Daily Archives: December 18, 2010

Dave Armstrong Nails the Difference Between Denominations

In a conversation with atheist DaGoodS, Dave Armstrong hit a very important truth. DaGoodS highlighted a typical atheist talking point:

Considering one Christian group tells me “that particular Christian group” is wrong, yet “that particular Christian group” tells me the first Christian Group is wrong, and they ALL agree the Mormon Christian group is wrong. The Calvinists tell me the non-Calvinist group is wrong; the Protestants tell me the Catholic group is wrong. The Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Charismatics…all bickering and fighting as to who the “correct” group of Christians must be.

Every apologist who has engaged with atheists has heard this again and again. Christians have 100 million denominations, each says that the all of the others are wrong, so if you all can’t decide who’s right, how am I supposed to? Dave responds, correctly:

Yes, that is a real problem, and a major reason I am Catholic, but that is not your immediate issue. That comes later. Right now you need to even be convinced of matters that all these groups (apart from rank heretics like the Mormons who reject historic Christianity) hold in common: does God exist; Who Jesus was, etc. First things first.

But in passing, note that Catholics do not claim to be the sole true or correct group. We claim to be the fullness of Christianity, but we don’t deny for a second that other Christians possess large amounts of Christian truth as well. We’re not like the anti-Catholic Protestants who ridiculously deny that we are Christians at all.

And that’s the size of it. Unless they are heretical, all groups of Christianity, from Calvinist to Arminian, from cessationalist to charismatic, all believe in the deity of Christ, the existence of God as a Trinity, and that salvation comes by faith alone in the finished work of the Cross. I believe Dave could attest to everything that I just said.

The atheist has to start there. He has to decide if he believes in God, if Jesus is God Incarnate, and then what to do with that before he can get into doctrinal entanglements. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who urged us to keep our doctrinal entanglements private, as far out of the public view as we can.