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A little more than 10 years ago, I decided to become a Baha’i. It was a momentous event in my life, yet one I did not see coming. I was not friends with any Baha’is at the time, and had only met two in my life.
For having no personal tie to this religion, it was a decision that seemed to come suddenly, as if it were an inescapable fate. But when I search my past for early signs, I wind up with a startling realization. More than anyone else, my decision to become a Baha’i might be attributable to … C.S. Lewis. Yes, I’m referring to the most celebrated Christian theologian of modern history.
I say this primarily for one reason. When I was about 27, I read his masterwork of popular theology Mere Christianity, where he asserted:
Religion involves a series of statements about facts, which must be either true or false. If they are true, one set of conclusions will follow about the sailing of the human fleet: if they are false, quite a different set.
When I reread Lewis today, I don’t agree with many of his points. (This is not the place to catalogue those divergences.) But the statement above I found not only self-evident but supremely valuable and underappreciated. Though I may not have realized it, I clenched this nugget of truth tightly, as the sometimes stormy events of my life rolled by and my circumstances changed. Truth is not relative. Not everything is a matter of perspective or semantics or psychology.
Over time, the questions I had about God, spirituality, and religion gelled into five — each of which, answered in a sensible way, compelled me on to the next question, and finally, inescapably, to my embrace of the Baha’i Faith.
- Does God exist?
- Is God “personal”?
- How would a “personal God” interact with us?
- Who is the teacher for today?
- Where is the teacher’s classroom?
It might seem odd that these five questions could compel someone, anywhere on or off the religious spectrum, to such a specific association. It’s sort of like saying I could get from my office in downtown Austin, Texas, to Moxie’s Classic Grill at the Intercity Mall in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with only five turns. But as it happens, I could do just that. You see, it’s not the distance travelled, but making the right decisions at the right junctures that leads you to that classic grill. And if it still seems odd or unlikely, C.S. Lewis himself might have said it best:
Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd… Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed….
I hope you’ll follow along with me – not to Thunder Bay, Ontario, but through my five spiritual questions – to see if you agree.
“Man must cut himself free from all prejudice and from the result of his own imagination, so that he may be able to search for truth unhindered.” —Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 123.
Read the next article in the series: Why Baha’i? Question #1: Is There a God?