In a recent post, C. Michael Patton argued that “Christianity is not validated upon the character of its adherents.” In other words, he contends that whether or not Christians actually live significantly differently than non-Christians should have no bearing on whether or not we believe Christianity to be true. He concludes, “Christianity is based solely on the historic person and work of Christ.”
I’d be curious to hear what you have to say about this. On the one hand, you have Patton’s argument that the truth of Christianity is not predicated on the extent to which Christians live out this truth. And, you also have all the sociological evidence supporting the notion that Christians do not in fact live lives that are significantly different from non-Christians. Those two pieces would seem to suggest that Christian character does not have apologetic value. It doesn’t work (i.e. there’s no evidence suggesting that Christian character is noticeably different) and it isn’t necessary (i.e. the truth of Christianity stands or falls without it).
Of course, on the other hand you have the life-changing power of the Gospel and the indwelling of the Spirit. These truths would seem to indicate that if Christianity is in fact true, it should be noticeable. Consequently, Christian character is legitimate evidence for (or against) the validity of Christianity.
What do you think? If you were engaged in an apologetic dispute with someone and they raised the apparent lack of noticeable transformation in the lives of Christians, how would you respond?