Why I Am a Christian
I am a Christian because I am a theist, and I am a theist because I am a thinker. Not necessarily a profound thinker, but my thinking machine is so constructed that if I will let it work it compels me to believe in a God who reigns in His world. A few weeks ago in an Arizona desert I saw the leaves of the greasewood covered with an oily substance designed, evidently, to prevent evaporation of sap during the long drought. I saw the mesquite bush with its large long roots evidently designed to store sap during the brief rainy season and keep in touch with the underground streams that the branches above ground might be supported during the drought. I saw the giant cactus with its storeroom for water, which is filled during the rainy season and preserved for its own use and the use of man and beast during the drought. Now the naturalist says that “Nature” does those things for a specific purpose. And as I stood among these evidences of design in the desert I asked the question, “Is Nature a thing or a thinker?” If Nature does not think, how can Nature design? And if Nature thinks, Nature is not a thing but a personality. My mental machinery is so made that thought compels me to infer a thinker and design a designer. Intelligent result compels me to infer intelligent cause.
Every man, therefore, has his god, the thinker, behind the thoughts expressed in Nature, the design behind the designer, the intelligent cause behind the intelligent result. The bushman of Africa gives to his fetich [sic] the power to think, design and act. The Chinaman gives to his idol in human shape the same attributes. A philosopher like Herbert Spencer calls his idol “the great unknowable.” The Christian opens his Bible and reads in its first verse “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The God of Genesis is not to be compared with the fetich of the bushman, the idol of the Chinaman or the unknowable of the philosopher. There is a majestic royalty about this creator-God of the Christian which awes and captivates me. It is the difference between Him and It, a thinking and a thing.
I Am a Rationalist
I am a Christian, again, because I am a rationalist, willing that sound reason should be my guide, and sound reason is modest and honest enough to admit that it is not infallible or even sufficient as a guide. There is no such thing as universal reason. What appears reasonable to one is utterly unreasonable to another. There are degrees of reason from the half idiot to the philosopher. Reason may be diseased and is more or less controlled by passion and ignorance. Even a healthy reason may go wrong, unless it knows everything, for if there is ignorance in the premises there will be a flaw in the conclusion.
My own reason is modest enough to admit that it is a very fallible and imperfect guide, and, believing as I do in a personal God who cares for His creatures, my reason leads me to expect that He will reveal Himself through some other channel. Agnosticism, which is a sort of science of ignorance concerning God, is a strong witness in favor of revelation of God in some direct way, for, if it be true that man cannot discover God by looking into his own inner consciousness or through the telescope and the microscope, this furnishes a strong presumption that He will reveal Himself in some other way. I am thus prepared to receive the revelation of God in a book, and, though there are difficulties and mysteries which I may not fully understand, I believe that the proof in favor of the Bible’s being a revelation from God is so overwhelming that a man who knows the proof cannot reject without doing violence to his reason. The true rationalist is the man who is led by sound reasoning to see that reason, a mere light on the deck, is not sufficient as a guide for the ship. The light on deck serves a useful purpose, but if the pilot would not wreck his vessel he must steer it by the Polar Star of Revelation.
I Am a Scientist
I am a Christian, again, because I am a scientist. I do not mean that I devote all my time to scientific investigations, but I believe in the scientific method of “gaining and verifying knowledge by exact observation and correct thinking.” An ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory. A group of philosophers were debating the question whether a fish introduced into a bucket of water would increase its weight and one of them had proved to his own satisfaction that it would not. “Let us try it,” said Benjamin Franklin. A bucket of water was brought in and weighed. Then a fish was introduced and the weight was increased by the weight of the fish. That settled it.
It is scientific to account for facts with little heed to fads and fancies. And there are two facts which must be accounted for—the Bible and Jesus Christ. The proofs in favor of the Bible as the inspired word of God and of Jesus Christ as the incarnate God are so abundant and conclusive that any one who knows the proofs and refuses to accept the Bible as inspired and Christ as divine does violence to the scientific spirit. He refuses to admit the existence of the sun while it is shining in the heavens.
I Am a Man
I am a Christian, once more, because I am a man whose every need of mind and heart is met in Christ “the Son of Man.” His ideal of human greatness attracts me. The worldly ideal is power which measures others. Christ’s ideal is service. “Whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.” The climax of this greatness is seen on the cross as the Son of Man “suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,” settling forever the sin question for all who will accept Him as Savior and Lord.