For many people both inside and outside the church, we are confronted with so much information that we are left asking: “How can I believe Christianity when there’s so much out there?”
How can you study every religion? Even if Christianity makes decent sense, the fact that there’s so many religions—so much out there—makes it hard to really know if Christianity is true.
When it comes to a critical evaluation of all the different religions and beliefs out there, it helps to begin with the recognition that only a small handful of them are the kinds of beliefs which are able to be evaluated.
For instance, you cannot investigate religions that are grounded in myth or folklore. Right? Greek mythology has all of these stories of titans and the gods interacting with one another. Tribal religions talk about the gods who protect them and give them rain. But if we’re concerned about whether or not something is actually true, the burden of proof for any of these religious beliefs is on them, and when they have little or nothing to say, then it seems reasonable that we needn’t spend much time there.
Jesus, on the other hand, is almost universally accepted as a real historical figure who lived and taught and was crucified, followed by a dramatic historical movement of people proclaiming that he rose back to life. Now we have something attached to human history. Something happened 2000 years ago in the city of Jerusalem, and this deserves an explanation. We can work with that.
Likewise, you cannot evaluate religions that are based on preference rather than fact.
A lot of New Age and Eastern religion beliefs are like this. For them, spirituality is a matter of personal belief, not something that can be objectively looked at. “If spiritual Yoga works, do that, if not try transcendental meditation!” The idea is that you find something that works for you, not something that is objectively true.
Just listen to people when they talk about taking on an Eastern religion. They often say that they “liked” the teachings, or that they found it very “interesting.” It’s fashionable! Curiously enough, people in the East often think of Western religions in the same kind of way. This is no way to determine what’s actually true.
So, after eliminating all of these beliefs, you aren’t left with much that can be rationally discussed. Apart from Christianity, you’ll still need to think through Islam, Atheism, Judaism, a few others. But this is much more manageable! And so you get into the deep work. Listen to the different perspectives. Hear their arguments. And then weigh those arguments against each other. Focus on the foundational core of these beliefs, and ask yourself if it’s coherent and justified.
And I would add this: Yes, it can be difficult to believe Christianity when there is so much out there. But in other ways it’s not hard at all. Because at the end of the day, God is the one who does the work bringing us into faith. Although God has given us a mind to think about these things, it can only go so far as to open the door. And so my last piece of advice is this: As you study these things, take God with you!
Even if you don’t believe he exists, you can still pray and ask sincerely, “God, if you are real, I want to know, and I will commit myself to the evidence no matter where it takes me.”
I would urge you to make this prayer a habit.