Skeptics often point their fingers at evil done by Christians to validate their belief that there is no God. The Crusades, witch hunts and racism have definitely left their scars on Christianity. It’s easy for skeptics to discard the Christian faith based on these horrific acts, but Dr. Clay Jones, associate professor at Biola University says, “Don’t be fooled: most of the atrocities done in the name of Christ weren’t done by Christians at all!”
Dr. Jones teaches a course on Why God Allows Evil, and blogged on the subject. Here is a 10-point summary of Dr. Jones’ post*:
The Bible unequivocally teaches that a “lip-service” profession to Christianity is insufficient evidence that one is truly born again. Born again Christians are sincere followers of Jesus, and you can tell by their actions. So, what does it mean, then, to be truly “born again?”
- Someone who follows the teachings of Christ and practice those specific set of beliefs.
- Those who commit murder, rape and other violent acts of rebellion in the “name of God” do them contrary to God’s will. The Bible is clear about these issues.
- Hypocrites aren’t anything new. Jesus hated hypocrisy and denounced it. (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 7:5, 15:7, 22:18; 23:13, 15, 23, etc.)
- Believing is not enough! One must now act on those beliefs to show they’ve changed from within. 1 John 3:9: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” This is not saying that no ‘true’ Christian will ever commit a terrible sin—that sometimes happens—but they do so contrary to God’s will, not because of it.
- Anyone who hates, doesn’t have eternal life within them (1 John 3:15). Those who hate shouldn’t consider themselves Christians.
- Unrepentant murderers aren’t saved. Crusaders and others who murdered in the name of Christ weren’t saved (this is different than those who killed enemy combatants in a ‘just’ war.)
- Real repentance happens on the inside but changes the outward person. This is based on the Reformation maxim: “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.”
- Satan sows false believers among the true believers—and he sows a lot of them. (Consider the parable of the wheat and tares in Mat. 13.)
- Watch people’s actions, not necessarily their words. Consider Ephesians 5:5-6: ”For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
- Lastly, Jesus said that not everyone who calls themselves Christians will gain access to heaven. “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mat. 7:23)
When considering God and Christianity, the best bet is to find followers who exemplify what it truly means to be “born again.” Those folks are the real deal.