On True Christianity

“Tell me, what is your image of Christianity?

Is it old ladies in hats, perhaps? A sunday school of 6-year-olds singing “I am H-A-P-P-Y”? A couple of nervous pimply students offering you an invitation to a coffee party at the college Christian union?

Is that what puts you off Christianity? That it is all too wet and effeminate?

Or is it the showy professionalism of mass evangelism that antagonises you? That gleaming transatlantic smile that beams down at you from the video relay? The oily sincerity of the soloist as she croons her gospel entertainment? The unscrupulous emotionalism of the appeal, fanned by the humming choirs and tear-stained faces.

Is that what turns you off Christianity?

Maybe it’s the mass evangelistic spectacular, with its glossy advertising and its razzmatazz. Perhaps it is the respectable image of the church that you dislike. Those rows of new cars parked outside each sunday. Those terribly nice people in their frightfully chic outfits, you meet inside. The vicar who talks as if he’s got a plum in his mouth, and those delicate cucumber sandwiches his wife offers you at a tea party.

Is it all too conventional, too middle-class for you, maybe?


You know there’s plenty of so-called Christianity in this world that is pathetically fashionable, superficially showy, and boringly trite. It turns my stomach as well as it turns yours. And I don’t mind it the least if you tell me how much it turns yours.

But the existence of a thousand fakes does not mean there is no such thing as a genuine diamond.

And the Christianity I’m writing to you about is what Jesus talks about in the Bible, and that’s what interests me.”

– Anonymous British theologian, quoted by Ravi Zacharias.

You say that only agnostics are truly ‘skeptical’ as it is they alone who will challenge any positive claims on the matter at all. You seem to be implying that atheism makes a positive claim, but this really isn’t the case. As atheism makes no positive claim, why can’t atheists be just as skeptical as agnostics?

Atheism does make a positive claim: it makes the claim that God doesn’t exist.

There is a difference between lacking a belief in something, and positively believing that something doesn’t exist. Atheism is the latter, while non-theism is the former.

Babies are not atheists because they don’t actively deny the existence of God; they just don’t have an opinion on the matter at all. Now, God is often compared by atheists to unicorns. Most of us actually positively believe that unicorns don’t exist. I think it is childish wordplay to say “I only lack a belief in unicorns; I don’t have a belief that they don’t exist.” When we talk to kids about unicorns, we say “unicorns aren’t real.” We don’t say “I don’t possess a belief in unicorns.”

Atheists, like everybody else, have a viewpoint. They have an opinion. It’s really a simple issue which I think a lot of people try make more complicated than it is.