Why I am a Christian

Professor David Martin

Let me begin philosophically. I know that philosophically speaking there are no knockdown arguments for God's existence. After all philosophers find it difficult enough to show that they themselves exist. God is not the conclusion of a logical chain or a variable which can be knocked down in a series of experiments. God is not an observable, so that if I were to put my eye to the most powerful telescope imaginable I might hope to see the lineament of Deity. No man has seen God at any time: and that includes the Astronomer Royal.

That is not to say that all the classical arguments for God count for nothing. But I would prefer to call them persuasive considerations rather than proofs. When I consider the order and design of the universe, and the tiny margins either way which would have made any life such as we know it impossible in the first moments after the Big Bang I feel there are reasonable grounds for theism. Moreover, it seems to me that we are faced with a choice between a totally bizarre and meaningless and purposeless 'system' and a universe which makes the kind of sense that includes the human experiment within some overarching purpose. So I make an act of reasonable faith in the existence of some sense in the disposition of things, rather than nonsense.

But beyond these faltering steps on the crutch of reason it seems to me that there is also a response of the whole man. We respond as persons, not just as faulty computers more or less capable of logic and scientific inference. We are aware of the world as miracle and of transforming experiences which constantly point beyond themselves. These experiences can only be described in symbolic language of 'height' and 'depth', of 'light' or dazzling 'darkness', but they seem to point to a ground, source and end of our being.

Moreover these experiences are not only of the summit of Being but also of 'the Holy'. The God of the whole natural order, and the Being of all beings, is also the most holy before whom man is aware of his imperfection, and towards whom he pleads for grace. The God of power is also the God of grace, whose grace sustains and covers us even before it is asked for. The Creator and the creaturely exist in a relationship. So while we may believe as rational beings we trust as beings who respond to grace and need forgiveness and restoration.

The Christian story is precisely the drama of loss and restoration. It speaks to a sense of the profound flaw in our nature and also to a desire to find our true selves. The center of that drama is a man in whom faith finds the embodiment of grace and truth, the action of God towards us. He is the light which encounters the darkness of the world at its worst, in rejection, isolation and death. He overcomes death, exalting our manhood into God. The God who is 'in Christ' offers himself as bread which is both shared and broken: as a sign of fraternity, as sacrifice, as grace, as love, and as earnest of immortality.