a reflection on something I read recently…

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Straight off the bat, It’s been ages since I last sat down to write anything so, I ask you to be a little patient with me as I progress with this post!

What stirred me enough to sit down at my computer and write a blog post I hear you ask?

Of course you are not asking that, chances are you are reading this in passing and don’t avidly follow my on-line musings. Allow for my little flourishes of personality though, I find that sometimes the things I write about are quite heavy going and need to be balanced with a lighter, chattier narrative voice!

Well, I was sat in the hospital the other day (long and entirely unexciting story believe me), and found myself with a stinking headache and several hours to kill and only a handful of books at my disposal (via my I pad). I found myself attracted to a really well known book that I bought earlier in the year but forgot about: God is Not Great by the wonderfully witty and sophisticated late, Christopher Hitchens.

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I only managed to get the introduction out of the way before my reading was interrupted by, ‘hospital stuff’ and shall base this article only on the little I’ve read.

I will assume that Christopher deals with the points of contention I currently hold in a little more depth later on in the book and, when I finish the book shall write a more elaborate and lengthier engaged discourse but, for the time being I wish to air my current point of contention as the points made by Hitchens are shared almost universally across the atheist community.

So, without further ado, I shall present the passage I am going to counter as it is printed:

‘There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded in wish-thinking.’

As I have said, I’m sure Hitchens goes into great lengths throughout the book to substantiate all of these objections and I fully intend to engage with them on that wider level in the near future but, for now (call it a taster of a larger essay if you like) I shall be drawing only on the above passage to level my criticism.

Of these four objections, the first is by far the easiest to counter. It will suffice to say for now, without going in to great detail, that I reject that objection on the grounds that it is based entirely on an subjective assumption based on  some objective evidence. it is the same as me saying that, atheism is a flawed view because it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos. It’s a poor argument that I’d be making in the face of contrary evidence and I wouldn’t expect to find it in a leading atheist thinkers’ opening thesis.

I always like to assert the following when debating anyone on the subject of my religious faith verses their atheistic outlook:  My fundamental assumption that cannot be empirically substantiated is this: There is a creator God.  However, let’s not draw upon this assumption as our grounds for debate because, your fundamental assumption: there is no creator God, is equally as empirically unsubstantiated.

I believe Hitchens is making a similar error here when he asserts the first of his four objections.

The second objection can be dismissed quickly when one notes that it is based on the assumption that the first objection is factually correct. However, I don’t think this quite rises to the deeper underlying objection that religious faith can be perceived as combining,’the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism’. 

I would like to commend Hitchens on his use of language here as it really manages to capture not only a personal objection but also a hyperbolic form of expressing ones’self. Using the words, ‘maximum’ alongside a word contextualised in excess really is quite provocative. It is problematic though because it expresses a mistrust of,  ‘Abjectly submissive’ (http://goo.gl/FuS78rbehaviour. This mistrust is personal and doesn’t belong outside of the context in which it was written.

I hope i’m beginning to demonstrate that Hitchens’ second objection is entirely subjective and cannot be used as grounds to argue against religious faith. Just as my subjective experiences of God’s presence cannot be used in a similar discussion to substantiate my claims.

Hitchens’ third objection is interesting.

It can and will be noted here that there is a contextual extent to which Hitchens’ assertion holds some merit. I can only argue from my own perspective and therefore am only going to defend the Christian faith here on this blog. Because of this I can only say in passing that most major faith groups in the world have and are still actively involved in acts of sexual repression. The church is no different.

I have a theological position to take here that requires a blog post of its own to outline. I don’t want to detract from the central theme of my post so I shall not be going into detail about that position here (here’s an article I relate to concerning That debate: http://goo.gl/32IdKf).

This objection is difficult to address as it all depends on definition. Sexual repression is a dangerously ambiguous term as it is entirely dependant on several sets of contextual circumstances.  As it is Hitchens’ own objection I must wait until I write the larger article concerning his book. Because it is a personal thing though I can discredit it generally as it doesn’t pack any real punch to the debate on God’s existence or even his greatness.

And we come to Hitchens’ final and potentially most lethal objection. Religious faith is wish thinking. This is a polite way of saying exactly what Dawkins asserts: “Such delusions of grandeur to think that a God with a hundred billion galaxies on his mind would give a tuppenny damn who you sleep with, or indeed whether you believe in him.” (http://goo.gl/zpnFdh). 
Either way, the assertion is the same, in thinking wishfully rather than objectively, we (people of faith) are completely and entirely deluded. My brother, in a somewhat harsh tone, during a debate resorted to the following language to describe the extent of that delusion, ‘The very fact you describe yourself as a witness too [sic]  god healing people suggest signs of mental illness and I’d advise medical assistance, as hallucinations could be detrimental to your very existence.”. this is a very damaging way of talking to somebody else, it puts the asserter (that Christians etc. are deluded) into the position of superior and the assertee into the position of inferiority thus, making the field of conversation/debate entirely unfair and biased in favour of the side dealing the biggest blow.  Calling out somebody as being deluded without substantiating it is actually fallacious (Argumentum ad hominem).

I suppose it would be wise to draw some conclusions.

I was entirely surprised reading Hitchens’ introduction to his best seller that has been described thus: ‘the ultimate case against religion’.  It doesn’t appear to present anything of the sort. Instead, what I observe, is a series of arguments from a very personal position that make a case against Hitchens’ own view of what religious faith consists of but, it doesn’t attack the faith I personally have nor does it attack the faith I know millions of others follow.

I look forward to reading the book in its entirety and contemplating the bigger challenges it may present.

Religion sucks: Why I am not Religious.

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‘Wow’ I hear you shout, ‘he’s renounced his faith and turned back to his atheistic ways’,

I’m sorry to disappoint but, this is far from the case.

This post arises from my need to address something that comes up all too frequently in my discourses with non believers.

I always end up faced with an argument against religion or a religious institution and, find myself unable to mount a retaliation because I tend to agree with the arguments I face!

I think organised religion is one of the biggest problems this world faces.

Please don’t get me wrong though, I’m not out to fight a corner or even defend a corner. I’m not out to stir a pot or to accuse. This article is to simply dispel some myths regarding Christianity and organised religion!

I have just deleted a huge chunk of writing because I decided that I can tackle this topic much more succinctly by being simplistic.

Some of you might be surprised to learn that some of the most ardently and passionately anti religious texts exist within the Bible. One of my favourites has to be Galatians as it really bares down to the beautiful truth of being a Christian (Read that before you read this as Paul is much better at explaining things than I am).

Religion, in a modern/secular understanding of the word seems to me to mean something along the following lines:

A series of rules set out by a spiritual text and followed by people who believe this text to be divinely written. 

I think there’s obviously a bit more to it either side of the argument but, in essence I think that is how it is perceived, a process of rule following. 

I was skimming through Youtube just before bed last night (part of my nightly unwinding process) And I came across a video in which Ricky Gervaise talked about Religion.

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Ricky talked a little about his upbringing in a deprived area in which a mother’s hope for her child wasn’t found in said child becoming a Doctor or Lawyer etc but, instead, being that the child wouldn’t die in a bar-room brawl or something of a similar nature. He continued to explain that, for his family and I guess (by means of inference) plenty of other families, the best way to ensure a child’s survival was to instill good honest Christian Morals.  He goes on to explain that Christians don’t hold the monopoly on goodness and that he is perfectly capable of doing good things without a biblical incentive offered.

Whilst Ricky Gervais is, by no stretch of the imagination, a figurehead for atheism; nor, a leading thinker on these kinds of issues, he does sum up a popular secular view on Christianity.

479pxMotivationalreligion

The problem with this view of Christianity is that it warps the priorities of any Christ Follower. You see what happens is, people start looking at Christianity as a moral example of lifestyle designed to control and manipulate and, that leads to an absolute perversion of the truth behind Christianity.

I might start sounding like a broken record here as I mention this fairly often but it is worth a recap. In Archery to, ‘sin’ is to miss the bullseye. Well, it is sort of like that in the bible.

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God created us to be in relationship with him eternally in perfection but, in disobeying God we chose to turn our backs on the created standard God set. In doing so, sin enters the world. Now sin is not simply bad behaviours and evil. Sin is ANYTHING that misses the bullseye set before us by God.

Now, to cut a biblically long story exceptionally short, Jesus is God’s incredible restorative solution to the problem of sin.

So, to turn back to the point at hand; the purpose of a Christ follower is a simple one. It is to follow Christ, accept that salvation comes through faith in Him alone and not by our deeds good or bad. That’s it. It isn’t about doing good stuff to get into heaven and it isn’t about casting judgement on those who don’t do good things.  When you accept the gift God has willingly given you and grasped how much we totally don’t deserve it your emotional centre can’t help but engage with that. When I was saved I said, ‘I want to follow Christ’s example” not, “I want to obey the 10 commandments”. Religion is the decision to observe the latter.

End rant.

Catching Up with God’s plans…

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I am aware that the title of this blog may come across as almost blasphemous but, bear with it, it is there for a good reason!

I was having one of my regular catch up chats with Gem’s Dad the other evening. It was a lengthy one covering all areas and aspects of each other’s daily lives.  You know the sort, the meaty kind of conversation where you really feel like you know the person more intimately afterwards. It was a great chat.

Anyway, during the conversation, we began to look at what sort of stuff had been happening in each of our lives over the last three or so years. As we began to dissect, we soon realised just how linked everything was, like stuff that had happened to me was directly related by stuff he had experienced. It honestly felt like I had been woven in to the family and the family story now included myself.

The huge upshot to all of this is it allowed us to work out where God was in all of this. It rapidly became apparent that the answer was everywhere. It really feels, without going into too much detail of the conversation, that God was so much part of the fabric of every major decision, twist and turn in our recent lives.

This brought us to the realisation that we had stumbled across a snippet of God’s plan for us. We had glimpsed the path we were walking on. I would argue, quite within reason I think, that God’s entire plan can never be fully known by anyone other than God himself. I mean, there will be parts that come to us via revelation (both general and specific) but we will never fully cotton on to the entirety of it.

This of course is a great thing, it certainly keeps me feeling sane and grounded! But, it was really fantastic to catch a glimpse of part of the bigger picture. It was one of those moments when you suddenly realise everything, including hardships (of which there have been many for both of us) all point in the same direction.

What I feel comes from this kind of experience, more than anything else, is this overwhelming sense of reassurance. I mean, we have both been through some pretty tough stuff and, when we realised that this fit into what looked like God’s plan just as precisely as the nice stuff, well, you can’t help but feel confident that God knows best.

I know we are expected to feel like this, I know it is something a Christian society values quite highly but, trust in God doesn’t always come so easily.

I was away last week with a bunch of Christians at a very charismatic  spirit lead, conference. It was great. One thing I didn’t expect to encounter was people like me. People who love and want to follow God but, despite this, still have fear-lead doubts. People who, despite of their continued efforts to follow Christ’s example, still valued self-reliance higher than a pure trust in God.

The implications of this for me, when me and Gem’s dad stumbled upon a tiny bit of God’s plan, were monumental. It meant, that I had no other alternative than to be entirely humbled by God. I had to come to terms with my lack of trust up until this moment and learn, in an instant, that God’s power is way beyond my comprehension. I had to learn to trust God.

Since this experience it has been a rocky road. As most Christians that have had such a revelation come upon them will tell you, adjusting your course because of said revelation is never a smooth ride. God has this cleverly quirky ways of putting you through your paces when you make a revelation induced vow to him. Now that I have vowed to trust God more than ever before God has smiled and answered by putting that trust to the test.

This is all very fresh having only happened this weekend and I shall not fill this post with examples of the tests of trust I have, thus far, faced. However, expect a post in the near future detailing some of the obstacles and ways I have overcome them.

In Love,

Joe x

Conversations with an Atheist.

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I mentioned in my last post that I used to be an atheist right??? Well, recently I was digging around my old atheist internet presence and discovered a number of forum posts I made that I thought might be interesting to share in the context of this blog.

I post regularly on an off-topic, sub-forum of  Dubstep Forum , a website dedicated to discussing bassy underground music, and it is in this sub forum that, as an atheist, I used to enjoy engaging in debate on the subject of God.

Reading through some of these old debates got me thinking about how interesting it would be to converse with my dead-in-sin self. Therefore, I bring you: Conversations with an Atheist, a series of refutations engaging with my old self.

 The non-existent paradox. 

In the early days of my relationship with Gemma I came up with this, “paradox” that I thought would crush her faith in God.

Here is the original, unedited post I put up on Dubstep  forum, explaining this paradox

my girlfriend and I are very much in love! We both differ in several ways but there is one big,
universal difference: I am, entirely, Atheist (I denounce the holy spirit and reject god). 
She, on the other hand, is entirely faithful to the "word" of jesus Christ. 
She insists that she loves me beyond anything I can ever imagine, 
so i presented her with an idea that spiralled towards the paradox I am about to mention.

I said to her: you love me on this earthly experience, for me; that is all you get, 
there is no eternity beyond. However, your earthly experience is only a tiny percentage of your 
eternal existence (based on her Biblical beliefs). As she accepts god and prays for forgiveness, 
it is wise to assume that (in her eyes) she will be granted eternity in heaven. 
Heaven is the paradox! If she loves me and feels her life is joyful and indeed, 
as she has said, her existence is joyful with me in it, yet I won't spend eternity in heaven with her
 as I reject the holy spirit, thus committing the only unforgivable sin. 
If heaven is meant to be perfect, god grants your soul with everything it longs for and desires, 
yet I won't be there to complete her heaven. How can heaven, and beyond that; God, even begin to exist??

This paradox alone is not what I base my Atheism on, far from it!
 But I feel it makes a strong argument in support of my side of the argument.
 I'm posting this for several reasons:

I enjoy writing about these things.

I want to hear as many varying opinions on the matter as I can.

I would like to try and puzzle out this paradox, with the input and wisdom of others.

I'm obsessed with weird s**t like this and until I have rectified the situation I can't rest.

With the last point I know I am being slightly contradictory in the sense that;
 I am attempting to solve a paradox and, as we all know, a paradox
 (by its very nature) is unsolvable. The trouble is I always want to try and solve the bloody things
 and this leads to this kind of obsessive ranting. 
On a side note, perhaps studying English literature really isn't the subject for me
 (Literature is full to the brim with paradoxes)

I would be really interested to see some decent responses to this. 

As it is plain to see, I was a little bit deluded back then but, let’s not jump to assumptions about my personality without first having a thorough look at what I was getting at.

I was saying in essence that heaven for Gem would not have been complete without myself in it! That was the big point in my argument!

I don’t know about you but, I find that really really arrogant.  I was assuming that, without wonderful old me, my girlfriend’s eternity would be incomplete! I see this a lot in  Atheist arguments, a complete misunderstanding of the eternity that we believe in as Christians. I also didn’t really get the concept of grace either did I?

So, the easy way to refute this fella is from the standpoint of eternity. If  I were to argue against this paradox today I would likely say something along these lines:

I do not believe that this is a paradox at all. First let me point out that this argument is only paradoxical if you make several assumptions about an unknown. One of those assumptions is that your presence would be the deciding factor on weather or not heaven was a good experience.  If heaven’s greatness depended on your presence then it wouldn’t be heaven seeing as you are a mortal human being unlike any other mortal human being.  You also define, ‘perfect’ subjectively. The OED would define it as:

 a. spec. Of, marked, or characterized by supreme moral or spiritual excellence or virtue; righteous, holy; immaculate; spiritually pure or blameless.

Notice how none of those points requires myself to be there. As Christians, we believe that humans have been entirely corrupted due to sin. Sin is anything that falls short of God’s standards (perfect). So, from where I am standing, your girlfriend is not perfect and neither are you. Heaven is about enjoying eternity in God’s presence and not in the company of your boyfriend/girlfriend. That isn’t to say there won’t be loved one’s in heaven, just that earthly relationships don’t compare to heavenly ones!

Also, as an atheist, you cannot reject the Holy spirit. You can block it but, until you have experienced it how can you reject it?

Sounds like you are worried about this, ‘unforgivable sin’. I would like to reassure you by pointing you in the directions of Romans:9-13

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of alland richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

You will be just fine, there’s nothing Christ won’t die for, there’s nothing God won’t forgive if that’s what you so desire… 

As this was posted (by, ‘this’ I mean the original paradox) on an internet forum, many people responded. Unfortunately, they all agreed that I had smashed the concept of God which hugely inflated my ego. A few posts later and I added the following:

 I understand that the transcendant nature of Heaven implies a level of
 joy unparralelled in the human domain, but still find this issue with the Christian God
 in which she bases her faith. 
 I can, as a real atheist accept that there is a possibility of God, 
 we don't know and can never prove it, but this God is not the God of the Bible 
 and that is where my issues lie.

 I have a major problem with all (at least all that I am aware of) monotheistic relligions.
 I feel very strongly and confidently that, without these relligions the world would be a better place. 
 There would be no acts of devestating violence commited in the name of "God"
 (the vast majority of "worldwide impact" violence is commited under the guise of relligion) 
 and yes there will be unspeakable acts commited and things will not be "peachy" but I think, 
 without that contributing factor, there would be a significant fall in worldwide violence.

He he he, I was a little bit misguided wasn’t I?!

Let’s jump straight in to another response…..

If you accept that there could be a God, why can you not accept the God of the Bible? A, God would be a supreme being capable of doing anything right? Why couldn’t that God be the Christian God then?

Your argument about Religion and violence is another one I here a lot. I agree with you too! Religion most certainly does come hand in hand with both fundamentalists and power hungry violent types but, a true follower of Christ is neither religious nor is he power hungry.  Christ actively sought to end religious practices.  It is true, lots of atrocious things have been carried out in the name of religion and the world would most likely be a better place if religious fundamentalism was eradicated but, in your argument, you are failing to make the distinction between God and those fanatical few humans who do things in the name of God. All you are doing is adding further evidence to the Christian perspective that humanity is thoroughly corrupted. 

I then posted this a little later:

 A Christian God is about forgiveness. In fact, according to them, he wanted to forgive us so much
 for our 'original sin' that he sent his only begotten son down to us to physically redeem humanity 
 via the ultimate sacrifice.

 Christians believe that we are all born of sin and throughout our lives we 
 commit more and more of these sins. Our sins are not automatically forgiven by God, far from it. 
 The only way we can be forgiven is to put our faith in humanity's redeemer, Jesus Christ
 and (because he died for our ((yours and mine)) sins) we gain redemption and admittance to the kingdom
 of heaven.

 Having said all this, there is one sin that not even the son of God can forgive us from.
 The sin I am refferring to is denial of the Holy spirit and thus denial and rejection of the trinity. 
 In commiting this sin, you are creating a Godless eternity and will suffer in hell.
 You cannot be forgiven for having doubt!!

 This is one of my main issues with Christianity, it forces people to believe in God with the threat of Hell.
 Just like a masked gunman might force you to empty the cash register/ your wallet/ 
 insert whatever may seem applicable here...
 God is the gunman and, if you reject him and ignore his prescence, he pulls the trigger and the bullet
 of Hell enters your body. If you accept on the other hand, you are granted permission to heaven and the 
 whole gun issue is forgotten. 

 God really is a bit mean, don't you think??

What was I on back then?!

Again, lets jump straight in with my new response:

It is clear you are worried about this unforgivable sin as you keep bringing it up so, lets take a look at that in a little more detail.

This sin appears in the Gospels twice, the most familiar example is this one:

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 

23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul,by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Ok so, in context we can see that Jesus had just performed a miracle in driving out a demon. This was witnessed by several people who were astonished but, the cynical Pharisees, in their desire to dismiss Jesus as just another man, claimed that Jesus was performing miracles in the power of Satan. 

Without going into a huge, long winded, analysis of this passage, when Jesus talks about an unforgivable sin, he is referring to this kind of act. An act where someone witnesses the power of Christ and denies it in favour of something else. The upshot of all of this is that, it would be impossible to come to Christ as a repentant sinner if you had committed this sin. 

(Of course, I am now saved so it is absolutely obvious I had not committed that sin at the time) 

Christianity doesn’t force people to believe at gunpoint! The bible says that the wages of sin is death. It says that, if you so desire to live a life in sin then you are free to do so but, there is a huge consequence. It offers a better solution to this problem in Christ but, it does not, at any point, insist that you have to do this. There is no force, God wants us to make our own minds up! 

The thread sort of died down after a while but, I went there recently and made a post about my coming to Jesus and my salvation. There were lots of retorts mocking but one reply really intrigued me:

I’m kind of realising that a lot of Atheists don’t really seem to know why they are atheist and they are just going along with peer consensus or whatever, and that there is such a thing as ‘atheist dogma’.

I like this, the guy that posted that is an Atheist. I hope I have sowed a seed of doubt there.

Well, that was fun. I think, next post, I’ll do something a bit different to keep it nice and varied.

Hope you enjoyed reading.

Hello world, and so it begins.

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HELLO,

I have spent many hours in the recent past contributing to the endless hum of internet traffic via the blogosphere and, have rather enjoyed it. There were (unfortunately) several hiccups during my  last foray. I call them hiccups however, the sad truth is, I had commitment issues.  I have been mulling over in my mind, these last few months, rekindling my love for musing aloud in the form of a literary mess and, have decided that the time is now well and truly here!

Jesus loves you more than you will ever know.

YO!

   

      I think that the intention with this blog is to engage with my thoughts as a young (ish) Immature Christian, coming to know more fully and (indeed!) grow in my understanding of God.

 **I intend to engage with decent theological source material right here and also generate my own conversation. **

Once upon a time…

I would like to share first, my story. I learnt, just today, that one of the most effective methods of  conveying important information is to tell a story.

For the biggest part of my life I have been somewhat heathenish in my inclinations! I grew up as a self appointed, ‘adamant’ atheist. I aspired to the religious teachings of great (and they are great) evolutionary biologists, theoretical physicists and, philosophical type thinkers. The likes of Hawkins, Hitchens, Feinman and others had a huge impact on my world view.

Most encounters with Christians were brief, uncomfortable and, I ALWAYS left feeling justified in my world-view by their inability to form a coherent argument.1  It is safe to say I was unwilling to shift my perspective.

I carried on this way in absolute ignorance of the truth for many years until, in 2009 I carried myself off to university.  During my very first proper lecture I sat down on the front row, head down, ready to take an impressive array of notes. A girl whom I hardly paid any attention to, strolled in and sat down beside me. I kept my head down, minding my own business and, to be quite frank, looking forward to getting out of there so I could go back to my accommodation, experiment with recreational drugs and play x-box with my flatmates. This girl tapped me on the shoulder and I turned dutifully out of a social obligation to face her. She was smiling at me  with a bright enthusiasm I doubt I was able to match. She introduced herself and her new friend Laura. We talked together about our experiences so far until the lecturer coughed the morning into order!

Gemma and I (that was her name by the way) spent more and more time together during my first few weeks of university.  we quickly became great friends and very suddenly realised that there was a real spark there! It wasn’t long before we became, ‘an item’. I have had many relationships in the past and feel confident saying that, until Gemma, I had never been in love. Things quickly changed with Gem. I was totally and utterly in love with her.

After a few weeks it became obvious that there was a glaring difference in our world-views. Something that David Devenish would argue, is at the very core of one’s person.  She was a Christian and, well, you know how I felt.

We spent evening after evening getting to know each other and, surprisingly, I wasn’t discouraged by her faith (although, at the time I rejected such a notion myself). We did manage to find ourselves in many rather heated debates during the fledging period of our relationship and, looking back somewhat reflectively, I was a bit cruel back then.

I remember a specific argument in which I was well and truly on my high horse shouting down judgements on her for what I used to assume was a dumb, narrow and deluded faith. I talked and talked at her giving her no time to breathe let alone refute! After about 20 minutes of this continuous rant, my girlfriend looked at me in sheer exasperation, drew in a deep breath, closed her eyes and went to sleep. I literally talked at her till’ she blacked out.

After about a year and a half of arguing continually about our belief systems I began to realise that I was, perhaps, being a little naive in my arguments and was not really looking at the argument from a fair vantage point. I decided to start researching her belief system a little more thoroughly.  God, at that moment, had begun to chisel away at the rocky barricades I had thrown up around my heart.

A couple of weeks or so after this decision to expand my horizons, I was in a van with Gemma’s father, Trevor.  He asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ. I lied to him and said that I did. At that exact moment, I began to feel a huge, painful, pang of guilt. Because of that guilt 2, I decided to start reading the bible. God had broken through!

The more I read, the more I found my objections were addressed (sometimes directly!) in the Bible. The Genesis account, backed with a few great books, in particular this one, really opened me up to the possibility of a living,  God. I was won over!

Admittedly at that point, I still had some pretty big questions racing around my mind. To cut an incredibly long story short, I came to realise that the time had come to accept Jesus.  Gemma’s dad and I were upstairs chatting one day and he asked me straight up, ‘have you accepted Jesus?’. I replied with a sheepish, whimpering, ‘no’.  He talked me through the process of confessing to God and we did so together! I had been saved! (<——–big moment right there).

This happened in October 2011, I was baptised the following Easter. Life has been incredible since.

God has taken me on a massive journey and I look forward to sharing some of those moments with you here.

1 Obviously, in recent years and since coming to faith in the living Jesus Christ, I realise that it was not their inability to argue coherently and more so, MY inability to comprehend an alternative position to my own (I will add, ‘arrogant’ to the aforementioned, self appointment)

2  I later came to see this guilt as a conviction that God had put on my heart.