Sean McDowell | March 26, 2019

The One (and Only) Good Reason to Be a Christian

The One (and Only) Good Reason to Be a Christian

SeanMcDowell.org

People believe things for a lot of different reasons. But when it comes to the big questions of life, it seems to me there is only one good basis for belief. Let me explain.

Not long ago I was invited to lead an apologetics training day at a local church. A small youth group invited me to join them for lunch. Since our conversation consisted of the typical topics of sports and movies, I decided to spice things up and ask the students a deeper question.

So I asked the students, “Why are each of you a Christian?” Here are a few of the responses:

  • “My parents are Christians”
  • “I like going to youth group”
  • “My friends are Christians”
  • “Christianity gives me purpose”
  • “I enjoy being a Christian”

Do you notice anything conspicuous by its absence? Not a single student said he or she was a Christian because they believed it was true.

Rather, students listed psychological reasons, such as the enjoyment from going to youth group, or social reasons, such as the influence of friends and family. The hole in this kind of thinking should be quite obvious.

If you are a Christian because you enjoy it, then what happens when persecution comes, as 1 Peter says Christians should expect? If you are a Christian because your friends are Christians, should you abandon your faith if they do? What if one parent is a Christian and the other an atheist. Should you be an agnostic?

These kinds of questions help reveal that psychological and social factors are inadequate reasons to be a Christian.

My point is not to pick on these kids. I realize they are young and their worldviews are in process. Ultimately, I am glad they were Christians for any reason! And I am grateful they were willing to have this kind of conversation.

Once they shared their reasons for belief, I gently pressed them to reflect on whether they were good reasons. They quickly began to see that, as the apostle Paul explains in 1 Cor. 15:14-17, the entire value of the Christian faith rests upon its historical truth:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.

Simply put, if Jesus did not rise from the grave, then Christianity is false, and Christians are dishonest witnesses of God who are to be pitied for embracing a worthless faith.

Christianity may make you feel good. But if Jesus did not rise from the dead, you are believing a false message. Your parents may teach you the Christian faith from good intentions. But if the tomb of Jesus was not empty, your parents are proclaiming a false message to you.

These are strong words, but they make a critical point: The one good reason to be a Christian is if it is true. If Christianity is true, believe it. If not, don't waste your time.

*The confusion over faith, truth, and belief is one of primary reasons J. Warner Wallace and I wrote So The Next Generation Will Know, which releases May 1. It is a practical handbook to help parents, youth leaders, and teachers equip students with a Christian worldview. If you pre-order it now, we will send you some valuable, free resources for training students (PDFs, videos, PowerPoint presentation, etc.).

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.