The rhetoric flies fast. “You’re haters!” “You’re on the wrong side of history!” “You supported slavery with the Bible, and now you’re supporting discrimination against LGBT people!” “How can you be so intolerant?” “How can you think your morality is better than other people’s?”
Can you still believe Christianity is good?
There’s only one way to avoid hearing these assaults on the faith: lock the windows, bar the doors, and turn off the TV and the Internet. Or if you do go out, make sure you don’t interact with anyone but fellow believers.
If your kids go to school, though, they’re hearing these things. If they’re on social media, if they’re watching any TV, if they’re on a sports team, they’re hearing these things. Chances are you’re picking it up too, in the news media, at work, or in your own social media conversations.
Staying locked in a Christian bubble isn’t the answer. We need to face these charges. If they were true, after all, we’d have to apologize and repent, because if we’re as bad as these accusations say we are, then, well, we’re really pretty bad. And honestly we can all be bad sometimes. We always need to examine ourselves.
But when it comes the the way of Jesus Christ, Christianity practiced the way the Bible teaches and intends, these charges aren’t true. We can face each one of them calmly, non-defensively, and say, “No, actually, you’ve got your facts wrong. That’s not true.”
And it isn’t just that Christianity isn’t as awful as these charges claim. Christianity is good. It’s very good, when practiced biblically. Jesus Christ is incredibly good. He’s the model of truth and grace, fully present and fully active in one person (John 1:14). He loves. He sacrifices himself. He came to us with extraordinary power, yet by his extraordinary love he only used that power for others’ good, never for his own benefit. This is most unusual. Jesus is most unusually good.
His effect on the world has been most unusually good. Christianity (despite rumors to the contrary) has been history’s greatest influence for ending slavery, improving the lives of women and children, getting science started in its earliest years, promoting human rights, spreading education and health care, lifting economies, and encouraging love even toward enemies.
Yet there are even charges saying we’ve been the worst of all influences in several of these areas. They’re wrong, thankfully.
The point is, Christianity is being attacked for being an immoral influence. If it were true, I wouldn’t want to be a Christian. Would you? It isn’t true — but the rhetoric is out there, and it’s convincing a lot of people, including a lot of Christian youth; maybe even your own children.
Can you overcome the rhetoric? Critical Conversations answers dozens of these sorts of questions, in a parent- and teen-friendly format. For others I recommend Vishal Mangalwadi’s The Book That Made Your World or almost any of Rodney Stark’s works. I’ve got a longer list of suggested resources at the end of Critical Conversations.
Image source: Russell Shaw Higgs, who I pray will read some of the same recommended material someday.