What is Christianity? Part 3

One objection to my cognitivist view of religion and of Christianity goes like this:

“Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

In the previous post in this series, I argued that (1) Christianity is a religion according to the Bible.  So, Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, should accept the view that Christianity is a religion.

I also argued that (2) none of the definitions of “Christianity” found in various dictionaries characterizes Christianity as a relationship, and that dictionary definitions either categorize “Christianity” as a religion or refer to some phenomena that are conceptually tied to the concept of “the Christian religion”.  This implies that educated speakers of the English language use the word “Christianity” to refer to a religion or to phenomena that are conceptually tied to the concept of “the Christian religion”.

I have a third initial point to make in support of the view that CHRISTIANITY is a RELIGION:


Of course, we need to use our brains when reading the Bible and use our brains when reading a dictionary, so what I have in mind here is using our brains to understand a specific simple bit of logic:

1. If Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, then Christianity is NOT the sort of thing that can be TRUE.

2. If Christianity is NOT the sort of thing that can be TRUE, then it is NOT the case that Christianity is TRUE.


3. If Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, then it is NOT the case that Christianity is TRUE.

On the other hand, if Christianity is a religion, then Christianity IS the sort of thing that can be true (or false), so the claim that “Christianity is true” at least makes sense, if we assume that CHRISTIANITY is a RELIGION.  As I explained previously, a cognitivist view of Christianity is one that sees Christianity primarily as a system of beliefs, as a philosophy of life, as a worldview.

A system of beliefs is composed of beliefs, and beliefs are the sort of thing that can be true or false.  Since the elements that make up a system of beliefs are things that can be true or false, we can make sense of the idea of a system of beliefs being true or false (although some sophistication and complexity is involved in talking about the truth of a system of beliefs, because it would be unrealistic to require that 100% of the beliefs in a system of beliefs to be true in order to consider the whole system to be true).

So, if someone wants to claim or to believe that “Christianity is true”, then he or she will need to give up the claim that “Christianity is a relationship”, becuase these two claims are logically incompatible.  If Christianity is a relationship, it follows logically that it is NOT the case that Christianity is true.

It is very common for a defender of Christianity to claim that “Christianity is true.”

Here are some examples of defenders of Christianity who believe that Christianity is the sort of thing that can be true (or false):

As I think about your question, I think it will be helpful if we distinguish between the role of emotions in warranting Christianity’s truth and their role in our deciding whether Christianity is true. – William Lane Craig


Christianity teaches many things no other religion teaches, and some of them directly contradict those others. If Christianity isn’t true, why be a Christian? – Peter Kreeft


Second, apologists do not believe that apologetics saves anyone. It only provides evidence in the light of which people can make rational decisions. It only provides evidence that Christianity is true. One must still place his faith in Christ in order to be saved. – Norman Geisler


What I want to show you, however, is that it is possible to have faith and acknowledge its importance while simultaneously knowing (not just believing) that Christianity is true. What’s more, I want to talk to you about how we can know that Christianity is true. – Steven B. Cowan


For every weekday in April 2010, Apologetics 315 will feature an essay contributed by a Christian apologetics blogger in response to the question: Why is Christianity True? The goal of this project is a simple one: to share the reasons that we have found compelling to believe that Christianity is true“. – Brian Auten


Finally, in the context of all of the above, one can assist the sceptic to adopt the stance of a sincere seeker; to get him to put him or herself into the kind of position where he or she can come to have the requisite encounter with God so as to see that Christianity is true. This is ultimately how one shows that Christianity is true. – Matthew Flannagan


How do I know Christianity is true? The facts behind it along with my experience of God’s promises confirm it.- Patrick Zukeran

Defending Christianity as true, rational, and pertinent is right; to do so for the wrong reasons is wrong. – Douglas Groothuis


The New Testament makes the assertion that the truth of Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. – Josh McDowell


When I say that Christianity is rational, I do not mean that the truth of Christianity in all of its majesty can be deduced from a few logical principles by a speculative philosopher. There is much information about the nature of God that we can find only because God himself chooses to reveal it to us.  –  R.C. Sproul


Here I am, all set to present my best arguments for the truth of Christianity, and the person I am talking to dismisses it all cavalierly. “Sure, Christianity is true,” he concedes, “but then again, all religions ultimately teach the same truth.” – Winfried Corduan


Simply put, I believe Christianity is true because Jesus said it was. – Greg Koukl


The truth of Christianity uniquely stands or falls on Christ’s resurrection. – Kenneth Samples

“Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Christianity is true and that we are not being deceived.” – Matt Slick


But here I want to offer my unique perspective on why Christianity is true: I believe that the social world of the first century was, on a large number of counts, ideologically in opposition to Christianity. Response to Christian claims would have been… – James Patrick Holding


You can come at the truth of Christianity through several angles of apologetics and reasoning. – John Piper


So in light of what I’ve written elsewhere, and the resources I’ve provided, I think there is good reason to conclude that Christianity is true.  – Carson Weitnauer


Part 1 of this series ‘Christianity is True‘ addresses the nature of truth and revelation to be found in the Bible – bethinking.Org [author of this series: Ranald Macaulay]


“Only some of the offensive claims of The Da Vinci Code pertain directly to the Catholic Church. The remainder strike at the Christian faith itself. If the book’s claims were true, then all forms of Christianity would be false (except perhaps for Gnostic/feminist versions focusing on Mary Magdalene instead of Jesus).” – Catholic Answers


It is difficult to find a defender or advocate of Christianity who does not believe that “Christianity is true”, and that Christianity is thus the sort of thing that can be true (or false).  This widely held view is logically incompatible with the claim that “Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ” but makes perfect sense in relation to the assumption that CHRISTIANITY is a RELIGION.