Author Greg Koukl
Published on 01/15/2018

Does Christianity Brainwash the Vulnerable?

Greg refutes the challenge that those who turn to Christ during a difficult time in life have somehow been taken advantage of.


You know, it’s not unusual for someone to become a Christian right after some very difficult time in their life. They’re vulnerable, okay. But of course, this leaves them open to the charge that a person who’s vulnerable is more open to being brainwashed, okay. So let me respond to that for a moment.

What is vulnerability?

Vulnerability is a time in your life when, generally, the kind of circumstance we’re talking about, you feel a lot of pain, a lot of anguish, and it causes you to ask questions about the world and look for answers to them in response to your anguish, okay. Now, is it unusual for someone to look to God in a moment of anguish? The answer is, “no.” Of course, this happens all the time, alright? But, do you have any idea how many people become atheists in the same set of circumstances?

They lose a loved one, they encounter a terrible circumstance that assaults their life. They are anguished, they are vulnerable, they are looking for answers, and the answer they come up with is, “There is no God.” So some people during a time of anxiety and vulnerability see God as the answer to that, and others, in the same set of circumstances, see no God as the answer. Do you get the point I’m making here?

The fact that one is anguished and vulnerable is not itself is not the deciding factor of whether what you believe is true or not, whether you’ve been brainwashed or not. That is always determined by something else. It’s determined by the reasons. Are there good reasons when you’re vulnerable and anxious and experience a tragedy to be driven to God as the only source of meaning and security.

The answer from where I sit is, “yes.” We give those reasons all the time. And I could elucidate them time and time again. Is there good reason if we go through anxiety, and discomfort, and hardship, and loss to doubt the existence of God? Well there I think you’ve got a problem. Because if there is no God, then there are no tragedies. No moral tragedies. There are things that we don’t like. But how do we say that this is evil, or this is bad, or this is wrong, or it shouldn’t be that way if there is no God to determine the way the world actually should be?

So it turns out that this challenge that when you’re anxious and go through a time of vulnerability that’s when you’re really open to being brainwashed about God is an empty challenge because frankly, it can go in either direction. Ultimately, what matters for the issue of the soundness of our convictions are the reasons that back them up, not the emotions that might drive them.