Denominations, Speaking in Tongues, and Atheism

I just read an article posted on Facebook reporting that the Southern Baptist Convention will now permit its missionary members to exercise the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. This practice was actually banned by the SBC ten years ago. Click here for the article.

This propelled me to consider the different Christian denominations and the diversity of friends I have who seem to come from all kinds of Christian backgrounds. I’m friends with Baptists, Pentecostalists, Bapticostals, Methodists, Catholics, and others. I even met an Amish guy recently and we had a lengthy conversation about our views of Christianity. That was really fun. He (Clay) was a great guy to talk to. As for me, I consider myself strongly non-denominational for many reasons, but that’s not my point here.

Sometimes an atheist or skeptic will use denominational groups within Christianity as an argument against the truth of Christianity. They will claim that their differences and disagreements are proof that Christianity is some kind of man-made fiction. I think I have a good way to answer this charge by using a sports analogy similar to one used by John Lennox.

I have a four-year-old who is playing his first year in T-ball. I’m an assistant coach on his team. Among the coaches on the team, we all have our own personality and our own ways of teaching the kids. While not changing who we are, we sort of conform to the way the head coach does things and we have been able to really coach these kids to be some really good, young players.

As the season has proceeded we have played several different opponents and each team’s coaches have a different style of coaching and you can see it on the field. Some coaches are very passive and overly nice. Some coaches scream a lot (that wouldn’t be me…or would it?). One team has been coached to pester the other team, distract the batters, be loud, and talk smack. And other teams are absolutely out of control with no order or discipline. I can even detect the early stages of rivalries forming. Some teams just don’t like other teams for some reason or another. It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way humanity and sports works. Differences arise.

But aside from all the glaring differences in the makeup of the various teams, we are all doing one thing and it’s the same thing: playing baseball. The Christian church is a lot like this.

As Tim Keller writes about in his book, “The Reason for God,” Christianity has always been able to cross cultures and cross any kind of human personality and still be a message of truth and good news to humanity. So yeah, there are many denominations. But that in no way disproves the truth of Christianity. At worst it may show that Christians make up a broad spectrum of people with different cultural backgrounds and different worship preferences. But at best, it shows how malleable Christianity can be without compromising its message. Christianity is confronted with a wide diversity of people all over the globe. It reaches the ultra-spiritual African tribal people, to the pantheistic Asian people, to the people influenced by the “Enlightenment” of the western European world and in America, and many other cultures.

So remember this when someone tries to say denominational groups prove Christianity false. That’s simply wishful thinking and the charge proves absolutely nothing.

2 thoughts on “Denominations, Speaking in Tongues, and Atheism”

  1. And when an Atheist uses a phrase like “Because of this…. therefore this proves there is no God.” They have only managed to convince themselves it’s true through wishful thinking that anyone with an open mind can spot a mile away.

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