Why is Christianity true? How would you answer that question? A number of attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters convention were asked that question a few years ago. Their answers were featured on a recently re-broadcast edition of the White Horse Inn radio show. Almost all of them were some variation on this theme: Christianity is true because it changed my life.
There are two reasons why that’s a lousy answer.
First, it’s an answer a Mormon could give. A Mormon could say, “Mormonism is true because it changed my life. I was once a drug addict, I became a Mormon, and my life was changed.” Likely there are Muslims who could say the same thing. The truth or falsity of Christianity (or any religion for that matter) has nothing to do with whether or not it will change your life. Something is objectively true or objectively false, regardless of your subjective personal experience. People’s lives can be changed, even profoundly so, by things that aren’t true.
Second, what happens if someone’s changed life returns to the way it was before? Think of the Parable of the Sower. Jesus spoke about the seed that fell on the rocky ground. This represents someone who “hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.” Such a one lasts for a while, but when there’s trouble, “immediately he falls away.” In such a case, if Christianity was true because it changed that person’s life, if that person’s life goes back to the way it was, does that mean Christianity is now false?
You see, pointing to our own lives is a poor way to answer why Christianity is true.
There’s a better way. If someone were to ask me, “Why is Christianity true?”, this is what I would say: Christianity is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. What I mean is that the Christian faith and worldview corresponds to reality – the world is exactly the way the Bible says it is. And the Christian worldview truly accounts for the realities we see around us – it provides a basis for logic, morality, the laws of nature, mathematics, beauty, love, and more. For example, objective standards of morality are grounded in the immutable character of a holy God. So, Christianity is objectively true because it has been revealed by the God of truth, the Creator of all reality, the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Christianity is objectively true because in its light we see light (Psalm 36:9).
That’s just a short answer, of course. There’s a lot more that could and should be said. Books have been written to lay out that case at more length. If you want to read one, check out K. Scott Oliphint’s Know Why You Believe (reviewed here).
1 Peter 3:15 tells every Christian always to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Because we’re doing it in service to Christ, surely we’re obligated to make sure we do it in the best possible way. That means turning away from arguments grounded in fickle and subjective human experiences and turning to arguments grounded in the infallible and inerrant Scriptures. Sola Scriptura has to be our touchstone in apologetics too.