The Top Three Turn-Offs of Christianity

By Robin Schumacher
Originally posted at The Christian Post

Single Page/Printer Friendly

In the near countless debates and conversations I've had with both unbelievers and believers alike about Christianity, there are without a doubt three top stumbling blocks or "turn-off's" that have surfaced in most conversations that are either one of the reasons non-Christians say they won't consider Christ or that have caused Christians to struggle in their faith. Although there are certainly plenty of other items that unbelievers cite as to why they won't embrace Christianity or that believers mention that they find difficult, here are the top three obstacles that I've seen come up most times.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

What do Charles Darwin, Ted Turner, and Bart Ehrman have in common?

Although in different disciplines, all have very strong intellects and all admit that the reason they either reject God entirely or are agnostic about His existence is because they can't square the evil they've experienced in their own lives or seen played out on the world's stage and the idea of a supreme Deity.

For Turner it was watching his young sister die [1], with Darwin it was the death of his young daughter Annie [2], and for Ehrman it is the general problem of theodicy. [3]

The problems of reconciling an all-powerful/good God with the evil and tragedies that occur in life have caused endless discussions between unbelievers and believers. No thinking person can deny the thorny issue that the topic presents, especially when it's your child who is accidentally killed or dies slowly from a degenerative disease or when it's your particular nationality that is systematically hunted down and exterminated by political tyrants.

When evil touches them, oftentimes people begin to question God's existence and consider the atheist option offered by Richard Dawkins for why evil exists:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. [4]
Unanswered Prayer

(Spoiler Alert: if you haven't seen the movie God's Not Dead yet and don't want to know the ending, skip the first parts of this section).

Near the end of the movie God's Not Dead, the atheist college professor who has attacked and ridiculed his Christian student's faith throughout the film admits that it was his mother's death from an illness and his unanswered prayers for her healing when he was young that drove him to atheism. When he converses with a pastor who attempts to comfort him as he lies dying, the pastor says that God sometimes says "no" to our prayers. The professor then with anguish utters something that is to me one of the most poignant statements of the movie:

"He says no a lot."

It would be one thing if it was just prayers for new cars, A's on tests, and a date with the person you want to go out with that seem to go unanswered. But it's another thing entirely when your soul mate or child has cancer, when you're the provider of a young family and have been out of work for a long time, or when a loved one seems determined to destroy their life with substance abuse, and no light at the end of the tunnel has appeared despite repeated and deep cries to God for help.

If would also be different if the Bible didn't contain promises from God about Him being a loving Father who sees every need, One who speedily answering His children's requests, and being a God whose will cannot be thwarted.

But when Scripture speaks about nothing missing God's attention (Matthew 10:29), says that He rapidly brings about justice for those He loves (Luke 18:6-8), and claims that nothing can prevent Him from doing what He pleases (Job 42:2), unbelievers and Christians alike sometimes wrestle with existentially putting the puzzle pieces together of the difficult and painful things they have lifted to God in prayer and the seeming silence they receive from Heaven.

Such things give pause even to noted Christians such as Philip Yancey who wondered if prayer is just, "a sanctified form of talking to myself." [5]

Those Darned Christians

World renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says that, of all the thousands of questions put to him challenging Christianity, the one question that has bothered him the most was asked by a Hindu friend: "If this conversion you speak about is truly supernatural, then why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians that I know?"[6] In other words, a God who is said to transform should produce people with transformed lives.

Make no mistake, we're not talking so much about the Christian Church as a whole. Try as some do to rewrite history, the evidence of the countless numbers of hospitals, orphanages, schools, disaster and hunger relief organizations, homeless shelters, clothing and basic needs providers, etc., that were founded and continue to be run by Christians provide witness of Christianity's love towards people and refutes critics in the way Peter described long ago: "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people" (1 Peter 2:15).

No, instead what puts a bad taste in people's mouths is the individualistic actions of people like the televangelist whose public tears for the poor dries up when allegations of corruption and theft are proven, the professing Christian at the office who maligns and stabs their co-workers in the back, the clergyman who is indicted for child pornography and sex abuse, the business that advertises itself as "Christian owned and operated" but routinely puts out shoddy work, and the church deacon who bullies, cheats on, and verbally mistreats his wife.

Who can blame anyone for eyeballing such people and remarking, "If that's what a Christian is, count me out!"

Continue to Page Two

1. Ann O'Neill; "The reinvention of Ted Turner"
2. Nick Spencer; "Darwin's complex loss of faith"
3. Nicola Menzie; "Agnostic Scholar Bart Ehrman on 'Who Wrote the Bible and Why it Matters'"
4. Richard Dawkins; River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
5. Philip Yancey; "Does Prayer Matter?"
6. Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion, 2007, back cover.

Image Credit: Laurs; Edward and Ernest; Creative Commons

comments powered by Disqus
Published 7-1-14