Saturday, Nov 30, 2019. When I was in school, history seemed very boring to me. I had no interest in some wars in the past. Why should it be exciting to learn about some emperors who lived 800 years ago? I did not have any access to these things. No, history was not my concern. Also, Christian faith was not my main concern, though I was part of the Lutheran church. I was interested, yes. But I could not see you to make progress, I did not know what to think.
What is your access to history? And what is your opinion about the Christian faith? Do you have access to faith? Or perhaps you do not really know it? Some people are very much opposed to faith.
Personally, I was unclear about Christian faith in my teen years. I had learned about it in school and in a Lutheran church. But it was not clear to me. I have not been against faith. But from the age of 14 I considered it to be quite unclear what to believe. Who was God? Was God love? What was the meaning of that sentence? So my personal history can be characterized by many questions which the church as I knew it could not answer.
Path to Faith …
I looked deeper into faith during the last three years of German high-school education, even did my final exams in theology. I could repeat the theories of modern theological schools. But I did not understand who God should be. I could not grasp his truth or what these theories could really mean.
Looking back, of course I have been in contact with Christianity. And some people had their personal faith. But still, I did not really understand the biblical books. They seemed to be gray to me, inaccessible, somehow enciphered. The theology of Barth or Bultman or others did not really help me. It more seemed to pull me away from reality. Their goal was to bring the old Christian message into a new critical time. But what they actually did is to convince me that somehow one should look more closely and find out, what the real truth was behind all of this. Their particular construction did not convince me, that was clear.
At that time I even attended big youth church events. I listened to the mainly political messages. When I started to study at university, I attended some evenings organized by the Lutheran student church. But these events were as critical as the theory I knew from school. Again, the concept did not convince me. This is my personal history - and probably many people on this earth have a similar history in the sense that they do not understand Christian faith and that the whole history of mankind is of second or third priority to them.
What did convince me? …
At some point I started to pray. Looking back, I do not know how I got to the idea that I should ask God to show me who he was. But I got to the idea and I prayed to the God of this Universe, that if he exists, I want to get to know him.
In the weeks after this prayer, I suddenly got to know various Christian house groups. Before that, I had never attended Christian bible study groups - after confirmation at the age of about 14 years. But now, I realized that there are various student groups studying the bible. So I attended some of them, started to read the New Testament (and also the Old Testament) and study the biblical books and stories.
I have to emphasise the point that Christian faith is more than just listening to some story and believing some facts it reports. It is more in the sense that it is about personal decisions. It is about what is important to you, how you see yourself and others. It is about the eternal God, and how you relate to him.
I started to listen to Jesus, to all his words and speeches recorded in the New Testament. I was fascinated by this guy. He seemed to have a sincere faith. His faith was quite far reaching. If you ask me what convinced me to believe, it was Jesus himself. Somehow you can trust this guy. You can trust him more than any other human I have ever met or heard about.
At some point in my life I realized that I cannot succeed to live my life by the standards which I thought to be good and justified. I just could not do it, it was impossible to me. At that point in time I trusted my life into the hands of Jesus. That is the core of faith: to trust your life into his hands. That is much more than theoretical knowledge. It is more than historical knowledge, and it is more than experience or truth or facts. You need to know him - how could you trust him if you had no knowledge about him, if you did not know him at all. But then, this faith step is much more than just an abstract acceptance of some truth. It is a personal involvement with God through Jesus.
My personal journey to faith was characterized by helpful other students, who were ready to explain their idea about Christian faith to me. And then the biblical books talked to me directly. I started to understand. First, there were only parts here and there, which suddenly made sense to me. I continued to read the book, study it chapter by chapter. And more and more if it became clear. The whole book did not look gray any more, but it seemed to be full of light, full of life. I will tell much more about this, about the experience which followed this time of search and study.
Today I can say that I have been a Christian believer for many years, and also my relationship to history as well has completely changed. Reading about God and his journey with mankind has become a fascinating daily exercise to me, and the whole history of mankind became extremely exciting with my own love to and involvement with her, who is loved so deeply by the eternal God and Saviour. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.