"Is Christianity what I should put my faith in?" Gregg Preston's simple question rattled in his head, repeated like a broken record during his college years. The query haunted him, but was used by God to kick start his search for truth, something that drives him as a teacher and something he teaches students with expert precision.
Mr. Preston encountered professors proclaiming fallacies about the Bible through his undergraduate work in Wisconsin. The professors used the Bible in an effort to show inconsistencies in the Scripture.
These men, tasked with preparing the next generation of teachers, proclaimed that truth was found in their secular training. Men like Charles Darwin were often quoted on Preston's University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) campus. Classroom instructions provoked questions that resonated in his mind. "How do we know that the Bible is accurate and truthful?" "Is the Biblical account of creation true, or is Darwinian evolution a historical fact?" Similarly phrased questions varied the theme of God's validity. A cloud of despair and disbelief fell over Mr. Preston as he sat in his college classrooms.
"No one had answers around me," recalls Preston. He found himself stuffing his backpack with books, both ancient and modern, that contained insights on his hefty questions. The dusty companions he huffed around the UWEC campus helped decode some uncertainties, but he wasn't content.
A history professor threw another dispute intoMr. Preston's pool of inquiries. Were the Gospels really written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, 30 - 60 years after Jesus died? Or, were the Biblical accounts of Jesus' words and miracles written hundreds of year later by a cult of writers referred to as Source Q? Thoughts from credible sources led Mr. Preston to ask if the Gospels were a product of writing by a cult for fame and fortune.
Mr. Preston's head began spinning. He dove into research on Source Q. What was it? What did it say about the Gospels? His intense quest for truth created a more haunting and prominent question. Is there enough evidence for Source Q to force Mr. Preston to ditch his faith?
In books, classroom time with professors, and articles strewn about his dorm room, Mr. Preston was left empty-handed. Despite loud questions he fielded from friends, professors, and his conscience, he struggled to find any hard evidence for a Source Q. He felt unique reassurance that the Gospels, something he heard repeatedly in his childhood, are true. A new sense of passion rushed over him as he continued his search for the reliability of truth.
Thumbing through his Bible, Mr. Preston was struck by the graphic words in Romans 1. The first chapter of Paul's apologetic to the Roman culture describes the extreme depravity of man. Man was found gossiping, participating in evil, and slandering God. Mr. Preston read on. He felt a new pressure, realizing that the more he read in Romans the more he was on trial. In his quest for truth he stood guilty. He realized the extreme need he had for Christ. God spoke to him, saying, "Are you really going to shipwreck your faith for this life?"
Preston did not have an aha moment, where the clouds mysteriously retreat and truth, like a bright blinding light, shines more radiant that the sun. Instead, a still silent confidence stayedhis faith. He attributes this feeling to God, not his own work to prove God faithful. Slowly, through prayer and studying the Word, Mr. Preston turned his heart to Jesus.
Romans 8:1 declares, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." This message has an eternal significance for all of mankind, something students sitting in Mr. Preston's classroom realize. Now the teacher, Mr. Preston starts students on the quest for truth by calling them to see that God made mankind in His image. Looking through history with Mr. Preston reveals that mankind turns away from God time and time again, dragging image bearers of God into despair and confusion. But Mr. Preston's face lights up when he directs students to see the theme of his own story; that when mankind looks to the cross and searches for the Lord with the entirety of their heart, God makes himself known.