A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“If Christianity is true then it ought to follow (a) That any Christian will be nicer than the same person would be if he were not a Christian. (b) That any man who becomes a Christian will be nicer than he was before (p. 210).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
There are many different ways that Christians strive to prove the truth of Christianity – showing how Scripture explains life better than any alternative system, archeological evidence for biblical events, demonstrating the exceedingly superior level of accuracy when the Bible was translated over the centuries, etc.. These are all good.
But there is another form of evidence that we should strive even harder to display than intellectual or historical reasons – character. If Christianity is true, then Christians would live differently than non-Christians.
Lewis helps us think through how to support this evidence when there are plenty of examples of Christians (at least in name) behaving badly. In the previous post, we considered the fallacy of comparing the least ethical Christian to the most ethical unbeliever.
Here he reveals the comparison that should be made; namely, each Christian should be compared to the person they would be apart from Christ. All people are created equal with respect to value, rights, and dignity. But all people are not created equal in character, compassion, and ability.
Consider it this way. How do you know if an education intervention is working? You measure how a child was doing before the intervention and how the same child is doing after the intervention. To say that a class of gifted math students improved their scores by 10% in a month may not be that impressive. Gifted students are likely to improve that much with any concentrated attention.
However, to say that a student who was regressing in reading improved by an entire grade level in 3 months with the help of a particular intervention would be quite significant. Where the student would be without the intervention is the evidence of true effectiveness.
Similarly, someone who is genuinely saved should be able to point to aspects of character (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc…) not just knowledge (amount of time reading the Bible or number of verses memorized) if Christianity is true.
Jesus did not come to remedy inadequate amounts of information about theology. Jesus came to ransom and transform sinful hearts. Therefore, if what He claimed is true, then Christianity should positively impact the amount of sin in people’s lives.
This is not the only way that Christians should engage arguments about the validity of Christianity. But the better we do as evidencing the validity of Christianity through character transformation the more we will be engaging in conversations (rather than arguments) about the other ways of supporting the truth of Christ’s life, teaching, death, and resurrection.