A while back, Meera asked a question in the comments, and I always meant to answer it. The question was, “How did you choose Christianity?” It’s a question worth answering, and I should have gotten around to it sooner.
Theologically speaking, I didn’t choose Christianity, it chose me. While that answer is scripturally accurate, it’s a bit of a non-starter for this question.
I became a Christian when I was 13, so we’re not talking about someone at the prime of their thinking capacities. I chose Christianity because it was very attractive; few other philosophical systems rely as strongly on the power of redemption. How does Christianity become a starting point? Well, in America, it’s part exposure and part culture. Those can only take you so far, but they do factor in.
However, the second part of the question becomes more important, “How do you choose Christianity over the many other systems of faith?” First, that’s why I mentioned exposure before. When I was 13, I didn’t exactly have what you would call a “thorough” understanding of other religions. It just wasn’t there.
However, this is not to discount the value of faith as a journey. I may not have known much about other religious systems when I was 13, but I’ve spent the last 10 years learning. Honest faith is in a constant state of re-evaluation, examining beliefs and comparing them to the merits of other faiths as that information becomes available.
Nobody should be expected to know everything about every religion before they can choose one. It’s not realistic. There are so many religions out there, and so many variations on those religions, a man could spend a lifetime exploring each one and never know everything about them all.
Yes, there is a measure of rationalization in this process. Sometimes learning about other systems is done in a spirit of, “My faith is right, so I shall learn how this one is wrong.” This isn’t unreasonable. If you know your faith to be true, there is little need to constantly search for what is really true. Of course, this must be balanced against the need for re-examining one’s faith. Go too far in one direction, and your faith is unsteady and under attack from within and without. Go the other direction, and you shelter yourself from the difficult questions, never achieving the growth that comes from having faith challenged.
I shall leave this answer as it is for now. In the future, I may expand on some of what I’ve written here. I hope, in the meantime, that this was at least somewhat satisfactory. If nothing else, it’s at least something for Steve to get riled up about.