Why are you a Christian?
Although I cannot place an exact moment, the circumstances leading me to declare myself a follower of Christ is evident. I was not raised in a Christian home. My mom would drag me to church off and on as a child, but I carried no real belief in God. As a result of various circumstances in my life, I was very depressed in my teenage years. I kept heading down a dark road until I visited a church one Sunday morning and was greeted by a few kids from the youth group who began to shower me with love. Slowly, God began to reveal Himself more and more through Scripture, prayer, and fellowship. It was an open Bible that literally stopped me dead in my tracks one evening when I thought it would be best that I do not live another day. From that time onward, I’ve been pursuing Christ with all my heart and mind.
While my testimony is unique, past experience is a standard answer if one is asked why they are a Christian. It is not a wrong answer as your testimony is real, and I am always eager to share what God has done in my life. However, replying only with experience may not set Christianity apart from all other beliefs. Countless people have experienced radical life changes, moved away from self-destruction, and overcome addictions who do not follow Jesus. You can find powerful testimonies amongst converts of all religions aa well as those who credit non-spiritual reasons. When we give only our testimony, we may find that people are genuinely happy because, as the saying goes, we have found our truth.
The problem is that in today’s culture of relativism, spiritual knowledge is not about what is true; it is about what works for you or what you like. When my wife was going through harsh chemotherapy the other year, she had insane food cravings. I made many spontaneous grocery store trips for food she had not eaten since she was a child. None of it healthy! But the food comforted her, it helped ease pain. However, while the food met a need, it would not meet her real need and heal her. For that she needed medicine. We can turn religious matters into comfort food that numbs us to reality versus seeking the truth that can actually heal. This problem is compounded when the church says “just believe” and look at my experience, promoting blind faith. Likewise, an increasingly skeptical and secular culture defines faith as blind, too, believing there is no real evidence for God, and any religion cannot be examined in a traditional sense. In and outside the church, a prevailing notion of blind faith is a result of Christians unable to discuss their faith as being rooted in reality. If we aren’t careful explaining why we are a Christian, only sharing experiences can reinforce this false dichotomy between blind faith and no evidence, offering an unbelieving world comfort food and not life giving medicine. Is there a response we can offer those who ask why we are a Christian that can point people not to our truth, but to the Truth? I believe so, and it is as simple as responding with, “Because the resurrection is true.”
History and Theology Come Together
Christianity has many unique aspects that separate it from all other beliefs and speak to its truthfulness. One of those aspects is the centrality of the resurrection. The Christian faith is centered upon a public event: The resurrection of Jesus. While the notion of resurrection was not foreign to Second-Temple Jews in the first century, their expectation was that of an end-times resurrection of God’s people. N.T. Wright argues that for the New Testament writers to radically change their resurrection expectations to that of a single messiah in the first century whose followers would one-day experience resurrection could only have occurred if “something had happened.” If something – a bodily resurrection of Jesus – happened, it becomes a historical event open for examination. While discussing various meanings of history, Michael Licona, a historian and theologian, writes history merely is “past events that are the object of study.”
Paul’s life and writings in the New Testament support the historicity of a bodily resurrection of Jesus in the sense it was an actual event that can be known. As recorded in Acts 26, an imprisoned Paul is brought before King Agrippa. Paul recounts his testimony but then in v. 8 asks his audience, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” As Paul continues his testimony, he is interrupted and accused of being crazy (v.24). Paul replies in v. 25 that he is “speaking true and rational words,” and that the king is aware of the events. Paul continues he is “persuaded that none of these things have escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” Paul anchors his testimony in an event, the resurrection, that he presumes his contemporaries would be aware of. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul recounts the known tradition of a raised Jesus and how witnesses abound (more on this in Part II).
Paul is making the claim Christians today must be adamant about. Paul’s testimony is rooted in the real and rational hope that God raises the dead. Christianity is not some religious-fantasy-wishful-thinking belief. It is reality, with one of those reasons being that the resurrection did happen. And it is because God raises the dead that we can know spiritual truth.
The Christian faith is resurrection faith. A trust rooted in the physical resurrection of Jesus that occurred at a specific time in history, which led an initial group of first-century Jews to rethink what they knew about God. A faith rooted in history which has since led to billions of people experiencing a new life, sharing in the life and nature of a resurrected savior.
In part II of Why I am a Christian, an overview of the historical evidence will be presented.
 N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 700.
 Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 30.