Is Christianity really harmful?

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With the rise of the new atheism, Christianity is under intellectual attack. One recurring theme on the part of critics is that Christianity is actually harmful to individuals and to the world. It is, they say, a religion that leads to oppression, warfare, opposition to science, and anti-intellectualism.

Are these charges true? Hardly. A look at the facts of history demonstrates Christianity's positive influence on individuals and the world. From its beginnings Christianity stressed God's love as its ethical foundation. Early Christians also understood the importance and moral implications of the biblical teaching that human beings are made in God's image. If, after all, we are made in God's image, then every human life is of inestimable worth. That's one reason early Christians rescued babies that were left to die and why the church would later found orphanages and hospitals.

Given Christianity's ethical foundation based on God's love, as well as Christ's call to "do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12, NIV), the results of truly following Christianity are positive, not harmful, having resulted in many tangible blessings throughout the world as Christians risk their safety in order to help others.

Moreover, Christianity is a thinking religion, calling followers to use their minds in the pursuit of truth (see, for instance, Matthew 22:37-39). When the Apostle Paul was accused of being "insane" for his beliefs, he did not respond by offering blind faith. Instead he remarked, "What I am saying is true and reasonable" (Acts 26:25, NIV). Early Christians often appealed to evidence for their faith, as well as engaging in reasoned discussion (see, for example, Acts 1:3; 17:2, 17:17; 18:19).

If true Christianity were removed from the world, the loss would be incalculable. The truth is, Christianity has left its positive marks on a number of areas of life including social justice, music, art, literature, philosophy, science, charity, democracy, and more. That's why Sonlight created What Good is Christianity? This upper-level high school curriculum graciously addresses many of the criticisms of contemporary skeptics, while underscoring the numerous beneficial contributions Christians and Christianity have made to the world.

What do you think? Do the critics have some valid points? Is there a particular charge against Christianity that has caused you concern? If so, post your comment here.


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About Robert

Robert Velarde serves as a curriculum creator with Sonlight's product development team. He’s author of The Wisdom of Pixar, A Visual Defense, Conversations with C.S. Lewis, The Golden Rules of Narnia, and more.
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7 Responses to Is Christianity really harmful?

  1. I think that Christians themselves are sometimes do more harm than good simply by claiming to be doing God's will but then doing things that contradict the Bible's message. Wars "in the name of God" or even what early missionaries would do to "force" others to believe can do more harm than good. But I completely agree with you, that true biblical Christianity is good for all people (even unbelievers) because it is full of love for people and goodwill to all.

  2. Robert Robert says:

    Thanks for your comments, Shannon. Those are good points. Christian behavior can either serve as a good example to others or a bad one. No one appreciates hypocrisy. I'm reminded of the time G.K. Chesterton was asked to respond to the question, "What's wrong with the world?" His two word reply was, simply, "I am."

    While we don't want to gloss over reasonable objections to the faith, in cases of religious "wars" and such we need to point out that not all who claim to be Christians or do things in the name of Christ are really Christians, and even if some were they were certainly not living out their faith in the way Christ called them to or in a way that is representative of true faith.

  3. It might also be good to point out that those early missionaries, misguided though they might have been, often stood with the local people against colonial powers (despite how they have often been portrayed in popular media).

  4. False Name due to publication says:

    I agree with Shannon. How I personally can see "Christianity as being harmful". I have family members whom are supposedly devout Catholics. My father has just recently been Knighted in the Knights of Columbus, yet he's very racist, a drunkard, curses his wife constantly, has pushed one of his sons to the curb, and has claimed another son and his children (whom by blood is not his, yet claimed him as his for the son's entire life) are not his blood in any way shape or form. Both of my parents continually gossip, call family members liars, pushed my 17 year old neice to have an abortion (she did not), curse family members out (to the extreme), has recently quoted false teachings of the Bible, etc. As supposedly true devout Christians and a leader of a church, they are what I would claim as hypocrites and a very good example of why so many people are turning away from churches and believing in God. Therefore, with everything I've mentioned which is completely against the teachings of the Bible, why wouldn't people claim Christianity as being harmful? As someone is seeking to have a better relationship with God, I must admit there are days I question the teachings of the Bible due to their behavoir. Luckily, I married someone whom was raised in a Christian home and was taught the true teachings of the Bible from early childhood.

  5. HisTreasures says:

    Sinful man's behavior does not trump the truth. Regardless of what people think regarding Christianity, the truth is still the truth; as it has been since Adam and Eve were created. Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." John 14:6. We live in a world covered in darkness. The deceiver is prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Believers must call on and rely on His name and saving power to be salt and light in the world. Believer's must purpose themselves to be seekers of the truth in order to be light in the darkness of this world. Our lives MUST praise Him, otherwise the rocks will cry out.

  6. Robert Robert says:

    Thanks, all, for the thoughtful comments. Human depravity is indeed extensive, resulting in professing Christians sometimes behaving foolishly. Fortunately, our hope is in Christ and his claims rather than in fallible human beings.

  7. Sandra says:

    If true Christianity were removed from the world, the loss would be incalculable. The truth is, Christianity has left its positive marks on a number of areas of life including social justice, music, art, literature, philosophy, science, charity, democracy, and more. So just ignore Is Christianity really harmful as true biblical Christianity is good.

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