possible to formulate the Christian faith in such a way that it will appeal to people with rationalism in their blood without resorting to the false proofs that traditional apologetics rely on.”

I didn’t know what you meant by “false proofs,” so I asked for some examples. You gave me some. They seemed like odd arguments for Christianity. They didn’t read like good apologetic responses, of the kinds with which I’m familiar, and that I consider to be more compelling and reasonable than their negations.

So, in an attempt to get more clarity, I asked how you’d define a true proof for Christianity. You’ve not answered this question. The closest you’ve come to addressing this question is where you say, “I recognize that it is not easy to come up with an answer or we would have seen it done.” Here, I think your intent is to speak about me. But I see it as speaking about you, in fact.

Now, because you are a generous and rational person, you’ll agree that my responses have been eminently rational, especially given the fact that I was unsure, exactly, what you were asking. As I’ve stated, your inquiries were expressed in a variety of ways, none of them mutually interchangeable.

However, in your last response, you said this: "I am simply asking if the Christian faith can be preached to the 21st century and if so, how would you approach it."

So, I will address this question.

As such, to begin, I think you mean, "if the Christian faith can be preached in the 21st century,” not “to” it. Or, perhaps you mean, "if the Christian faith can be preached to [people in] the 21st century.”

My answer to these questions is “Yes.”

To the question, “How would you approach it?”, I’d say, “I don’t know.”

One reason I don’t know is that I’m a writer, not a preacher. So, the issue of how to preach something is not really my area of expertise.

But I can address what I see as the “spirit,” if you will, of your question:

To me, it’s almost like you’re asking, “How would you practice medicine in the 21st century?” Medicine, like Christianity, aka “the Christian faith,” is a huge subject, with hundreds of vectors, or protocols.

So, to that question, I’d say, “It depends on what’s wrong with the patient, or prospective patient.”

In one case, I might give them an MRI. In another, I might apply maggots. In a third, I might just put my hand on their shoulder. In a fourth, I might call in a specialist and say, “What do you think?” In another, I might give them an injection of phenobarbital. In a sixth case, I might attempt to restart their heart for 45 minutes, then call their next of kin when that fails.

All of these are ways of practicing medicine in the 21st century. But what I do in a given situation depends on the context. And they all begin with the question, “So, how can I help you, today?”

So, your question is, to my ears, general and broad. It’s hard to talk about how to preach Christianity in a relevant way without first knowing your audience. That’s one lesson, for example, of Paul in Acts 17.

In other words, I see Christianity as a system, based in the core concept that God has made His home among men, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. By dying, Christ absorbed the blame for human messiness and filth, and created a shunt for sin. By accepting this gracious act, and emulating Him, we show we respect and comprehend both the size of what we’ve done against God, and of His transference. When God sees that life on Earth has reached a point of maximum recursiveness, He will end this earthly dimension, and begin an incomprehensible new one that “restarts the clock,” so to speak, on human existence, as surely as zero precedes one.

That’s how I, as a person who is not a preacher, and who aspires to the ideals of Christianity, would talk about what I believe, by faith, as I understand it.

That’s how I would do it, in general.

Now, in a specific situation, I might do something different.

If I was talking to someone experiencing deep grief because they’d lost someone, I might bring them food, and just listen to them talk about how much they missed that person.

If I was speaking to someone who felt guilty about something they’d done, I might share God’s promises to forgive every sin.

Or, referring directly to your essay, if I was speaking to an atheist who’d found meaning in life, and who wanted to know why I believe in God, I might ask him, “Why do you think you’ve found meaning in life, and on what is it based?”

But, in every case, I would “preach” Christianity, based on the context and the apparent need. Just like medicine.

Perhaps I’ve answered your question. If not, perhaps you can restate it, but more narrowly.



Thanks Harry for taking the time to answer. To attempt to answer such a question is to stick your neck out. In Norway we have a saying: “One fool can stump ten wise men with his questions.” I am currently reading Timothy Keller’s book, Making Sense of God. An Invitation to the Skeptical, so I might return to this topic later on, in case the Spectrum editors’ patience with me has not run out.

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I was going to bring up Tim Keller to you, but I second guessed myself and didn’t do it. I’ve brought his name up, probably too many times on here, so I’m glad to see someone (besides me) do it!

Have you read, or listened (on youtube) to John Lennox or NT Wright? I think you would appreciate their talks, and debtes with atheists, about being a Christian/Christianity. Keller is also on you tube.

I hope to hear your thoughts regarding Keller, and hopefully also in regards to Lennox and Wright.

I’m late to the conversation, Aage, but I am finishing a lengthy scholarly article entitled “Grace and Good: A Kierkegaardian Response to Secular Humanism,” which I am submitting to the Anglican Theological Review, for which I have written before. It deals with one classic (Iris Murdoch) and two very contemporary (Philip Kitcher and Hubert Dreyfus-Sean Dorrance Kelly) expressions of secular humanism. (I skip over the “New Atheists,” who, even if we should treat them respectfully, seem a bit superficial, or even sophomoric.)

The article is a attempt to justify the premise of grace, by which I do not mean prove that premise. Faith is more than ever faith–more than ever a risk-laden stance for which the evidence seems, at best, to be mixed. I argue, though, that secular humanism may involve even greater risk–not greater, perhaps, than that of conventional or post-Constantinian Christianity, but greater than that of Kierkegaardian or radical, post-Christendom Christianity.

My email is If you read this, and send me your own email address, I will send you the article when it’s published, or perhaps just I’ve finished writing it. It will disappoint you if you expect more than an implied invitation to consider Christianity. But knowing a bit about your interests, I think you might enjoy it. And I would likely (but this may be reckless to say) enjoy your critique of it.


Thanks, aage_rendalen.

I am certainly a fool.

Not the kind who has said in his heart, “There is no God,” though there are rare moments when I wonder.

But certainly one when it comes to the wisdom of the world, the universe, and of others’s hearts.

There, I can only look about, dumbly. Mute.


P.S. I’m looking up Timothy Keller’s book. Thanks for mentioning it.

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Chuck, what I find fascinating about Kierkegaard is that he had nothing but contempt for both church and especially Christian rationalism. He was honest about faith being faith and the inability of reason to apprehend spirit. (What I don’t like about Kierkegaard is that he appears to be just as focused on the individual believer’s angst and experience, to the exclusion of the rest of humanity, as orthodox Christianity has tended to be. There is no community of believers in his world, as far as I can see; only an aggregate of individuals.)

Dear aage_rendalen:

I just came across this new interview with Tim Keller:


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Vernard Eller showed (in a book-length exposition published the Princeton University Press) that although Kierkegaard gave deficient emphasis to Christian community, he did endorse Gemeinde, as the Germans put it, while critiquing the state (!) church.

I heartily endorse what Herold Weiss said. In Paul (think, for example, of both the start and the finish of Romans) pistis, usually translated faith, really means faithfulness. Misunderstandings of this sort have helped create a VERSION of Christianity–lax, self-satisfied and counter-revolutionary–which the Enlightenment thankfully rebelled against.

Providentially, atheists can be, sometimes, levers for needed change. But Christians, though not all of them, have responded slowly.


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Chuck, I agree that pistis means faithfulness and that this was the faith by which Jesus lived and the faith he feared might disappear from the land. I am less convinced that this was Paul’s interpretation of faith. It seems to me that the big difference between Judaism and Christianity has to do with the meaning of pistis. Judaism is all about proving your faithfulness to God by remaining true to the covenant while Pauline and Johannine Christianity seems to use the word more in the sense of identifying Jesus as the One.

PS Did Kierkegaard endorse somebody else’s concept of community or did he actually address it himself?


Interesting question. I took a few days to read your article, read all the comments and also think about everything. I think that your question is a pertinent one even for those who call themselves Christian.

So, why “should” you become a Christian? Here are a few [possible] answers:

1 - You have met the Man Jesus (a little bit like Paul)

2 - You have read what He said and liked it (or it made sense, or it sounded as the truth).

3 - You have found yourself challenged by His teachings (or they stirred something inside you)

4 - You tested the Bible and it corresponded to what you see in your own life (even if you don’t have all the answers)

5 - You gave a try and it made you a better person

6 - A particular need was fulfilled when you prayed to God

7 - Because you saw a true Christian


I think that the Christian faith can be preached even in the 21th century. How? The way it was supposed to be done from the beginning: more in action and, eventually, in speech if you have to.

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I have struggled myself over the many years of my life–born a 4th-gen Adventist.

I am writing a book about toxic religion, religious addiction, and looking at the ‘whys’ the way I see them.

I am a clinical therapist in private practice and have listened to so many stories of those who hate God. Once I hear someone’s story, I can so understand how they came to the place they currently are. It leaves me sad because I sense that they have fewer resources available to them because they have been ‘sold a bill of goods’ perhaps by parents, extended family, institutions of which they’ve been a part. These human elements in their backgrounds may not have intended them harm, but may nonetheless have shared understandings that I view as lies about the Divine.

I know that I have not answered your question. But it is my book-writing day and I will hold in my mind the thoughts you have put forward, as I write. I too have had questions about ‘the order of the universe’ and I believe I have been discovering some answers that I can relate to that hold meaning for me.

Whether the answers I am discovering will hold meaning for others, I cannot say. But I just wanted you to know what I am working on.

Blessings to you Aage–wherever you are in your journey of seeking truth and meaning!


I would say yes: an experience of being yourself.

It takes a lot of faith to be yourself, but it seems you are doing fine in that department, and I couldn’t possibly have anything to add, in any case.

FWIW, I seriously doubt any “God” worth his salt would want you to be other than yourself, but that is just my prejudice.


Become a Christian. Christianity , with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love. Remember, a Christian is a gentleman. This gentleman has a church with other gentlemen who have never been to heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there. Become a Christian and know which church staying away from. Don’t accept members that never work except with their mouth personate God according to the dictate of their conscience.

Let me add my voice to the others who have taken up your challenge. See below:

Almost thirty years ago, Spectrum published my article (referenced below), an early attempt to address several issues related to Aage’s question, but at this point in my journey I am bold enough to offer more.

Let me begin by quoting my friend (in paraphrase) and colleague Dr. Daryll Ward: “The gospel is the sweetest message ever offered to humankind.” Or, as Dr. Charles Scriven would say (another paraphrase): “The Jesus story transcends any story ever told and, for that reason, is utterly compelling.”

At one point in my life I would have started my response to this probing question with a variety of philosophical arguments that, while non-coercive, are “evidential” for considering theism as rationally coherent and defensible. Better philosophers of religion than I have written extensively in recent years on this topic and one can easily find their works.

It is clear that if one is insensitive to the notion of “mystery” (my article above) as that which is explored and never “solved,” such as aesthetics, religious faith, the questions of “why” and “meaning,” then one is left only with a scientific understanding of mystery as a problem to be investigated and solved. However, if one is open to the former “mystery,” then one is forced to ask whether the mysterious claims of (and about) Jesus in the New Testament deserve to be thoughtfully “explored.”

No one should be misled: The gospel story and the claims flowing from it about Jesus are the most extraordinary and singular in all history. Why do I say that?
If the story is true in its most essential aspects, then Jesus of Nazareth is the meaning of history. One is so taken aback by this implication that it is difficult not to take it seriously, it seems to me.

Harry, I have written a review of Keller’s book. Send me your email at and I will send it to you. That goes for the rest of you as well.