So What if Christianity is True?

You might accept that there are good reasons for thinking that Christianity is true, but so what? What difference does it really make?

Here’s a video based on a podcast episode. Not everyone listens to podcasts. 🙂

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Keith March 8, 2014, 11:17 pm

    I’ve heard William Lane Craig address a similar question a couple of times, something along the lines of “Why should I believe Christianity,” where it was clear that the question was seeking a kind of prudential reason – not just asking whether or not it’s true.

    And yet in spite of the way the question was pitched, Dr Craig’s reply was simply “Because it’s the truth!”

    The answer given in this video is a thousand times better: Yes, so let’s grant that it’s true: So what! I’ll be sharing this with my friends, Glenn, thanks so much for this. It would be nice if you got the sort of exposure that some American speakers got – you really offer something different. Refreshing!

  • Julie March 8, 2014, 11:59 pm

    Am I the only one distracted by Glenn’s ridiculous hotness?!

    *ahem* But I appreciated the other content, too. 🙂 Sharing!

  • Mark March 9, 2014, 12:40 pm

    Glenn, just my opinion, but you come across as more gentle / humble “face to face” (i.e. in video, as I’ve never met you) as well as in the podcast, which is very personable. It’s not that you’re an ass in text – it’s just that text is always a bit more “sterile.”

    But I definitely think that the gentleness of your approach when you speak and in your demeanor gives your presentation an edge that “big name” apologists (mostly American ones) seem to lack. Not that this is exactly apologetics, but you know what I mean. 🙂 I’d love to see more of these!

  • Mark March 10, 2014, 8:42 am

    Hi again Glenn – just a quick question: Can you give a source for Plato and the “correspondence” view of truth that you cite?

  • Glenn March 10, 2014, 9:49 am

    The earliest definition of truth along these lines that I know of is from Plato in Cratylus (385b): “A true proposition says that which is and a false proposition says that which is not.”

    Less succinctly, Plato presents it again in the Sophist (263b):

    Stranger: Now what quality shall be ascribed to each of these sentences?
    Theaetetus: One is false, I suppose, the other true.
    Stranger: The true one states facts as they are about you.
    Theaetetus: Certainly.
    Stranger: And the false one states things that are other than the facts.
    Theaetetus: Yes.
    Stranger: In other words, it speaks of things that are not as if they were.
    Theaetetus: Yes, that is pretty much what it does.

    So Plato gave the earliest explicit expression of the correspondence view of truth as I summarised it. However, the actual wording that I used is very similar (but not identical) to the version given by Aristotle, Plato’s student: “To say of what is, that it is not, or of what is not, that it is, is false, while to say of what is, that it is and of what is not, that it is not, is true.” (Metaphysics Bk 4, Ch. 7. 1011b) It looks pretty clearly like he got this from his teacher. I generally like to give credit to the more ancient source, in case someone comes along and says that so-and-so said it earlier than the person I quote.

    I hope this helps!

  • Glenn March 10, 2014, 8:34 pm

    Dangit Mark! Your question has been playing on my mind. Another person (at Facebook) pointed out that Aristotle said this, and I’m paranoid about people thinking that I didn’t know that and I only knew about Plato even though Aristotle’s line is more famous. So I’ve updated the audio to say “Aristotle and Plato.” I’m uploading a new version now.

  • Mark March 10, 2014, 9:04 pm

    LOL! Yes, I hear the difference now.

    I wouldn’t have bothered. Anyone who knows what Plato and Aristotle said about this (I didn’t) will know that what you said originally was correct, and anybody who had no idea isn’t going to get them muddled up anyway. 🙂

  • Sayre April 6, 2014, 5:15 pm

    Hi Glenn,

    I loved this video, but I wish you went a little bit further. As part of my lifelong journey, I converted from atheism, to deism, and then more recently from deism to deism plus belief in a resurrection. Clearly, that last position is a car park – somewhere you can stop for a while, but not somewhere you permanently want to be. I don’t even think the idea is internally consistent.

    So when I saw the title of the video “So what if Christianity is true” I was hoping you would address this problem for me. As a deist who came to acknowledge the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus – so what? What next? What are the implications and what do we do now? What necessarily changes when you accept a risen Lord? I am lost in a quagmire of textual criticism, competing apologetics, calvinism and mariology.

  • Glenn April 6, 2014, 10:18 pm

    Thanks Sayre

    One of the pitfalls with trying to make short soundbites is that there’s always room to say “OK, but so what if This? Or that?” There are a whole lot of angles from which to ask “so what?” The video is really just about the metaphysical implications of Christianity if it’s true: Why things are different and why those things matter.

    But you’re right, the more personal question of – but what do I do now if I start thinking that any of this is true? – isn’t covered here, and it’s a biggie.

    Obviously if you take deism and add the resurrection, what was deism now starts to morph. It brings up the last part of this video – death isn’t the end. Well, it wasn’t for Jesus. But what about me? How do I take that and make it make a difference for my own future? I can see why Christianity would make a difference if it were true, but how do I… I guess, enter into it? What matters and what doesn’t (e.g. the “quagmire” you speak of).

    These really would require a pretty lengthy treatment to give them good coverage. The biblical summary statements are very short: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). But as you read through the New Testament, the practical message is about being a part of the people of God, God’s Kingdom – being initiated into it, growing into it and being transformed y and through it, with the proviso that the people of God are only fed and grown through the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Some of what I’ve said in this video comes into play here too – about loving the other, especially the outcast. Issues like Calvinism – or more broadly, the issue of understanding the mechanics of grace – I think the truth of those things matters much more than does our ability to explain it. I do lean in the direction of what some would call Calvinism (although I don’t really like the term, as it’s a view with a much older history than that. It was Augustine’s view, for example). But I really don’t think that we should place that issue among the big, fundamental issues of “so what if Christianity is true.” And as for textual criticism, that’s a million miles away from the centre. If God is revealed to us in Jesus and raised him from the dead, then no issue of textual criticism even gets close to rocking the boat. And even if the state of the text is as bad as someone like Bart Ehrman might sometimes imply, he readily admits that no major tenet of the christian faith is affected by that.

    So matters of disputable doctrine and scholarly analysis of the manuscript data are the sorts of things that you can wrestle with on the other side of the door. I’m still doing it! 🙂

  • Sayre April 7, 2014, 10:34 pm

    Thanks again Glenn.

    Sorry I’ve taken your post and turned it into something else.

    My question is about how to enter into this “thing”. I really do believe there is a solid basis for the bodily resurrection of Christ, but, there are also many questions this has brought up that I can’t answer. This is confusing and I’m not sure what a realistic response would be if I based my response purely on my academic beliefs.

    But balanced against that academic aspect is the fact that no matter what I do, when I am quiet, I am not content with simply assessing the hypothesis and landing on “H1: Jesus resurrected”. I feel (it’s a strange feeling) drawn to acting on these realisations about Jesus. Like shaking up a bottle of soft drink and feeling the pressure build up inside.

    Other people’s testimonies seem very “otherworldly” to me. I find it difficult to resonate with them because my own conversion has been “this worldly” in a way I can’t quite articulate. There haven’t been any fireworks writing the name Jesus in the sky – just a beautiful night sky pointing to a Creator. I don’t audibly hear the voice of God, but I do feel a prod in my conscious when I lust, or am selfish, or lie. I didn’t suddenly realise the truth like a bolt of knowledge knocking me over in some dramatic fashion, it was something that slowly dawned on me over time through normal study.

    The only response I’ve been able to have so far is to relent and acknowledge that my prior life (before this realisation about Jesus) has died for good and there is no real going back. So what if Christianity is true – shouldn’t it be a little more “spiritual” than this?

  • Glenn April 8, 2014, 12:18 am

    Well, “what are the metaphysical / moral implications if Christianity is true” is what I was answering. But yes, the whole gamut of possible ways of construing what follows if Christianity is true will include more “spiritual” things. I haven’t at all answered the “what should I do now” question.

    And the stuff I’ve offered here is not at all to say that we should base our response on the things I discuss here. No, our response, really, is based on the incredible grace of God. So yes, what you’re asking for is an important thing to ask for – it’s just not what I set out to give in this video – whole other category.

    What should a person do next, once they start to think that this is true? Well, you’ve started – seeing the past as dead and a new beginning. But a beginning of… what? A new life – a share in the life of the risen Christ, in the life of his people, a life informed by the Word and the Spirit, and a life, not consummated, but continued through the resurrection of the dead. So in purely practical terms, the next step would be becoming part of that community of people who “just see,” in the way that you describe seeing the world through new eyes. This is not something to be lived alone.

  • Ciaron April 8, 2014, 10:46 am

    Other people’s testimonies seem very “otherworldly” to me. I find it difficult to resonate with them because my own conversion has been “this worldly” in a way I can’t quite articulate. There haven’t been any fireworks writing the name Jesus in the sky – just a beautiful night sky pointing to a Creator. I don’t audibly hear the voice of God, but I do feel a prod in my conscious when I lust, or am selfish, or lie. I didn’t suddenly realise the truth like a bolt of knowledge knocking me over in some dramatic fashion, it was something that slowly dawned on me over time through normal study.

    You are not alone – my story is VERY similar 🙂
    I found the Christianity explored course to be very helpful, and reading. Lots and lots of reading, but I still feel like I’m only ankle deep, looking out to people like Glenn confidently swimming a couple of k’s offshore 🙂

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