The four pillars of christianity
by: wade smith
Many people, Christians included, think Christianity is a religion of the heart, not the head. As a result, beliefs are more about what you think is true than what you know is true. Furthermore, this type of thinking gives skeptics understandable pause when they are asked to consider Christianity as true. If indeed Christianity is a set of unverifiable beliefs, then the skeptic is right to declare: Christianity may work for you, but it is not for me.
Skepticism about Christianity is on the rise and the results are directly impacting church attendance and church growth. Recent research indicates that as many as 10,000 churches have closed their doors in recent years and that perhaps as many as 50% of the surviving churches did not add a single member between 2010 and 2012. Finally, 80% of the formerly churched indicate a “weak” to “no” belief in God. Wonderful music, appealing coffee shops, and entertaining sermons have done little to alleviate these disturbing trends. Indeed, it seems that these perks are perhaps most successful in convincing those who attend church to leave the one they currently attend in favor of one that might have better music, fresher coffee, or more lively sermons.
It is fair to question if the 80% we just mentioned have weak to no belief in God because their biggest questions were unanswered while they were attending church. That could be the case since two of the biggest reasons for leaving church are: a) I could not get my questions answered in a safe environment; and b) When my questions were answered, the answers were so bad that I concluded there must not be an adequate answer.
If the observations of those leaving the church are accurate, and we have no reason to assume they are not, then it is clear music, coffee, and wit will not be sufficient if the church hopes to regain the ground it has lost. Good questions deserve good answers, and that is why we* wrote our book The Four Pillars of Christianity.
We wanted to focus exclusively on the essentials of Christianity, the things that any Christian should declare as true regardless of their denomination or inclinations. Too often, the church argues about the age of the earth, predestination vs. free will, infant baptism, and a host of other topics that are irrelevant if the essentials of Christianity are not true. What then, are the essentials, the pillars of Christianity? If true, the following four theses create a compelling reason to examine Christianity as much more than a curiosity.What then, are the essentials, the pillars of Christianity? If true, the following four theses create a compelling reason to examine Christianity as much more than a curiosity.
- God exists. If there is no God, then Christianity is obviously false. But what exactly is the evidence for God’s existence and is it sufficient to continue to investigate the other three pillars?
- Jesus is divine. If he is not, then Christianity is obviously false since Jesus clearly declared himself to be wholly God and wholly man. Perhaps the biggest testimony to Christ’s divinity is the next pillar.
- Jesus physically resurrected from the dead. If he did not, Christianity is obviously false
because the movement held from the earliest days that Christ defeated death.
- Christianity provides a proper view of pain and suffering. Skeptics correctly wonder why there is so much evil in the world if God is all-good and all-powerful. If God is not all-good and all-powerful, then Christianity holds no particular claim to truth.
- Christianity rises and falls on the particular and collective truths of these pillars. In our book, The Four Pillars of Christianity: Essential Knowledge for Every Christian, we investigate these pillars one at a time, looking at the evidence that supports each one. For the believer who is struggling with doubts, the book is a resource to help restore their faith. For the person who has never been able to articulate why they believe what they believe, the book should also be of benefit. Finally, for the skeptic, the book takes a sympathetic view of their concerns. After all, the only thing we are asking people to believe is that God exists, Jesus is divine, he physically became alive after most certainly dying, and all of these pillars provide a framework for understanding how pain and evil can co-exist with an all-loving and all-knowing God. Oh, and belief in this God/man named Jesus is a path to eternal life. Nothing in those claims to be skeptical about, is there?
*Wade Smith and Kevin McKee
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Dr. Wade Smith received his bachelor of education degree in Chemistry and Biology from Louisiana State University in 1978. He taught for 11 years in Livingston Parish and after finishing his M. Ed. from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1985 became the principal of Denham Springs Junior High School from 1988-2001. Wade received his Ph.D. from LSU in 2001 and was appointed assistant professor of educational administration at Auburn University. Dr. Smith served in that position until 2003 when he was appointed director, now superintendent, of the Louisiana State University Laboratory School. Dr. Smith maintains an active research agenda focusing on self-efficacy, organizational structures and organizational leadership. He has numerous refereed publications and presentations. Wade has been married to Linda Smith for more than 30 years, and they are the parents of two daughters, Christie and LeAnn.