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First of all, I assume that everybody should have some sort of justification for his beliefs. Secondly, I assume that Christians are interested in convincing others to join them as evangelisation seems to be promoted in the bible. Lastly, I assume that Christians respect the laws of logic and therefore their justifications must also follow these laws.

My question, based on these assumptions, is as follows: How do Christians justify their beliefs to themselves as well as to others and how do they convince others of their belief?

I am aware that this question is very fundamental. I tried to find an answer on the site, however, I couldn't find any. Please point me to any questions with good answers regarding this topic that I couldn't find!

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closed as not constructive by dancek, Mad Scientist, blundin, Rex Kerr, El'endia Starman Oct 1 '11 at 20:19

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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First of all welcome to Christianity.SE. I wish everybody was as diligent at identifying their assumptions going into a question! However I think the issue is not that this is fundamental but that it is broad. There is no way one or even a dozen questions can cover this ground without inviting a million different opinions and a thousand valid answers. –  Caleb Oct 1 '11 at 16:39
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Not everything that is true can be logically proven. Think about interpersonal relationships and your feelings for another person. If you contend that all of your feelings for other people can be based on or explained by the laws of logic, I would assume you've never been in love. The Evangelical Protestant view is that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Christians are those who have responded to God's invitation to a personal relationship with Him. Like human relationships, there are aspects of this that cannot be logically proven, yet are true. –  jimreed Oct 1 '11 at 16:42
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From the faq: Your questions should be reasonably scoped. I don't think the question is, so it should be off-topic. Voting to close. I agree the question is fundamental, but it really needs a very, very broad answer. –  dancek Oct 1 '11 at 17:24
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I will add to the chorus one comment. I think the question you asked is incredibly useful and would be very useful to the community and our later visitors, if it was not so broad. I would happily on more detailed questions that lie within the scope of this one. Stick around, this could be good for you and for us! –  blundin Oct 1 '11 at 18:39
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The question is well-posed but out of scope for this format since you are essentially asking for a sizable portion of Christian apologetics to be encapsulated into one question, and there are entire books written on the topic. –  Rex Kerr Oct 1 '11 at 19:08

4 Answers 4

Lastly, I assume that Christians respect the laws of logic and therefore their justifications must also follow these laws.

Then you're not really going to get very far. Yes, Christians respect the laws of logic, but we do not respect only the laws of logic. The basis of Christian belief isn't grounded in logic, but in testimony, faith and experience. We know that God is there because he makes his presence known through the witness of the Holy Ghost, and we know that he is good and worthy of obedience and worship because of the history of our relationship with him.

As we follow God's commandments faithfully, we can see the results in our lives. We see that living the principles of the Gospel works, that it produces positive results, helping us to resolve or avoid problems in our lives. That increases our faith, making us better-able to trust in God, so that when we need to do something truly difficult, even if it seems to contradict what we think is logical, we can say, "God has never led me wrong before, so I can trust in him now." Those who don't understand this principle say that Christians live by "blind faith," but that is far from the truth.

As for how Christians convince others of their belief, we don't. While it's possible to convince another person that our viewpoint makes sense, actual faith, the kind I'm talking about in the previous paragraphs, comes from God, not from another person. What proselyting Christians attempt to do is convince others to open their hearts, to be willing to accept that the Gospel might be true, and to be willing to pray to God to seek their own testimony and establish their own relationship with him. Conversion is a highly personal matter between oneself and the Lord; anyone else's involvement is secondary.

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+1. Good answer -- even if I still don't agree it's a reasonably scoped question :) –  Caleb Oct 1 '11 at 18:24
    
Although I understand your points that Christians don't live by blind faith, is it correct to say that they, at some point, have to start with blind faith? –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 19:14
    
@eWolf: Depends on how you define that. At some point, they have to start with a seed of faith that isn't based directly on experience with a relationship with God, yes. But at that point, the foundation of trust is in the person who they're learning from. It's the same principle: they have found this person to be worthy of trust in things that they can verify and be sure of, so they're worth listening to when they talk about things that the listener cannot immediately be sure of. Done properly, (and it's not always done well, sadly,) there is no need for "blind" faith at any point. –  Mason Wheeler Oct 1 '11 at 19:53
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+1 Logic is a great means of getting from point A to point B through the use of sound argumentation, but even logic, itself, tells us that if point A is invalid, then no amount of sound thinking can be trusted to get to a valid point B. Truth though logic relies on initial revelation and depends on the trustworthiness of that revelation as a good premise. Christianity is based on revelation primarily (though I would contend it also actually gives a coherent basis for logic... as you say, Christians respect logic, and I think in a more consistent sense than many others can) –  Steven Oct 3 '11 at 20:21

The formulation of this question is broad as has been noted, but I will answer this as best I can.

We justify our beliefs based on a series of foundational beliefs that require faith, but then have logical outcomes and structures that follow. The book of Romans does an excellent job laying out these basics and their implications. As such, I have found that you can logically justify the Christian faith and its beliefs, as long as you have faith and believe (accept as factually true) the basic foundational beliefs. If you believe there is a God, and if you believe that the Bible is what it says it is then you can logically form (a VERY long) argument for all facets of the Christian faith.

However, this would still just be head knowledge. Let's forget labels for just one second as they tend confuse things. To be a follower of Christ, to be "saved" or within His elect, you must believe that Christ was real, historical, bodily resurrected and alive today, just not with us here on this earth. You also must love and trust Jesus to fulfill His promises and show you grace and mercy. This is the essence of being a Christian, and in a very real way I cannot justify or prove this to you anymore than I can "prove" why I love my fiancee.

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Are you saying that once you believe in the foundational Christian beliefs, you can logically justify only their implications or also the foundational beliefs themselves? –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 19:19
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By the way: The comparison to love is good and gave me a very new perspective to the whole thing. Thanks for the good answer! –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 19:21
    
Great clarification question. I mean that there is a logical framework which rests upon faith in the claims of the Bible to its own nature and the belief that a God exists. If you believe there is a divine God and that the Bible is our sole source of His revealed truth then the Bible in its inherent truth covers everything thing else from there. –  blundin Oct 3 '11 at 22:12

I could tell you how I justify my belief (and it is based on logic, which is based on assumptions), but it wouldn't provide a universal answer worthy of a StackExchange site. What makes sense to me may resonate with a lot of Christians, or very few, or none.

In all honesty, I probably sound like a fool to the majority of people, yet to me, my reason for believing is as solid as the belief itself.

The answer to this question is unique to every Christian. We can't give an answer that applies universally. Not only are we all individuals, with different ways of viewing the world around us, we are also all called by God in a specific way, unique to each of us.

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Although I appreciate that you care so much about the value of the content on SE sites, I would still like to hear your personal story. Maybe you can post it in some other place? –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 19:16
    
Chat is the place for that sort of thing ... –  tomjedrz Oct 1 '11 at 20:07
    
@eWolf - It's on the "My Testimony" link on my profile. It's too long to post here, especially if I were to include the assumptions. I'm already annoying people here with my verbosity, so I'm trying to keep it down. –  David Stratton Oct 1 '11 at 20:11
    
@DavidStratton Thanks a lot :) It's been very interesting to read for me because I'm in a somewhat similar position (16 years old, stopped being a Christian, now doing research on the topic) although I'm not going as far as declaring myself an atheist but instead have decided to become an agnostic. –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 20:39
    
@eWolf agnosticism is not opposed to theism or atheism, it's only the belief, that we can't know for 100% either way: graphic explanation –  Sven Oct 2 '11 at 8:46

Not everything that is true can be logically proven. Think about interpersonal relationships and your feelings for another person. If you contend that all of your feelings for other people can be based on or explained by the laws of logic, I would assume you've never been in love.

I can't really speak for other traditions, but the Evangelical Protestant view is that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. (I can't really speak for other traditions.) Christians are those who have responded to God's invitation to a personal relationship with Him. Like human relationships, there are aspects of this that cannot be logically proven, yet are true.

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Can you elaborate a bit more on "God's invitation"? How do you receive it? Does everybody receive it? –  eWolf Oct 1 '11 at 19:25
    
@eWolf That could (and probably should) be formulated as a separate question or two or three. –  jimreed Oct 1 '11 at 20:34

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