J. Warner Wallace takes on a textbook case of the genetic fallacy.
The History of the Ancient World
Christianity emerged in a largely Jewish or Pagan culture (a polytheistic mix of religious beliefs within the Roman Empire) completely hostile to the claims of Christianity. History records the hardship faced by 1st Century Christians who concluded Christianity was true and devoted their lives to Jesus. These believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of the time.
The History of China
China also has a history of religious suppression related to Christianity. The native culture of China has historically embraced some version of Shenism or Taoism. While Christian missionaries labored in China for centuries, their efforts were often suppressed by governmental regimes (like the Communist Party of China). In spite of this suppression and the cultural inclination toward Shenism or Taoism, Christianity has continued to grow as an underground movement, with some reporting as many as 130 million Christians now living in China. These believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of their region or culture.
The History of Persecution
History has demonstrated Christianity continues to grow in spite of intense persecution. Christians have historically come to faith in regions where Christianity is not the default religion. For this reason, Christians are still the most persecuted religious group in the world, particularly in places like North Korea, Muslim countries, India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. These suffering believers did not become Christians because Christianity was the default religion of their region or culture.
And he concludes with this:
Millions of Christians have historically demonstrated a willingness to embrace the Christian worldview simply because they found it to be true. In many of these situations, Christianity was not the default position of their family, culture, region or era in history. I was not raised in a Christian home. The one man I respected more than anyone else (my father) has always been a committed atheist. I didn’t know any outspoken Christians growing up, and I was hostile to the claims of Christianity until the age of thirty-five. While I had examined a number of eastern religions, Mormonism, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith, I was eventually persuaded by the evidence of the New Testament gospel eyewitness accounts. On the basis of those accounts, I began an investigation of Christianity and the existence of God. Like so many others, I came to believe Christianity is true, not because of my surrounding influences, but on the strength of the case itself.
I remember Wallace saying in one of his podcasts or in the audio book how he didn’t need anything when he became a Christian. He had a wife and family and a job he loved, which he excelled at. Sometimes, people just investigate things and then go where the evidence leads. My entire family on my mother’s side is Muslim and atheist, and on my father’s side it’s Hindu and some Catholic. No one pressured me into becoming a Christian – I didn’t even go to church until 5 years after my conversion. I am the first evangelical Protestant in my family. No one tries to deter me from it, because they lose the debate. They just haven’t looked into it as much as I have. Usually, what happens is that it all ends up as “do it because we’re your family”. Well, that doesn’t work on me.
Protestant Christianity is what you settle on when you investigate these things seriously, and are willing to live with what you find out. Most people don’t want to live with what they find out. I have Hindus in my family who reject Christianity because of pride in their Indian culture. Others reject it for community reasons – they want to please their parents and relatives. Some in my family reject it because they wont let anything come between them and their pursuit of success, health and wealth. Others simply believe what their professors tell them in order to get good grades. I wasn’t born into Christianity and even as a Christian, I’ve received no mentoring or support, even from people I look up to. I’m very much a lone wolf Christian – the kind that William Lane Craig warns everyone about. Sometimes, you just go where the evidence leads, whether people support you or not. I’ve never cared what people thought of me, or felt pressure to believe as others believe. I think that desire to fit in is a non-Christian trait.