The inevitable initial response that I get in any debate with a Christian is, “I’m not that kind of Christian.” It can be said in any countless numbers of ways, but what it comes down to is, there are a million kinds of Christians and their views on topics range the wide spectrum. But, to be a Christian is to be part of a group, a religion, and so, theoretically, there should be a consistent set of beliefs that bind them.
I am an atheist. There is only one thing that binds me to the title atheist, and that is, put simply, a lack of belief in God (it is not, a belief that there is no God; to define an atheism that way assumes there is a God). From there, you cannot extrapolate my beliefs on any topic. I may be pro-life or pro-choice, I may be for Gay marriage or against it, I may be conservative or liberal, and so much more. Now the same can be said of Christians, except that along with their belief in God is their belief in Jesus and the theology that comes with it.
Which is why I have created this questionnaire. It is a tool for atheists (and like-minded skeptics) who find themselves in debates with numerous Christians and are inevitably stymied by the, “I’m not like other Christians” retort, making it impossible to distinguish what your combatant actually believes. This questionnaire focuses on the theological questions at the root of the Christian belief, so there are no questions about homosexuality or abortion. It’s meant to set a groundwork so a person can know what ‘kind’ of Christian they are debating. A Christian should have no issue answering this questionnaire as the questions are open-ended and are not written to attack or judge their beliefs. It starts with the basic questions and gets broader, but every Christian should have some answer for every question here. If they have not thought about one of these questions, they aren’t thinking enough about their faith enough.
So, without further ado, I offer,
The Christian Questionnaire
- Is there a personal God (a God who is involved in the lives of individuals)?
- Is God omnipotent? Omnipresent? Omniscient?
- Is God perfect (infallible)?
- Was Jesus God?
- What did Jesus do (what was his purpose)? What was the purpose of the crucifixion? Was he resurrected?
- Is the Bible the inerrant Word of God? Is it meant to be taken literally? Is the New Testament?
- Is the Bible meant to be understood by anyone who reads it, or are there those who are better equipped to understand and teach it?
- Does the New Testament supersede the Old Testament? Should we understand the OT as history and the NT as God’s will?
- Does God change his mind? What does it mean in the Bible when it says God changed his mind (Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:14, etc.)?
- Is there a heaven? A hell? Does Satan exist? Are there angels and demons?
- Are there sinners? Is there Original Sin? Do we need salvation?
- Is prayer a way of speaking directly to God? Does it work? If God can answer prayer with ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Later’, doesn’t that mean God will do what he wants and your prayers do not affect his decision?
- Does God perform miracles? Has he ever? If he did in the past but not now (or not to the same degree), why?
- Did God create the universe? Do you believe in the literal 6,000-10,000 year interpretation of the Bible, or do you accept the scientific evidence for evolution? Was evolution by Natural Selection his method?
- If you believe in Young Earth Creation, what do you make of the overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus in favor of a universe that is billions and billions of years old?
- Is faith good? Why does God require we interact with him entirely on faith?
- Does God provide proof for his existence? What is it? Can that proof be interpreted in more ways than the way you interpret it?
- Are other religions and faiths wrong? Can Christianity coincide with other religions?
- If there is only one true faith, how do you know it is Christianity?
- If all faiths are equal, why follow any religion?
- Can a person be happy without God? If not, why are there happy atheists/agnostics? If a Christian is unhappy or depressed, does that mean they are not truly Christian?
- Since there are happy and successful non-Christians and unhappy and unsuccessful Christians, what is the purpose of Christianity?
- Is there such thing as a ‘real’ Christian and a ‘false’ Christian? How do you determine the difference?
- Is your version of Christianity the only true one? How do you know? If there are multiple versions of Christianity that can be considered ‘true’, what is the one basic tenet that makes a person a Christian?
- If you had to sum up Jesus’ teachings into one or two sentences, what would it be?
- Should the teachings of Jesus hold more importance than those of Paul or the other New Testament writers?
- If you listen to or read the teachings of modern Christian writers, how do you decide which ones you like and which ones you dismiss? How do you know you aren’t just seeking out teachers who tell you what you already believe?
Why did God create such a complicated system with the possibility of human manipulation and error all in order to bring ‘salvation’ to a creation he loves when he could have saved everyone the trouble and just created us happy and perfect and put us in a Garden of Eden with no forbidden fruit? If his love for us is unconditional, couldn’t he have created that kind of love in us for him?
Feel free to disseminate it as you wish.