One reason I am a Christian is because Christianity is a historical religion. It makes some pretty big claims, but they are claims we can investigate and consider for ourselves.

Before we start we have to understand that the idea of a real God who acts in the physical world is a philosophical position, not a scientific one. Many people dismiss the miraculous – the Virgin Birth, Christ’s miracles, the resurrection – on the basis that we modern people know better, that these are just legend.

But the people of Jesus’ time understood just as well as we do that women don’t get pregnant without a man; that’s why Joseph’s first reaction was to divorce Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. The disciples initially thought they were seeing a ghost the first time they saw the risen Lord; they knew as well as we that dead people don’t come back to life. But there He was, eating a piece of fish in front of them and (I imagine) grinning.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume stated that since these things didn’t happen from time to time they were improbable and that the Bible was therefore unreliable; that any reports of the so-called miraculous must be only legend. But scripture itself reminds us these happenings were one-off events. There was only one time that God incarnated in the womb of the virgin; only once did this same Man die and resurrect to never die again. Thus the claim that “these things just don’t happen” misses the point. I suspect rather that Hume’s mind was already closed to the possibility of a God who actually does things in this world.

Science depends on repeatability of experiments; if water boils at 100 degrees Celsius I expect it will the next time I try as well. But we’ve got to keep in mind that history is a record of one-off events. Napoleon only had one Waterloo; there was only one Battle of Britain.

And when we investigate Christianity, we must remember that its claims are historical, a record of singular events. We can’t perform an experiment on a historical event, but we can investigate the culture and times of Christ, what He taught and did, the reliability of those who recorded the events, the history of the primitive church, and so on. In fact, if we are to be solid Christians we need to do so – and then decide for ourselves if those claims hold water.

If they do, then they matter to us here and now.

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