My initial response to the question, “Why are you still a Christian?” is a mild confusion as to the word “still.” The implication of that word could be interpreted to mean there are obvious complications – intellectual, moral, etc...- with being a Christian that I would need to overlook or deal with to 'still' be a Christian. I've yet to encounter such difficulties. Don't get me wrong, I deeply struggle with all the things that most people struggle with: The 'texts of terror,' the 'problem of theodicy,' the monstrous things Christians have done and still do; I often have long stretches of angry, fearful doubt; I often echo Job, begging 'God' to just leave me the hell alone - “Who am I that you are mindful of me?” But alternative options have yet to convince me that I must, as if I ever could, pass on from the faith that I have had since I was born.
Which leads me to my primary answer to the question, I just don't know. I have been genuinely attempting this lately, to answer the question, as if it formed the foundational justification for my remaining a Christian. But I've found myself profoundly opaque to myself. I am unable to find the proper exterior position from which adequately to grasp hold of my interior subjectivity and find the reason(s). Is it because I honestly feel I have found all the answers to my questions about Christianity? No. Is it because I have compared Catholic Christian theology with the explanatory accounts of the world offered by all other competing ideaologies? Obviously not. Is it because I so deeply love God? Well, maybe...but...what do I love when I love him, my God? This I cannot answer.
I'm still a Christian because studying theology has made God exciting. The world has become irreducibly complex and yet more reasoned. I've become aware of how much I don't know and yet I know more than I ever have known before. Every book I pick up, every passage of Scripture I fight with, has become, at least for now, a genuinely rewarding experience.
On a rather obvious level, but one often ignored (probably because it doesn't lend itself to “proper” justification for faith), I'm a Christian because my parents raised me to be one. I never really had a choice as to whether or not I would be one, I simply was one. I am deeply grateful for this and I'm grateful for my parents who have always encouraged me to appropriate my faith and not simply live forever off theirs.
But I'm also a Christian because of a grace-filled act of stubborn will. As I came to transform into a post-evangelical, as I sat weeping in parks wondering whether or not I was even a Christian anymore, as I saw my deeply held beliefs be refined, altered and even shattered; where many of my friends simply passed over into an indifferent if scarred agnosticism, I kept going to church, I kept 'leading worship,' I kept doing all the things I had been doing before – even admitting sometimes to God that I wasn't even sure if he existed. That might be a strange sentiment for the guy who was up front playing Delirious tunes on his acoustic guitar, but it was the defiant act of continued involvement in the work of God that helped me remain aware of God, even in my ever deepening estrangement from God.
Which gives me at least one more potential answer to the question. I'm still a Christian because I'm a wounded lover. The God of my youth, the God who I loved in rapturous innocence has abandoned me but I still hear his call. David Bazan puts it this way, “The crew has killed the captain, but they still can hear his voice.” The pull of desire unfulfilled drags me along and periodic respite from restless pursuit gives me just enough strength to move on and enough satisfaction to make it worth it.
But ultimately, maybe these are things I tell myself to maintain internal coherence. I can't say honestly why, but I most certainly am, if also an incomplete one.
Anthony Hunt blogs at Theophiliacs.