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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Denominational Christianity is Not God's Best for the Church

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Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1521


Hi Bill,
I guess thats it really God's Best is that we are on the same page doctrinally ,This was done when Apostolic Authority was in the Church and we dont have that now .staff

 2019/11/6 12:38Profile

Joined: 2008/8/13
Posts: 642


At this point in time, we have to respect the individuality of each person and the individuality of each congregation. Otherwise, we may fall again into violent inquisitions or persecutions of the dark ages.

In their own time, denominations will be dissolved, but in our present condition, obsession/compulsion with the concept of total unity can be a disaster.

Even as we exchange our opinions in this thread, clearly there is no perfect unity but should we quarrel about it.

 2019/11/6 20:18Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1521


Hi Passerby
I would say that the following as far as I can understand what your saying is unscriptural:
That we have to except the "wrong" that is denominations and we have to accept following "wrong teaching" so that we will not be persecuted.
Denominations cannot of themselves dissolve or put another way they cannot self dissolve nor are they in control of time as they are not a living entity
Paul,James and Jesus believed in total unity of the Church under one doctrine and in no way would they except denominations.In fact we could say all of the epistles came about because Paul was constantly communicating through letters what was proper doctrine.
Sometimes people can see honest discussions about genuine subjects as quarrels when they the subject upsets them but its more liberating if they try and take the scriptural aspects away from the discussion.
The point remains and it has to be recognised that if The Apostles were on earth today we would have no denominaations,blessing staff

 2019/11/6 23:25Profile

Joined: 2008/8/13
Posts: 642


I hope you are not saying that all those who are in denominations are in sin.

 2019/11/7 2:59Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1521


Hi Passerby,
If you read back through the thread you will see that I have'nt mentioned individuals at all nor sin.People like myself who are part of a denomination are under wrong structure whether we like it or not.

What I have said and I think its easy to agree with is this

Denominations are not God's Best For the Church
Denominations come from not understanding scripture fully and correctly
If The Apostles were here they would be able to fully and correctly interpret scripture with Authority
Because The Apostles are able to fully and correctly interpret scripture with Authority their would be no more denominations as all the scripture that now divides us would be made clear.

 2019/11/7 5:41Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3301


Again, Jesus built "one" church and prayed for unity, Denominations divide the church. If you know people that are in denominational churches, most will always try and convince you that theirs is the best church. Every denomination I know of is run by an large organization, and the churches that belong to that organization, are not able to do as they please. I used to be Baptist, and I can tell you, they are probably the most strict about the way your church will be run, if your a member of the baptist organization, which has around 50 million members.

Southern Baptists believe we must hear the Gospel, believe Jesus is Lord, confess that belief before others and repent of our sins, then we must be baptized.Then the Southern Baptists believe a Christian cannot lose his salvation; the Churches of Christ disagree, a believer can “backslide” and end up in Hell just like anybody else.

The fundamental consequence of denominationalism is that error is just as good as truth! If the denominational concept is true, then all denominations are acceptable to God even though they flatly contradict one another regarding worship, salvation, etc. This means error is just as good as truth and unrighteousness is just as good as righteousness. Denominationalism must be wrong because it says that error does not condemn.

Anyone who believes that denominations don't divide, please answer me this, if they don't divide, why even have so many denominations?


 2019/11/7 9:01Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1521


Hi Bill
Agreeing with your post ,denominations divid the church and as you said if they don't divide why are they even so many denominations.?

I guess what I am adding to that is in the Early Church whenever error came into the body The Apostles countered that error so it would not cause division by using proper doctrine as an antidote.Currently we dont have that antidote but we do need it,staff

 2019/11/7 10:50Profile

Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1099
Germany NRW


Actually, I do believe this is the job of present day apostles and prophets to a degree.

They are not founding apostles like Peter, Paul, James and John but installed as per Eph 4.

here it says:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

There are but a few apostles and prophets in the wider body of Christ whose voice carry that sort of authority. They can address error and bring neccessary correction. I think Derek Prince was one, and there are others like some featured here on SI like Zac Poonen, John Piper, Paul Washer, the late David Wilkerson etc..

 2019/11/7 12:41Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1521


Hi Narrowpath,
I think you are totally correct in linking the gifts to the discussion of correct teaching.
This is where I part company with your thinking as although the list mentioned of great Christian leaders even Apostles I'm sure ,they don't have the the Apostolic Authority of Paul and Peter etc .The proof of the pudding is in the eating in a sense ,if they did have the Authority they would be no denominations as they would have got have got rid of them.
Also as far as I know their are great differences between the teaching of David Wilkerson and Paul Washer(hope he is well by the way I havent heard)on Salvation.If Paul and Peter were here they might have a disagreement like in Acts on hypocrisy but that would be cleared up and they would sing from the same hymn sheet.As Bill said its one body,one gospel not two,

 2019/11/7 13:54Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4517

 Re: Division v. Unity

Hi Staff,

One of the oft-used defenses for denominational divisions is that the denominations unite various believers by specific belief(s). In other words, individuals who collectively agree upon things gather with one another without fear of leaders meandering from those beliefs within their teachings.

In many ways, this makes a lot of sense. For instance, a set of principles collectively agreed upon as sound doctrine (and required for fellowship or leadership) would prevent someone from entering and teaching otherwise or splintering that fellowship. Denominations have provided institutional stability in such churches.

I believe that this is misguided. Sometimes, an entire sect can go wrong because, well, the leaders do. If you look at many denominations today that have rejected the teachings of Christ in favor of the philosophies of men, you realize that dangers that come with this. When the denominational institution or organization hits a doctrinal iceberg and sinks, the people in it often do too.

Moreover, I believe that there is a more immediate danger. Denominations are often created by the very sectarian beliefs that separate the Body of Christ rather than those core beliefs that bring unity. Denominations are, effectively, sects.

The term "sect" actually derives from the old Latin word "secta" which literally means "a way, road, beaten path." This word is actually derived from the Latin word "sectus" meaning "follow." Ironically, "sectus" is a Latin amalgamation word from the Proto-Indo-European word "sek" meaning "to cut." Thus, literally-speaking, sects are about separation.

Granted, that separation is guided by individuals who truly believe themselves to be sound in doctrine. Yet, this is the real issue.

Most denominational sects form on the basis of doctrinal differences. Yet, most of those doctrinal differences aren't guided around what Christendom would consider "essential truth."

If we were to make a list of all of essential Biblical doctrines, most people in the Body of Christ around the world would agree upon them. Those are things that are agreed upon whether you're a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.

At the same time, I do agree that there are some denominations that do teach something that has strayed far from the truth when it comes to essential doctrinal truths. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church set itself up as THE only true church. From the very beginning of its proto-concomitant establishment (circa Constantine), many of its "foundational" doctrines and teachings were already apocryphal and false.

When it comes to those sorts of things, it really just takes one read-through of the Word of God to know this. This is probably why the Catholic Church opposed the availability of the Word of God in the common tongue.

Other major cults did something similar in how they united people behind apocryphal doctrines or heresy. The Mormons actually have established other new "gospels" and works that they consider "scripture" that unites their adherents behind their doctrine. In 1961, the Jehovah's Witnesses (founded in the 1870s) published their "New World Translation" (and they use the word "translation" in a very loose sense) in such a way that it would seem to validate their peculiar doctrinal beliefs.

Like the RCC, it really just takes a person a single read-through of the Bible to understand the flaws in the doctrinal beliefs of those groups (and groups like them).

Modern Christian denominations comprised of real believers in Christ are not simply motivated by a defense against heresy. Rather, they unite behind essentials of the faith. However, most of them also consider certain doctrinal beliefs to be "core" despite the non-essential or a widespread embrace of that particular doctrinal persuasion.

This is where I think that denominations are primarily flawed. Why can we not teach the essentials and allow the grace for believers to follow Christ for the rest?

If you make a list of the more controversial doctrinal views oft-debated here on SermonIndex forums, you'll find what serves as a basis for many denominational congregations. They aren't assembling primarily over the essentials; but, rather, they are uniting over doctrinal matters that they place as having such grave importance that they seem to believe that they are essential.

Obviously, I would never believe that such individuals aren't true children of God. In fact, I admire anyone who follows as they believe the Lord and/or prayerful study has led them. However, I do think that there is an invisible understanding that would limit other true believers from full fellowship with them.

I think that the passages in the New Testament regarding the so-called "Council in Jerusalem" is very important when it comes to the Body of Christ. This is found in Acts 15 and Galatians 2.

I won't go over that (because I think that we have all read it), but it is essentially the first time that Paul the Apostle met with the other apostles. Their meeting, interestingly enough, was in regard to questions about doctrine among the believers inside and outside of Jerusalem.

While the Book of Acts (written most likely by Luke the Physician) details this from a third-person perspective, the Book of Galatians details this from Paul's perspective. One thing that you realize is that Paul was not enamored by the positions or reputations of man -- including the Apostles (Galatians 2:6, 11-14).

Yet, I think that there is an interesting thing in Galatians that often goes unnoticed. In verse 9, Paul mentions that he and Barnabas were given the "right hand of fellowship" by Peter, James and John.

The term "right hand of fellowship" is interesting here. Some denominations have turned this into an actual ritualistic endeavor or ceremony -- literally offering or shaking a hand as a sign of acceptance. If you read commentary on this, it seems that the perspective differs from writer to writer. Matthew Henry wrote that it was a symbol of acceptance and "equality" from the apostles to Paul and Barnabas.

The passage itself in Greek (uses the term "dexios koinōnia") and simply implies extending the right hand for fellowship or communion. In essence, they got to know Paul and Barnabas and recognized the grace that God had truly given them.

This actually makes me think of two things.

Shortly after I came to Christ as a young teenager, I traveled to the Lindale, Texas area to meet Leonard Ravenhill. I did this on a whim and, after getting directions from a local person working on his truck on the side of the road, showed up unnannounced at his home. His wife, Martha, answered the door. After she checked with her husband to see if he would meet with me, she led me to a seat in their house (*while my friend with a driver's license waited outside). I was very nervous.

Brother Ravenhill walked in and sat down across from me. He began asking me questions. I don't remember all of those questions, but I remember feeling almost uncomfortable -- as if he was interviewing me. I answered all of his questions honestly. Eventually, I said something that seemed to trigger a response. Prior to that, he seemed almost a bit cold or academic. When I answered that final question, he smiled, immediately seemed more relaxed and nodded to Mrs. Ravenhill. At that point, one of those most stirring, effective and inspirational conversations of my life began.

In fact, Brother Ravenhill mentioned that he would do this (the interview) in order to know if he was making the best use of his time. Up to that point, he seemed quite stern and unfeeling. Then, after he smiled, I felt like he was warm and welcoming. I suspect that this is similar to offering the right hand of fellowship without actually shaking a hand.

Secondly, I remember taking a required sociology course in college. One part of the course covered was a survey of primitive anthropology. The professor covered the concept of the handshake. With only a few minor exceptions, almost every culture on earth uses a handshake -- and the practice goes back for thousands of years. Even those few cultures that don't use it use other types of greetings (often two-handed bowing or extending the right hand in the air) that convey the same thing.

Anthropologists trace the origin to the concept that most people are right-handed. Since the right hand is the dominant hand, it is the one most often used for hunting, fighting, writing and cooking. They reason that the handshake or extending the right hand (either in the air or to someone) was a way of showing peaceful intentions and acceptance. It is also about openly offering yourself to that person. It is the opposite of "raising a hand against" someone. Whereas lifting up of hands is a sign of surrender, the lifting of the right hand was a sign of acknowledgement and acceptance.

Symbolically speaking, I think that this is what is lacking through the advent of denominations. While you can visit denominational congregations and be welcomed (and, of course, given many handshakes by the pastors, leaders and congregation), there is still a bit of non-acceptance without complete and full compliance to the denominations or congregations list of "we believe" doctrines.

In fact, it seems that sectarian beliefs within the faith divide believers from fellowship with the greater Body of Christ much more than it unites local believers of like mind behind a particular set of non-essential beliefs.

If you look at many of the more divisive debates on SermonIndex over the last 16 years, you'll find that most of them were on those same issues for which many denominations are formed. In churches, you'll be welcomed, but the full measure of welcome (and ministry or leadership) is reserved for those who adhere to very particular set of seemingly dogmatic beliefs. This is a far-cry from how Paul and Barnabas were welcomed with a "right hand of fellowship" by the apostles with very little emphasis on specific doctrinal adherence.

I've often lamented the fact that our local churches and denominations feel a need to push for acceptance of oft-disputed teachings if they are to be accepted. Even if I believe in something like tithing, head coverings or the idea of a catching away of the Bride of Christ before the tribulation, is this something that should be demanded of the congregation for full-fellowship? Why can't we teach the essentials of the faith and then teach about the various beliefs on non-essentials? It just seems that pastors should be able to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide believers in such matters or issues that aren't essential to faith in Christ.

This is where denominations miss the mark. They imply that those who agree upon the "we believe" doctrines are inherently "better informed," "more mature" or even "more faithful" than those who do not. This lacks the humility of extending that right hand of fellowship after seeing others (as Matthew Henry saw it) as being "equals" in the faith.

Denominations cause us to forego the emptying of ourselves and making ourselves as "nothing." It is that Philippians 2 encouragement that is needed more than ever in the Body of Christ at this point of history.


 2019/11/7 14:51Profile

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