It is a common false belief that when things are going the way we want, then it’s God’s kindness to us, but when things are going contrary to our wishes, then it’s the devil or the world or some other oppositional force.  Some times God gives us difficulties that we need, and sometimes he allows things to go the way we want even when that is harmful for us.  But when things do go well for us, we can be grateful for his goodness, all the same.

Moving tally:

  • Caring landlords who are willing to do work on the house we’ve rented, and they’re also Christian.
  • A sublet that we rented for longer than we thought we’d need, which is now coming in handy.
  • First church visited in town seems very good, and also happens to fulfill most of my and my wife’s preferences.  (We accept a broad range of Christians and churches that we will worship with, but we also have a long list of less essential things that we prefer, such as that the congregation will accept theology nerds…)
  • Found good new primary care doctor on first try.
  • 10th anniversary.

Moving is still a painful experience, but these good parts have been surprising (okay, apart from the anniversary; we saw that one coming).  Thank you, God, for your kindness in providing us with what we need!

The Argument from (Dis-)Similarity

Will the real Church please stand up?  Go to a phone directory of any moderately sized settlement and see if the listings for “churches” don’t rapidly get bewildering.  Indeed, such an exercise is often an education into varieties of Christianity we didn’t know existed!  How should those who worship Christ sort through this denominational chaos?

One method frequently suggested by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Disciples of Christ (along with a few Baptists, on occasion) is to look at the evidence for early Christianity and see which contemporary denomination is most similar to the churches of the apostles and their successors.  This is the argument from similarity.  I recently read a blog post making this argument against Protestants of all stripes, and a commentator here pressed me to consider the same line of reasoning.  It was not the first time.  I have heard this argument made in favor of multiple different branches of contemporary Christianity.  I like to imagine the question by asking which church would look most familiar to the apostle Peter or any of the other earliest Christians, if he were sent on a time-travel expedition from AD 60 to the present.  I prefer someone else to Jesus for this exercise because Jesus is the God who knows the hearts, and this is usually posed as a question about external appearances. (more…)