I grew up unchurched and was pretty much an agnostic up through my twenties. Even though I got baptized as a teenager into the Presbyterian USA denomination, I did it more for social reasons than anything else. There was no great care taken to make sure I was in the faith. Most of my experience with church up until I was 26 years old was about teachings of being a nice person because Jesus was a nice person, or a focus on a bunch of seemingly (to me) unconnected details.
That was until we began to attend church in Orlando, in late 2004. Around the time we began to visit, the pastor started a sermon series answering objections raised by Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. I had never experienced a series of messages that sought out to defend Christianity against objections before, and I found that informative and attractive. Never before had I heard such a methodical taking apart of an item of current popular culture along with a defense of Christian orthodoxy. That sermon series, along with other events that happened then, caused me to want to delve deeper into what I believed. At the time, I had no fixed point for my beliefs and no doctrinal absolutes I could explain to anyone else with any level of certainty.
It was then, amid a bit of crisis that I picked up a little book that had sat on our bookshelf for a few years, Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter. Earlier when we were living in Philadelphia, my wife had gotten McDowell’s book from a University of Pennsylvania student when she was participating in the Penn Graduate Student Christian Fellowship as a vicarious student while I was in graduate school there. That little book was a quick read and summed up and tied together all those unconnected loose ends for me to where I gave my life to Christ around this time of the year, in March 2005. More Than a Carpenter did not exhaustively answer every question I had, but McDowell did show me that faith in Christ was a reasonable thing, and showed that Christianity as a worldview made sense of the world.