Regard for truth vs. loyalty to a conceptual model
Yeah, that is the trick. Christianity (whether it be "true" or "Mere") requires faith for salvation. The jw requires faith in their group, "Mere Christianity" requires faith in Christ.
Does faith in Christ require a belief in a factual person and set of events? Yeah, probably. What if evidence is shown that minimizes the likelihood of even his existence? Or what if another explanation for these events is given that seems more simple (Occam's Razor), such as the posts Terry has put up lately explaining the cultural background of the Greco-Romanized Jewish milieu that Christ is said to have inhabited. Nevertheless, these various bits of data aren't the sole source of my faith. I don't believe in the man Jesus because there is some quote from Josephus (that is arguably inauthentic).
Something I am beginning to realize is that our faith should start from "where we can get on our own steam", as C.S. Lewis put it. If we just start off with the Bible, aren't we just adopting the religion of our family/culture? Of course I am a CHristian! I grew up in America!!!
So my starting point is an observation of the world I live in and humanity in general. We all have an innate understanding and expectation of the fundamental law; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Universal Laws require a Unverisal law giver, a Designer, a Mind. All mankind, for whatever reason, are detached from that Law Giver, that Creator. We are at conflict with that law. I can see this without cracking a Bible. To me the question of whether the Garden of Eden is myth or fact is irrelevant. Further, I can see the futility of mankind trying to acheive this unity with our Creator by following a list of rules. We are flawed not in our actions, but in the things that we love, our motivations. We don't need a teacher, but rather someone who can change us, make us new. And that is something that can only be given freely by the grace of our Creator. (This is the short, non-comprehensive version of course, and not the point of my post. So athiests, please respect the scope of this post. Pick at the above paragraph on another thread if you must.)
The above has the ring of truth to me; as something that I just always knew. It is what I love about God, and why I seek him out. That is why I am a Christian. It is an ethos that I love and the reason I have faith. Not because of facts, events, logical constructs, or some rock solid set of apologetics.
So were I to be shown completely irrefutable evidence that Christ never existed, I would have to adopt that reality into my understanding of the person Jesus. But my understanding of God would remain intact. Were I given a better understanding of a God with a superior ethos, I would adopt that reality into my understanding as well.
I guess that is the difference. A jw sees loss of faith in the org, as a step down. Were I to reject my concept of God, my Christianity, my faith in Christ, it would only be for something better.