Best Arguments for Christianity, Pt. Two: How to Make Christianity a Live Option
This line of argument must face the question, Which God? Which God is it that created and values and commands and forbids like this, and how do we know? The Christian is contending that we know largely because God has revealed Himself to us, in the Bible, and in Jesus, and perhaps also in the Church.
I’ll trace two directions in which the argument can go from here. But first, here is a piece of relevant groundwork for both. The Christian needn’t establish the truth of Christianity with certainty. Certainty is not a biblical standard, nor is it a realistic standard for virtually any belief. Instead, we’re dealing with some sort of case for Christianity, and then some space left for faith or choice or wagering or whatever.
The first direction we can take is to argue that Christianity is an ancient and broad tradition. It obviously has many adherents today, and can claim many brilliant supporters today and back through the ages, as well as many saintly ones. And Christianity reaches back almost 2,000 years to the life of Jesus and the writing of the New Testament, and reaches centuries further through its roots in Judaism. Such facts can be invoked in various ways to try to give credibility to Christianity, and establish it as a live option.
Next, there are arguments that the scriptures contain prophecies that were subsequently fulfilled, and arguments that the historical testimony of the gospels can establish the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Some of these arguments are better than others, and none of them establish the truth of Christianity with certainty. But they can work together, along with my last post’s points about cosmology, meaning, and morality, to bring a person toward the place where she can choose, or leap, or wager—and embrace Christianity.
There is a second direction that could be taken, either to supplement or to replace the first. I may have gestured toward it a few times back when I believed, but I never explicitly developed it. It would run somewhere along these lines: I am a witness. Why should you take Christianity seriously? What makes it a live option, over and above its competitors? I do. I am a messenger; a servant of this God. I stand in the line of apostles, prophets, and martyrs. I am testifying to you about my God.
This second route depends upon the speaker actually living out Christianity. It depends upon the speaker not merely verbalizing Christian doctrines, but also embodying them, so as to be a witness in the biblical sense. The speaker must not only talk about Jesus, but follow Him. The speaker must not only quote the Sermon on the Mount, but embody its poverty, suffering, nonviolence, purity, peacemaking, mercy, and humility. The speaker must exemplify crucifixion and resurrection. The speaker must be holy.
So obviously, very few people could ever use this route. But for those who could, it just might work.