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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  10  No. 11 November 2008  Page 13                    powered by FreeFind

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The Defilement of Denominationalism

By Julene Nulph

Julene NulphYears ago, I worked with a lady who lived nearby my home. Our place of employment was located quite a distance from our homes, and therefore, the two of us agreed to take turns carpooling to work. The two of us had some interesting conversations on our lengthy drives to work. On one such occasion, we began a discussion on religion, and she politely asked me, “What denomination do you belong to?” I explained to her that I did not belong to any denomination, but that I was simply a Christian, a follower of Christ through reading and obeying God’s Holy Word. Frustrated, she stated that her religious party “pretty much did the same thing too,” but they called themselves by another name. She continued to insist that the group of people I worshipped with had a name other than Christian. She wanted me to tell her a name of some denomination so she could get an idea of my religious views. I took the opportunity to teach her what I could about the church for which Christ died. As I concluded, she added that though we differed on some points, we were basically the same! Could it be that two could differ such as this and be the same? Is it true that Jesus died so that people could walk separately?

It has been my experience that many people take great pride in identifying themselves with their religious denominations. Just as a lengthy career title can often make one feel good, carrying a religious denominational name often makes some feel content too. However, this contentment is only a false hope. It is the case that denominationalism has been candy coated and modernized into a mentality of “letting each worship in his own kind of pew.” Let’s consider the truth of denominationalism by a search through the Scriptures.

Denominationalism delivers destruction. The word denomination does not often denote a negative connotation to people, but it should. For those who can recall their elementary school math lessons, do you remember that a denominator is the part of a fraction that represents the divisor? The denominator divides a number. That is just what a denomination does. It divides the unity of the one church (Ephesians 4:4-6) of which Christ prayed in John 17: 20-23. Proverbs 14:12 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Denominationalism may seem right, but it only delivers destruction!

Denominationalism is self-seeking. One often looks for a church that pleases him or her instead of reading the inspired Word of God and finding the church that Christ purchased with His blood! When seeking in which church to worship, one must lay aside his or her wants and seek the commands of God. In Mark 7:8-9, Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes for following the tradition of men and not the commandments of God. One must seek to please God and not himself or herself.

Denominationalism creates confusion and works against the cause of Christ. In my small phonebook alone, there are listed approximately forty-nine different denominations from which to choose. Forty-nine! With all of these different teachings about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, redemption, faith, repentance, confession, name of the church, baptism, terms of membership in the church and worship, to name a few, how is one expected to find the Truth and the way to heaven? It is too much work for one to sift through each of these denominations. Is it any wonder why some throw up their hands and quit trying to figure out religion?

Read 1 Corinthians 14:33: “God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” When man leaves the pure and undefiled teachings of Christ and His apostles, and creates creeds as though they have the right to interpret Truth for themselves and to decide what doctrines they wish to hold, confusion is the end result. God is the final authority. He has already spoken through His Word on all matters needed for salvation (2 Peter 1:3). Listen to the apostle Paul’s inspired message, “ Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Doing otherwise corrupts the plan of God (2 Timothy 4:1-4) and is disrespectful to God’s Word!

Like my past neighbor and co-worker, some misunderstand those of us who state that we do not belong to any denomination, but are simply Christians, following Christ and His apostle’s teaching by reading and obeying the inspired Word of God. Sometimes, the reply is that we feel we are the only ones who are right. However, this is not the attitude we intend to portray. We are convinced that the Bible is true, and when anyone follows what it says, they are right. It is our goal to turn away from all human doctrines and that we all “speak the same thing and that there be no divisions” among us, but that we, be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Won’t you make this your plea, too?

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