The Process

Believing is a strange thing. For some people it happen quickly. For others,
myself included, it is not something that happened overnight. As mentioned previously
my journey towards believing and to finally commit myself to God is best described
as an active process.

In the following paragraph I outline the process that took me towards God.
It is an “approach” that I have followed. Although, it is not an “approach”
in the sense that I set out to adopt it deliberately; it is only in retrospect
that I am (slowly) about to unravel this “approach” or process that
I have followed. In a way, the only thing I set out to do initially is to find
out more.

Of course, I am not claiming that this is the best way, nor is it the only
way to approach Christianity. Everyone need to find their own way.

The following is most appropriate for those people who are interested in finding
out more about Christianity but is troubled (as I have been) particularly by
some or all of the followings:

(i) The validity and reliability of the Bible;

(ii) Related to (i), the circularity of the argument presented to them by Christians;

(iii) Its apparent conflict with Science.

 

Open Mind

The first and foremost step is to have an open mind. It is critical that you
do not come into this process of finding out more with a pre-determined or fixed
mindset, eg. that Christianity is “a load of crap”. Nor, of course,
should you believe that Christianity is great. It is important to be neutral,
be truly objective at this point.

This is very important because it allows you to see, hear and evaluate all
the evidence that you encounter without being unduly bias towards a particular
direction. Preconceived mindset tends to create a filtering effect that direct
a person’s thinking towards the pre-determined direction.

This said, it is acknowledge that people do inevitably have preconceived opinions
about religion in general and Christianity in particular. Indeed, if you don’t
have some ideas about it already, why would you want to find out more about
it? In this regard, preconceived opinions are entirely acceptable provided that
these opinions are not set in stone and that you are aware of them.

Just be prepared and be willing to reexamine and to change them.

Secondary Resources

Approach the Bible as you would with a historical text, or a paper in an academic
journal. To evaluate the piece of historical text or the argument in the academic
paper you do not just read the text or the paper. To be objective with your
evaluation you consult materials written by others on the same topic, or, discussion
on the text or paper you are evaluating. Use the same process with the Bible:
refers to secondary materials.

There is really no limit in how far this investigation can be taken. Yet, as
with all research, eventually a point will be reached where it is safe to stop
and come to a conclusion.

Primary Material: The Bible

Just like when you are evaluating a historical text or academic paper you need
to read and understand the text or paper, it is very important that you need
to read and understand the Bible before you can start making judgment. Remember
it is not possible to make objective judgment in relation to something that
you have incomplete understand of. To say that your judgment is objective or
rational in such situation is a contradiction, and is really self-deceiving.
It only indicates that you have already made up your mind subjectively.

There are three things to do:

1. Read.

2. Think.

3. Ask.

The last one can be particularly helpful. There are bound to be questions you
do not understand. Talk to Christians, discuss the problems with them.

Of course, do not just take their words for it, it is also important to confirm
what they say with the Bible. They could be misinterpreting the Bible themselves.
After all, to make an objective decision you must weight up the evidence.

These three things are iterative in that you do not just read, think and then
ask. You also need to read and think, and may be even ask again, after you have
received an answer in relation to your original question.

Reflecting About Your Life: The Past, The Present
and The Future

This is perhaps the most demanding part. Self-examination is never easy to
do, let alone try to work out what we want to do with our life.

There are many questions that you could ask yourself, and there are many ways
to examine your life. Everyone is different.

While it is not possible to cover all bases here, the questions that I think
everyone should ask themselves in this endeavor are:

1. What is your purpose or goal in life? Indeed, do you have
a purpose?

2. Do you think you will ever achieve this “purpose” by continuing
with what you have been doing?

3. Will you be happy if and when you achieve this “purpose”? Are you
sure?

3. Once this “purpose” has been satisfied or achieved, what then?

Spending the time cogitating about these questions, particularly with reference
to your past life experience, can be very interesting, not to mention very rewarding
in terms of what you can discover about yourself, this thing called “purpose”,
and ultimately about God.

How does this relates to God?

The next step is to combine what you find out during this process of self-examination
and what you find out about the Bible in terms of its reliability and its message.

If you are like me, you would come to realise that only Christianity can give
you a more definite sense of “purpose”. It is a sense that is unmatched
by any other purpose that you can think of. Importantly, it is a purpose that
will give you a sense of perpetual happiness, through contentment and faith,
that no other purpose can possibly match.

So what is this “purpose”? The answer: To serve God.

It is amazing how your attitude, your behaviors, etc can change by this very
simple purpose. By adopting this as your purpose, it triggers a shift in your
perspective away from one that is self-centered to one that is God-centered.
You start to see things differently and to live your life differently.

Sure, of course you, and your life, will not be transformed overnight. It takes
time to be matured in Christ.

The Decision

After you have been though the above, at some point a decision need to be made.
It is good to make a commitment one way or another: sitting on the fence is
not recommended.

If at the end of the day you choose to belief, I congratulate you for making
such a hard decision and welcome you into God’s family as a brother and
sister in Christ.

If, however, you have decided not to belief, then I urged you to ask yourself
one last question: Unless you think you do not need to rely on anyone, who can
you rely on ALL the time?

Of course, this decision or conclusion need not, and indeed cannot, be final.
Research or investigation can, and should, continue. Further investigation lead
to better understanding. This may prove your original decision wrong, but then
again it may also reinforce it.

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