I’d like to close out a series of posts about “knowing in the heart” that I blogged about in the following posts:
- William Lane Craig’s Holy Spirit Epistemology
- William Lane Craig’s Holy Spirit Epistemology (continued)
- Veridical – what does that mean?
- Is that feeling deep in the heart unique to your belief?
In the first of that series I mentioned that while my main reasons for converting from Judaism to Christianity were what I perceived to be strong evidence of it’s truth, there was a strong feeling in my gut as well that it was true. It’s been about 22 years since then, but there are a few things I remember very clearly about the feelings that I had.
As I mentioned before, in my high school years and freshman year of college before I became a Christian I was not religious, but thoughts about meaning and purpose did come into my head sometimes. When I finally decided that Christianity was the truth and decided to commit myself to it I finally felt like I had the answers to purpose, meaning, morality, and simply how to live my life. The amount of comfort and peace that came from this fulfillment of the desire for certainty about the big questions was actually quite intense. This was a very real feeling for me and back then it was clear confirmation for me that what I had found was true. What I realize now is that the feeling in the gut of truth that I had was mainly from the thought that I had the answers to the ultimate questions of life – who wouldn’t be absolutely ecstatic over that!! I am fully convinced however that if I had converted to a different religion (e.g. Islam, Baha’ism, Mormonism, Taoism, Odinism, etc.) the feelings would have been the same because all religions offer this same certainty (to differing degrees) on the answers to the big questions of life. So in the end this could not be a confirmation of truth. I believe that this is a big part of the “know it in the heart” that people of many worldviews seem to express.
Another thing that comes up in discussions of religious (definitely Christian) experience is the “relationship”. I fully believed that Christianity was true in my first year of belief, but no matter what I did or didn’t do that relationship never materialized. I truly believed the mantra “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” and I really believed that over time that experience would come to me, but it never showed up, even during the months that I was so sure of what I believed. Don’t get me wrong – I prayed, read my bible, fellowshipped with several different Christian groups (Campus Crusade, Great Commission Ministries, as well as 2 off campus Messianic Jewish congregations), but although I always witnessed to others about the fact that Christianity is about a relationship with God, I always wondered why I never quite experienced that aspect. Perhaps I was expecting it to be like the relationships that I was used to in “real” life, but I still don’t understand why you would use the same word when it is actually very different.
As time went on the doubts that I had had before converting came back, more problems within the bible as well as the worldview cropped up, and the hiddenness of this God I was seeking kept nagging at me. I kept this up for 4 years because deep down I kept thinking that my prayers would be answered. I prayed the doubter’s prayer (“Lord I believe, help me overcome my unbelief”) so many times, but the doubts kept mounting until I realized that the positives I had seen in the worldview previously were simply outweighed by all of the negatives that had added up.
There was a lot more I wanted to write about other sources of that “know it in the heart” feeling, but I think I have written enough on this for now. Maybe I’ll come back to this if I ever see a need to. For now I’m ending this series. I keep writing so much more than I think I will. I originally saw this blog as lasting at most a month. I cannot predict it, but as long as I can find the time I can see this blog lasting quite a bit longer now.