Contra Victor Reppert on the Emotional Appeal of Christianity

Vic had written:
I understand the emotional appeal of Christianity. I also understand what isn't so emotionally appealing about it, such as the claim that I am a sinner whose actions offend the creator of the universe. If I were to invent a religion that appealed to me emotionally, I wouldn't pick Christianity.

As a C.S. Lewis scholar Vic knows how the idea of sin plays into Lewis's whole apologetic. In Mere Christianity Lewis appeals to 1) the curious idea that human beings ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot get rid of it; and 2) that we do not in fact behave in that way. We know the Law of Nature; we break it. "These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in." (p. 7).

From this first chapter Lewis goes on to say there must be a moral lawgiver. In other evangelistic tracts this same curious idea is introduced in order to argue we need a savior. The so-called fact of sin is the basis for two powerful emotional appeals to embrace Christianity. Without it one wonders how many people would embrace it in the first place.

There isn't a person in the history of humankind who doesn't think he did not do something wrong (triple negatives!). Pointing this out and stressing it is the beginning of Christian evangelism and argumentation in most cases.

So contrary to Vic if I were to invent a religion then it seems both obvious and noncontroversial that I should start with something everyone agrees about, that we did something wrong--sometimes terribly wrong. Why? Because we have all done something we think is wrong. And we all have difficulty forgiving ourselves or receiving forgiveness. Forgiveness is a great need for most of us. There are people who spend their whole lives trying to gain redemption. Redemption for the young person who is convicted of murder, the woman who killed a family by driving drunk, the man who was caught cheating on his wife, the executive who blundered and caused his company to go belly-up, the person who lost his job and who's family suffers financially for it, and on and on the list goes.

I wonder how many religions start with the fact that we humans have done wrong? Let me guess that most of them do. It's the first step toward creating a religion. It's something we all agree on. All a religion must do after the needed psychological catharsis is to offer the answer, whatever it is for that religion.

Vic is emphatically wrong.

Let us hear of this argument ne'er again.