There is a Timothy Keller quote that I like to use to start classroom discussions: “Reason can get you to probability, but only commitment can get you to certainty.”

I find it helpful for a Bible classroom where we spend most of our time dealing with reason and logic. We talk about God on paper. We can explain with words why we believe that Jesus lived and died and rose again. There are reasons we believe in an all-powerful loving God. And that’s not just good test material, it’s an important part of following Jesus. After all, we are to love God with all of our minds. Christianity shouldn’t be anti-intellectual. So I bring the quote up for discussion and it usually leads to good teaching moments–for me anyway, but hopefully for some students too.

One particular class conversation sticks out in my mind from a few years ago. I started by asking my students if they believed that God exists. The overwhelming response was that they did. I asked further, “Do you think you could prove that God exists?”

“Yes,” came the first answer from a boy in the back. It was a quick and confident response, almost like he had been trained to respond that way.

So I asked him, “Can I hear it? Let’s say I’m an atheist. Prove to me that God exists.”

“Well, the Bible says…” It was so natural for him to turn to Scripture, which isn’t a bad thing. The problem, as I explained it to him, is that if I’m an atheist, I don’t care what Scripture says. You might as well use a nursery rhyme to prove to me that a cow once jumped over our moon.

“Can you prove His existence without scripture?” I asked.

After searching his brain for a moment, he looked around the room for help, only to find his classmates abandoning him in his moment of need. So he replied, “No, I can’t.” But it wasn’t a defeated kind of reply. It was one of surprise. I think he was shocked that he couldn’t prove God’s existence to a fake atheist.

I took a moment to explain that as Christians, we have an enormous amount of evidence that points to the existence of God, and that He is a good and loving God. I gave some examples of how our earth shows evidence of design which points to a Designer. I referenced Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19, which teach that the heavens and earth declare God’s glory. I explained that a person could read books like C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and have a hard time not agreeing with logic arguing that mankind was made with a need for God, a longing for another world. Evidence is not just all around us, but inside us. Choosing to follow Christ is not a blindfolded leap into the dark.

But on the other hand, if there is no leap at all, I think we may misunderstand his kingdom. If we only decide to believe what we can prove with our senses, or even our reason, we’ll have a pretty shallow faith.

I went sky-diving for my 20th birthday. I had always thought it would be an interesting experience, something you couldn’t really duplicate any other way. So when my appointed day came, I drove about 30 minutes out into the country where people gathered at an old barn-turned-airplane-hangar to take turns riding up in a perfectly good airplane only to jump out from 14,000 feet. The day I went was some kind of festival so there must have been 50 to 100 jumpers there. And while I wasn’t crazy about waiting several hours for my turn to sky-dive, I found some comfort in watching jumper after jumper float back down safely to the ground. After each plane took off, I wondered to myself if one of the people wouldn’t make it–not morbidly or anything, just trying to figure my odds. They all made it.

While waiting I also got to watch a professional actually pack my parachute. They explained to me how it should work and how if it didn’t work, there was a pressure gauge that released a second “back-up” parachute that would deliver me safely to the ground.

So by the time I found myself climbing to 14,000 feet, I had plenty of evidence and reasoning in my mind. I could even factor in the statistics of all the successful jumpers who had gone before me. And yet, when I tucked my thumbs into my shoulder straps and stood in the door of the plane with my toes hanging over the edge, I don’t know that I was thinking about any of those things. I was certainly glad to know all that. Thinking back on it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been standing in the doorway without having known them. But standing in the doorway is entirely different from jumping out of a plane. And the decision to jump came from somewhere other than my brain. It was something deeper. Something deep enough that I can still feel part of it creep back up as I type these words.

As a Christian school principal, I want to help my students understand evidence that points to God’s existence and love. I want to help them learn how to use reasoning skills and logic to deal with doubt. But if that logic and evidence stays on the page and never leads them to the edge of the plane, I’m afraid there’s not a lot of value to it. So I do my best to explain what the jump feels like. Paint a picture of it. I tell stories of past Christians who have made the leap of faith. I bring in guest speakers who are still in the middle of their free fall. And I pray that I can someday see my students respond to the Spirit stirring them to take the leap for themselves.

Photo by Kamil Pietrzak on Unsplash

Timothy Casey, Ed.D, 5-8 Principal, New Covenant Academy (Springfield, MO): I follow Jesus and I want to follow him more closely every day, until I want the things he wants, think the thoughts he thinks, and act the way he acts. I want to help other people follow him this way too. I am married to the woman of my dreams who has sharpened me and made me stronger since the day I met her, and she has done it with grace and compassion. Together we have three kids who I love to watch grow into who God made them to be. Our family loves adventures. Most often we read about or watch them together, but my favorite is when we get to take some of our own. We also have a pretty mean board game collection. I am an educator at heart and was blessed to stumble into this love as a profession. I graduated from Ozark Christian College with a Bible degree and no idea that teaching is what God was going to do with my life. I continued my educational journey by getting a master’s in discipleship ministries from Liberty University. Ironically, I don’t know that I could’ve told you what discipleship ministries were even after I finished (I think I have a better idea now). Finally, after being in Christian education for over a decade without any formal educational training, I decided to take some coursework in educational leadership. This culminated in a doctorate of educational leadership. Now, I hope to bring together the Bible, discipleship, and education in a way that can help teachers lead their students closer to Jesus every day. I share more of my thoughts about education, ministry, and life at