Read Along: Chapter 17— What Good Is Christianity?

Today we continue with Chapter Seventeen in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Seventeen, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] – Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 17 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Seventeen: What Good Is Christianity?
(pages 224-236]

Chapter 17 explores the positive cultural impact Christianity has had on the world in areas such as charity and the treatment of women. The authors outline the counter-cultural uniqueness of these Christian views and how they brought cultural transformation in various ways. The authors challenge the popular new atheist notions that Christianity is some sort of societal bane.

Historian Glenn Sunshine’s essay describes his studies of social, intellectual and economic history and how he discovered the incredible positive impact Christianity has made in these areas.

Notable quotes:

The truth of the matter is that many cultural ideas and goods would not exist had there never been Christianity-women’s rights, protection for infants and the unborn, child labor laws, separation of church and state, liberty and justice, human dignity, abolition of slavery in the Western world, universities, modern science, hospitals, musical innovations, and the importance of the written word just to name a few. (p. 224)

Criticism of the Bible’s portrayal of women needs to be viewed through the lens of what is accurately described versus actually endorsed in Scripture, specifically for the Old Testament. (p. 232)

The elevated status of women continued throughout history after Christianity came on the scene and serves as the basis for women’s rights today in Western countries. (p. 232)

Historians have filled books discussing the compassion and charity of Christians. Christianity has been a force for good in the past, continues to be so today, and will be tomorrow as long as Christians pay close attention to the teaching and example of Jesus. (p. 233)


  1. What sorts of negative stereotypes do you hear about Christianity in society?
  2. How is the societal impact of Christianity described in this chapter different?
  3. What examples of Christianity’s cultural impact would you want to share with others who ask you “what good is Christianity”?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 18—Why Jesus Instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

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