Reacting to all the suffering inflicted in the name of religion, many modern unbelievers reject all religion as dangerous. When we are asked to account for the problem, the first thing we should do is to concede that it is a problem. Religious violence contradicts the message and "turns people off." We oughtto be ashamed that for many, Christianity is the religion of the oppressor, the bigot, and the persecutor. Possible answers to four common questions:
"What about the Crusades?" -- The Crusades, Inquisition, pogroms, bigotry, hate crimes, etc. are a blight on Christianity. Yet the fact that they are done in the name of Christ does not prove that they are caused by him. However, given the extremely negative freight carried by the word "crusade," esp. for Muslims and Jews, this is a word we may do well to avoid altogether.
"So many have been killed for religion!" -- True, many have been killed in religious wars, but atheistic and anti-Christian governments kill, too. In the 20th century alone, over 100 million perished at the hands of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Amin, Pol Pot, et al. If faith is dangerous, then unbelief is even more perilous.
"Religion causes wars." -- Among the complex causes of war, political/economic struggle lies at the core, not religion. (Although religion provides a nice justification.)
"God is violent, especially in the Old Testament." -- God is equally peaceful/retributive in both testaments. Further, whereas the OT regulated violence, the NT forbids it (Matt 5; Rom 12). Christianity isn’t political (Eph 6:12). For more, please listen to my podcast The God of the Old Testament.
Subscribe to the newsletter here.