Do Denominational Disagreements Falsify Christianity?

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denominational disagreementA common objection to Christianity focuses on the denominational differences existing between the numerous Christian sects we see across the globe. If there is one Christian God, why are there so many different denominations of Christians? Does the existence of numerous (and contradictory) versions of Christianity prove Christianity is false? If Christians can’t even agree on what they believe, why should anyone else believe Christianity is true?

Truth, by its very nature, is often elusive and difficult to ascertain. The more hidden or complex the truth claim, the more difficult it is to determine, given our limited capacity as humans. To make matters worse, our innate, fallen qualities of pride and rebellion cause us to disagree and separate from one another along the way. Christians are not alone in their struggle to understand the truth. We aren’t the only people who struggle with disagreement and separation:

Human Disagreement is Common to Every Field of Study
Very few fields of study are characterized by uniform agreement. As an example, secular scientists who study the origin of the universe have divided into a number of theoretical camps, including “Big Bang” Cosmologists, “Steady State” Cosmologists, “Conformal Cyclic” Cosmologists, “Ekpyrotic” Cosmologists, “Multiverse” Cosmologists, “Pre-Big Bang Theory” Cosmologists, “Quantum Theory” Cosmologists and many more. These careful thinkers are examining the same set of facts, yet have separated in disagreement with one another, even though they agree on many essential issues.

Human Disagreement is Common to Every Worldview
More expansive worldviews are not immune to this kind of disagreement. For example, a quick search on the Internet reveals those who deny the existence of God have categorized themselves in a number of varying ways, including “Implicit” Atheists, “Explicit” Atheists, “Weak” Atheists, “Strong” Atheists, “Iconoclastic” Atheists, “Pragmatic” Atheists, “Mono” Atheists, “Myopic” Atheists, “Realistic” Atheists, “Scientific” Atheists, “Logical” Atheists and many more. Even people who have examined the same set of facts and hold an atheistic worldview have distinguished themselves as distinct from one another, even though they agree on many essential issues.

Human Disagreement Does Not Negate the Existence of Truth
While people may disagree about a specific truth claim, this disagreement does not mean a particular truth does not exist or cannot be known. In every jury trial, two sides oppose one another; one side believes the defendant is guilty, the other side believes the defendant is innocent. There is a truth related to the defendant’s guilt or innocence, in spite of the disagreement. Even though both sides are examining the same set of facts, they’ve come to two separate conclusions. One of them is right and one of them is wrong. Truth is not negated by their disagreement.

Christians of every denomination have examined the same set of facts from the Biblical text and the 1st Century evidence. While we may disagree about a number of peripheral matters, we agree on the essential doctrines of the Christian Worldview. As a result, we can accurately call each other “brothers and sisters in the faith.” These disagreements are a reflection of the fallen nature of humans. All of us, regardless of worldview or area of study, are influenced by our pride and rebellion; we often separate from one another over minor issues having no bearing on the overall truth of a matter. Christians are no more immune to this tendency than those who deny the existence of God altogether.

For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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