A Cart, a Horse, Jesus, Russ Taff, and Paul

Okay, last week I wrote that I still believed that Jesus was divine even though He didn’t come back when I thought He would. I explained why I still believed today, but I did not say why I believed in the first place.

A sociologist would say that I believed in Jesus because I was raised in a church-going family.

A cynical atheist would say it was because I am too weak not to believe.

A Reformed theologian would say I have no choice but to believe.

A Christian who believes in free will would I say I chose to believe as a result of God’s prevenient grace (if he was familiar with such fancy jargon).

Here’s what I say:

I grew up going to a United Methodist Church, I took what I heard at face value, and it didn’t occur to me to do otherwise.

Then I went to college.

I went to a fine, evangelical Christian college called Asbury. And the reasons for my doubts had nothing to do with the school.

But I was embarrassed about my doubts, so I never shared them with anyone. I just kinda wallowed in misery for about nine months.

So what brought me through this and left me as a Christian on the other side? Well, I’d say God’s mercy. Or course, that just begs the question of how such mercy manifested itself.

I would credit three things.

1. I kept praying. I wasn’t sure what I believed, but in case God was real, I kept talking to Him.

2. I heard a song by Russ Taff that had this line: “Forever, my God, my heart belongs to You, for I need not see You to love.” I always assumed that an extra “You” was implied at the end of the line. I remember thinking that this needed to be my song (not that I would sing it in front of anyone, but still). This song became an anchor for me, a goal. If I could just keep loving God, even when I didn’t see evidence of Him, I would be okay.

3. The life of St. Paul. See, I was open to the possibility that the authors of the 4 Gospels were writing so long after Jesus’ death, that they might have made stuff up. But there was Paul writing about what a big shot Pharisee he had been when people would have known about his background. I figured he couldn’t make that stuff up without being exposed as a fraud. And why, if he wanted to be a leader among Christians, would he make up a story about persecuting them? That didn’t seem smart, and Paul was obviously a smart guy–not even agnostic Bible scholars dispute that.

So I ended up holding onto my beliefs. It’s funny, Jesus not returning in 1981 didn’t mess with my faith, but growing up did. I’m just glad it worked out for me.

And I pray it will work out for you, too.

1 thought on “A Cart, a Horse, Jesus, Russ Taff, and Paul”

  1. You’ve always been my favorite, Dr. Holder. I’m fortunate to have known you and crossed paths.

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