Debating Denominational Differences while Non-Christians Watch
by Kenneth Samples
Christian unity is very special to me as a believer in Jesus Christ. In fact, I feel called by God to promote truth, unity, civility, and charity among all who embrace the historic Christian faith. Personally, I would much rather talk about what all historic Christians affirm theologically than discuss the doctrinal distinctives of my particular theological tradition. I guess that is one reason I find the ecumenical creeds of Christendom (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed) so appealing.
Nevertheless, I am well aware that there are critical—perhaps intractable—theological differences among the three conservative branches of Christendom (Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism). The most challenging differences lie in the areas of authority (Scripture and tradition) and soteriology (salvation, specifically the relationship between grace, faith, and works). And yet, while the Protestant denominations share more doctrinal common ground together, there are also some very strong theological disagreements present within the Protestant ranks. For example…