The Case for Christianity
|by||Robert C. Veil, J.D.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Robert Veil, Jr. formerly served as a district attorney for the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office, and previously maintained an active private law practice. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, and currently preaches in Martinsburg, West Virginia.]
To “make a case” for something is to explain convincingly why it is true or to be believed. This may be done in any number of ways. It involves looking at the evidence in support of something, and considering its implications. This may also involve considering arguments opposed to it and analyzing what, if any, validity they may possess.
The case for Christianity is strong and convincing. Studying the arguments in favor of Christianity with an open mind can be a faith-building and truly life-changing experience. Such an analysis provides hope and encouragement not only as to this earthly life, but into eternity.
Christianity, as a system of belief, is far and away superior to the religions and inventions of man. It holds up extremely well by comparison. Consider a few of the major areas in which the case for Christianity is so clearly convincing.
First, Christianity makes sense. It makes good sense, not only from a theoretical and philosophical standpoint, but in a very tangible and practical way. Christianity, unlike manmade systems, is a religion of reason and common sense. It presents the honest student with a logical, reasonable way of life. Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). The word “spiritual” in verse 1 translates in the American Standard Version a word meaning “of or belonging to the reason.” That is, it pertains to our faculty of thinking, our reason. It is translated in the KJV and NKJV with the English word “reasonable.” The footnote in the NASB suggests the word “rational” and Young’s Literal Translation has “intelligent.”
The Gospel appeals to our understanding. It is a system of belief based, not solely upon emotions (although there is an emotional element), but upon careful thought and reasonable conclusions. “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:1-4). By reading and considering what the inspired apostle wrote, one can discern or perceive that it makes sense—that it contributes to an understanding of the mystery of Christ.
Second, the God of the Bible is infinitely above all of the gods of human creation. One of the tell-tale characteristics of the various religions invented by men down through the years is how their gods tend to reflect and look like the people and cultures who created them. They are of human origin, and they look all too human. As Robert Milligan observed long ago, “Like people like gods is true to every earth-born system of theology.” Even the most enlightened cultures have created gods who pale by comparison to the God of the Bible. Quoting further from Milligan:
Take, for example, the theology of the ancient Greeks, the most enlightened, elevated, and refined heathen nation known in history. They excelled in all of the [civilized] arts…But, nevertheless, their theology was but a transcript of depraved and fallen humanity. In it is clearly seen every element of man’s [sinful nature].2 Uranus, the most ancient of their gods, is said to have hated and imprisoned his own children. Saturn made war against his father Uranus, and also attempted to devour his own male children. But his son Jupiter drove him from Crete into Latium, where, for a long time, he remained concealed from his ambitious and revengeful offspring. In Greece was also worshiped Venus, the goddess of licentiousness; Bacchus, the god of drunkenness; and many other gods and goddesses of like character.3Third, Christianity is beneficial to mankind. Wherever its influence goes, mankind benefits. Cultures touched by the influence of Christianity tend to fare much better than secular societies, so long as they persist in their adherence to Bible principles. A few examples will illustrate this point:
a) Women. Unlike the creeds of men, the Bible is filled with noble women. Eve, the mother of all living; Abigail, the beautiful, intelligent, and wise wife; Esther, the queen who saved her people; Ruth, the loyal friend; Lydia, an example of hospitality, and the first Christian of Europe; the widow, whose lowly mite was the greatest contribution of them all; and Mary Magdalene, loyal to the Savior to the end. These, and scores of others, illustrate how women are depicted on the pages of the Bible. Their character is described in admirable and lofty terms. Their conduct is presented in a manner consistent with their good character. Anyone (man or woman) can read their life stories and be inspired to imitate them.
Also, the doctrine of the Bible with regard to women elevates them to a high, imitable standard. Consider the “worthy woman” as described in Proverbs 31:10-31. In summary, she is rare, valuable, trustworthy, profitable, beneficial, vigilant, efficient, hard-working, well-organized, supervisory, wise, strong, perceptive, capable, compassionate, brave, well-endowed, supportive, optimistic, kind, hard-working, revered, and praiseworthy. That is a far cry from the way women are depicted in the creeds and doctrinal statements of manmade religions. Such depictions would have been revolutionary in manmade works only a few generations ago.
This lofty ideal is often overlooked or misunderstood in the culture. I remember the first time I heard a college professor refer to the apostle Paul as a “misogynist.” At the time, I did not even know what the word meant. When she said it a second time, I made a note of it, and later looked up the word. It means a hater of women. When the instructor repeated her statement a third time, I questioned her openly in class. I asked her what proof or evidence from Paul’s writings she had for such a statement. Of course, she was unable to produce any, and simply talked around the question. I met with her in her office after class, and pointed out what her word actually meant. I then quoted for her an actual statement of Paul, very much on point: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it” (Ephesians 5:25). She conceded that perhaps her statement was a bit extreme. I agreed. The inspired writings of the apostle Paul, together with the totality of the Scriptures, have done more to elevate and exalt women over the history of mankind than all feminist and other writings combined. If you are a woman, the Gospel calls you to a life of dignity, value and appreciation!
b) Men: When you stop and think about it, Christianity is the one thing which can give meaning and purpose to the life of a man (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Job 28:28). It confronts him with the lifetime challenge he needs in order to find ultimate fulfillment and happiness.
The Bible presents man made in the very image of God himself (Genesis 1:26-27). Many religions hold their gods at arm’s length, something to be feared, even disdained. Yet the Bible describes the creation of man in the “likeness” of God, in his “image.” In many ways, man is comparable to God. He is capable of great accomplishments, wonderful love and mercy, inventive prowess, and great progress. Christianity calls man to actually be more like the God who wants man to imitate him. It is one of the rare systems of belief which encourages men to assume a higher standard of living. If you are a man, the Gospel calls you to a higher plane of love, leadership, and respect for others.
c) Children: Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18:16). Has it occurred to you that being childlike in heart is requiredto be a Christian? Amazingly, God not only cares about and protects children, but requires his followers to imitate them.
This is one of the reasons why Christian people have such great natural abhorrence toward the common practice of abortion. They have seen in the Word of God a glimpse of the precious value of a child. They see the child’s personhood, moral value, personal worth, and, most of all, purity. The child, yet unborn, is the ultimate image of hope, promise, and prospect for the human family. Christianity does not underestimate children. It embraces and looks to them with admiration. If you are a child at heart, the Gospel calls you to a life of purity, innocence and happiness.
d) The poor, the oppressed, and the down-trodden: The Bible shows us God’s concern for the needy (Leviticus 23:22; James 1:27). This concern, reflected in the ancient harvesting laws for ancient Israel, is alive and well in the Christian dispensation. All around the globe, churches of Christ are actively sheltering and protecting the needy, as envisioned and planned by God. “The poor you have with you always,” but only in Christianity do we find a completely workable plan for caring for them. Take away the compassionate principles of Christianity, and the poor become hordes to be manipulated, abused, and ultimately destroyed. If you are a widow, an orphan, poor, weak, oppressed, neglected, prejudiced, or under-privileged, the Gospel calls you to a life of honor and respect.
e) The imperfect, the mistaken, the lost: The church is not a haven or country club for the perfect, but a hospital for the forgiven. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:6-9).
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he knew they were ridden with problems. Yet, because of the influence of the Gospel in their lives, there was great hope. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God(1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Christianity is the one system of belief which can make you a better person! It appeals to your higher nature. It calls you from a life of sin and slavery to a life of forgiveness, justification, and hope. It bespeaks a way of life far above anything you have imagined before.
ConclusionThe case for Christianity is strong and convincing. This cannot be truly said of the dreamy confusions of Mysticism, the vacuum of Buddhism, the rituals of Hinduism, or the ravages of Islam. Christianity appeals to one’s heart and soul, one’s higher being; it appeals to the truth.
The next time you or someone you know begins to doubt the value of Christianity, or is tempted to feel like one religion is as good as another, remember what Christianity is. Remember that it makes sense, and that it makes people better, more like the amazing God who created them.
1 Robert Milligan (1868), Reason and Revelation (Cincinnati, OH: R.W. Carroll & Co.), p.31.
2 The phrase “sinful nature” is here used not to describe an innate or inherited tendency, or “original sin”, but a typical and universally observable feature of adult people everywhere, (Romans 3:23).
3 Milligan, pp. 31-32.