Thursday, 19 January 2012

What about evil committed in the name of Jesus Christ?

Watch as a Christian has a quick discussion with a nice, polite sceptic who discuss whether or not some of the bad things done in the past by 'Christians' discredits the Christian message.

Yes I do make the videos my-self and if people don't have time to watch the video, I've added the script so people can just read through it much more quickly. Hopefully this will be off some help for Christians who have wondered how to answer such an objection.

Nice sceptic - Hi, I am a nice sceptic

Christian- Hi, I am a Christian

Nice sceptic - If Christians are right about what they believe, how come so many Christians have committed so many atrocities in the name of Christianity?

Christian - That is a really good question, it’s important to note that even sceptics like yourself notice that what many so called Christians have done is in complete contrast to what Jesus actually taught his followers. Jesus taught his followers to Love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. He told us to love and treat our neighbour as our selves, and gives an example of this in practice in his parable of the Good Samaritan. People must ignore Jesus words to do horrible things, not obey them!

Nice sceptic - Okay, but surely you must understand that this is a major barrier for some people? You will have to be quick; my bus will be here soon.

Christian - It’s important to understand that the truthfulness of something can't be falsified simply on the basis of what those who have labelled themselves as part of that group have, or haven't done.

Nice sceptic - Go on.

Christian - Well imagine that I just list all the bad things people have done who have labelled themselves as Atheists, and I use that as a reason to dismiss their claims. That would be unfair to Atheists, and it says nothing about whether what they believe is true or false. If we use the bad things people have done to prove them wrong, does that then mean we can name all the good things Christians have been responsible for, and conclude that Christianity must be true?

Nice sceptic - No I suppose not, if the argument cuts both ways and results in different conclusions, I suppose it is really a bad argument to use.

Christian - Christians are not perfect, and thankfully our salvation doesn't rest on us being good enough, but instead on Jesus' perfection and sacrifice on the cross, which allows us to seek God’s forgiveness. It’s important to remember that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian always is. Some people call themselves Christians simply because they live in the West, or they think they are still part of a Christian culture. Not necessarily because they are followers of Jesus, who have sought him for forgiveness and are seeking to obey what he taught. Historically there have always been people who have been part of the Church who have been there out of convenience rather than conviction.

Nice sceptic - Yes I suppose there’s some truth in that, before I was an Atheist my parents used to take me to Church, and I used to describe myself as a Christian, but I never believed any of it. I guess just going to Church doesn't make you a Christian either.

Christian - Yes you are right, but there is no denying that what you believe will have some affect on how you behave. Jesus taught that people will recognise his followers by their love for people, not for committing atrocities.

Nice sceptic - Well I have many other problems with Christianity, so even if I am mistaken with this argument, I still have plenty more questions to ask you when I have time.

Christian - One more quick example before your bus gets here, many people here in the UK considered themselves Christians for hundreds of years, often with little regard to whether or not they obeyed and lived how Jesus taught. Biblical language and rhetoric was simply part of the culture, this was because it was primarily the literature that everyone knew some part of. This is why it was so easy for people to misuse the Bible and use Jesus as the reason for their acts of evil. For every one person who has called themselves a Christian, and been part of some historical atrocity, there will be ten thousand people who have changed the world for the better in ways many people today don't appreciate. Whether that be through founding the first universities, schools for boys and girls, hospitals, charities, putting an end to modern slavery, creating a rational world-view that supported science, or standing up for the rights of infants and women.

Nice sceptic - Thanks for your time; my bus is here now, until next time. Bye.

Christian - Good to talk to you nice sceptic, bye.


  1. It is still a pretty major argument, and not one to dismiss quite so trivially. In most cases it is true that the moral behaviour of the members or indeed even leader of a group doesn't determine whether that group is right. That's the foundation assumption which makes the ad hominem fallacy the error it is.

    However, as Christians we do claim that Christianity changes lives, and Christianity has an intrinsic moral component. We're therefore more susceptable to the assertion that it doesn't change them, at least not in the way we suppose. There's also the small matter that many bits of the Bible do seem to support attrocities of some sort or another.

    A bit more depth for this question is a must.

    Also, beware of the "no true scottsman" fallacy.

  2. Josiah, thanks for your feed-back, it was just meant to be a brief introduction for people who wanted to know a few responses to the question, so nothing too in depth intended. However I will write a more complete and robust response at a later date, including why I don't think the no true Scotsman fallacy is applicable as I wouldn't argue that no true Christian could do something evil only that they are not justified in doing so, especially in light of what Jesus has said. The issue is people not doing what Jesus has taught, the matter of 'bits of the Bible' that on the surface support such atrocities will be dealt with on here soon. Its important to remember that such commands were/are descriptive and not prescriptive statements unlike those say in the Koran for example.

    Thanks for your thoughts once again.


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