What is your best reason for being a Christian?
My personal reason for believing that Jesus is our Lord and our Savior is that I have found a solace and strength in my faith that I could never have found from any other source. My best reason, that is, the one I would use if I were trying to convince someone to believe as I do, is the fundamental sensibility, morality, and wise guidance that the Bible offers to each of us when we embrace our faith in our Lord and our fellow man.
What evidence or experience (if any) would cause you to stop believing in God?
I do not believe that there is any evidence that could cause me to abandon my faith. Faith is fundamentally belief in that which cannot be seen, but is felt through our personal connection to God. It is not based on evidence, and so evidence is not what would be its undoing. I have felt tempted to abandon my faith before during some of my more trying periods, but that was not because of evidence, but rather was a human failing in that I was unable to see the greater plan God has for all of us, and got mired in self pity. My faith has been strained when my feeling of God’s presence has waned in times of great struggle, but I do not believe evidence or scientific argument ever really entered into it.
Why do you believe Christianity has a stronger claim to truth than other religions/On what basis do you reject the truth claims of other traditions and denominations but accept your own?
Ultimately, we cannot know that we are right. The Bible itself guides us to be humble and to refrain from judging others’ faith. So I can’t know for sure whether my faith is misguided or not. The incredible solace that I, my family, and my community have found through faith in our Lord though makes it difficult for me to see that faith as somehow wrong. I have taken a lot of flak over time for not being of the view that every single word of the Bible must be taken literally, but I strongly believe that the general principles of morality, humility, peacefulness, and kindness that pervade the teachings of Jesus are the principles that can and must guide each of us in this world. I also believe that if you look at these broad principles, you will find that the claims of most religions do not differ that greatly. Mohammed in the Qur’an teaches a morality not far at all from Jesus, and the teachings of Buddhism too are intensely focused around seeking peace and humility. Religious texts, including the Bible, are man’s writing of how they can best understand God’s word. They necessarily are incomplete and contradict each other, as man is fallible, but the central principles remain constant and true.
How do you read the Bible? Do you study the history of its translations? How do you decide which translations/versions/books are the true Bible? How does it guide you if you have a moral or theological dilemma?
I read the Bible both alone, and with a small study group at my church. I have studied the history a bit, but not too closely. I am of the view that the Bible is the word of God as written by man, and that we cannot take for granted that each word of it is the literal word of God. There is, after all, no gospel of Jesus Christ, only of His apostles, who were flawed (though great) men, seeking to best understand the word of our Lord. The message of our Lord as interpreted through the Bible therefore cannot be taken purely literally. I see the teaching of the Bible as threads, which when woven together form a fabric on which we can rely for moral guidance. Each thread alone does not create the fabric though, and so though many the words have changed as they must throughout the years, the message has not. On a personal note, I generally refer to the King James Bible when I wish to look up a particular passage, though our study group uses the New International Version
Voting opens Friday afternoon