My freshman fall at Furman University, I sat in Introduction to Biblical Literature, a historical-critical look at the Bible, and I began to sweat. The professor, a graduate of Harvard Divinity and an ordained Methodist minister, was spouting claims about the Bible that I had never encountered from such an authority figure. She treated it as a myth, dismissed the miracles through alternate explanations, and made Jesus out to be a great teacher, but little more than that. She attacked supposed contradictions and, intentionally or unintentionally, sought to wear away her students’ foundational trust in the Bible.
I battled. My hand was raised in class every day, Dr. ________ and I having it out as we both asserted our positions with confidence. But when I returned to my dorm room, my confidence was much more evidently shaken. I cried out to the God whose existence had been thrown into question. I wrestled with historical questions whose answers proved elusive. I stood in front of the campus chapel in the wee hours of the morning, looking up at the stars in desperation. And there I came to a crossroads that many students and parents hit a few months earlier: Is it all worth it? Is the barrage of anti-biblical religion, philosophy, and science a valuable use of a Christian freshman’s time? Is it simply a threat to faith?
Let me answer with my story. My battle raged on for most of that school year. I read and read...and frantically read. C.S. Lewis and I were best friends. Josh McDowell fought for my soul in absentia. I observed the world with vigilance, seeking evidence for the Christian worldview but allowing myself a certain amount of neutrality so as to test the validity of my faith. My life felt like wet cement, and I was determined to see it solidified. I said to(pled with) my God, “If the resurrection happened, then Jesus was who He said He was. If He was who he said He was, then I’m in, hook, line, and sinker.” The more I read, the less I could escape the validity of the resurrection or any other substantial claim of Christ. The boulders of evidence were building a mountain, and the molehill on the other side could not compare.
At the end of that year, I knew that finding proof for Christ’s claims, or any other ancient figure’s, for that matter, was a fool’s errand. I knew that faith was involved at the end of the rational road. And I surrendered, with newfound mountains of evidence, with newfound ownership of my faith, and with newfound intimacy with my Father. I had leaned on His power to carry me through a valley, His comforting sympathy in my weakness, and His mercy to forgive a skeptical son.
So to answer the question, it was not only worth it, it was one of the most worthwhile seasons of my life. It hurt deeply. It weakened me for a while(forever?). But the reality of Christ is far more real to me now than pre-freshman year.
This is no risk-free venture. I walked in the loving support of the body of Christ as I battled, without which I may not have made it. I came in with a biblical knowledge base that helped greatly in the midst of the barrage. I kept God’s word in front of me throughout. But with those things in place, I plunged in, and walked out repeating, “To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life. [I] have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God”(John 6:68-69).