But before we talk about the evidence of experience, I’ll deal with one more objection first which gets a lot of airtime in the media. That is, Christianity is rejected for a variety of moral reasons. For example, some people reject Christianity because they feel it is anti-gay, and that is old fashioned not to mention unjust. Others point to parts of the Old Testament which appear to sanction genocide and violence. Others point to contemporary issues with the church, such as the problem of child abuse within the church. Alternatively, some find fault with the history of the church, pointing to the Crusades or other low points of Christian history.
It is possible to offer responses to these questions from a Christian perspective, and I will give some discussion to some of them later, but for now, I simply want to make the case that as powerful as these questions may appear, they are actually secondary to the big question of whether Christianity is actually true.
That is, it is possible that all of the above criticisms are absoloutely valid and accurate, and yet Christianity is still true. The problem is, these criticisms only suggest that Christianity is harmful in its effects- but they don’t even deal with the question of whether Christianity is true or not. That is a separate question.
On the flip side, if I wanted to use this style of argument, I could make arguments that Christianity has done an amazing amount of good for our world, and that Christianity improves your health. However, even if those arguments were true, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that Christianity is true. They are actually rather irrelevant when it comes to the truth of Christianity. It is like deciding that you don’t believe that climate change is real because you don’t like the Greens’ economic policy on dealing with unemployment. They are separate issues, although they might both be commonly discussed by members of the Greens party.
So the big question is, what needs to be true for Christianity to be true? How do we know? It boils down to just 2 questions. Firstly, does God exist? Secondly, Is Jesus Christ God’s risen Messiah? If the answer to those 2 questions is positive, then Christianity is true, even if it is a very basic Christianity which accepts nothing else as true but those 2 statements.
So if God exists and Jesus is his risen Messiah, then even if the Bible wasn’t always true or always moral, and even if the church was full of rotten hypocrites, Christianity itself would be true. If the Bible was wrong in what it says about homosexuality, it is a separate question whether Christianity is true. If the Bible was immoral or factually mistaken about holy wars, it is a separate question in considering whether Christianity is true.
Don’t get me wrong, if Christianity is true, then it will impact the way you read and interpret the Bible. It will change your starting place for how you approach morality in general, and you may be willing to give the Bible far more benefit of the doubt than if you don’t believe Christianity is true.
But the basic question has to be is Christianity true- and for that question the place where we need to start is 1- Does God exist? And 2- Is Jesus his risen Messiah? I’m going to argue that there is surprisingly good reason to give those questions a positive answer. But regardless of your conclusion, it’s important to start with the right questions.
Well, it’s time to finish up Part 1, and get stuck into the first of my 3 pronged argument I’m going to set out in Part 2. The evidence of experience- it sounds rather subjective, doesn’t it? Actually, I think it’s an important part of the case to consider, as well as being rather fascinating.