Evangelical Christianity’s Top Three Weaknesses

When Americans tried – and failed – to reunite Christianity

Christian Blogger: Gary, what do you see as the top THREE weaknesses of evangelical Christianity?

Gary: The top three weaknesses of evangelical Christianity are:

1.) Disputed eyewitness testimony of an alleged supernatural event is not good evidence. 2.) The overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians came to belief in Jesus due to emotional factors or a life crises, not due to historical evidence. Evangelical Christians use historical evidence as a socially respectable facade for their belief (an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less creditable reality). 3.) Perceptions of a spirit/ghost “dwelling within” you, communicating with you in a “still, small voice”, is delusional thinking unless you can provide better evidence for its reality.

1. Disputed eyewitness testimony for a 2,000 year old supernatural claim is NOT good evidence. You may believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, but I am not interested in debating your opinion. I am simply pointing out that the best evidence Christians have for the central claim of their religion, the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, is disputed: almost all NT scholars, with the exception of evangelicals and fundamentalist Protestants, reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Therefore, with the eyewitness authorship of these books in doubt, it is entirely possible that all the miracle stories told about Jesus in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts are legends, legends which had evolved and been embellished over decades, or fictional stories invented for theological purposes.

2. I have found that most evangelical Christians did not come to faith in Jesus the resurrected Christ through historical evidence but due to an emotional experience or a life crisis. Would you briefly detail the circumstances for your conversion to Christianity?

3. I believe that most evangelical Christians believe that Jesus is alive and well today due to something they call “the testimony of the Holy Spirit”. Would you please explain what this is and if you have experienced this “testimony” yourself in some fashion?

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End of post.

19 thoughts on “Evangelical Christianity’s Top Three Weaknesses

    1. After three days, the Christian blogger has not responded to my three points. I left this comment:

      I have found that evangelicals are often very reluctant to discuss the circumstances of their conversion to Christianity and the topic of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because such a discussion usually reveals the true reason for their belief: their emotions. Appeals to historical evidence is merely a socially respectable facade for the true reason for their belief in virginal conceptions, water walking, and corpse reanimation

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  1. Gary –

    You might well be right about the majority of Evangelicals – that their “true reason for their beliefs” are their emotions.

    But, on the other hand, there are a very great number of Evangelicals that simply “grow up” being taught that Jesus taught this-that-and-the-other, that he did miracles, and that he was crucified and raise up to life again (ie, bodily resurrection).

    In either case, though, while it certainly can be said that these are among the worst of reasons to believe, that does not mean that “the thing believed” isn’t true.

    Note: I’m NOT making a case here for the bodily resurrection.

    Let me explain: Being born and raised in Texas, I grew up learning (at least a version of) the The Battle of the Alamo. And, of course, Davy Crockett was there.

    I believed the story that there was a Battle of the Alamo, and of course, I believed that Davy was there simply because it’s what everybody told me. Mom and Dad told me. Of course it was “true”; Mom and Dad wouldn’t lie about that. Nor would the kid across the street. Everybody knew that story, and said it was a true story.

    Now, I never had a great deal of interest in the Alamo, nor in Crockett, although over the many years, I had done a little bit of reading. It was “clear enough” that historians all said “yeh, there was a battle, and yeh, Crockett was there”.

    But – specifically – I never knew how anybody really knew Crockett was there. And, that little question popped up in my mind only in the last few years: how does anybody really know Crockett was at the battle? For all I knew, the real story was that Crockett had left Tennessee, headed south, stopped in Pine Bluff Arkansas where he changed his name (to avoid creditors back in Tennessee) and opened a dry goods store. But everybody back in Tennessee thought Davy had headed out for San Antonio, TX (where the Alamo is located), and since they never heard from him again, while at the same time, they heard about a battle that took place at San Antonio, they all just figured “Davy went there and got himself killed”. So, for all I really knew, the story of Davy at the Alamo was a total “legend” – and one that actually started in TN, not in TX….

    Well, it took about 15 minutes of googling to find the answer: there are extant letters of Crockett, written from TX; there are numerous eye-witnesses, such as survivors of the battle, the Alcalde (mayor) of San Antonio, people who lived in San Antonio and had met Crockett there, plus, eye-witness accounts from Mexican soldiers who either saw or took part in some executions of prisoners after the battle (Crockett being one of them), two or three diaries from Mexican soldiers and officers, and even official Mexican military records that all document that Crockett was at the alamo, and was killed there.

    What I’m getting at is this: those “stories” I heard as a kid, about Crockett at the Alamo, were true stories, substantiated by more-than-sufficient evidence. I believed the story simply because I was told the story. But, it turns out, they were true stories — even if I could offer no “historical evidence” for it myself. Somebody could (and certainly did). I didn’t know who “those guys” (ie, historians) were, but whomever they were, they had all the historical info, even if I didn’t.

    My “reason” for believing was a bad one. I believed because I had been told. Lousy reason to believe, admittedly. But, it ultimately didn’t matter: it was indeed a true story, whether I knew the historical evidence or not.

    IF Jesus was truly bodily resurrected, then even if a person believes that resurrection story just because they’ve been told that story – then yeh, it’s a bad reason to believe. But, if it’s a true story, then, it’s perfectly fine for them to believe the story – for almost “whatever” reason: maybe they were told, or maybe they had some kind of experience, etc. And, those are not good reasons (ultimately) to believe. But, that just means they’re believing a true story – just not for great reasons – IF Jesus were truly resurrected.

    Ultimately, the question of whether Jesus was indeed bodily resurrected is the ONLY question that matters: if he wasn’t, then there are huge truckloads of peripheral stuff that don’t matter; but, if he was resurrected, then equally, there are huge truckloads of peripheral stuff that don’t matter.

    My question for you: Why do you think it’s of such importance for every single “believer” to be able to “make an historical case”? I certainly never did that for my “belief” that Crockett was at the Alamo, and once I finally got around to it, all it did was show that my “belief” (based on nothing more than “being told”) was in fact quite substantiated. And, above all, why on earth do you think that the fact that some individual believer can’t make an historical case for the resurrection, that that necessarily means anything at all?

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    1. If I understand your approach/posture here HolyMoly, you make a “popularized” point about facts and historical authenticity. I’ve often heard criminal defense and prosecuting attorneys say, pronounce the same message:

      It’s not what you KNOW to be true/factual and verified as proof, it’s what you must prove in court—which is completely different than truths or facts.

      The human brain is clearly more influenced by and dictated by neurology; i.e. dopamine and endorphin highs/jolts rank MUCH HIGHER in self survival/life than actual facts, truths, and reality. Go extinct being thrilled and excited rather than surviving via reality, truths, and facts! 😄

      I’d venture to say that a big majority of the human population lives this way—detached from reality and facts. 😉

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      1. I guess I didn’t communicate very well. My intent was not to “make a point”. It was to ask a question:

        “Why do you think it’s of such importance for every single “believer” to be able to “make an historical case”? I certainly never did that for my “belief” that Crockett was at the Alamo, and once I finally got around to it, all it did was show that my “belief” (based on nothing more than “being told”) was in fact quite substantiated. And, above all, why on earth do you think that the fact that some individual believer can’t make an historical case for the resurrection, that that necessarily means anything at all?”

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        1. If an adult were to tell you that he sincerely believes in Santa Claus and flying reindeer based on the fact that he was told this story as a child by his parents, what would you think of this person’s critical thinking skills? I will bet you will say that he is extremely naive and gullible. Why? Answer: Because educated adults should not believe a fantastical supernatural claim from his or her childhood without ever demanding better evidence than “a person in authority told me it was true”.

          If the children of Christians were told as older children by their parents and other authority figures that Jesus the Christ is not real, at the same time that they are told that Santa Claus is not real, that both persons are imaginary figures told to entertain little children, Christianity would soon disappear. Religion is perpetuated by the simple fact that most children adopt the beliefs, good and bad, of their parents.

          Most educated people in our society abandon supernatural belief when they are older children because their authority figures tell them the truth: The supernatural stories they were told as little children are not true. If only authority figures would tell Christian children that ALL supernatural stories are fantasy, including those about Jesus, the water walker!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Gary, using as comparisons the ‘handed down’ stories of Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, or the Boogey Man was a very good response. Those too are clearly stories, legends, myths that have “been told” (being told) over and over, so many times while mentally innocent/naïve so many times, that by mere repetition only, far too many people surrender their critical-thinking skills to incessant programming and peer-pressure rather than adapting & embracing truth, facts, substantial even highly plausible evidence. It’s similar to a war of attrition I should think, huh? 😉

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            1. Meant to add above that I’m a Sasquatchian—I have told so many times about the MASSIVE Bigfoot creature—that I know it to be utterly true! Hence, my “belief” in Sasquatch is just as easily founded and true as Christians being told about a Jewish Rabbi turned Greco-Roman, then floats around mysteriously as a holy Spirit—avoiding any and all unanimous, verifiable sightings—just like my Sasquatch does! 🤭 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, so if I’m giving a fair reading to what you’re saying, it seems that you’re saying that the reason it’s important for all Christians to make an “historical case” for the resurrection is because – exactly as I said – believing in Jesus’ resurrection just because somebody told you so is one of the worst reasons possible for believing.

    So, lets say, then, that all Christians, age 18 or older, everywhere in the world decided in the next couple of months to take a course that used NT Wrights exhaustive “The Resurrection of the Son of God” as the text – and all were required to pass a tough, comprehensive exam in order to finish the course. They each could then present you with one of the best cases ever made for believing in the historicity of the resurrection.

    So, what would that accomplish?

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    1. No, it would not be a good case. Have you read Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God”? I have, cover to cover. In that book, Wright makes some very damning statements in reference to the reliability of the Gospels, the only sources to give us (alleged) detailed accounts of this (alleged) event. Some of those statements include:

      –He questions whether Jesus ever prophesied his resurrection. (The stories of Jesus prophesying his resurrection found in several Gospels are possibly the fictitious inventions of the authors).

      –the story of Herod believing that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead may be another fictitious invention of the gospel authors.

      –the three conflicting stories in Acts about Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road are probably purposefully contradictory. They are literary inventions: the contradictions stimulate the interest of the reader!

      So what is Wright’s “best case” for the Resurrection: “no Jew or Gentile would ever invent the concept of the bodily resurrection of one person.”

      The problem with that claim is that it fails to take into account how almost all new religions and cults are formed: they take a concept from the mother religion, tweak it enough that it is unacceptable to the mother religion, and VOILA, a new religion is born. The concept of resurrection existed in the mother religion (Judaism). Christians just gave it a new twist. There is no good historical evidence for the alleged resurrection of Jesus. Disputed two thousand year old accounts of this alleged event written in the third person by anonymous authors is NOT good historical evidence.

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      1. You’ve just made my point for me, Gary.

        Whether it’s highly-qualified, highly-respected scholars such as Wright, Brown, Licona, Habermas, or anyone else making an historical case for the resurrection, it’s not going to accomplish a thing, as far as you’re concerned.

        You’re going to believe Ehrman, Ludemann, Crossan, whomever.

        Why? Because most people do NOT read such “historical case studies” in order to learn the “truth” about what happened. They read them in order to find support for what they already believe.

        You yourself do EXACTLY that.

        So, thank you for making my very point: even if a Christian can make an historic case for the resurrection – even Christian scholars of the caliber of Wright, Brown, et al, it simply does not matter to you. You already believe what you believe.

        So you actually have NO POINT AT ALL in your incessant “demands” that Christians make an “historic case” for the resurrection, EXCEPT to say “despite that well-written, well-researched book you wrote, Dr Wright, I still think you’re wrong”.

        Your beliefs, then, are no different than those of the Fundamentalists you attack. You just collect the information that supports What You Already Believe, and you call those writings “historical”.

        Again – my thanks to you for making my very point.

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        1. Because most people do NOT read such “historical case studies” in order to learn the “truth” about what happened. They read them in order to find support for what they already believe.
          You yourself do EXACTLY that.

          You forget why I left Christianity. I left Christianity because a couple of atheists challenged me on the evidence, not because I wanted to indulge in sin or because I was mad at God.

          There is no good evidence for your belief, FT Bond. If there were, you would have presented it by now. You tell us to wait for the book to come out, but if your belief in a once in history first century supernatural event requires an entire book of explanations to support it, you do NOT have good evidence. Have you found new evidence that no other Christian has found to date? No. You have simply invented a new theory; a new complex-sounding explanation for why brain-dead corpses CAN come back to life—or be replaced with a cosmic body—in your non-Trinitarian belief system.

          Until you put up some actual evidence, you are just barking at the moon.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I assure you I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

            I didn’t say a thing about “why” you left Christianity – whether you wanted to sin, or whether you were mad at God, or any other such thing.

            I said (as you quoted) “Because most people do NOT read such “historical case studies” in order to learn the “truth” about what happened. They read them in order to find support for what they already believe.
            You yourself do EXACTLY that.”

            That last sentence is PRESENT TENSE. Not past tense. I’m horrifically unconcerned as to whatever led to your “deconversion”.

            As far as MY evidence goes, you have no idea what evidence I might have. Because I simply have not presented it here on this blog, and have no intention of doing so, unless you’re willing to pay some very serious bucks for me to do so. And, of course, you’re not willing to do that, so, as I’ve said more than once, you’ll just have to wait on the book.

            But – my point still stands: Even if a scholar of the qualifications of NT Wright can make an historical case for the resurrection, you won’t buy it. So, I fail to see why you even bother asking anyone for their “historical information”.

            The historical cases have all been made, at this point. As far as “resurrection studies” goes, that endeavor of historians has reached a great impasse, But as far as the contentions of Ehrman, Ludemann, Crossan vs Wright, Licona, even Lapide (an Orthodox Jew who believes Jesus’ resurrection to be an historical event, though he doesn’t believe Jesus was Messiah), it gets down to “take your pick”. NONE of them – skeptic or “believer” – are conclusive.

            And, since none of them are conclusive, and since there is absolutely no consensus regarding the resurrection of Jesus, then all you (or anyone) can do is pick stuff that best suits what you either already believe or are leaning towards believing.

            As I’ve said, and as you’ve demonstrated: Even if all Christians could make an historical case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, it would accomplish nothing whatsoever, as far as you’re concerned.

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            1. And, since none of them are conclusive, and since there is absolutely no consensus regarding the reality of Santa Claus, then all you (or anyone) can do is pick stuff that best suits what you either already believe or are leaning towards believing.

              Like it or not, most modern educated people hold supernatural claims to a higher standard of evidence than other historical claims—unless the supernatural claim involves their religion.

              There is no new evidence for the resurrection. You’ve got nothin’ but disputed, two thousand year stories told in the third person by anonymous authors! You are barking at the moon. I’m not interested in your book of spin.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I very CLEARLY stated, in my first msg in this particular discussion, in a single-sentence paragraph, all by itself,

                “Note: I’m NOT making a case here for the bodily resurrection.”

                and, that’s still true, Gary. And, thus, I have absolutely no inclination whatsoever to get off into that discussion.

                but thanks for your attempt at a bunnytrail. I’m just not following it. It’s got absolutely NOTHING to do with the point I was making.

                And, fortunately for me, you PROVED the point I was making. Thanks.

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                1. Why do I bother talking to you?? Since you admit that you are unwilling to present your evidence in favor of Christianity’s claims, one has to ask: Why do you stick around this skeptic/atheist blog? The answer is obvious: You are a troll. You just want to cause trouble. So that is how I will address you in the future, Troll, until and if you decide to cough up some actual evidence for your belief in Christianity’s supernatural tales.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. what can I say? I told you I wasn’t making a case for the resurrection at the start.

                    but, heck, even in your original post, YOU aren’t making a case against it, either.

                    you’re talking about “weaknesses”, and I was commenting on THAT.

                    so, you think you can switch topics in mid-stream, then call me a troll because I don’t go along with the switch it topics, and you think that’s fair play?

                    I’d say we have very different views of what “fair” is.

                    Like

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