I was once asked this question in a MSN Christian debate room,,, “”there are 34,000+ different Christian denominations today. Who is to say which churches constitute the congregations of ‘true Christians’?”
I responded to some of this misconception about denominations in an article called 34,000 differing denominations or Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS by Damon Whitsell
The misconception perpetuated by the questionnaire is that Christianity is a fractured belief system and their is nothing but divisions among Christians. The misconception in its most basic sense says that Denominations, Sects and creeds are a bad thing, NOT OF GOD and should be avoided because there is no unity among Christians. BUT MY FRIENDS,,, this is just absurd.
THIS IS 180 DEGREES OFF. The bible says 1Co 11:19 (ASV) For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you. And while Jesus did say,,,,, Joh 17:11b Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. He did say that the Unity he desired was in Him,,,, Joh 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. There can be no unity apart from truth and the True biblical Jesus.
Word of Faith’ers, Charismatics and all Christian cults usually take this passage out of context to say that denominations are bad. 1Co 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
But the thing that anti-denominationalist do not want to see is that all these groups where united in Jesus, His teachings and the teachings of the Apostles. These where not denominations or sects because there was only one Christian church until the Eastern Orthodox Church split from what we now call the Roman Catholic Church in 1054. They where boasting one over another about who had fathered or discipled them in the faith. While it was childish and carnal behavior, this passage does not support the assertion that there should be no divisions among the church. 1Co 11:19 (ASV) For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.
Indeed God says Eph 4:4-6 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. BUT He says there are many parts to the body 1Co 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
If you have studied the Word of Faith Movement, or the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, you will see that they have a disdain for denominationalism and creeds. They are also very anti-intellectual! Instead of studying to show thyself approved,,, they opt for more esoteric forms of learning such as,,, God’s Spirit told me, and,, Gods Spirit taught me. BUT Many time what “the Spirit” tells them contradicts that which the Spirit has already told them in His written revelation. This is how heresy runs rampant among these groups, because they are anti-intellectual, anti-denominational and anti-Creedal. AND MY FRIENDS,, THIS IS THE SAME FOUNDATION ALL CHRISTIAN PSEUDO CULTS ARE BUILT UPON
Lets look at Mormonism’s Joseph Smith’s first vision to prove the point.
Joseph Smith History 1:18-20: “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.”
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw• near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them;…”
Mormons, all other cults, Word of Faither’s, Pentecostals and Charismatics have a few other things in common. They believe that mainline Christianity has apostatized and needs to be restored to it’s previous doctrine and practice.
The key principles of the Restoration Movement and the Restorationist are,
1. Christianity should not be divided, Christ intended the creation of one church.
2. Creeds divide, but Christians should be able to find agreement by standing on the Bible itself (from which they believe all creeds are but human expansions or constrictions) instead of on the opinions of people about the Bible.
3. Ecclesiastical traditions divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by following the practice (as best as it can be determined) of the early church.
4.Names of human origin divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by using biblical names for the church (i.e., “Christian Church,” “Church of God” or “Church of Christ” as opposed to “Methodist” or “Lutheran”, etc.). It is in this vein that conservative members of the Churches of Christ object to the phrase “Stone-Campbell Movement.” (1)
DOES THIS SOUND LIKE THE WORD OF FAITH, PENTECOSTAL AND CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS TO YOU?
Listen to these silly mottos from the “Restoration Movement” that was used by Mormons, The church of Christ cult, Jehovah’s Witness and all other cults that came from the restoration movement. And you will find that many Word of Faither’s, Pentecostals and Charismatics use the same ideas to perpetuate the idea that denominations and creeds are bad. BUT IS THIS SO???
Many who make such claims are totally ignorant of Christian Church History and why denominations call themselves by denominational names. BUT some deliberately perpetuate these misconceptions to foster their preconceptions
I was listening to this sermon called Why are Christians divided into so many denominations? It was the best out of two sermons on the topic of denominations that I listened to. In it Pastor Howe quoted CS. Lewis from his classic Christian book “Mere Christianity:,, in which Lewis explains Denominations better than I ever could. So here is his quote.
C.S. Lewis – Preface to Mere Christianity.- “I hope no reader will suppose the ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions – as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in…When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.”
Lewis describes the denominations and creeds of the church to be a good thing.
Mere Christianity is a Pseudonym for Essential Christian doctrine. Lewis is saying that all true Christian churches agree on the essentials of the faith. And that they differ only in non essential matters. This is very true. Denominations do not divide over essential doctrine,, they are unified in them. Creeds are called confessions because denominations, while divided on non essential issues, openly tell people what they believe and practice up front. UNLIKE THE WORD OF FAITH, PENTECOSTAL AND CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS.
Don’t buy into the anti-denominational rhetoric and propaganda of these groups. Orthodox Mainline Christianity is United within Diversity.