It keeps coming up in discussions with atheists that I say certain Christians are wrong about particulars of Christianity. And they are. If I’m right on certain things (which I think I am), then necessarily others who disagree with me are wrong. Not a radical notion.
What do you suppose happens when I call a Christian’s particular doctrine into question? I always get the same response from the atheist. He sarcastically tells me that I believe I’m the only one who has found True Christianity™ and that I believe every other Christian will burn, just like every other Christian he has spoken to, because believers are all that arrogant.
I think that is more evidence of the shallow thinking of the atheist, not to mention their complete ignorance of theology. Atheists, I’m going to make this as plain as I possibly can: There is no such thing as True Christianity™! Read the rest of this entry
You might think that this is going to be an article on Christians de-converting to atheism. No. I’ve interacted with those guys over the years I’ve been doing apologetics. I can actually sympathize with their position, and I can even allow for validity in some of their arguments.
One in particular that I hear again and again is that Christians don’t read the Bible for what it says; they cherry-pick whatever doctrine they want to believe and ignore the rest. That’s not true of every Christian, even though the ex-Christian turned critic of his former faith wants the reader of his blog (don’t they all have blogs?) to believe as much.
To bolster this claim, the ex-Christian typically points to the fact that there are many, many different denominations of Christianity. They usually put the number of denominations between 33,000 and 40,000, but it changes quite often. Thirty-three thousand was the prevailing number I heard when I founded this ministry in 2006. By 2009, 38,000 was the prevailing number. In late 2010, I heard 42,000 somewhere.
This number is grossly inflated and literally has no basis in reality. I’ve pointed to this article by James White as refutation (White revisited the issue here) and asked for some substantiation of that number from people who throw it to me. I have yet to receive any documentation proving that number. I’m sure I never will.
Leaving that aside, the next statement ex-Christians usually make is that, with all of these denominations, if you don’t like what doctrines your church has cherry-picked, then you can just go to the church down the road.
This is a horrible mentality, but often is the case with some Christians. Church-hopping is never the answer to a dispute. This is something Catholics have right on the money: the church is the central repository of doctrine; “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Christian should be in submission to his local church. He shouldn’t just hop to another church that suits his whims.
I can develop and defend this idea later. For now, let’s just take it as a given.
Recently, I have seen two examples of public figures church-hopping. When public figures do something, it lends respectability to the practice–however illegitimate the practice may be. Something like this just makes Christians look bad, or even hypocrital. Read the rest of this entry
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.