Christianity Is True, Not Just Helpful

God isn’t a happy pill; He is the one who makes us holy.


John Stonestreet

Shane Morris

It’s odd how many people these days are coming to appreciate Christianity for everything other than the Lord and Savior at its center. Even figures who don’t exactly believe in Jesus’ claim to be God, like psychologist Jordan Peterson, have made careers out of applying the stories and values found in Scripture to people’s lives. Peterson has even embarked on a teaching series mining the book of Genesis for psychological insights, of which there are, of course, many.  

Quite a few unbelievers have also come to appreciate Christianity’s contribution to civilization. Longtime atheists like historian Tom Holland have argued persuasively that the West as we know it, with its values of equality, human rights, and love of neighbor, and even its science and art, is the product of Christian influence. 

Holland does seem to be wavering on the edge of belief lately, due in part to an apparently miraculous healing from cancer he experienced. But he was still a staunch atheist when he argued in his book Dominion that Christianity midwifed a good civilization. 

Or take outspoken “new atheist” Richard Dawkins, who recently called himself a “cultural Christian” and admitted that despite not believing a word of the Bible, he likes hymns and cathedrals and would choose to live in a Christian society over an Islamic one. 

All these figures have come to appreciate some aspect of a Christian worldview and its benefits for individuals and cultures but stop short of affirming the beliefs behind those benefits. Their argument is essentially that we can enjoy all the earthly blessings that come from the Gospel of Christ without saying, as the Apostle Thomas did, “My Lord and my God!” 

Now, a growing number of writers have recommended religious faith for another reason: its potential to address our worsening mental health crisis and help people find happiness. Last week, Arthur Brooks (who is a practicing Catholic), wrote an article in The Atlantic touting the “five pillars of a good life,” as taught by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Jung was a disciple of Freud, and something of an atheist mystic, who nevertheless thought religion and religious imagery held great power.  

Jung’s fifth pillar of a good life, alongside physical health and seeing beauty in art and nature, was having “a philosophical or religious outlook that fosters resilience.” Brooks paraphrased the maxim this way: “Find a path of transcendence—one that explains the big picture in life and helps you comprehend suffering and the purpose of your existence.” In his piece, Brooks pointed to research showing that religious belief is “strongly predictive of finding meaning in life, and spirituality is positively correlated with better mental health.”  

All this is quite true, but I must ask: Aren’t we all forgetting the most important question here? So, what if faith in a “higher power” or even the Christian God makes people happy, eases their mental suffering, or creates a good society? Who cares unless that faith is true?  

And how many of those reaping the benefits of attending church do so merely for the personal or social benefits? Like the cathedrals and hymns and human rights Dawkins and Holland love, aren’t those benefits a byproduct of actually believing Jesus is Lord? And doesn’t it matter which religion is true regardless of how much psychological wellbeing people derive from attending, say, a mosque?  

This is a crucial distinction we need to point out as modern people turn back toward religion to relieve their psychological and spiritual thirst. Earthly happiness is very often a byproduct of belief in God and allegiance to Christ. Absolutely. But Jesus didn’t come and die to make us happy. He came to make us holy.  

As C. S. Lewis wrote in God in the Dock: “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” 

I’m glad so many people are rediscovering the benefits of having a transcendent anchor as individuals and a society. It’s true that secularism lacks an essential “nutrient” for the spirit, and people are right to look to faith as the place where that nutrient exists. But it matters deeply which faith we’re talking about, not only because happiness without truth is meaningless, but because this life isn’t all that matters. Those interested in finding out why and what comes next must take religious claims seriously.   

For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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