Hugh Collins, War Cry’s new journalist, shares his questioning journey of faith.
If you’ve spent enough time in churches, you’ve probably heard the classic ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ testimony. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that’s not the sort of testimony I have but, at the same time, I certainly wouldn’t say my journey has been a smooth and upward trajectory. I think that’s the beauty of it.
Born into a devout Baptist family, church and Christianity were a part of my life since year zero. However, I vividly remember at six years old telling my sisters I hated church, and as soon as I was old enough to have any say about it, I’d be staying home to watch TV! But, thankfully, something inside changed pretty dramatically— sure enough, by about eight, I had given my heart to the Lord in a Sunday school service. I had quickly become adamant God was real and that everything my parents told me about faith was absolute truth.
It wasn’t until I was at high school that I started to scrutinize and question my Christian faith. is wasn’t helped by some ‘evangelical atheists’ in my year group who enjoyed putting me to the test. I began asking a lot of the hard questions, especially around suffering. Why were so many of God’s children living in sickness and poverty? Why did good people get brain tumours or killed by drunk drivers? It was all very convenient to believe in a loving God when you were born into an affl uent family, with parents who fed you three times a day and took you to Disneyland.
Despite all this, I continued going to church and calling myself a Christian. In some ways it would seem bizarre that I’d continue to bother with a belief system that presented so many unanswered questions. As a friend of mine who left his faith once said, ‘Too many questions, just too many questions’.
But I was confident I had genuinely experienced the love and spirit of God, even when certain logic told me it was absurd. While my head could doubt, my heart could not ignore. I don’t think this is a case of having been brainwashed (as a dogmatic atheist told me). Rather, my faith has become the back bone of my life, a core foundation that gives me hope and peace.
To be brutally honest, I sometimes feel my doubts haven’t really gone anywhere—I think it’s just a part of my personality to be so inquisitive. I still read about the horrors of the world, and think this belief system really doesn’t add up. Yet, I’m at a place where I know the Christian faith isn’t about having all the answers to the complexities of life. Rather, it’s about hope—in a God that’s restoring and working to make all things new. Hope that death isn’t final and that there’s a force of love and goodness in the universe. And through all that, I’m inspired to be compassionate, love others and be part of community.
I am elated that Christian faith is still an integral part of my life, something which has a positive and inspiring outworking in my life. I think that, alone, is pretty hard for an evangelical atheist to argue with!
by Hugh Collins (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 11 August 2018, p11- You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.