I remember the first time I held the book, God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens. I'm not going to deny it—I was scared.
I had just started reading books on apologetics, and I was on the path to becoming a hardcore fan. Today, I'm seeking an education entirely to this field.
As soon as I had gained a little bit of knowledge, I found myself posting quotations on Facebook concerning the subject.
I came across an old friend from high school who commented on one of the posts. You could say that was my very first debate. I experienced a feeling that I had never felt before. It was a sense of accomplishment, because at one point of the conversation, I had a fellow believer trying to convert my friend by persuading him to believe that some voice in his head was the Holy Spirit—yeah, um, it didn't quite work out. He humorously replied back telling her, "Can you please shut up? I'm trying to have a conversation with some one who actually knows what they're talking about."
I asked him if he had read the bible, to which he replied he had. I didn't quite believe him, but I knew he had read it. Maybe not in its entirety, but he had read it. We came to a mutual agreement, and then he recommended me some books by the following authors: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, and Christopher Hitchens.
For some reason I chose Christopher Hitchens, which I am happy I did, but it felt like the most nerve-racking decision I had ever made.
I held the book, and I felt a guilt-trip swirled in with fear about what I was going to discover, but my curiosity was so strong, I ended up buying the book. I said to God, "Okay, if I finish this book and I come out a nonbeliever, then I know I wasn't meant to be saved." You're probably thinking, that's so theologically inaccurate, but that's what I used to believe.
Today, I have read, God is Not Great, The God Delusion, by Dawkins, The End of Faith, by Harris, and even added, Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman, and I can proudly say I am more stronger in my faith than I ever was. I have tons more of secular books that are waiting for me to read.
There's a time in my church service where the Pastor recommends books from the church library. I found it interesting that he only mentions books on christian living, how-to books, etc. It's rare for the church to endorse books on why we believe in what we believe. Apologetic literature rarely makes it to our church library's shelves. It seems as though we are to never question why and instead, replace it with the question of how—how to pray, how to live a more fulfilling life, how to love your neighbor, how to get more intimate with God, and blah blah blah
If my atheist friend told me he had read the bible and asked me what I had read, do you think he would've been impressed that I had only read the bible? Hell no. Especially if the only other books were on what God's will for my life was. It would be pretty typical.
I remember at a young adults group meeting, a guy told me about his friend who used to be a devout christian and then discovered, The God Delusion. He had turned back on his faith, because the contents were too much for him to keep holding onto it. He believed the idea of a god was a lie. The guy then told me, "See, this is why I refuse to read books like this—I don't want that happening to me." "Ignorant," I thought, "Very, very ignorant."
I came across this quotation by a guy named, Todd Fisher, and he cleverly states:
"Many people and church denominations fervently protect their doctrines and theologies often to the point that their beliefs must never be questioned, doubted or put to the test. It makes me wonder if we are really that insecure about what we believe. If a certain creed or belief cannot hold up to scrutiny than perhaps it should not be held in such esteem in the first place."
If we're to believe in what we believe and what we believe is the truth, it will prevail. If not, then there is something holding you back in your faith that you need to clear up. Doubting is good, but not if we're going to dwell on them.
Our faith is not one aspect of our lives, it's what directs all aspects of our lives—our education, our career, our family, etc. We spend so little time on why we believe it, because we're afraid that secularism might be right. I knew right away one of my challenges, as I started reading Hitchen's book, was his extensive vocabulary use. That didn't stop me. I was so curious to understand what was being written, I had a dictionary right by my side every time I flipped a page.
Grab a book you normally don't read—challenge yourself. Think about your confrontations with those who don't believe. If you're scared, get on your knees and pray—pray that God will give you wisdom and guidance as you try to understand what these guys are trying to say. If you're having trouble, that is why we have apologetics. There's tons of books dealing with the arguments that are found in those books.
Ravi Zacharias once said,
You may have a different belief but that shouldn't stop you from finding a method that retains the dignity of your belief, that in turn, leads the way to intelligent interaction and avoids condemnation.
He said this to nonbelievers, but I believe this is just as applicable to our beliefs than it is to competing ones.
Broaden your selection of literature— it may be a solution that will rid the titles that we're ignorant, arrogant, or even illiterate.