So Why I Should I Believe in Jesus? A Talk with Pastor Vince

I got a chance to sit down and talk to the campus pastor, Vince, over at Sagebrush El Dorado.  If you recall from an earlier post, I had left the information card with my name and number on it last Sunday.  Vince called me a few days after that.  He was very nice and said he was happy to talk to me over the phone or in person.  I said I’d prefer a face-to-face conversation; I think you get a lot out of reading another person’s body language.  Since I knew I’d have Savannah, I told him it’d be better for me if I could meet him somewhere I could easily keep an eye on her.  He offered to have one of his daycare staff take her early before the service this Sunday.  I tell you, I’m more and more impressed with this church and their helpfulness towards people.

Get Ready

I started thinking Saturday night about what I wanted to ask Vince.  When I spoke to him over the phone, I told him I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to discuss, and that was the truth of the matter.  What was I asking to speak to a pastor for?  I’ve been around this Christian block a time or two.  Surely nothing he would tell me would be earth-shattering, right?  But still, I felt that desire to talk to someone, so I just went with it.  I still thought it would be best to go prepared with some questions, so I went over the pending conversation in my head.  I felt like I had some good questions and I was eager to hear his answers, and perhaps even more than that, to see how he handled them.  After all, if I’m going to commit to someone to help me on a spiritual path, I want to know they won’t crumble under pressure.

I made sure Savannah and I were up early Sunday morning.  Actually, Savannah made sure of it.  🙂  And we did get there on time (miracles never cease).  On the way, Savannah asked if we were going to her church.  I guess she’s getting accustomed to this idea of church now.  Vince was waiting for us.  Savannah went happily with the woman Vince said he’d have waiting, while he and I went to talk privately in a classroom behind the stage.

The Talk

I often get nervous talking to people I don’t know too well, especially if it’s on a topic that hits close to home like this whole spirituality thing does for me.   However, I felt rather comfortable with Vince.  He’s a former Catholic like me, and I was glad to know he knew where I was coming from in some respects.  I told him a little of my background and that I was trying to figure things out once again.  I then proceeded to throw some hard questions at him.  And early on in the conversation, I apologized if I came off as argumentative.  I wanted to disarm any defensiveness he might have towards me.  I told him I truly wasn’t trying to be argumentative, but rather that I was really trying to understand.  I explained that I have a pretty logical mind, and while yes, I know that spirituality is a leap of faith, I still feel that it can be logical to some extent.  If you want to know what an artist is like, look at his art.  If you want to know what God is like, look at his creation.  The universe is logical; there are patterns and we can predict things based on those patterns.  It then only makes sense that God is logical as well.  Therefore, I wanted logical answers to my logical questions.  That’s reasonable enough, right?

Vince handled all my questions well.  I didn’t get the circular argument from him that I’ve heard from Christians in the past.  Now this may have been because I brought up that point, that when I’ve asked questions in the past, I’ve received a circular argument back – “Why should we believe in God and Jesus?  Because the Bible says we so.  Why should we believe the Bible?  Because it’s God’s Word.  How do you know that?  It says so in the Bible.”  Ahhh!!  That stuff drives me nuts.  If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever handed someone that weak argument, please go back and do your homework.  Once again, I realize there’s a certain amount of faith required with all of this, but come on!  You can do better than “because the Book says so.”  However, if that’s the kind of thing that works for you, let me send you out a book that says you should send me $100 every Friday morning.  Because it’s my word and I said so.  And by alls means, feel free to go with that.  😉

I, however, need more.  So I asked for more.  I wanted to know why it can’t be that all the religions ultimately lead to the same center, God.  Why would God make so many different kinds of people, and yet have only one true religion for all of them?  Why is it not possible that when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” he wasn’t speaking specifically about himself, but rather about the spirit of God within him?  I asked why we should trust the Bible.  In the past, I’ve heard because it was inspired by God and he wouldn’t have allowed the wrong things to be placed in that book.  I thought, why not?  God gave us all free wills, so why couldn’t the men who put the Bible together have inserted and held back books based on their own agendas, not necessarily God’s?  I also asked about judging others.  I told him one of my concerns with Christianity is that in deciding your religion to be the “right” one, you automatically judge others to be wrong.  Yet that goes against the instruction not to judge.  I concluded by asking his opinion about the idea of “once saved, always saved.”  This is something Catholics and Christians don’t agree on and something I’ve wondered about a great deal.

So what did Vince come back with?  By and large, logical answers that point to Jesus as the Savior and Christianity as the true religion.  He also mentioned that a certain amount of faith is definitely required.  He did stress that it is about your relationship with Jesus more than anything else.  He encouraged me to study the Bible, read a couple of books (“More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell and “A Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel), and pray to God for guidance.  He ended our talk by praying for me, that I would find what I was seeking and develop a relationship with God.

Now what?

I’m going to do what he suggested and continue studying, praying, and seeking the Truth.  I doubt I’ll limit my studies to the Bible and those couple of books.  Even if Christianity is the true religion (and I’m still not convinced at this point), that doesn’t mean those other religions don’t also offer truth.  Besides, I think true faith requires being able to look at all those things, instead of hiding from them, and even in the midst of all that knowledge say, “I KNOW I’m doing what I should be doing.”  And that’s what I’m trying to get to – knowledge, belief, faith.