9.11.06

Is Christianity a Crutch?

This is one of the age-old accusations that is thrown at Christians. "You need faith because you are weak and cannot cope with life without it: Christianity is just a crutch." I saw this raised again, and a prominent Christian sportsman's response on, the cover of Alpha News.

I'll not go into details of how this guy responded, because to be honest I haven't read it yet. But it got me thinking about this issue. So here are my own thoughts. Take them or leave them. If you find them helpful you are more than welcome to use them. Not all of it may be appropriate though, it depends at what level and in what context you have this conversation. Remember, we are into winning people not arguments!

First, the argument that Christianity is somehow invalidated because I, a weak person, need it, whether that be true or not, is invalid logic. It is an ad hominem fallacy. The relevance of Christianity stands or falls on whether it is true. Not on the weakness or strength of those who believe it to be true.

Second, if I have a need it would be folly to refuse the answer to that need, just because I'm too proud to admit I need one. Leaving aside the emotive description of "crutch", to become a Christian you do have to confess that you are weak. If I am sick, I would be a fool not to call the doctor because of some perceived stigma attached to not being well. Just so, when I become aware of my sin, it would be folly not to call upon the one who can forgive me. I am not too proud to admit that I am weak and sinful without Christ, and that in him I have found strength and forgiveness.

Finally, the analogy of "crutch" is a bad description of what receiving Christ is about. It implies that I could hobble along quite well without him, and that he comes along to strengthen and support me as I continue along in my old broken life. Nothing could be further from the truth! No-one can receive Christ just to "patch up" their old life; there must be a complete transfer new for old. Jesus did not come into my life to help me do my own thing. He came when I surrendered my whole life to him and committed myself to do his thing. My old broken life is gone, and in him I have a new life - forgiven, restored, and full of purpose and power.

I didn't receive a crutch when I came to Christ; I received a complete life-transplant!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chris

Praise God the old has gone and the new has come.

Richard

Mark H said...

Great thoughts Chris. Thanks. I will make use of your suggestions. You know I was pondering this one myself just the other day, so if I may offer an additional thought?

Paul says in Romans that he counts as nothing all of his own past efforts. Until somebody realises that his own way is folly, then the gospel will always be foolishness to him. Often the question about weak people and crutches is asked by people who won't yet ADMIT that their own way is folly, but inside they KNOW it's case, but they feel it's a sign of weakness. They'll often be quite offensive in order to hide their innermost fears. We need the ministry of Holy Spirit so that they can see that God accepts them in weakness, and their weakness is not unusual, it is the norm for fallen man.

I suspect that often people who ask this question are nearer than we might think. Why? Because, to recognise our weakness comes from glimpsing the awesomeness of God, and not by comparing ourselves against our fellow man. We are ALL weak - just some may try to ignore it.

Just thoughts. Take 'em / leave 'em / add to 'em :-D

Chris HH said...

Great thoughts, Mark.
I like the approach of seeing such questions in terms of what they say about the person asking. Many thanks.

Mark H said...

Ta :-)

Of course it's not prescriptive. We do need the ministry of Holy Spirit in every conversation. We must place our trust in Him and not in our own intellect. And, no ... I can't yet point to myself as a good example of that! And , yes ... it is still good to be forearmed with having thought these questions through.

I think this could be a very good topic for a series? i.e. discussing common objections to the gospel. Do you fancy rising to the challenge? I'd be happy to chip in with thoughts, and hopefully others would too?

Chris HH said...

...I can't resist a good challenge! ;-)

I also particularly like anything that moves my blog away from monologue and towards dialogue.

I won't have all the answers, but I'm happy to host the series. I agree it should be very fruitful, particularly if it equips us to engage with those who have these objections.

...so you're on!

I'll start tomorrow by collecting a list of objections to deal with.

Mark H said...

Way cool! Thanks :-D

I'm really looking forward to learning from the conversation.

(Don't expect much from me tomorrow though - I have my appointment at Stirling Uni)

Libbie said...

Crutches are good. I couldn't get up the stairs without mine.

Can't really get my head around someone sitting on the floor, desperate to go to the toilet, and being handed crutches to help them get there, and dismissing them as 'just crutches'

Well, yeah.

Problem folks have is they think they're olympic runners, when they're all cripples like me. Jesus didn't come for the well, He came for the sick...

Steven Carr said...

'This is one of the age-old accusations that is thrown at Christians. "You need faith because you are weak and cannot cope with life without it: Christianity is just a crutch."'

Do you have examples of that accusation being thrown at Christians?

I can find lots of Christian sites where that accusation is answered, but almost no sites where that accusation is made.

Libbie said...

I can. My own father called religion a crutch for the weak.

Mark H said...

Another quick thought. I think part of the issue is to do with some people's perception of Christ as meek and mild, gentle to the extreme of ifeminate. This is not an uncommon perception and of course has nothing to do with truth, and has everything to do with predominant church culture and how that has influenced popular culture.

Look also at the heroes of faith in both the N.T. and the O.T. Although we may recognise certain (spiritual) weaknesses, they were strong, courageous men and women of stature. Men's men, and beautiful though tough women. Good role models.

Maybe we the church should repent about the false witness in this area?

Ann said...

@ Steven Carr

I agree with Libbie - this accusation may not be explicitly posted on a site, but it is definitely a perception that people have. I'm a college student right now, and the idea that "religion is a crutch" is pretty prevalent on my campus.

PS: When I off-handedly googled this phrase, I really didn't expect to find such a great post. I'm glad that God has blessed you with the ability to express your thoughts in such a logical and calm way. :)