Can’t I make anything up and claim it’s Christian?

In a recent discussion with a group of de-converts from Christianity the following objection was raised:

Actually, my article *argues* that there is no objective definition of Christianity; it does not assume it. That was pretty much the point: there is no supernatural referent to “Christian” (or “God” or “salvation” or any of it), so the only definition(s) possible have to do with human social designations. Many groups of course *claim* to have objective definitions, but since I believe (a) they are all wrong, and (b) all lack the authority to settle the question for everyone, I can either scrap the word “Christian” altogether, or understand it to refer only to those who profess to be followers of Jesus. Thus, the boundaries of the term “Christian” are very fuzzy: it doesn’t refer to anything divine, and there is no universally accepted coding system, as it were. So: there is no correct answer.

Anyone is, of course, free to stipulate any definition of “Christian” they wish. You can, if you like, define “Christian” such as to exclude de-conversion. I can’t say that you’re wrong. But there is no reason at all I have to adopt your definition.

Here is my response:

Christianity does have an early and objective definition which has been upheld by all orthodox Christians ever since the establishment of the Church in the book of Acts. In fact, this objective definition is what we use in order to determine whether something is orthodox or not.

This definition is seen clearly in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul clearly states what many believe to be the earliest Christian creed or codification of Christian beliefs. It contains a number of things but the quick rundown is that Christians believe that Christ is a real person, who died a real death, who then rose from a real grave in a real, physical body and who appeared to real people.

I realize it is very popular to characterize Christian belief in particular (as well as religious belief in general) as merely a product of wish fulfillment or a preference akin to which flavor of ice cream is best (I prefer chocolate). However the fact remains that Christianity is based upon real, historical events which means that Christianity, like Judaism, is potentially falsifiable.

This also means that no one can epistemologically be a “true Christian” unless Christianity is, itself, true. If you have renounced Christianity and now believe it to be false, by definition you also believe you were never a “true believer” because you would have to logically commit yourself to the idea that you were deceived when you held an irrational belief (if, that is, Christianity is indeed false).

Finally, you seem to misunderstand the “no true Scotsman fallacy”. The fallacy is one of lack of objective definition such that the goal-posts are rendered wholly subjective. My contention (as well as Paul’s per 1 Corinthians 15) is that lack of objective definition of what beliefs are definitive of “true Christian beliefs” is simply not true.

We do have an objective standard, rooted in real historical and falsifiable events. Our claims are not entirely subjective, nor are they ad-hoc (as supposed competing explanations of unique Christian claims such as the resurrection are).

So the question of whether you were a “true believer” in the first place must logically center around what you believed in relation to the objective truth claims of Christianity (specifically the resurrection of Jesus) AND what competing, credible, competing theories/arguments/and evidence you have subsequently found that have provided sufficient defeaters to your original beliefs.

In the end, you were either a “true believer” then (of the objective claims of Christianity) or you are a “true believer” now (in atheism/agnosticism). However, die to the law of the excluded middle you cannot claim to have been a “true believer” of both since, at the end of the day, one of them is false and therefore cannot have “true believers” no matter how strenuously it’s adherents may wish it to be true.

Share/Bookmark

130 responses to “Can’t I make anything up and claim it’s Christian?

  1. Pingback: Can't I make anything up and claim it's Christian? | Reason To Stand - Christian IBD

  2. "However the fact remains that Christianity is based upon real, historical events which means that Christianity, like Judaism, is potentially falsifiable."

    There are excerpts in the bible that contain historical accounts, but the text is also muddied by musings of ancient people who envisioned the supernatural because they had no understand of the true natural world. What they envisioned, imagined, presuppossed, or beleived is not necessary what truly happened.

  3. There is a possibility of "supernatural" events, but I would not jump to conclusions to associate it with any specific divine power. If something abnormal (out of the norm) were to happen, I would just say, I don't know how it happened. I wouldn't jump to conclude a specific god caused such an event

  4. Were you there when it "happened"? Were you there when those excerpts were written?

  5. what is this historical evidenvce you speak of? This book was pieced together in a haphazard way. Are you that saying this book is historical, simply because it was written in the past? Where is the evidence of stories/subject that was written. What differs it from a popular novel made into a religion?

  6. Here's a video that helps explain what I am trying to say:
    <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xjDT4kpNzDk&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xjDT4kpNzDk&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

  7. "You can call it beating around the bush all you want to but that doesn't change the fact that it is not the answers which are flawed but the questions that are being asked. If you wish to find honest answers to your questions then you need to start asking the right questions. " I'm sorry that you think I am some kind dishonest. Honesty and reason lead me to deconvert.

    OK. Then what are the RIGHT questions , without any sort of leading assumptions?

  8. "So let me get this straight. Just because someone (who is an independent and wholly free causal agent) may decide not to answer you in the manner and fashion you demand, you feel it valid and fair to reject their existence outright? That is certainly a rather odd line of reasoning which leads to an even stranger set of conclusions. "

    No Wes. I am not a baby that needs to be pacified. I'm not rejecting something because I am not getting my way or because this supernatural being is not responding the way I want him to. This supernatural is just not repsonding in any way that I can verify that he is actually responding. So I ca'nt just say, "oh, I know this being is responding, but I cannot confirm." That would be naive and dishonest of me.

Leave a Reply