Are You a Christian Only Because of Family?
by Robin Schumacher
A common charge atheists make against Christianity, as well as the fact that the Christian faith is the top worldview on the planet where numbers are concerned, is that many or most of those who profess to be Christians are only doing so because they were raised in a Christian household. The thought is, if those same people were raised in a Muslim or atheist home, they’d sport that particular belief system, with the conclusion being that it isn’t the validity of Christianity that’s made so many Christians, but it’s just a cultural thing instead.
True or false?
The Worldview within the Home
First, let’s understand that it’s only natural for parents to school their children in belief systems they believe to be true. While skeptics promote the idea that children should be raised as “free thinkers” in a non-biased household, the fact is they many times don’t practice what they preach.
Whenever I encounter an atheist who advocates such a thing, I’ll always ask them, “So you tell your kids that Christianity should be considered as an equally valid worldview up against your atheism? You don’t try and sway them one way or the other?” Invariably I’m met with silence in return.
Again, it’s normal, and in fact right, that a parent would instruct their children to embrace what they believe to be true in any matter, including those that are of a spiritual nature. But the real at-issue question is not why parents teach their children Christianity, but why are there so many homes doing so? How did we get here in the first place?
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The Real Cause Behind Christianity’s Growth
Skeptics constantly try and credit various historical figures such as Constantine for the primary reason why Christianity “won out” centuries ago over competing movements such as Mithraism. But their proposed apple has a worm in it as it refuses to recognize the impressive growth of the Christian faith prior to such events and personages who came on the stage much later.
Instead, we need to look back at the original catalyst behind Christianity’s rise. By all accounts, Christianity should have died the day after Jesus’ death. As scholar Ben Witherington has observed: “A historian has to explain how the high Christology of the church could have arisen after the unexpected and precipitous demise of Jesus through crucifixion. This conundrum becomes more puzzling, not less, for those who don’t believe in Jesus’ rising from the dead than for those who do. . . .On any showing the crucifixion should have put an end to the Jesus movement once and for all in an honor and shame culture like early Judaism.”
But that didn’t happen. Why not? Paul admits, “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:23). The Jews wanted their political savior and the Greeks and Romans thought anyone crucified was certainly no one of worth. How in the world, then, did Christianity take off?
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