Faith Is a Choice by Mary Kay Bonfante
Story of the Month contest entry
Artwork by Linda Bickston at FanArtReview.com
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.|
An atheist may list many reasons to deny faith in a Supreme Being, and may even, paradoxically, be very angry at the God he or she doesn't believe in.
One may even declare that my God is slow, if you subscribe to Darwinian thought and/or evolutionary theory, especially if you think the universe was created in billions of years. My good, loving, amazing, magnificent and Holy God is hardly slow, but He sets His own pace for doing things. He is not subject to our judgment, but we will all, one day, be subject to His. Though some believe the universe was formed in many billions of years, my Bible says God created the world in six days.
The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has discovered and compiled a lot of support for the "Young Earth Theory," and while it's not necessary to adhere to this to become a Christian believer, it calls into question the "theory" of evolution -- and for all its claims of being scientific, evolution remains exactly that: a theory. Among other things, the ICR also questions the validity of carbon dating.
Some Christians who would rather believe the more commonly accepted views of science, have a more flexible interpretation of the word "day," possibly considering a verse in the New Testament that says, "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (II Peter 2:8, NKJV)
Either way, each of us is a mere speck in the fabric of the universe, and upon its time line; therefore, we are hardly in a position to judge the relative efficiency of our Creator, by any standard.
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Some may doubt the Gospel accounts of Jesus' death and especially His resurrection. Yet Jesus was certainly dead, when His body was removed from the cross. Try hanging with your arms outstretched for three hours, with your body weight crushing your lungs so that you slowly suffocate, complicated by continual blood loss, and see how that works out for you. If that doesn't convince you, the Bible records that the Romans had a way of ensuring that their crucified prisoners didn't later escape--namely, they broke the legs of the one crucified. This was done to the two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus. However Jesus was determined by the soldiers to be dead, and His legs were not broken.
But just to be on the safe side, one of them pierced the side of Jesus' chest with a spear (the very famous "Spear of Destiny" or "Holy Lance," hotly sought after as a relic through the millennia, though its present whereabouts are a subject of debate, with three different locations claiming the original article). The Bible records that when pierced by the sword, a "sudden flow of blood and water" (John 19:36, NIV) came from Jesus, the water presumably originating from the accumulation of fluid in his lungs. If it was even remotely possible that He survived the crucifixion, He did not survive this final assault. The Bible also records the details of His burial.
Origins of My Faith
What is the origin of my faith? Some may question whether I followed the trajectory of my own family tradition, or convinced myself of it, through some elaborate mental gymnastics. But neither is true. My faith came neither from my own mind nor from pressure or coercion by any group or person, but was activated by the Holy Spirit in my own heart, or spirit, by hearing and reading the Word of God, also known as the Bible.
Yes, my own mind did have a role in it, as each of us possesses in our spirit (or heart) the interplay of mind, will and emotions. We are all creatures with mental, emotional and volitional capacities, and there's no getting around that. So we're really on equal footing, if we think we can ignore the subjective nature of our perspectives. And just because we believe something is true--based on faith--it doesn't mean that it isn't.
My Search for the Truth
I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but drifted away from it in my teens. I also went through a period of atheism, which lasted several years. I was very captivated by the claims of science, especially the theory of evolution and various aspects of psychology. I felt that religious faith was something invented by humanity.
Then, in my early twenties, I began to consider not only the possibility that God exists, but that I actually needed Him. Thence, I began a search in which I read not only from the Bible, but from Christian apocryphal works, the (Hindu) Bhagavad Gita, the (Muslim) Koran, and even articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica (the early 80's version of Google!) referencing various faiths. I briefly returned to the Catholic Church, and questioned priests in not one, but three different churches. I also listened to, and questioned preachers and evangelists on the streets of New York City.
Jesus Won the Victory in My Life
Jesus Christ won my heart, and I prayed for direction, whether to remain Catholic or to worship Him elsewhere. There were also some doctrinal differences between the Catholic Church and many Evangelical or Protestant churches, and I needed some resolution about that. I was pressured for a while by my family to remain Catholic, but I did not acquiesce to them.
God answered my prayers, and I was directed, through various signs from Him, to attend a church from a relatively small Protestant denomination. Several decades later, I continue to attend church there. It's where I met my husband, who became my best friend, and who I eventually married.
Faith and Logic
I don't agree that belief in God is illogical, as many atheists believe; however I believe that the wisdom of God supercedes human logic, and He often operates outside of it. He is not limited by it. There is a place in life for reason and logic, and whatever discovered and undiscovered truths exist, were also created by God.
Yes, the human race is morally despicable, as some atheists might believe; and that is something we would agree on. After all, the God of the Bible destroyed most of us in the Great Flood. There is more destruction to come, which is a good reason to consider the mortality of our own physical bodies, and the possibility (which is reality and truth, to me) of an eternity for our immortal spirits that will be either blissful or painful.
God is so good, so holy, so loving that He gives us the chance to have a relationship with Him, despite our evil inclinations--a transformative relationship that imparts His own loving nature to us. He accomplished this in a manner which cost him greatly--taking the burden of our evil nature and deeds, or sin, upon Himself, when He suffered and died during His crucifixion.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
No other religious leader or prophet can make this claim, much less the claim of resurrection--He is so good, loving and holy that death could not hold Him. God the Father resurrected His Son Jesus (who, being God, can be in more than one place simultaneously), giving every believer hope for eternal life with Him.
How Many Religions?
Estimates of the number of religions in the world range from 2,000 to 10,000--quite a few! It's not so much that my faith, out of all these, is right, but that it resonated with my eternal spirit. To the atheists, I ask, do you not feel the spark of eternity within you? We are all eternal beings, who will spend eternity either in Heaven or in Hell. You still have a choice.
Some may fear, because I am so sure of my own beliefs, that I think people of other religions are necessarily evil, to believe differently. I would have to say, as the Bible also tells us, that every single one of us has evil inclinations, which can be overcome by the grace of God. We were also created in the image of God, which means that we each have the capacity for good.
My elderly mother had a home health aide, for a while, who is a devout Muslim, and I have to say that she's one of the kindest people I've ever met. They only parted ways because of circumstances beyond their control. And though I no longer identify myself as Catholic, I am deeply touched by the deeds of Mother Teresa.
Religion vs. Relationship!
Yes, there are people of many faiths who show virtuous behavior and attitudes, but I have chosen Jesus Christ, the only perfect human being who ever lived, as the One to believe in, and base my life upon. He transcends time, was one with God from the beginning and transformed me through His love. For me, faith in Jesus Christ is not a religion, but a relationship--He is my Lord, my Savior and my Friend. He is not a distant "god," standing afar off. He is always with me, God Incarnate, having given me the ultimate gift--Himself.
Mary Kay Bonfante
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