THE ONLY WAY TO CONCLUSIVELY DEBUNK THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I was once in a conversation with a Muslim friend on the subject of faith. Inevitably, the prophet of Islam’s questionable teachings, deeds and checkered history as recorded in the most authentic Islamic sources came up.
Without disputing them, he asked me, “David killed an innocent man after committing adultery with his wife, Lot’s daughters had sex with him, Solomon had a thousand women, Noah was the first drunkard in scripture and in spite of all these, Christians still count these men as prophets. Why then do they not accept the prophet of Islam in spite of his flaws? Isn’t that a hypocritical double-standard?”.
In a swift response more inspired than logically thought out, I replied, “It is called Christianity, my friend, not prophetianity. The only reason Christians accept these men as prophets is because they all testified of Jesus Christ. In fact, scripture says the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10). They pointed to Christ and not themselves so we do not judge their prophethood on the merits of their character because they never preached or recommended themselves. Your argument would only work if there was any shortcoming or moral failure found in Jesus Christ Himself and thankfully, there was and is none (1Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, Mark 7:37, John 18:38). The Qur’an on the other hand declares the prophet of Islam to be sent by Allah as the best pattern for all of mankind (Surah 33:21) and as such we are at liberty to judge his prophethood on the basis of his character”.
That conversation however got me thinking.
All the atheists and skeptics I have listened to always attempt to discredit Christianity by discrediting the Bible. By exposing the inconsistencies in it, by questioning the records it contains and by questioning the plausibility of the events it chronicles. This raises such questions as “Why did God, who claims to be love, kill millions of people in the Old Testament? Why did God permit slavery and why did Jesus not talk about it? Why would God command this and do that…”. The only problem is those questions have nothing to do with Christianity. First we must ask, who is a Christian?
As basic as this sounds, you would be surprised at how fundamental it really is. Atheists and skeptics have a way of defining a Christian as one who believes the entire Bible and adheres to everything it teaches. This could not be farther from the truth. The first mention of the word “Christian” in scripture is in Acts 11:26, where the disciples were first called by that name in Antioch. Peter also uses the term in 1 Peter 4:16 where he says anyone who suffers as a Christian should glorify God in it. In context, he was writing to a people persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. The disciples in Antioch were also preachers and followers of Jesus Christ. A Christian therefore, is one who believes in Jesus Christ. Simple. Getting this straight eliminates any room for questions about the Old Testament or beliefs about accounts other than those that have to do with Jesus Christ.
So what does a Christian believe about Jesus Christ? He believes that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh, died in place of mankind for all their sins and rose from the dead separated from those sins He died for so that anyone who believes in Him, in the sight of God, dies with Christ for his own sin and is resurrected with Christ free from the sin he died with Christ to. This is the gospel in a nutshell. This is what Paul described as the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and this is the core of Christianity.
The atheist would try to define Christianity in the wider sense earlier discussed because it gives them endless room to navigate, question and confuse Christians using the same Bible they claim to believe in. But their definition is thoroughly flawed because Christianity, both in name and as a concept never existed before the cross of Christ. If this is so, everything prior to that is totally irrelevant to both Christianity and the Christian. If the atheist is to disprove Christianity, he has to disprove the facts of the gospel. He must prove one of three things, (i) Jesus Christ never existed, (ii) Jesus Christ never died on the cross or (iii) Jesus Christ never resurrected from the dead.
(i) and (ii) are lost causes for the atheist. There are authentic historical records (Christian and non-Christian) of the ministry of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Jesus ran a public ministry and His crucifixion was equally a public event.
Paul in the presence of Agrippa confidently asserted that the latter was aware of the facts of the gospel since they did not take place in a corner (Acts 26:26). This leaves the atheist with (iii), the final leg. The resurrection is so crucial to Christianity that Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians writes,
“And if Christ be not raised, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
This is the only fact capable of rubbishing Christianity. If there can be clear, cogent and incontrovertible evidence (the exact quality of evidence atheists demand for the existence of God or proof of Biblical events) that Christ did not rise from the dead, then the atheist has successfully landed a knock-out blow and Christianity is officially the world’s greatest scam followed only by Yellow Kid Weil.
This is however an uphill task. The atheist has a lot to explain; The empty tomb, the missing corpse, the sudden bravery of the hitherto cowardly disciples, the many eye witnesses to the resurrection (the apostles, Mary Magdalene, James the Lord’s half brother, over 500 brethren at once [1 Corinthians 15:6]), the ageless relevance of Jesus Christ and the gospel and the stories of billions of transformed lives attributed to an encounter with Him. It is not looking good for the atheist.
On the other hand, if Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, then it really doesn’t matter how many contradictions or weird stuff there are in scripture or how many people’s deaths God commanded in the Old Testament or whether God endorsed slavery because even if all these were proven to be true, they in no way falsify Christianity or the gospel. As long as the claim that Christ resurrected from the dead remains unsatisfactorily and unconvincingly addressed by the atheist, the Christian faith survives the atheist’s most potent polemic totally unscathed.