Imagine the historical moment when a denomination began: “Sirs, Sirs, the people are clamoring to break free from the oppressions of men, to be free, and to worship God as they see fit. For too long they have been shackled to the precepts of men and they long to be free. Let us therefore boldly proclaim that we will go back to the Bible and leave the traditions, which are onerous, because they are not of God. Yes, truly, we are onto something! And what shall we call this new church which seeks to reattach itself to the founding root? I know, tis simple, we shall name it something which all men can rally around, a name that all men can at once say, “it’s a glory to God!” Yes, a name that men will gladly wear. One that they shall suffer taunts and sword and flame to wear. We shall call it “___________”!!!
“The disciples were first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch.” – Acts 11:26
“…the churches of Christ salute you.” – Romans 16:16
What did you put in the blank? Anything other than the name of Christ wouldn’t make sense. But men denominate and call themselves all sorts of things which don’t glorify God.
Jesus built His church (Mt 16:16-19). So why shouldn’t it have His name on it? He’s the head over His church. And repentant, baptized believers are added to it ever since its beginning on Pentecost, 33 A.D. So Jesus’ one church is the original and all the denominational divisions came hundreds and hundreds of years later. Jesus had nothing to do with building denominations. Foolish men did. So my question is this: Why do some Christians feel compelled to justify and legitimize denominations and their members? I mean that some Christians are afraid to take a stand against an obvious error by defending denominations.
I ask this because there’s no way, no biblically rational way of justifying the existence of these groups since these groups are obviously the work of man. Jesus said he built one church (Mt. 16:16ff). Jesus prayed for the church to be unified (Jn 17:20,21). Jesus said to diligently keep this unity (Eph 4:4-6). It says in 1 Corinthians to NOT denominate (1 Cor. 1:10ff). So why do Brethren get incensed and irritated when a preacher of the Gospel of Christ says the truth about denominationalism, that it is the work of the devil? Why?
God is not the author of confusion. Satan is. God said “do not exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). Satan says, “but it doesn’t say you can’t do _______” (fill in the blank with whatever feel good practice denominations are justifying today). When men add and take away from God’s Word, they make the worship of their denomination VAIN!! (Mt. 15:7-9). Please listen to me young Christians. These words of admonishment are spoken in love. We love these lost, deceived, misled souls as God has told us to, but we don’t love them by telling them they are A-OK in their denominations. The evil of denominationalism must be spelled out, in the clearest of terms, so that the lost sheep may hear the voice of Truth.
Denominations divide over doctrine. Differing, opposing doctrines can’t be right. Denominations confuse others on important doctrines related to faith, salvation, and worship. Take baptism for example. We aren’t smarter or wiser than the Apostle Paul who spoke and wrote by inspiration. HE said that at their baptism/immersion in Rome, the Christians were buried with Christ and they died and were crucified with Christ AND it was there, at the baptism, that they raised to walk in newness of life because they were freed from sin. All of this from Romans 6:3-7.
When a denominational representative starts his verbal jockeying on this verse is when he twist Paul’s words by disassociating the death and new life (God’s grace) away from the baptism (the sinner’s act of faith) Paul connects them to! Paul connects baptism (obviously adult, an act of faith) and salvation (grace) BUT the denominational agents and promoters use a sleight of hand to trick your mind to accept something other than the clear reality of what Paul says.
So who justifies and defends Denominations when their error is so obvious?