“Is Christianity true just because the inerrant Bible says it is?” I like this question better, “Is Christianity provable?” It’s simpler and delivers the gut punch. Before debating how one proves Christianity, one must first decide it’s possible to prove.
This is the central question in a June 2018 American Family Association Journal article by Dr. Frank Turek, apologist and Christian radio host. His short answer is, “No,” followed by hundreds of words explaining the “but.”
Is proving Christianity possible?
The first hurdle is defining Christianity. Ask a hundred self-professed Christians to characterize the specifics of their faith and you’ll get at least twenty answers. Maybe seventy. Maybe a hundred. It depends on which twenty, seventy, or hundred people you ask.
I define Christians as New Creations in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it. That’s good enough for me. But for this exercise, we’ll use the familiar John 3:16 to separate the saved from the unsaved.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This verse speaks of one God who saves all who believe in a begotten Redeemer provided by that same God. Salvation is everlasting life.
Even this simple definition of Christianity invites challenge:
- How do you know there’s only one God.
- What does “believe” mean?
- Christian’s die every day. They perish. How do you explain that?
Debate ensues and the battle begins.
Dr. Turek centers his answer around the fact of the resurrection. “Christianity isn’t just true because the Bible says it’s true. Christianity is true because an event occurred.” There were eye witnesses.
“Fact of the resurrection”? Facts are only facts if everyone agrees they’re correct.
Facts are only facts if everyone agrees they’re correct
Apologists defend the Christian faith with reasoned argument. In this case, Dr. Turek assumes eye-witness accounts to be universally accepted, even if some discrepancy exists. In his article he addresses apparent inconsistencies in gospel eyewitness accounts and offers an explanation of how they happened. His arguments are valid.
Which proves nothing.
- Who wrote the eyewitness accounts?
- How do we know if these people are who they say they are?
- How do we know if what they say they saw was real?
- Folks report UFOs, too…
Whether something is provable depends on the one demanding proof. People with closed minds won’t accept anything as proof. Nothing suffices unless it meets their express burden of proof. Which, if they’re ideologues, doesn’t exist.
You could offer me reams of evidence and facts to support your argument, but nothing you could do or say will convince me that puppies are inherently evil. Not gonna happen. I don’t care. My mind is made up. I’m a chubby puppy ideologue.
You can’t prove Christianity. It’s an exercise of faith. Faith cannot be touched, described, or transferred. Like love. It is or it is not. It’s new and vulnerable or mature and unshakable.
The proof of Jesus Christ for me is the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. I changed. Fear departed. The world is different. My perspective is altered.
Sufficient proof for me, but not necessarily for others.
“That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.” – Kira Nery
Is gender provable?
Here’s an illustration of the difficulty of proving anything in a world of conflicting ideology.
- Can you prove gender?
- Can you prove you’re male or female?
- Can you prove anyone else is male or female?
- What’s acceptable proof?
Appearance isn’t proof. Habits aren’t proof. Genetic material isn’t acceptable proof. No objective observable or testable characteristic proves gender to someone who doesn’t think proof exists.
Gender ideologues believe it isn’t a physical fact. Gender is in the mind. Gender is indefinable. It’s a living construct, ebbing and flowing with a person’s feelings. Whatever you think you are, you are. Any other proof is considered limiting, intolerant, abusive, or hateful.
The vast majority of people who ever lived on this planet would be flabbergasted. They knew the difference between male and female. They knew if their children were sons or daughters. No one knows for sure anymore. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. There is no “is.”
Here’s another illustration:
Why are you sure your mother is your mother?
Can you prove the woman you think of as mother gave birth to you? If you’re adopted, what makes your adoptive mother your mother? Legal papers? Love? Relationship?
You can’t prove who your mother is unless you know what the person asking accepts as legitimate proof. You must define “mother.” What is meant, biological, birth, genetically-related, care-giver, or the one who devotedly mothered you?
If someone asked me to prove that my mother was my mother I’d ask what their concern was. After all, she’s my mother. Satan is the author of lies and deceit. He wants us to question our faith. “How do you know?” or “Can you prove?”
I don’t have to prove anything. Such questions are usually attempts to manipulate. To shake your confidence. To undermine your faith. There’s more to motherhood than birth and genetics. Breaking down unique relationships to provable elements removes them from the miraculous and grinds them up in the mill of debate.
Breaking down unique relationships to provable elements removes them from the miraculous and grinds them up in the mill of debate.
One eleven-year old asking another eleven-year old about the special bond she has with her mother may start a valuable conversation. What if a strange adult challenged your eleven-year old daughter to prove you’re her mother? Is there a noble reason for such a question?
Don’t debate what isn’t debatable. Mom is Mom. ‘Nuff said. Carry on.
Solipsism – Is anything real or provable?
Gorgias the Greek (c. 483-375 BC) is first credited with the philosophy that nothing truly exists apart from your mind. And if it does, nothing can be known about it. And that even if something is known about it, that knowledge can’t be communicated to others.
Gorgias said that everything is an illusion except the mind. And only your mind. Nothing else is provable. Sophists believe that “objective” knowledge, aka facts, is a literal impossibility.
Which just goes to show that people have been messing around with other people’s minds forever. Is the world real? Sophists say no. Are you real? Again, sophists argue that you are unprovable.
Here’s how a sophist might characterize what you’re doing this very moment:
You’re reading something you assume was written by someone else. But you can’t prove anyone else exists outside your mind. So, you may be reading something you wrote and imagined me.
Am I real or a figment of your imagination? Whatever your answer, prove it…
If Gorgias was right, then he isn’t real either.
Can you prove Christianity?
When someone asks for proof that Christianity is real, consider:
Can you prove:
- there’s only one God?
- that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin?
- He worked miracles and trained disciples?
- Jesus’s transfiguration, crucifixion, and death?
- He returned to life and ascended to heaven?
You can’t prove any of these foundational principles.
If you have faith you don’t need further proof.
Without faith, there isn’t proof enough.
Conversations about faith between peers are valuable and necessary. But don’t get suckered into a debate with someone with no apparent interest other than to bait you. If someone asks you to prove Christianity to their satisfaction, you don’t have to play the game. If someone seeks wisdom and truth, be led by the Spirit of God.
You don’t have to prove anything. If God gives you that assignment He’ll provide tools to do the job. If an irksome someone challenges you to back up your faith with proof for sport or to mess up your mind, ask him if he can prove who his mother is.
Let me know what happens.
God’s Word is truth or it is not. The difference rests on faith, not the ability to prove it to an unbelieving world. No one can prove the Bible to be the inspired inerrant Word of God.
If the Spirit of God lives in you, no other proof is required.
Read the companion article to this one. Inerrancy and accuracy – are they different?