Originally posted by amannion
I find it hard to believe that anyone could be a true atheist and turn to religion, but I'm sure you know yourself better than I do.
What is it that convinced you?
I'm truly interested in your thoughts here.
Check out the thread 'Why does Jesus p*** people off?' I described how I became a 'theist' there. However, being a 'theist' and a Christian are two different things.
Read some Thomas Carlyle. He wrote books about his struggle with what he called the 'Everlasting Yea' and the 'Everlasting No' regarding God/No God. As I describe, it was my fascination with Nature and the Unknown which opened my mind to the possibility of a Creator. But that's, of course, a far cry from becoming 'born again'.
Admitting the possibility of a Creator merely caused me to wonder how it was all accomplished, that is, the creation of all things. I became fascinated with the idea of an 'uncaused causer' who has existed eternally, who never has not existed and never will not exist. That concept blows the mind and I always was drawn to things that blew my mind, like trying to imagine the depth of deep space.
Before I dabbled in theism, though, I was an atheist through and through. I argued with Christians, read every book of philosophy I could find, ridiculed religion, etc., all because I knew
there was no God; especially not a Christian God. I remember a buddy of mine asking me once, "What if Christians are right?" I laughed and said to him (with such assurance), "Don't worry, they're not. It's all a big lie." That friend of mine is still a self-proclaimed 'secular humanist' to this day. Go figure.
What initially persuaded me that God may possibly exist was the undeniable possibility that I might be wrong in my presumption that God doesn't exist. Just a simple, quiet moment of reflection and humility. I didn't like the idea, but hey, there it was. That and a growing sense of self-preservation. I wanted to know the truth behind things because of an intuition that my survival depended on it in some unforeseen way.
So it wasn't hard for me to trample upon my old atheist ideals or disappoint my atheist friends, because I could no longer deny that atheism is based upon a presumption, and I'd rather be a seeker than live my life on a presumption. If for nothing else, for self-preservation. I carried a certain fierceness in defense of 'going my own way' and I sure didn't like the idea of my own stubbornness or the opinion of my friends getting in the way. Screw them; even if there wasn't anything to find, I still wanted - demanded - something bigger from life.
Of course, as I mentioned, that is a far cry from getting 'born again'.
It wasn't until about five years later that I found the Lord. When friends and family found out I had become a follower of Christ, they were in shock. Nobody saw it coming. Especially not me.
I wasn't raised in a religious family; my mom didn't foist anything on us. She let us come to our own conclusions about life. We weren't church going, and I spent my Sundays fishing in a creek next to our house. Becoming a Christian I can only explain as God drawing me to Him. I wasn't brainwashed, or forced to accept any scripture, or anything.
My uncle witnessed to me one day when I was visiting him, and told me about Jesus Christ, and I immediately recognized Christ as the Truth I had been avoiding. It got really ugly after that. I started getting angry, and started yelling at my uncle about what bull**** it all is, and I considered jumping in my car and driving home. I was soooo angry for some reason, but inside I already suspected that Christ was the Truth.
It was a contest between my righteous indignation and the act of volitional submission to Jesus Christ. I inwardly perceived that the choice was free, and mine. I could accept Christ's invitation or reject it. Everything in me wanted to reject it, but I could catch glimpses of myself giving in, too. I stayed in that horrible state for a long time. And once I decided to give in, I found that I couldn't. I couldn't even spit the words out! I tried and failed at least five times.
Keep in mind, I could've walked away at any time. But this was real. God was really there contending with me. Finally I did repent and asked the Lord to come into my life (thank God). A great peace descended over me, and I was filled with courage. It was like waking up. (I didn't know it then, but the Lord had instantly resurrected my spirit with Christ, and from that moment forward I was a 'new creation'.)
"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already
passed from death into life" (John 5:24, italics mine).
So that's that. Hope that answers your question thoroughly enough.
Here's a post I recently wrote about Christ that might be helpful for you:
Imagine some indescript man, in all seriousness and humility, talking with you plainly about the future as if he'd been there. He's jovial, intelligent, somber, insightful, with an unsettling, piercing gaze, and giving off this great vibe that he somehow knows what you're all about but still digs you anyway. Some way or another it comes up in the course of your conversation where he says straight to your face, "(blank), I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one gets access to God except through me. No one. I am God's only begotten Son, equal with God in every way, and you will see me coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. If you believe in God, believe in me. I have overcome sin, death and the entire world. Those who believe in me, out of their bowels will pour living water day and night. Believe in me and you will not die, you will live forever in my father's kingdom."
Yikes. Most people would immediately assume this guy has to be nuts. Wouldn't you? But... then the next moment he reaches over and touches your palsied arm and it is instantly restored. Hmmm... I wonder what happens now? No one expected that would happen. Nevertheless, these are the words and deeds that rocked the history and posterity of planet earth. God walked among us. Did he? Did he really? It sounds too good to be true, and no one wants to be disappointed like that.
'Theism' has to do with some invisible 'God Blob' conglomeration of infinite attributes floating in some metaphysical and untouchable realm. Christianity is not theism. Christianity is precisely the Hebrew translation of Jesus's name: 'God with us'. Our servant and our Lord all in one.