Why I am Still a Christian
There have been many times that I have wrestled with whether I want to identify as a Christian. When I started learning about other religions like Buddhism and started learning about science, it was a very different worldview than the one I was taught through popular Evangelical Christianity. Logically, because my beliefs had changed, it seems it would have made sense for my religion to change.
The assumption here is that religion is primarily defined as the set of beliefs a person holds about the world. I do not accept that definition of religion. I agree that belief is often part of it, but what if religion was not so much what we believe about the world, but instead how we engage with the world?
Once again, this is something Buddhism has taught me. Buddhism is not a religion in the same sense that Westerners often think of religion. Many Buddhists are not concerned with doctrines and beliefs. You are not taught to believe in anything. Instead, you are taught to sit down, be still, and observe. Many people think that Buddhists do not believe in God. I would say it's not so much that they don't believe in God, it's that they are less interested in talking about God and more interested in showing you God. It's about experiencing God instead of talking about God. It's the difference between reading a book about swimming and jumping into the pool.
So for me Christianity has gradually become less head stuff and more heart stuff. It's actually about getting your head out of the way and learning to live through your heart and soul instead. That is why I don't think the Bible is understood properly as an instruction manual for living. Much of the Bible is poetry and metaphor. The Bible uses images, stories, and symbols. This is the language that can access the soul.
So when I compare the symbol system of Christianity with the symbol system of Buddhism or any other religion, the Christian symbol system is going to be more accessible to me. Why? Simply because, first of all, I was raised Christian from childhood, and secondly because we live in a cultural context that has historically been dominated by Christianity and still is to a large degree. Pretty much everyone in the US, whether they grew up Christian or not, has some basic familiarity with Christian symbols, stories and ideas.
In other words, Christianity is in some sense in my bones. It would be one thing if I was not able to find any truth in it, but the fact is that when I started to dig deeper than mainstream Christianity would take me, I was able to find deep and universal truths that fed my soul without feeling like I had betrayed my intellect and reason. And finding new and deeper meanings in my childhood faith was a powerful integrative experience that I can't imagine I would have gotten from converting to a different religion.
If you want to read more about some ways I came to re-interpret Christian teachings check out these posts: