Re: Sunday Dispatch
Answers to Common Objections
Christian theologians have differed wildly over every doctrine of Christianity. If Christianity were true, this would not be the case.
There are two huge problems with this argument. First, it is primarily a theological argument. How do we know that God, if he exists, would not allow error of any kind into the church? In fact, if the letters of Paul and the other apostles are any indication, there were people in the early Christian churches who held all kinds of wrong ideas and yet were considered -by Paul and the other apostles- to be real Christians.
Second, although I would not minimize the theological differences between major theologians of history, I think it a gross exaggeration to claim that there is no core doctrinal agreement amongst them. In fact, the situation seems to be quite the opposite. Every major Christian theologian (especially those quoted most frequently by the Neoatheists) would affirm the major historic creeds of the Christian church, the deity of Christ, the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of atonement, the historicity of the Resurrection, and the authority of the Bible. In fact, if I look at my own personal spiritual influences as a Christian, I find that they include men from all kinds of denominations, including Charles Spurgeon (Baptist) Tim Keller (Presbyterian), Martin Luther (Lutheran), John Calvin (Presbyterian), C.S. Lewis (Anglican), and David Martin-Lloyd Jones (Methodist). Again, I am not denying that there are areas in which these men disagree seriously.
However, it seems to me quite disingenuous for a skeptic to throw up his hands and claim that there is such disagreement that the Christian message is utterly obscure. If I could presume to speak for these men, I think they would unanimously affirm (with the apostle Paul) that the core of Christianity is and has always been "Jesus Christ and him crucified". Matters of other doctrine are important but ultimately secondary and should be faced only after we have answered the question: who is Jesus?
Short answer: although Christians certainly disagree in many areas of theology, the central message of Christianity ("Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life for our justification") has been affirmed by every Christian theologian throughout history, including those cited repeatedly by the Neoatheists.
~ Neil Shenvi