How to answer tough questions

I Don't Need Religion to Be a Good Person

Conversation Stopper

Some skeptics of the Christian faith root their apathy or rejection of Christ in a fundamental assumption of religion in general. Namely, they see religion, and Christianity by association, as merely a means of “living a good life” or becoming a “good” person. While this goal may be the focus of some religions, secular society, and many individuals, it is not the primary goal of Christianity. This misunderstanding, coupled with a culture of self-made morality/truth, creates room for the assumption that we can understand what being a “good person” means apart from God and attain it on our own.

Thus the claim: “I do not need religion to be a good person”

Assumptions

  • Christians believe in “religion” as a means of helping them to become “Good”.
  • Christianity/religion is unnecessary, incomplete, or detrimental in understanding what being a “Good person” means in life.
  • Individuals have the ability to determine what is “good” and “bad” on their own.
  • Individuals have the ability to be “Good” through actions, accomplishments, and living up to a self-made set of standards for a “Good” life.

Talking Points

  1. What does being a “good person” actually mean?
    • Ask: “What standard must someone meet to be “good”? Usually, people mean, “I am not as bad as someone else” or “At least I don’t murder, steal, etc.”
    • Ask: “Where do you derive your standards for being a “Good” person?” Without morality or ethics rooted in God or definitive “Truth”, one can only set artificial standards for oneself, based on subjective assessments of “good” and “bad” behavior. (Russell)
    • That being said, He has partially helped us define and live into “Goodness” (whether someone is a Christian or not) by making all people in His image, with an innate sense of right and wrong, good and bad. We naturally, but only partially, understand and live into what is “Good” because we are made by Him.
  2. Regardless, being a “good person” is not the focus of Christianity
    • Christianity acknowledges that it is impossible to be “good” on our own
      • The scriptures tell us, “No one is acceptable to God! 11 Not one of them understands or even searches for God. 12 They have all turned away and are worthless. 
There isn’t one person who does right.” (Romans 3:10-12)
    • Rather, Christianity is about the grace and redeeming love of Christ, which overcomes our initial status as “bad people”/sinners
      • 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-24)
  3. However, Christians believe that Christ does heal us inwardly and transform us for Good over time
    • Christians hope that Christ will give them faith to transform them from within and that the transformation will manifest itself in their outward behavior. (Russell)
    • Most Christians have believed that any good that they do is the action of Christ within them rather than their own virtue. (Russell)
    • True power for internal transformation comes from God's Spirit and in growing into God's image as God intended (rather than as we intend). In other words, I grow into myself as I grow in Christ. But I don't know what this "self" is aside from God's call on my life.

Additional Resources

Describe some ways in which following Jesus could help you be a better person?

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