- The fact that Christians sin is not only not inconsistent with Christianity, but follows from it.
- You can't condemn Christians as bad without employing Christian principles to do it.
[I]f the gospel of Christ is really so transformational, wouldn't we at least see some kind of positive difference in the behaviors of Christians, as compared to the behaviors of those who do not know Christ? I wouldn't expect sinlessness in Christians, but I would expect to see, for example, statistically significant differences in the divorce rate of Christians as compared to non-Christians. Which I don't think exists at this point in time.Good question.
On an evangelical note, it seems to me a tough argument to say Christ can transform your life, help you battle sin, if all the Christians you see are pretty much just as sinful as anybody else. Where's the evidence of transformation?
Let's assume that we were capable of actually measuring the "goodness" quotient of groups of people, and we found that, as some particular point in time, Christians as a group were no better, ethically speaking, than non-Christians as a group. Suppose we found that the goodness quotient of Christians was no higher than that of non-Christians. By the way, I don't think we can do this, but let's assume that we could.
Is this evidence that Christianity does not transform lives? Does it mean that Christianity does not make people better? On the face of it it would seem to, but, in fact, it does not.
The only way you could say it does is if you knew what those same Christians were like before they became Christians. If you are trying to determine whether people become better after becoming Christians, you can't do it by comparing them to non-Christians. You have to compare them with themselves. You can't determine whether one group of people is better after a change than before by comparing them to another group of people. You have to compare people before the change to the same people afterwards. Only then can you say with any definitiveness whether Christianity makes people different.
To simply cite statistics about how Christians compare to non-Christians is irrelevant. What were the people who are now Christians like before and are they better or worse now? I don't think there is or ever will be a study that can answer this question. It can only be answered by common sense.
G. K. Chesterton was once asked why he had become a Catholic. His response was simply, "to have my sins forgiven." If there is an institution that offers those who join the forgiveness of their sins, you wouldn't expect it to be terribly attractive to sinless people. Quite the opposite. It would be attractive to sinful people. They're the ones who need forgiveness. "I came not to call the righteous," said Jesus, "but sinners to repentance."
So it would not be terribly surprising to learn that Christians were even worse is some ways than non-Christians. But that wouldn't be inconsistent with the idea that the same people were better after than before they became Christians.
In fact, if you look at the post I was responding to, what you find is a person who discovered the evil that many Christians do through counseling with them. And how did this happen? It happened, presumably, because the people he was seeing knew that what they were doing was wrong and were seeking some way to deal with it. This is what he described as the "Christian underbelly."
First of all, the fact that they were seeking help says something about their state of mind. If they were not Christians, would they have been as enthusiastic about seeking help? If their sense of right and wrong had not be changed by their Christian beliefs, would they even have thought they needed it? The writers says these were people who did some very bad things. But at least they were people who knew they were bad things and were trying to do something about it; otherwise, they wouldn't have been there in the first place.
And, second, did the author of the original post have an equal amount of experience with the "non-Christian underbelly?" It is not likely. First, he himself says he was a "pastoral counselor," who was seeing people from "within the Christian community." What would he have found if his counseling experience was outside the church? It could very well have been much worse--or maybe not. People outside the church would seemingly be much less likely to realize that they had a problem, and therefore much less likely to seek out counseling.
So, does Christianity change people? I think it does because I have seen it change people. And if someone is going to claim that it does not, they've have to find a better way to argue their case than the ones they're coming up with over at the De-Conversion blog.