A Former Atheist on Faith


A former atheist from the Pacific Northwest who thought religion was for the weak-minded, Mary Jo is now a Christian author and apologist. She holds a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and is the first woman to become a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I grew up in the beautiful Portland, Oregon area. My parents stopped taking the family to church when I was too young to remember. Although I had been taught to respect people of different beliefs and backgrounds, I had a distrust of the church as an institution due to my Hollywood-influenced perception of Christianity.

However, in my senior year of high school, my band director gave me a One Year NIV Bible and told me that in college I would have tough questions. He said I should turn to the Bible for answers. I respected my director and became curious as to what the Bible actually said. Reading that Bible brought me to an initial belief in God, but it wasn’t until I attended church during college that I trusted Jesus as my Savior.

Several years after trusting Jesus, I began to notice a two-part problem in my life. First, I noticed that the people who professed that the Scriptures were true were not making a seemingly concerted effort to live as though the Scriptures were true. More specifically, some of the most hurtful experiences in my life came from people who said they had God’s truth in their lives.

So I began to question whether or not there were any real believers in God (myself included). Second, my understanding of Christianity lacked depth. I was an “everytime the church door is open” kind of Christian; going to church Wednesdays, Sunday mornings and evenings, teaching youth, and helping in music ministry. On the outside, I looked the part of the devoted worship/youth pastor’s wife and committed Christian, but on the inside, I knew I didn’t have answers to difficult questions about the Christian faith. My Christianity was too shallow for the depth of the human experience. I call this combination the perfect storm for doubt.

Instead of leaving the faith or looking for only that which confirmed my doubt, I went looking for answers to my questions. How did I know Jesus rose from the dead? Why do I believe in God, or do I? As I was looking for answers to my questions, I didn’t realize I had stumbled into the field of apologetics: building a case for the Christian faith. Once I found great answers to my questions, I figured other people probably had the same or similar questions. So I began to teach apologetics in the church. Confident Christianity was born out of the need to answer my own doubt and out of the recognition that others probably needed answers as well.

Mary Jo is also the author of Why Do You Believe That? A Faith Conversation. Why Do You Believe That? is a 7-session Bible study designed to help women gain the understanding and skills to share Jesus effectively with others. For a free sample, click here. You can read more from Mary Jo at ConfidentChristianity.com or on Twitter @MaryJoSharp.

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