First, it is no longer because…
…I’d be afraid of eternal hellfire if I weren’t a Christian. I just don’t believe that’s how things work. It is impossible for me to believe in a supreme god so cruel and narrow-minded that he/she/it would create billions of human beings to be born into circumstances making it impossible to choose Christianity, or any other belief system, as the only way to eternal bliss. While we might be free to create our own living hell to the degree that we choose the illusion of separation from the One, I do not believe that choice is available to us as a limited-time offer. As I understand it, God’s love must be infinite, and so we have all eternity to welcome it and thus realize our oneness with God and each other. However any of our beliefs and understandings might be mistaken, and our actions misguided, I completely trust God to be endlessly merciful and patient with understanding each of us even better than we understand ourselves.
…I’m too afraid of following a different path from many of my loved ones. While I know that some of my Christian friends and family members would be disappointed and in fear for my soul if I disavowed Christianity, I also know that others would not. All the human acceptance, belonging, and companionship I could ever need would still be available to me, and I know that those hurt or frightened by my choice would be okay. Furthermore, there is a limit to how far I am willing to go in accommodating the prejudices of even my dearest loved ones, and for everyone’s sake one thing I will not do is pretend to hold religious beliefs that don’t make sense to me or resonate with the still small voice in my heart.
…I judge other religions as inferior, misguided, or evil. As a Christian, I believe we all share equally in the Logos, the Word that is one with God and through which all that is has come to be. As I understand it, when Jesus says things such as, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), he is speaking on behalf of the universal Logos, not of himself as the historical man, Jesus of Nazareth. Every philosophy, religion, spiritual tradition, every art and every science, is a manifestation of the Logos expressing and experiencing Itself through us. In keeping with this, I do not believe the Christian Bible, in any version, is the one, true, inerrant, perfect and complete word of God, or even the best collection of revelation and wisdom available to all humanity. There is no ‘best one’ for all humanity, but only a ‘best’ for each of us if we are so moved by the Spirit to discover for ourselves. Finally, to me Christianity is not a religious team competing against other religious teams. I will not cheer “Yay!” for ‘our side’ and “Boo!” for ‘their side.’ There is only one side, and it is all of us, believers of every faith and non-believers alike, each responding to the mysteries of our existence in the best way we can.
Each of those motivations has, at one time in my life or another, been part of why I called myself a Christian. I’m thankful for the Divine Grace and Infinite Love that has freed me from them.
I am a Christian because…
…I was born into a Christian world. The sounds of Christianity were entering my consciousness before I left my mother’s womb. All the other sensations of Christianity have been flooding into me ever since I was born. My abilities to think, to speak, to sing, to recognize my feelings, to experience trust, hope, and love, to identify one person as family, another as friend, and another as neighbor or community member, all of these developments in my consciousness occurred in a Christian environment. The stories of the Bible were like family legends. Jesus was a beloved member of the family we all hoped to finally meet face-to-face, and his Father was our Heavenly Father whom we trusted to guide and protect us. In time, I would even come to embrace his mother as The Mother. I know that all of this means I am virtually hardwired to experience and express myself as a Christian. Therefore, all the deepest insights into my own psyche, both conscious and subconscious, all the highest realizations of the spirit animating my life in this world, all the most powerful acts of love I can participate in, cannot help but be interwoven with the emblems, stories, and rituals of Christianity. Every piece of it is a path back through my psychological inner child to the spiritual child that is a spark of the Divine. The same is true of any other religion for those who are born to it.
…Christianity is my religious home. I have had my rebellion and have made my quest into the larger world of religions and philosophies. I have enjoyed and benefited from what I have found. Some of those things will always be with me, and others I will return to from time to time. Yet, like the prodigal son, I also discovered that home is indeed where the heart is, and my heart is enfolded by Christianity. It is the religion in which I find it most natural to express my spiritual awe, gratitude, and love of life. Despite what I previously said about not being too afraid to be different from many of my loved ones, the fact remains that Christianity is interwoven with most of my closest relationships. It is the common language of spirit we speak with each other, and I no longer see it as a barrier between me and the people of other faiths. I’m deeply grateful for all these things, and no longer see any compelling reason to reject Christianity as my religious home. Home is where the heart is.
…I don’t need to practice a different religion. I have found that Christianity offers everything I want and need in a religion. Where I once judged it inferior in some ways to other religions, I have come to see that this was primarily because my own perspective was so narrow, shallow, and poorly informed, and because my immediate religious environment was so limited. Both the worldly and the mystical wisdom of our scriptures and early fathers and mothers becomes clearer with each passing year. Even as the history of our religion has many examples of very human shortcomings and atrocities, I nonetheless see the cup of this tradition overflowing with intelligence, creativity, grace, peace, joy, and love. The poetry, visual art, music, and ceremonies of Christianity are beautiful to me. They inspire me to contemplate the transcendent and they move me to feel intimacy and kinship with all creation. The Church offers me countless opportunities, encouragement, support, and role models for service to others. What else could I possibly need? Perhaps a different perspective is needed from time to time, but one perspective needs to already be in place in order for another to be different, and I no longer feel that being a Christian prohibits me from seeing differently.