We hear it everywhere we turn, “I just don’t know what to believe!” and, “I am so confused religiously!” It should not be surprising to observe such reactions from the masses when there are literally hundreds of denominations all vying for attention and recognition as being the church that Jesus established. The Bible student who is honestly seeking for the church of the New Testament is aware that something is drastically wrong with what you see in the world of “Christianity” today. Nearly two millenniums ago, however, the apostle Paul said, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). Near AD 33, Jesus fulfilled His earlier promise to build His church (Matt. 16:18). His apostles referred to it as “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27), of which Paul said there is one (1 Cor.10:17; Eph. 4:4; Col 3:15). So then, why so many “churches”? The simple answer is found in man’s unwillingness to adopt the New Testament as his only guide in faith and practice. When men depart from the teachings of the Bible, division ensues (1 Kings 18:17-18). Hence, we see more than 1000 denominations all teaching doctrines that conflict with one another and with the teachings of Christ. Surely, this is not pleasing in the eyes of God! So, what is wrong with denominationalism and what is its cure?
“Denomination” – A Nonbiblical Term and Concept
The word denomination is not to be found in the Bible. The term “churches” as referring to conflicting religious organizations is also foreign to the word of God. It is not only absent in the sacred writings but is contrary to what is revealed therein. The word church is only mentioned in two ways. Universally, it occurs in respect to every saved individual throughout the age of grace. (Matt. 16:18) Locally, it refers to congregations of “like precious faith” throughout the world (Rom.16:16; Rev. 1:4). Any ecclesiastical organization larger than the local church but smaller that the universal church is unscriptural. Denominations claim to be smaller than the universal church because most acknowledge other denominations as being acceptable to God. On the other hand, they are larger than the local unit because it takes many congregations to form a denomination. You will only read about congregations of the Church of Christ in the New Testament. (Rom. 16: 16)
Division Is Condemn By God
The Bible not only demands unity among Christ’s followers, but also gives a platform upon which to unite. “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” (1 Cor. 1: 10). (Also note Rom. 15:6; Phil. 1:27, 2:2). We are to be of the same mind, which is the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5; 4:2). His mind is revealed to us through the teachings of the apostles (1 Cor. 2:16). Therefore, Christians are to be unified upon the doctrines of the Bible. To be otherwise is to be carnal and not spiritual (1 Cor. 3:3). Denominationalism teaches just the opposite!
Denominationalism Exalts Men Rather Than Christ
The sovereign rule of Christ finds its throne in heaven. After completing His earthly work in the scheme of man’s redemption, He ascended to Gods right hand in heaven where He sat down to rule and reign over the church, His kingdom. Paul said, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). Denominationalism refuses to allow Christ to sit in his rightful place of authority over his kingdom. Christ built his church. Denominations were founded by their reformation leaders who introduced new theologies upon which those organizations were formed. Men such as Martin Luther, John Smith, John Wesley, and others began many mainstream denominations. They are governed, not by the Bible only, but by conventions, creed books, catechisms, and disciplines. The doctrines of those men who rule over them are emphasized over the teachings of Jesus Christ. If this were not true, then you would not see these denominations in existence, but rather, one body of believers united upon the words of the New Testament. Paul accused the Corinthian brethren of honoring men over Christ and spoke divine words of disapproval toward them (1 Cor. 1:12-13). The church of the Bible finds its source of authority in heaven and not in an earthly place of ecclesiastical headquarters.
Denominationalism Substitutes Human Names For Christ
In reference to Christ, Peter declared that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul concurred by stating that the family of God is named of Christ (Eph. 3:15). For every denomination, there is another name introduced. Names mean something in every respect in which they are given. Some denominations are named after some practice they embrace, some man that they honor, or some extraordinary doctrine that they emphasize. However, Christ’s church is not identified by any of these designations. His church honors Him as their head, recognizes Him as its builder, trusts Him as their savior, and remains faithful to Him as His bride. Therefore, she wears His glorious name (Rom. 16:16).
The Church Of Christ Is Not a Denomination
We who are identified with the church of Christ do not consider ourselves a denomination. We were not established by man. We have no creeds or practices not authorized by the New Testament. We wear no human names. Our simple plea is to restore New Testament Christianity in every aspect. Our directive is only to “speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11).” The unity for which we strive finds its basis in the teachings of Christ and his apostles (Eph. 4:3-6; John 17:20-21).
The malady of denominationalism will find its remedy only when men one by one lay down the doctrines of men and return to the teachings of God’s book. We humbly plead with you, dear reader, to do just that and strike hands with us upon the Bible and return to primitive Christianity!
Article by: Kevin Presley