You just believe that because you’re a Christian!
by Jason Wisdom
“You just believe that because you’re a Christian!” This phrase is often thrown around as a way of disregarding the Christian point of view. The implication is that there is no reason to hold a particular belief apart from an irrational, prior commitment to Christianity. It is a powerful, though deeply flawed objection. It is powerful because we all have the sense that the reason a person ought to believe something is because it is true. That makes sense because, contrary to the way some have tried to hijack the terms, belief is not something altogether separate from knowing. In reality, knowledge is a derivative of belief. You can’t know something if you don’t also believe it. But this objection suggests that someone is simply appealing to their religion in spite of the truth. When combined with a re-tooled definition of belief that reduces it to something squishy and ethereal, this objection becomes doubly powerful. So much so that many professing Christians have even bought into it. In order to avoid engaging evidence that apparently runs contrary to their view on a particular issue, many people will simply punt to “I am a Christian, so that is what I believe.” Some even wear it as a badge of honor.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about people who, because they are convinced Christianity is true, hold a particular view. There are many times when it is entirely appropriate to simply say “I am persuaded that Christianity is true, and for that reason, I submit to what God has revealed about this in Scripture.” I am talking about people who are primarily, if not entirely, cultural Christians. These are the people who weigh in a certain way on a particular issue, not because they are convinced it is true or right, but because they are committed to toeing the party line, so to speak. They are like a voter who just votes for whoever has the right letter by his/her name. Someone will probably say that I should just be happy to have them on the right side–if they are fighting for the right view, then it doesn’t really matter why. But I am not convinced that it is ultimately helpful to have people believing/doing things for the wrong reasons. Prayer is good, but Jesus had harsh words for the Pharisees who were in the habit of praying long, eloquent prayers in public places to draw attention and praise to themselves. Here again, please don’t misunderstand me. If the issue involves life and death, and/or human rights, I am not suggesting that I would prefer for ill-motivated people to remain silent. I am simply addressing the principle at work here.
The major flaw in this objection is that it assumes what it claims to prove…
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