“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:44
Christians are only Christians because of where they grew up. If you grew up in India, for instance, you’d be Hindu. Therefore, Christianity is not true, as you are just a product of your environment.
On the surface, this critique seems reasonable: Just look at Japan, the US, Iran, or India, for instance. When you read those countries, you probably instantly thought of the popular religion from that part of the world. In Japan you have Buddhism, in the US you have Christianity, in Iran you have Islam, and in India you have Hinduism. Therefore, it is concluded, that the only reason anyone is a Christian is because of where he or she was born.
There are several ways to approach this critique. First, one could point out the obvious and say the same thing to the atheist making this claim. The atheist, here, is assuming some sort of neutral ground whereby he is able to critique us “religious” folk. In reality, the claim could be made to him: The only reason you’re an atheist or naturalist is because of where you were born. You’re a product of the enlightenment, you live in the wake of Kant, and you dwell in a culture that favors progress and the future, as opposed to orienting oneself to the past. Ontological naturalism is taught in the public schools, and even our media and movies support this worldview. Therefore, you are equally a product to your environment.
Second, one could concede that it is true that one has more of an opportunity to become what is popular in one’s context, but reject that it makes a belief false. That is, just because I live in the US, doesn’t make my Christian belief false. If one’s context weakens or makes false one’s view, then this is true for everyone—including the naturalist. What is more, the arguer is committing the genetic fallacy (claiming a belief false simply by showing its origin).
Third, objective truth has the ability to reach into other contexts and paradigms and rescue those who are blind. Thus, Christianity, as objective truth, is able to pull people out of other contexts, both Hindu and Islamic alike. Surely the naturalist believes the same thing, or else dialogue would be pointless. (see: Worldviews and Point of Contact)
Finally, from the Christian standpoint, it must be said that God is sovereign over salvation (Jonah 2:9). Humans are born spiritually dead (Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13), and it is by God’s grace alone that anyone believes at all (Eph. 2:8-9). God gives us a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), puts His Spirit into us (John 3:3-5), and calls us to Himself (Rom. 8:30). No one is saved by any other way but by the grace of God (2 Tim. 1:9), for no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). Thus, regeneration (i.e., being born again) precedes faith. Faith itself is a gift of God (Acts 3:16; Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet. 1:1), as is repentance (2 Tim. 2:25). Whether you’re in China, Iraq, or Germany, it is God alone who saves those whom He predestined to save from before the foundation of the world (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; Rom. 9:10-23; Eph. 1:4-6, 11; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8), regardless of one’s context (1 John 2:2). God has not only predestined a people to salvation, but also the means by which those elect people will believe (Rom. 10:9-10, 14-17), which serves as the motivation for God’s redeemed to evangelize the lost (2 Tim. 2:10). Therefore, the reason one believes in Christ is not because of one’s context, but because of God alone.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
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© copyright J. Brandon Burks