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Couple of Questions

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Huh. I thought "evangelical" meant something more than "conservative" and that Mainline conservatives weren't evangelicals. Are they synonymous? Obviously conservative Catholics and Orthodox aren't evangelicals unless I have really got everything wrong.

It's precisely the same definition! Underlying intentions and motives are intentional motives. I don't think bad habits qualify.

I very much understand that--you were the one who seemed to be insisting otherwise! I would agree that this doesn't mean tossing everything out, but there is a lot of room between "mire of nothingness" and taking things at face value without asking any questions. I actually do accept the Resurrection, but I'm still aware that there are theories out there positing that the whole thing was mass hysteria. I don't believe that, but it's certainly a stance that exists, and I don't really consider it an unreasonable position.

The problem now is that there's a huge difference between accepting one event and trusting that the eyewitnesses had a 100% correct theological understanding of what had happened. Even with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, disagreement and conflict goes all the way back to Peter and Paul, so I expect to be taking "through a glass, darkly" very, very seriously.

Out of curiosity, you accept that there's no surety in historical accounts but you're also an inerrantist. Do you see Scripture as an exception or do you fully accept its authority despite not believing that absolute certainty is possible? Or a different approach entirely?

It's what I do best! :lol

You actually already have gotten to me! I'm sure it'll take a while for things to start solidifying, but I'm not going to bolt and run. The issue of salvation is more a curiosity than anything else--my soteriology is pure Eastern Orthodox so damnation looks completely different to me.

Is there anything in the Synoptics that explicitly condemns people to eternal damnation for disbelief? I've only read it once so far so I can't say for certain, but all of the eternal punishment language I remember involve wickedness, not lack of faith. Doubt and disbelief seem to be treated with exasperation, not condemnation, when not accompanied by bigger issues, so I don't understand why people combine the fiery language of the Synoptics with the exclusionary message of the Gospel of John. It seems like the strongest biblical argument based on a literal reading would be annihilation/separation for nonbelievers and much bigger problems for false believers. Even John 3:16-18 doesn't specify what is involved in condemnation aside from presumably not being granted eternal life. Am I missing something?

On a related note, is liberation theology worth looking into? Particularly the Latin American variety? I hear mixed opinions about it, but I doubt it's any more extreme than some secular writing I've been exposed to. :lol
Why don't you take a read of, 'What is an evangelical?'

That should demonstrate to you that there can be evangelical churches in mainline denominations. It also confirms that 'evangelical' does not equate with 'conservative' because 'the term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the “good news” of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ'.

Oz
 
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How on earth is it a fallacy to ask a question? I explicitly said I'd only read it once and wasn't sure. I'll be reading the Gospels again once I get through the Epistles, but I figured that if there was something, you'd know.

It doesn't matter, though. I think I'm done with Western Christianity for the moment. Once I've had my fill of N.T. Wright, I'll be prodding the Eastern Orthodox for answers. I think I like Wright so much because he's the closest you can get to Orthodoxy and still be Protestant! But if I feel pulled towards more conservative theology, it'll almost certainly be in that direction. I think I shall have to resign myself to my agnosticism for a while, though.
 
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Revelation 5:9 KJV
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

Again a liver absolutely:
Does not understand kidneys (they are so out of time with liver glycogen production).

Many times we tend toward our way of thinking. The body of Christ is a body. We have differing gifts. Working together it is marvelous to watch.

Lupus is the body attacking itself. This is not always health. Yes church discipline exists, but knowing the difference may take blood work. The shed blood of Christ is where health comes from.

There is a place for the Coptic church (not that I understand it), but for Egyptians and others of that area it bridges / provides a spiritual highway.

There can be good and bad in a group. Understanding how and when to deal with tares calls for wisdom.

Redneck playing in the briar patch.
eddif
 
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How on earth is it a fallacy to ask a question? I explicitly said I'd only read it once and wasn't sure. I'll be reading the Gospels again once I get through the Epistles, but I figured that if there was something, you'd know.

It doesn't matter, though. I think I'm done with Western Christianity for the moment. Once I've had my fill of N.T. Wright, I'll be prodding the Eastern Orthodox for answers. I think I like Wright so much because he's the closest you can get to Orthodoxy and still be Protestant! But if I feel pulled towards more conservative theology, it'll almost certainly be in that direction. I think I shall have to resign myself to my agnosticism for a while, though.
It was a prejudiced sample fallacy of a question because you only included the Synoptics. The Bible is more than 3 Gospels, known as the Synoptics.

N T Wright is an excellent source for evangelical, Anglican Christianity, but there are many more to consider. Why don't you read D A Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Zondervan 1996)?

Enjoy your journey. I've appreciated engaging with you.

Oz
 
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Revelation 5:9 KJV
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

Again a liver absolutely:
Does not understand kidneys (they are so out of time with liver glycogen production).

Many times we tend toward our way of thinking. The body of Christ is a body. We have differing gifts. Working together it is marvelous to watch.

Lupus is the body attacking itself. This is not always health. Yes church discipline exists, but knowing the difference may take blood work. The shed blood of Christ is where health comes from.

There is a place for the Coptic church (not that I understand it), but for Egyptians and others of that area it bridges / provides a spiritual highway.

There can be good and bad in a group. Understanding how and when to deal with tares calls for wisdom.

Redneck playing in the briar patch.
eddif
That's Oriental Orthodoxy! Apparently they broke off even earlier over Christological issues. Eastern Orthodoxy is the Greek church. They've got a radio over at Ancient Faith Ministries that I'm going to need to start following. I've realized that part of my problem with Christianity is really just the focus on rationalism in the West, hence me losing it at almost every Christian philosopher. I prefer the mystery approach, and that's pure Byzantium.

I'm almost certainly sticking it out with the Episcopalians, though. They found out I could sing and now there is no escape. :lol

It was a prejudiced sample fallacy of a question because you only included the Synoptics. The Bible is more than 3 Gospels, known as the Synoptics.

N T Wright is an excellent source for evangelical, Anglican Christianity, but there are many more to consider. Why don't you read D A Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Zondervan 1996)?

Enjoy your journey. I've appreciated engaging with you.

Oz
You don't get to fight many liberals around here, do you? :lol

Pluralism really is a non-issue for me, though. I reject cultural relativism and have no problems with the finality of Christianity as a concept. I've got plenty of epistemological issues that nothing short of personal revelation is likely to solve, but I have no attachment to pluralism.

My stance is inclusivistic, not pluralistic. (I grabbed Pinnock's A Wideness in God's Mercy, which should be interesting.) Too many moral problems with exclusivism, but my biggest concerns are the way it breeds arrogance and intolerance. There's a word for claiming to know exactly what God's plan is because the Holy Spirit told you so, and it's gnosticism! I used to really hate Christianity, and it took quite some time to realize that none of my problems went back to Jesus himself. Finally reading the Gospel was illuminating, what with the focus on hypocrisy, on crimes committed in God's name, on never really knowing Him. So when people turn around and apply all those passages to nonbelievers, I get really annoyed. It's usually not the nonbelievers chasing people away.

I was thinking about Christian witch hunts the other day, and realized... "Wow, who else was accused of being in league with demons and eventually murdered for causing too many problems?" So I don't think professing faith is enough if you then turn around and burn people at the stake (or more modern, less shocking versions thereof). I know that's not actually what "justification by faith" means, but I'm far from convinced that all Christians know that. So I take that line about the gate being narrow seriously, because I see the whole history of Christianity as one big crime against itself. Which actually makes me believe it more, because you've got a 1-3 year microcosm of the best and worst of human history right there jumbled together.

But this is my problem with every atonement theory except Moral Exemplar, because if they're true, why aren't they working? Why is Christianity as broken as everything else?

The issue here really isn't pluralism at all. We're right into the problem of evil. :lol
 
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Does anyone have any experience converting as an adult? Particularly after having once been hostile towards the religion? I'm all over the place theologically right now.

I could believe in the Resurrection (non-bodily, at least)--I like the argument that the disciples had to have experienced something to go to such lengths after the fact, but I've also seen the counterarguments so it's a bit of a coin toss. That's a jump I could make, but I've realized that I'm still very divided--on an aesthetic and moral level, I love the religion, but my atheist years were spent going after Christian theology in philosophy classes, so there's a fair amount of intellectual hostility there that I never actually defused. It's getting better, but I'm probably going to have to do a lot of theological reading. C.S. Lewis first, though.

Would anyone have any advice for this sort of situation? I've moved close enough to the religion now that not being able to believe (or not believing enough) is a bit stressful, but it's a long way back from hostile atheism, especially if you're not entirely convinced that this isn't just some mad flight of fancy (I'm prone to such things).

Also, I'll have to discuss it with the priest eventually, but at what point is it appropriate to take communion? It'd feel blasphemous to do so right now, since I don't identify as Christian, but I'm not sure when that changes. Episcopal, so the actual requirements are lax.
Silmarien

I haven't read all the pages here and I'm sure you'll get plenty of good advice.

Can I ask YOU a question?
You said you don't feel you could receive communion now because you can't identify yourself as a Christian.
What is a Christian?
 
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Silmarien

I haven't read all the pages here and I'm sure you'll get plenty of good advice.

Can I ask YOU a question?
You said you don't feel you could receive communion now because you can't identify yourself as a Christian.
What is a Christian?
Hey, wondering! You missed a lot of fighting and frustration on the pages in between, haha.

That's a very good question. I'm super liberal, so I'd say that if you can wholeheartedly affirm the earliest creed, Jesus is Lord, you're a Christian. I can affirm it, but usually not wholeheartedly. Too much fear that I'm deluding myself and this is just a dead end.

I did feel compelled to take communion on Ash Wednesday (and ironically, got pulled into the community a bit more the same day), so... some progress, at least.
 
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Hey, wondering! You missed a lot of fighting and frustration on the pages in between, haha.

That's a very good question. I'm super liberal, so I'd say that if you can wholeheartedly affirm the earliest creed, Jesus is Lord, you're a Christian. I can affirm it, but usually not wholeheartedly. Too much fear that I'm deluding myself and this is just a dead end.

I did feel compelled to take communion on Ash Wednesday (and ironically, got pulled into the community a bit more the same day), so... some progress, at least.
Hi Silmarien

Sounds like it's good I was away for a while!!
I hate fighting. It ruins my make-up.

By the earliest Creed, you mean the Nicene Creed of 325?
OK.
Wholeheartedly is the trick.
What can you not adhere to wholeheartedly?
And if we're speaking about the RCC, I know the doctrine there very well too.
So we could talk about that.
I don't know enough about the Eastern Rites.

.
 
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What can you not adhere to wholeheartedly?.
Literally everything. :lol

My problems with the Nicene Creed aren't really resolvable, since it's a matter of biblical hermeneutics, but I don't really think Christianity should be reduced to a bunch of theological propositions anyway. All I care about being able to affirm is the kerygma itself.

Eastern Orthodoxy fixed my serious theological problems, but my doubts have been marshalling forces. I really do like the argument from beauty you get from C.S. Lewis--the idea that Christianity is the missing piece, the ultimate answer to the human desire for something more--but then it starts to look like too perfect an answer.

So my problem is no longer not wanting to believe and ignoring any evidence that it might be true (I used to be really good at that), but rather wanting to believe and being held back by the fear that it's not true! I don't think anything but time is going to solve that.
 
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Literally everything. :lol

My problems with the Nicene Creed aren't really resolvable, since it's a matter of biblical hermeneutics, but I don't really think Christianity should be reduced to a bunch of theological propositions anyway. All I care about being able to affirm is the kerygma itself.

Eastern Orthodoxy fixed my serious theological problems, but my doubts have been marshalling forces. I really do like the argument from beauty you get from C.S. Lewis--the idea that Christianity is the missing piece, the ultimate answer to the human desire for something more--but then it starts to look like too perfect an answer.

So my problem is no longer not wanting to believe and ignoring any evidence that it might be true (I used to be really good at that), but rather wanting to believe and being held back by the fear that it's not true! I don't think anything but time is going to solve that.
Hi Silmarien
They say time heals all...

I just have a couple of thoughts which you most probably have run across already, but it won't cost anything to hear them again.

I agree that Christianity should be an experience and not a study class.
By experience I don't mean that we should FEEL anything. Christianity is not a feeling, but a knowing that God is real and is working in our lives through the Holy Spirit. You've already reached this point so you're in a good place.

Sometimes, though, studying makes you be more sure that it IS real, and that it is true. For instance, if you doubt the resurrection, it would be good to study WHY it has to be true, or WHY you believe it. Can we believe it? If we can believe it with our intellect, it becomes easier to accept. Some accept by faith alone, some need more. I need more. I think too much!

I have the Nicene Creed in front of me. It seems easy enough. Just the most basic beliefs one should have to be called a Christian. I say "should" because if one doubts an aspect of it, it does not mean he is not a Christian. It means he is a Chistian with some doubt. Thomas had doubt. I don't recall Jesus telling him he couldn't be an Apostle anymore.

I do have a question for you. Why do you think Jesus was telling us the truth?

If you've had a personal encounter, then all this talk becomes pretty useless. If you arrive at faith through thinking and exploring and looking for answers, then that would be one that requires answering.

If you prefer to end the conversation here...
Fine. Friends in Christ anyway!
 
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P.S. I love CS Lewis.
Mere Christianity is the best explanation of the Christian faith that I've ever read.
 
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By experience I don't mean that we should FEEL anything. Christianity is not a feeling, but a knowing that God is real and is working in our lives through the Holy Spirit. You've already reached this point so you're in a good place.
I wish I did know God was real! I think it much more likely, but I'm not entirely convinced of anything! My problem is not having quite reached that point and not being sure I ever will.

I have the Nicene Creed in front of me. It seems easy enough. Just the most basic beliefs one should have to be called a Christian. I say "should" because if one doubts an aspect of it, it does not mean he is not a Christian. It means he is a Chistian with some doubt. Thomas had doubt. I don't recall Jesus telling him he couldn't be an Apostle anymore.
It's easier if you don't approach Scripture with a fair amount of skepticism. Unfortunately, I do. I feel like there are multiple explanations to everything--sometimes the secular ones are more ridiculous than accepting the Gospel's account, but sometimes they're not.

I do have a question for you. Why do you think Jesus was telling us the truth?

If you've had a personal encounter, then all this talk becomes pretty useless. If you arrive at faith through thinking and exploring and looking for answers, then that would be one that requires answering.
About himself being God or his teachings in general? I come at things from the angle of comparative mysticism, so I've noticed things like the similarities between Buddhist and Christian teachings, and how everyone who really claims to know God starts stressing things like universal love. I feel like Christianity is more complete in its treatment of these universal themes than any other belief system, and Jesus did seem to embody what he taught to such an extreme that I don't reject the claims as impossible out of hand. I don't know if Jesus was telling the truth because I can't prove that anything attributed to him was actually spoken by him (though I accept that a lot of it probably was), but I don't think that Peter, James, and Paul were making things up, especially since the second two would have had no reason to do so in the first place.

I might have had a personal encounter once, years ago, but I was an atheist at the time and rationalized it away. My extremely rational approach to dealing with Scripture means I'm probably going to need another one to really start believing properly, but I'm in no position to go demanding one and might not be prepared for that yet anyway.
 
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I wish I did know God was real! I think it much more likely, but I'm not entirely convinced of anything! My problem is not having quite reached that point and not being sure I ever will.



It's easier if you don't approach Scripture with a fair amount of skepticism. Unfortunately, I do. I feel like there are multiple explanations to everything--sometimes the secular ones are more ridiculous than accepting the Gospel's account, but sometimes they're not.



About himself being God or his teachings in general? I come at things from the angle of comparative mysticism, so I've noticed things like the similarities between Buddhist and Christian teachings, and how everyone who really claims to know God starts stressing things like universal love. I feel like Christianity is more complete in its treatment of these universal themes than any other belief system, and Jesus did seem to embody what he taught to such an extreme that I don't reject the claims as impossible out of hand. I don't know if Jesus was telling the truth because I can't prove that anything attributed to him was actually spoken by him (though I accept that a lot of it probably was), but I don't think that Peter, James, and Paul were making things up, especially since the second two would have had no reason to do so in the first place.

I might have had a personal encounter once, years ago, but I was an atheist at the time and rationalized it away. My extremely rational approach to dealing with Scripture means I'm probably going to need another one to really start believing properly, but I'm in no position to go demanding one and might not be prepared for that yet anyway.
Hi Silmarien. There's a thought I heard a while ago that I think can be applied to your position of skeptism and wanting to believe. It's that God will meet us where we are, no matter where that is. I wish I could tell you where I heard that or point to a verse to verify it, but the way I remember it, the context was explaining our sins won't get in the way of God coming to us.

I know you're not talking about sins, but I kind of think it can be applied here too. God can meet you even if your skeptical about the ways He reaches people, or even skeptical on how He reached out to you. If you seek God I'm sure He'll help you find Him, even in spite of any doubts and skeptical thoughts that you have now.
 
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Hi Silmarien. There's a thought I heard a while ago that I think can be applied to your position of skeptism and wanting to believe. It's that God will meet us where we are, no matter where that is. I wish I could tell you where I heard that or point to a verse to verify it, but the way I remember it, the context was explaining our sins won't get in the way of God coming to us.

I know you're not talking about sins, but I kind of think it can be applied here too. God can meet you even if your skeptical about the ways He reaches people, or even skeptical on how He reached out to you. If you seek God I'm sure He'll help you find Him, even in spite of any doubts and skeptical thoughts that you have now.
I'd say that anything that separates you from God is technically speaking a sin, so skepticism probably counts too. Especially once it starts getting hostile, which mine definitely did.

Thank you for the thought! I hope it doesn't take forever, but now that I've finally started to figure out how to do it at all, I'm not planning on walking away. Seeking can be frustrating, but at least you find a whole bunch of other stuff along the way.
 
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So my problem is no longer not wanting to believe and ignoring any evidence that it might be true (I used to be really good at that), but rather wanting to believe and being held back by the fear that it's not true! I don't think anything but time is going to solve that.
Silmarien,

What criteria, if fulfilled, would demonstrate to you that Christianity really is true?

Or, what criteria are preventing you from pursuing Christianity to discover truth?

Oz
 
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Balance:
This thread has helped me.

Think of the Godhead balance. The Son (Jesus) tries to do the will of the Father (which he does).

The Father loves his only begotten Son, and the Adamic people They made in their image.

If you think you have conflicts and resolutions, what about everyone else? We need you.

If Jesus is suffering to get through the similarities and differences of the Godhead, then so do we.

The Holy Spirit is working through sin, righteousness, and judgement. Pretty wide range inside the people he inhabits.

The cerebellum sits between the intellect and the body. Balance to walk in spite of optical illusions, gravity, windstorms, etc.

We need the full range of spiritual gifts housed in the Body of Christ. We need balance. We need folks.


Mississippi redneck
eddif
 
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Silmarien,

What criteria, if fulfilled, would demonstrate to you that Christianity really is true?

Or, what criteria are preventing you from pursuing Christianity to discover truth?

Oz
At this point? Personal revelation, honestly.

Nothing is preventing me from pursuing it, but there are barriers. I worry about pretending that the historical evidence is stronger than it really is because I want to be convinced. Pluralism is an issue too, since if you've got a lingering suspicion that this is just one way of conceptualizing the divine, it's harder to say it's objectively true. And mostly I just worry that if it is true, my fear that I'm tricking myself is always going to keep me from taking that final step to authentic faith.

The barriers are psychological. It's a maze of my own creation, but everything that made me change my mind about religion in the first place is specifically geared towards dealing with it. I'm at the point where I could believe, so as long as I can work my way through this mess, I don't think the ball is really in my court anymore.
 
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At this point? Personal revelation, honestly.

Nothing is preventing me from pursuing it, but there are barriers. I worry about pretending that the historical evidence is stronger than it really is because I want to be convinced. Pluralism is an issue too, since if you've got a lingering suspicion that this is just one way of conceptualizing the divine, it's harder to say it's objectively true. And mostly I just worry that if it is true, my fear that I'm tricking myself is always going to keep me from taking that final step to authentic faith.

The barriers are psychological. It's a maze of my own creation, but everything that made me change my mind about religion in the first place is specifically geared towards dealing with it. I'm at the point where I could believe, so as long as I can work my way through this mess, I don't think the ball is really in my court anymore.
Silmarien,

That doesn't answer the issue regarding criteria.

I can't see from what I've read of your writing that you have gotten to this point:

And when he [the Advocate/Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged (John 16:8-11 NLT).​

When I see conviction of your sinfulness before God, of God's righteous standard, and that you will stand before God in judgment, I'll know that God is at the door of your heart, knocking and wanting to come into your life. I don't see that yet. Please tell me if I'm wrong in that assessment.

Note verse 9, 'The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me'. Is that where you're at Silmarien?

This is Paul's assessment under God's inspiration of the human resistance to the Gospel: 'But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness' (Rom 1:18 NLT). Could that be what you are doing in your suppression of God's truth?

Oz
 

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At this point? Personal revelation, honestly.

Nothing is preventing me from pursuing it, but there are barriers. I worry about pretending that the historical evidence is stronger than it really is because I want to be convinced. Pluralism is an issue too, since if you've got a lingering suspicion that this is just one way of conceptualizing the divine, it's harder to say it's objectively true. And mostly I just worry that if it is true, my fear that I'm tricking myself is always going to keep me from taking that final step to authentic faith.

The barriers are psychological. It's a maze of my own creation, but everything that made me change my mind about religion in the first place is specifically geared towards dealing with it. I'm at the point where I could believe, so as long as I can work my way through this mess, I don't think the ball is really in my court anymore.
Hi,

You seem very preoccupied with historical evidence. I understand your need for 'concrete' answers about this issue. The problem you are facing is that you have not understood the Gospel. It is not about coming to a place where you are satisfied with the historical authenticity of the Bible. If that is your main barrier to becoming a Christian, then you will likely never make that step. Not because there's little or no evidence, but because being Christian is about faith.

Yes, there's a lot of historical evidence to support many of the Bible's claims. But then again, for many other things, there's not. That's not a problem. It's only a problem if you are looking at Christianity from a simply academic point of view. But Christianity is not about academia - it is about a personal relationship with God through faith. It always has been.

You will be able to find loads of evidence to back up what the Bible says, but at some point, you are going to have to take God at His Word and surrender to Him.

I wish you well and hope you will continue to seek answers and read HIs Word. I believe you've read John. May I recommend perhaps Luke and also Romans, especially the first 8 chapters of Romans.