Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 10 October 2012
Page 6

Before Denominations #1

Donald R. Fox

Donald R. FoxMany of us remember the funny and clean TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” running from September 1964 to September 1967, with the Skipper and Gilligan as the crew of the charter boat S.S. Minnow and the five passengers. It was supposed to be a three-hour tour, but a storm shipwrecked all of them on an uncharted uninhabited island. They were lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

The above reminds me of an illustration I heard years ago that helped me understand pre-denominational Christianity. Many of you that will read what follows and may chuckle as you remember also.

Let’s say that several are shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. All survived the terrible storm. The type of people marooned are just average folks. They had one thing in common, however, and that was they had absolutely no interest in religion up to this point in their lives. They were totally ignorant, completely unaware of all religions of this world.

As they recovered items from the wrecked ship, they found a Bible. No other literature, radio or the like was on the ship. As the days, weeks and months passed, they started to read the Bible as a group. The Word of God was totally new to them. They started with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They could grasp that this world and all creation did not come from a huge Big Bang explosion. Their common sense understood that from nothing comes nothing. Disorder never creates order.

The time passed, and they studied the only book they had, the Bible. All of the survivors believed what they read, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:37).

The Word of God became their hope and their rock of stability. Belief in the God of the Bible was now a reality to them. For the first time in their lives, they understood that there were fixed standards of right and wrong. Reading and rereading the Acts of the Apostles, they became and were believers (Acts 15:7; Mark 16:15-16). They repented of their sins, and they desired to be obedient to God Almighty (Acts 3:19). Recalling the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, they exclaimed one and all, “See, here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (verse 36). They all believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:37). The group went to the oceanside, and they all were immersed, baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).

Further, they also understood that they, as new babes in Christ must live faithfully. “…[B]e thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). “…[A]s newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…” (1 Peter 2:2).

Now the question: Upon this obedience in accordance with what the Bible teaches, what were they? The answer: They were Christians, no more and no less. To what denomination did they belong? None; they had no conception nor understanding of denominationalism. It can’t get any simpler or clearer than this illustration.

Before Denominations #2

Donald R. Fox

Most Americans love the sport of baseball. I played for the Police Athlete League (PAL) when I was a kid. The Brooklyn Dodgers were my favorite team. I spent many happy afternoons in the left field bleachers at ole Ebbets Field.

Years ago, I attended Winter Bible School classes at Gloster Street church in Tupelo, Mississippi. My teacher, John L. Wheeler, was full of stories and illustrations to zero in on non-denominational Christianity. One illustration I remember was one about the game of baseball.

Let’s imagine that the game of baseball started to lose its appeal. People just weren’t interested in the game any longer. After the passing of some years, people did not play baseball any longer. All ball field stadiums, baseball lots and the like were destroyed.

One, two, three hundred years passed and the memory of baseball was completely forgotten. That reminds me of one of the saddest verses in the whole Bible. “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). You see, in the passing of time people and nations forget.

One day, a man went to a large library to just browse around. He noticed, high on a shelf, a book that appeared very old. Removing this book from the bookshelf, he saw it was a complete rulebook on the game called baseball. “Never heard of such a game,” he exclaimed to himself. Fascinated, he checked the book out.

Our friend pored over the book, rules and regulations for the game of baseball. He decided to recapture, bring back this game. Using and following the data, information and rules contained in this book, the game of baseball was reestablished.

Question: Do we now have a new game of baseball? Answer: No, we have a restored game. Such is the concept of pre-denominational Christianity. Going back past denominationalism to the New Testament and obeying this source will produce Christians only. In doing this, we will negate, cancel out all denominational creeds, doctrines and religious names that are unknown in the Word of God.

Such is the illustration. When honest, true truth seekers obey what the New Testament teaches, it will make them Christians and Christians only. They are added to the church as revealed in the New Testament. “…[P]raising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

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