Bad Reasons to be a Non-Christian
People have reasons for just about everything they do. Some people voted for Clinton, others voted for Trump. They both have reasons for their decision. One of my wife’s (many) quirks is that she wants every available condiment put on her burgers and French fries. I, however, prefer just one condiment—BBQ sauce in case you were wondering. Much like voters, we both have reasons for the ways that we prefer our food. You likely have opinions, maybe even strong opinions, on both of these issues. In fact, everything you do in life is motivated by something else. The reason that you speed on the interstate is because you enjoy driving fast. Driving fast is the reason that motivates your action. The reason that you order an extra-large ice cream at Sonic is because you really like ice cream. The reason that you married your spouse is hopefully that you found some area of his/her personality attractive. In short, you have reasons for everything you choose to do.
If you have reasons for everything you choose to do, then you have reasons for being or not being a Christian. Now there are probably tons of church-goers that have terrible reasons for claiming to be a Christian. If you claim to be a Christian so that you can go to heaven, so that you can be involved with the club-like features of a church, or to sing some songs you like on Sunday mornings, then you have completely missed the point of Christianity. However, there are also terrible reasons to be a non-Christian. I fully intend to return to these people who have terrible reasons for claiming to be a Christian in future blog posts. After all, I’m deeply committed to the belief that there are wonderful reasons to be a Christian. I am not a Christian because my parents told me to be, I am not a Christian because I enjoy emotional experiences, nor am I a Christian for the perks that being associated with a church can have; I am a Christian because I am convinced that the God of the universe came to earth to save my wretched soul. However, good reasons for being a Christian aside, there are some really terrible reasons to be a non-Christian. I hope that you’ll read these reasons, which are by no means exhaustive, and honestly consider whether you or someone you know has fallen victim to them.
Acedia is a great word that means “laziness or indifference in religious matters.” This great word reflects a terrible reason to both be a Christian and to be a non-Christian. If you are a “Christian” because you’re too lazy to examine whether or not Christianity’s truth claims are true, then you’re a Christian for the wrong reason. One of the purposes for which the New Testament was written was so that you and I could examine the claims that Christianity makes and decide whether they’re true or not. Christianity is not now, nor has it ever been, a blind faith. If Jesus was not who He claimed to be and was not raised from the dead, then all of Christianity falls apart. The apostles continually use the Old Testament to show that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Since Jesus fulfilled the numerous Old Testament teachings about the Messiah, He was the Messiah and ought to be followed. Furthermore, the apostles continually give reasons for believing that Jesus rose from the dead. One of their main arguments is that they and others saw Jesus raise from the dead; therefore, He really did come out of the tomb. If Jesus rose from the dead, then you should follow Him. All of these are arguments which can be considered. We can weigh the evidence and make a rational decision about whether we want to follow Jesus or not. If you’re a Christian because of acedia, then I encourage you to make a conscious effort to give deep thought to Christianity’s deepest claims. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s how you grow.
A lot of people may be a non-Christian because of acedia. After all, thinking deeply about difficult matters, such as religious truth claims, is a difficult and dangerous endeavor. Both the acedia-inspired Christian and non-Christian can agree on this. Our culture drastically undervalues deep thinking. Christian philosopher Douglas Groothuis was right when he called television “the great destroyer of truth and rationality.” Through pop-culture, our society celebrates ignorance and defames rational thought. Ergo, it’s no wonder that many of us haven’t given much thought to the deep things of life. But consider C.S. Lewis’s words: “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance.” Think about it, if Christianity is false, what ultimate value does it have? Nothing, for if false, Christianity is of no more value than a child’s bedtime story. There is no reason to be a Christian if Christianity is false! However, what if Christianity turns out to be true? If Christianity is true, then it is of utmost, eternal importance. Since there is at least a small chance that Christianity may be true, you ought to search it out. There is no excuse for letting something which could be so important escape your grasp due to a lackadaisical attitude of acedia.
2. Christians Are Hypocritical
Maybe you’re a non-Christian because Christians are hypocritical. And yes, we most certainly are. We make ourselves sick every day with our hypocritical propensities. However, this is an extremely poor reason to not be a Christian. This argument/reason for being a non-Christian commits what is known as the tu quoque (too quo-qway) ad hominem fallacy. Literally, this phrase means it’s a “you too” argument. Saying that Christians are hypocritical simply doesn’t mean that Christianity is false. It just means you don’t like some Christians whom you’ve met. Indeed, they may deserve to be disliked! Christians—myself included—can, unfortunately, be very un-Christ-like. However, that doesn’t mean that Christianity is false. Imagine if ISIS said that they should be able to violate human rights because the United States violated human rights during the slave trade. Should Americans just say “well, they’re right, guess we’ll just have to leave them alone”? No! Any thinking person will immediately realize that it’s wrong for ISIS to violate human rights even if past generations of Americans were guilty of the same. This pertinent principle is perennially true. If Jesus was who He claimed to be and if He rose from the dead, then the fact that Christians are hypocritical simply does not matter. I am a hypocrite; thankfully, however, Christianity does not stand and fall with me.
3. A Good God Wouldn’t Allow This Much Evil
I’m currently typing this blog post on a MacBook while my iPhone 5 (don’t judge my archaic phone) is sitting immediately to my right. I like Apple products. They’re simple and reliable, and I appreciate that. Apple was founded by a guy named Steve Jobs who chose to be a non-Christian for reason number three. The story goes that a young, inquisitive Jobs walked into his Lutheran pastor’s office and asked essentially if God knew everything. Jobs was likely wondering if God was aware of what will occur and what is currently occurring on earth. Like any good theologian, the unsuspecting pastor—who likely got questions of this sort all of the time—replied in the affirmative. Jobs then showed the depth of his question by pulling out a magazine with a graphic photo of starving children on the cover. The pastor gave a weak answer to Jobs’s question, and Jobs left the church never to return. Steve Jobs died a non-believer because he didn’t think that a good, all-knowing God would allow so much evil in the world. This is a difficult question (indeed, many say it’s the strongest objection to Christianity), and I’ve written on it here. However, it is a poor reason to be a non-Christian on several accounts.
One reason that this a poor argument for being a non-Christian is that it essentially resorts to saying that you don’t like who God is or how He runs the world. After all, there’s no contradiction in claiming that God exists and the world is a bad place. It was once en vogue to claim that God’s goodness and the existence of evil were contradictory, but Christian philosophers killed that objection, put it in a coffin, and buried it in the church’s cemetery decades ago. The best option that is left is to claim that you don’t like how much evil there is in the world. This, however, doesn’t mean that Christianity is false. This would simply mean that you disagree with God’s management of the world. If that’s you, then you should know that biblical writers, such as Job, David, Jeremiah, to name but a few, weren’t shy about asking God why He allowed certain things to occur. But this doesn’t invalidate Christianity in any way. I don’t like the fact that there’s so much evil in the world, but I’m still a Christian. Like I’ve said numerous times, if Jesus was who He said He was and was raised from the dead on the third day, then you should be a Christian, even if you don’t like the amount of evil in the world.
Whether you’re a Christian or a non-Christian, I sincerely hope that you’ll consider your reasoning for your decision. If you’re a Christian, I hope that you’re a Christian because you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and that the Christian worldview is valid. Any reason less than that simply will not do. If you aren’t a Christian, then why not? If your best answer is that you haven’t researched Christianity’s claims, think Christians are hypocritical, or don’t like the way the world is, I’d encourage you to consider whether or not those are worthy objections. After all, if you’re going to reject a belief system that could, according to Jesus, allow you to spend eternity with God, you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re confident in that decision. If Jesus was who He said He was and really rose from the dead, then you should follow Him no matter how hard it is to understand, what you think about Christians, or your opinions on God’s administration.
Notes & Sources
“Acedia,” Dictionary.com, accessed January 12, 2017, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/acedia?s=t.
For example, see John 20.31 and Luke 1.3-4. To these two verses could be added the numerous times that the apostles encouraged their readers to check the apostles’ stories out for themselves.
1 Corinthians 15.14.
Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics (Downers Grover, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), 44.
C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” in God in the Dock, in The Timeless Writings of C.S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (New York, NY: Eerdmans and Lifeway, 1970), 368.
Hermant Mehta, “When Steve Jobs Left His Faith,” Patheos, last modified October 24, 2011, accessed January 12, 2017, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/10/24/when-steve-jobs-left-his-faith/.
Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974).
It’s an old, true cliché with solid scriptural support that we can’t understand all of God’s plans. See Isaiah 55.8-9.