Everyone loves a good testimony. A powerful and personal story of how God changed your life can be a powerful tool for evangelism. However, there is a problem. Christians are not the only ones claiming miraculous transformations. There are countless testimonials about changed lives from Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, and many more. How are Christians supposed to make sense of those? Are they real transformations? Can other religions change lives? There are a few schools of thought on this even among Christian apologists, so it’s not a totally clear issue. But these are a few considerations when facing this objection.
What is Causing the Change?
People change for a lot of reasons. Some have managed to clean up their lives without converting to Christianity. Others become Christians and don’t seem that different. Whenever we are faced with a specific example or anecdote of radical change, we always should try to discern the source of that. Sometimes simply introducing structure or a welcoming social environment can give a person the framework to break certain habits. While I would not necessarily discount every other religious conversion as simply psychology, I also wouldn’t say every person who isn’t dramatically changed is not a real Christian. There isn’t a checklist for becoming born again that we can use to judge if it’s real or not.
Can other religions change lives? Absolutely, but not necessarily in the same way, or to the same degree, that a true regeneration from Jesus Christ can. While there are examples of these kinds of changed lives from other sources, it’s undeniable that there is a pattern of it happening to Christians. Not being an easily measured 100% does not discount the examples.
Should Christians Stop Claiming Miraculous Changed Lives?
A tempting response to this is complication to simply abandon changed lives and testimonies altogether. However, that may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Testimonies can still be powerful and persuasive, even if other religions have similar stories. Because there are those similar stories, there are a few things we should do differently.
1. Don’t Rely Exclusively on Testimony
If we use only testimony, we are ignoring the large depth of history, science, and philosophy that all play into a robust understanding of the Christian worldview. Other religions can’t do that nearly to the degree that Christianity can. While one doesn’t have to know everything, it’s not wise to be a one-trick pony in evangelism. People are moved by different things, and some people won’t be reached by testimony.
2. Don’t Let Your Story be Relative
One of the biggest dangers of relying on testimony is that it can accidentally promote relativism. “Sure, that’s a great story, David. I’m glad it worked for you. I’m also glad for my friend Steve’s better life from Scientology.” Instead, use your story to point to the objective reality of God. Show how this isn’t about me, but about how it shows that God is real and what he has done in the real world.
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