The Problem of Bad Christians[*]

    Another common argument against Christianity is the following: You know this man, and he is a Christian. He is also a liar and a cheat. Should you become a Christian and become like him? He isn't the only bad Christian you've known. And then there are all the Christians in the news who have to be thrown in jail because of their crimes. You shouldn't emulate them, should you? Finally, religious wars have caused all sorts of pain. Wouldn't we be able to get along better if there was no religion?

    As it turns out, these questions appeal to our emotions; and they are based in a logical fallacy. They assume that if one Christian is a bad person, then all Christians are bad people and that Christian teaching is flawed. This is the same fallacy as saying that because one Visigoth is a murderer, then all Visigoths are murderers and that Visigoth teaching is flawed. These statements clearly have no basis in logic. The question should be the following: When a person becomes a Christian, does the person become more moral? Also, when a person ceases to be a Christian, does he or she become less moral? More importantly, how will you change when you become a Christian? If you strive to emulate Jesus, you will become a more moral person. There is no way to emulate Jesus and become a worse person, because he is the best person that has ever walked on this Earth. Those Christians who do not improve are not attempting to emulate Jesus with any degree of seriousness. This means that they are missing one of the central tenets of Christianity and should not be taken seriously as Christians.

    There is something else that I must say. When you compare the good atheist to the bad Christian, you make an implicit assumption. You assume that the good atheist is perfectly all right and does not need to be improved. This is only correct if Christianity is wrong. If Christianity is true, then the good atheist does have a critical flaw. He or she has rejected God. This is ironic, considering that God gave the atheist a good temperament, like he gives some strength and some good looks. In all actuality, having a naturally good temperament makes it harder to realize the need for God. The sinner will see the destructive power of sin in his or her life and will realize much sooner that he or she cannot make it without help. The sinner will then reach out to God. An atheist with a naturally good temperament will have a much harder time realizing his or her need because the atheist's sins are much more insidious. This atheist will rely on his or her good temperament instead of on God. The situation is similar with those who have other kinds of advantages, be it money, strength, intellect, or beauty. This point depends upon whether or not Christianity is true or false, which will be discussed later. I include it to motivate atheists and other non-Christians to learn more about Christianity and to realize that the truth or falsehood of Christianity is a critically important question.


[*] The arguments in this section borrow heavily from C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 10.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/26