Sunday night, September 28, 1975, in Houston, Texas, at the age of 29, I placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. This came at the end of a four month process that began after I met my future wife-to-be in early June. I was finishing my first year of dental school with not a care in the world. Life was not just good; it was great. I introduced myself to her-an artist working at the dental school-by commenting on a poster she had in her art cubicle. "So you believe all that stuff-huh?" The poster was of a country daisy with the words: "Wow! That's beautiful!" And, "I know, I made it." Jesus Christ.
This conversion was the culmination of an intellectual investigation. One hundred years ago religious faith had been shaken by modernism. For years, the modern, thoughtful, intellectual believed that science rendered religious faith untenable. There was no certainty God was the Creator, that he even existed and that the Bible was His word. I was not thoughtful or an intellectual but had gone along with the modernist thinking of the times; I was content to just paddle down the stream of life throughout the 1950's and into the 70's. Our family went to church every week; my brother and I were active in our MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). At college, I went to church for a semester until it became easier to sleep in on Sunday mornings. Throughout this time of my life I was basically good; I was the one that drove home. College life was great. I was a Singing Cadet, Junior Yell Leader, and an officer of the Student Senate.
Up until 1975 life was spiritually pretty bland; there were no serious thoughts about God or the Bible. I did, however, have two noteworthy experiences during those years that impacted my future conversion. First, when I was a senior in high school, I had the new Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry and his wife as Sunday school teachers for one semester. Not only was it noteworthy because of Coach Landry, it was also noteworthy because the Landrys did not use the Methodist curriculum; they actually taught us a book of the Bible-the book of John. While I cannot remember anything Coach Landry taught, I do remember him. He was a thoughtful-though not a modernist-intellectual; he was serious; he was a true believer. You do not forget Tom Landry.
Second, after graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in electrical engineering, I served two years in the U.S. Army and four months travelling around Europe. When I returned to the United States, in 1971, I decided to go back to school. But with another four months on my hands, I decided to visit some friends that I made while in the Army. During these travels, I spent a few days with an aunt and uncle who lived just outside of Washington DC. My aunt was well known to us cousins as being a sometimes "pushy" but serious Christian. For instance, for my high school graduation gift, she gave me Lewis Sperry Chafer's Salvation. Dr. Chafer was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. In college, I had tried to read the book but never came close to getting into it; it was difficult reading. During my visit in 1971 I was a little apprehensive of being pigeonholed about religion by my aunt but she was the perfect hostess. She cooked great breakfasts and she and my uncle took me sightseeing around Washington. The night before I was to leave she asked if she could show me something. My Mom and Dad had trained me to be polite and I remember thinking how much my aunt had done for me on my visit, so even though I said to myself, "Oh no, here it comes, all that Bible stuff!" I actually said, "Sure, show me."
Boy was I surprised! Instead of pigeonholing me down and preaching to me, she pulled out several big scrapbooks full of Washington Post yellowed newspaper clippings and her Bible. In Deuteronomy 28-30, she showed me Bible prophecy concerning the state of Israel that had been fulfilled including the dispersion, and the regathering. The kicker was she had the Washington Post stories and headlines from May 1948 telling of the founding of the state of Israel. Here, according to the Bible, was the probable fulfillment of a 3400 year old prophecy about God's chosen people becoming a nation again after being out of the land for over 1800 years! I was impressed. From her point of view, she had seen the Bible literally come alive! No wonder she was such a strong believer. I never forgot those scrapbooks.
Coach Landry and those scrapbooks had prepared me for the poster in the art cubicle that summer of 1975. This then became the time for me to finally decide what I really thought of Jesus Christ. My conversion was not an emotional process; it was a serious intellectual investigation of the Bible, of Christian doctrine, and of closely observing Christian peers. I attended Bible studies; I attended church; I read and reread Paul's arguments, especially in the book of Romans. I could explain why Christians sing "Washed in the blood of the Lamb"; I could explain the gospel; I could give you the rationale for God becoming a man, for dying on the cross for my sin and why I must trust in Jesus' death to pay the penalty for my sin. I understood it all. My only problem was I didn't believe it. When asked, "Why don't you believe?" I always answered, "How can I believe something I don't believe?"
At some point, I began to write down, in a little shirt pocket spiral notebook, the specific reasons why I did not believe. I would ask some of my new Christian friends "How do you explain this? What about that?" My list grew to over 40 or 50 items spanning 15 to 20 pages in the book. If I ever did get a satisfactory answer to an objection, I would draw a line through it. What made this list really important was that I had also promised God, if He existed, that I would trust in Him if I ever crossed out every objection. But, I wasn't worried about this happening because I knew I could always keep adding objections and that there were some that were clearly unanswerable.
For example, one objection I specifically remember was from Psalm 22. This is a prophetic Messianic Psalm about what seems to describe a crucifixion even though it had been written centuries before crucifixions had been invented. In verse 14, it states: "…all my bones are out of joint…." Christians claim that muscle spasms, accompanying the dehydration of a crucifixion, pull the skeletal bones out of joint and that this was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified. You may think this is silly, but I knew that the cranium was made of many separate bones physically interlocked and held together by sutures not muscles. Crucifixion did not pull those bones apart. Therefore, the Bible was wrong; it could not be God's word. One Sunday, when visiting a church with a fellow dental student; I asked the pastor about the issue with the cranium and Psalm 22. He wisely answered that I probably was just a little too picky. How was David supposed to write the psalm? Was he to say "…and all this bones were out of joint except of course, the cranium and the other sutured bones?" I agreed that I was being too picky and I drew a line through that objection.
Finally, in late September, I went to Austin to visit some friends. During that weekend I asked them what they thought about the supernatural; did it exist? To my surprise, they admitted to accepting some things that to me were clearly supernatural. After finding nonbelievers who said that they believed such things, I decided for myself that the supernatural possibly existed.
That Sunday night, on returning to Houston, I went through page after page of my notebook crossing out any objection that was now invalidated if the supernatural possibly existed. I then went back through the notebook to see how many objections I had left. There were none! I now had a dilemma; I had thought of some other objections but had not written them down in my notebook. Should I write them down and keep the process going? What would you have done? For me, a promise was a promise, especially one made to God. I took my leap of faith and believed what I had never believed before.
Since that day, I have done a lot more reading and studying and thinking about what is the truth. I am now totally convinced that the Bible and Christianity are true. Are there intellectual and rational difficulties to my faith? Yes. But, I have come to see that all people have rational problems with what they believe. Even the most dogged atheist is left with "something from nothing." That certainly is not rational. For me, Christianity brings everything together, in thought, in science, in history, and in life.
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