I realize your church is big and Dr. Keller is well known and I assume you get a ton of emails because of this, so no need to respond. I just wanted to share this.
I wanted to say thank you for releasing “Questioning Christianity” as a podcast.
It has been a very long road to finally “understanding” Christianity and by long, I mean 16 years of deeply pondering these claims. That finally happened last week once I got through this podcast.
I am 36 and unfortunately, I had a lot of exposure to the “satanic panic” mentality of the 1990’s. Since then I have been extremely turned off by any religious dogma, even though I knew from an internal perspective that I wasn’t made for this world, nor did I believe the human race was. This thought has haunted me for years, yet I could never form a conclusion. By nature, my personality means that I seek understanding why something IS; that is of the utmost importance to me.
I really started to research claims in regards to religion, Jesus, Christianity, meaning of life, etc. about 5 years ago when a friend gave me two books, Mere Christianity and The Reason for God. Since receiving those books, I have probably read them ten times each! Maybe more actually, but the point is, I’ve read them a lot.
Upon the first reading of both books, I enjoyed what they were saying, but I couldn’t fully buy into it. I would also say I am the type of person who would refuse to buy into something unless I fully believe in that something. This led me to read more of Dr. Keller’s books, even if they didn’t address a current situation (I just wanted more information) and the same with C.S. Lewis. I then would find other authors, but I was extremely careful of content I would read as some authors don’t do much for me. Smiley (Joel Osteen) in fact I would say causes harm. The “let go and let God” and “if you do this you will be blessed” sounded like some demented form of reality to me and still does. I am not looking for a band-aid, I am looking for truth and hope.
Flash forward to the summer of 2020 and at this time I became very ill and nobody knew what was going on; it was just constant hospital trips and ER visits. Given the time period it was always thought to be Covid, but I didn’t have Covid. There were signs of health issues prior to 2020 but I brushed them off as stress (dumb ideology, but you live and learn). Finally we figured out that it was Lyme disease.
In the Midwest, it’s a controversial subject when you go down the rabbit hole of Chronic Lyme vs Lyme, etc. I have lived through that hell and it’s real. I am lucky to be alive and writing this email. My point in this is not sympathy (happy to report health is fully back and looking forward to rebuild what I lost along the way due to health issues), but to inform I had even more time to ponder the said topics I’ve already mentioned: religion, meaning of life, what I have done, Jesus, religion etc.
About 6 months ago or so I really decided that I need to come to a conclusion on this subject (religion) and end my internal conflict. I had an experience during a prayer that I do not want to go into, because it just feels weird trying to explain what happened or maybe it sounds made up (the most humbling experience I have ever had). To keep it short, when I stopped trying to “find” Jesus and began to let him “find” me, it clicked.
I am very much into music and especially folk music, but I started to realize that when you look at the arts throughout humanity, there is always a sense of wonder and trying to figure out what the meaning of it is. You can see this in Bob Dylan, Neil Young, William Blake, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, Jack Kerouac, and others. It’s almost like true artistic expression is a form of prayer. I think we as humans deep down in our hearts know that this world isn’t right and we were made for something else. This is where I think democratic ideology gets it wrong, you cannot and will not create heaven on earth. You can improve it, but you will never succeed in creating a perfect world as humans are flawed and will still be flawed humans at the end of the day.
Furthermore, given the current political climate and culture war that is taking place in America (I am not trying to be political but given where America is in 2022, I think it’s relevant, at least it was for me), I started to realize that anything “worldly” or “secular” truly just cheapens things of beauty. When I came to this discovery, I fully embraced the realization that there is a God, but still did not know who that God was.
This realization took me back to The Reason for God and Mere Christianity yet again and it all started to click more. At this point I started devouring content in an extreme manner and even recently read Matt Walsh’s book “Church of Cowards.” Upon finishing Walsh’s book, I realized that all these years my issue with Christianity wasn’t what the Bible professes, but that I had extreme dislike of fake Christianity that was and is a bastardized version of what the Bible is and what Jesus claims.
I think we as humans deep down in our hearts know that this world isn’t right and we were made for something else.
This is where I found the podcast from your church and Dr. Keller entitled, “Questioning Christianity.” I am happy to report I get it now and I believe. The weird thing is, I don’t have a sense of overwhelming joy or euphoric feeling. Actually, if I was to describe what I feel, it would be humbled, a sense of God’s grace, sad and scared.
– Humbled in the sense that I believe that this (Jesus is the son of God and the Bible is true) and accepting the fact that I am a sinner and no matter how noble I try to be I will always fall short. Saying you are a sinner and need a savior isn’t the easiest thing to admit — thus humbling.
– I feel a sense of grace, because I am finally at peace and now have hope.
– I also feel a sense of sadness, as I feel ashamed of myself for thinking that through my own good works, I could live up to something. I also feel a sense of sadness that it took me so long to come to a conclusion when the truth was right in front of my eyes and all around me, but I could not see it.
– Scared in a sense that now I have to be aware or should be aware of actions, thoughts and lifestyle. Also, I do not know how to put this into words, but I will try. But also scared in the sense that if you accept Jesus into your life, you are no longer in control. I am really trying to express this thought but feel I am falling short. Maybe a way to word it is this: scared in a sense that now that I know I believe, I understand what that means to some degree of accepting Jesus as your Lord and savior.
Thank you for releasing that podcast. It changed my life.
This has been a long road to find this truth. Please thank Dr. Keller and everyone who was a part of Questioning Christianity.
I know that I am new to this and I don’t know the next steps, but I will figure that out.
Best to you,