Is Christianity Even Good for the World?
I've spent nearly 40 years mentoring men and teaching the Bible. A question I've gotten from many men over the years is this, "Is the Bible true?" or worded differently, "How do we know if the Bible is true?"
But I've met with a surprising number of young "Christians" and non-Christians in the last few years who are asking a different question. "Even if it is true, is it good?" In other words they have real questions about whether Christianity is even good for the world. Is Christianity, just another "unjustified belief," that can't be proved true which has led to many horrible things being done by its followers.
There is a school of thought that teaches if you believe in absurd nonsense, like religion, your actions risk being harmful to yourself and others, they say. It's like driving with your eyes closed. They point out what Christians did in The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts and the conquest and genocide of native peoples in the New World. More recently the case for slavery and anti-LGBTQ ideas were all based on the Bible. Biblical beliefs, they say are not just endangering the driver driving blind, they risk running over completely innocent people - true victims.
And, right, or wrong today American Evangelicals are closely identified with election deniers, January 6, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, anti-science, and are seen as intolerant. That kind of blind ignorance is a danger to society they say.
So how do Christians address the "Is Christianity even good?" question.
1. Admit that Christians have committed some horrendous crimes against humanity.
Any attempt to whitewash any of the horrible crimes committed by those who called themselves Christian is both untrue and dishonest. Yes, in the name of God millions of people did terrible things. We can only apologize to the living because their victims are dead. But the same can be said of ideologies like communism. Stalin and Chinese communists killed more people than Hitler, none were religious and all three taught that there was a greater good that justified those deaths. I'm not claiming the moral high ground by comparing them to Christianity. Its just that all belief systems have in them the seed of rationalizing doing evil to achieve a higher good.
2. Identify what good things Christians have done
Almost every hospital or orphanage in every third world country in the world that allows Christians to minister are being run and were founded by Christians.
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, & hundreds of colleges in the U.S. were founded by Christians
Almost every homeless shelter in the U.S. was begun and are still are being financed by Christians
World Vision alone gives over one billion dollars to eliminate poverty
The Civil rights and the anti-slavery movement were both led by Christians
3. Not everyone who claimed to be a Christian actually were.
Hundreds and millions of people for 2,000 years have claimed to be Christians. And if you believe that to believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible makes you a true Christian, without loving others more than yourself, loving your enemies, forgiving those who have hurt you, then "yes" they were all Christians.
Here's my point, horrible things have been done by people who called themselves Christians, but I doubt any, or many actually were born-again followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus have acted and do act badly on occasion, but if they truly are his followers, they will confess it, repent of it and pursue holiness, love, justice, and mercy. If those virtues aren't present in a person's life the Bible says they probably never were Christians at all and they'll never enter Heaven.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." -Matthew 7:21
4. Make sure you are not the one embarrasing God
When Christians take on the name Christian for better or for worse, Jesus' reputation gets tied to each of us. Remember when your kids acted up in a restaurant their bad behavior reflected on you as their parent. The same is true of our behavior. I like to say, that one of my missions in life is "to make God look good." And if I don't and when I don't I actually rob God of his glory and make him appear unkind and foolish in the eyes of others.
"Be careful to live properly among your neighbors..." I Peter 2:12
"You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” -Romans 2:23-24
You cannot re-write history. However each of us are writing our own histories every day and non-Christians are reading us!