Aren't Christians Arrogant?

Jason Dulle

Christians think their religion is true, and everybody else’s religion is false.  They think you have to believe in Jesus to be saved.  How arrogant, right?  Actually, no.  While there may be some Christians who are truly arrogant, thinking Christianity is the only true religion is not arrogant in itself.  When you think about it, everyone one of us thinks we are right in the things we believe.  If we didn’t think what we believed was true, we wouldn’t believe it.  After all, nobody believes things they think are false!  Of course, we could be mistaken in our beliefs.  What we think is true may actually be false, but everybody who believes something believes it because they think it is true.  And by force of logic, if what we believe is true, all contrary views must be false.  So if arrogance is defined as thinking one’s own view to be right and contrary views to be wrong, then everyone is arrogant – not just Christians.

But this isn’t arrogance at all; it’s just the nature of belief and truth.  If A is true, then -A must be false.  If Sacramento is the capital of California, then it’s false that San Francisco is the capital of California (or Los Angeles, or San Diego, or any other city for that matter).  Likewise, if Christianity is true, then all other religions must be false.  Why?  Because they all offer different pictures of reality.  Some religions say there is only one God, while others say there are many; some say God is personal, while others say He is impersonal; some say we are resurrected after death, while others say we are reincarnated.  Surely God cannot be both one and many; He cannot be both personal and impersonal; we cannot be both resurrected and reincarnated.  Seeing that different religions make competing truth claims, they can’t all be right.  So if Christians have good reason to believe Christianity is true, then it follows logically that non-Christian religions aren’t true (even if they have elements of truth in them).

It often goes unnoticed that the charge of arrogance is self-refuting.  After all, why does the person who faults Christians as being arrogant for thinking they are right and others wrong do so, if not because s/he thinks s/he is right and Christians are wrong?  If it’s wrong and arrogant to tell others they are wrong, why is s/he telling Christians they are wrong?  Wouldn’t this make his/her views equally wrong and arrogant?  As Greg Koukl once asked, Why is it that when Christians think they are right they are arrogant, but when non-Christians think they are right…they are just right?  You see, this is not a matter of one person claiming to be right, but two – actually, nearly 7 billion!  Any definition of arrogance, then, that equates epistemic confidence with arrogance is misguided. 

Arrogance is not descriptive of what you believe, or even the confidence with which you believe it, but rather how you believe it.  Arrogance is an attitude one has about their beliefs; an unwarranted display of superiority over others who do not think as you do.  It is a feature of one’s character and behavior, not one’s beliefs.  People should not be faulted, then, for having epistemic confidence that their point-of-view is true, particularly when that view is supported by good reasons.  The charge of arrogance is only appropriate if one displays an undue sense of superiority over others because of the truths they have come to learn. 

While there may be Christians who are truly arrogant, it reflects a defect in their character, not a defect in Christianity itself.  On the Christian worldview, knowledge of the truth is a gift from God.  What we know about God, we know only because He graciously disclosed it to us.  We did not acquire this knowledge because of our own intellectual or moral superiority, but only by His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:1-10). 

If you have encountered arrogant Christians, that is truly unfortunate.  But their character flaw should not stand in the way of your honest consideration of Christianity.  If an arrogant doctor discovered a cure for an incurable disease you suffered from, you would not refuse it simply because the doctor was arrogant.  Likewise, you shouldn’t reject Jesus because of the imperfections of His followers.  What matters most is who Jesus is, and whether the religion that bears His name accurately depicts spiritual reality; i.e. whether it is true.  We are persuaded by reason and experience that Christianity is true, that Jesus is who he claimed to be, and that one must trust exclusively in Him to experience salvation. 

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