Vol. 11 No. 4 April 2009
In recent years, we have seen various religious groups ignore doctrine to unite in fellowship and purpose. In a politically correct society, where acceptance is the watchword, doctrine doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, one noted denominational preacher put it bluntly: “We’ve got to get past this thing about doctrine.” To many, all that matters any more is accepting God as Father and Jesus as the Son of God; everything else is simply extraneous and optional.
This is all fine for denominations who do not acknowledge the authority of Scripture anymore. However, the Lord’s church will not participate in such, if it is to hold true to its calling. Jude candidly points out we are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). There is only one faith that God has given which leads to salvation (Ephesians 4:5), not many variations of it. To abandon it is to pervert the Gospel of Christ and subvert the work God accomplishes through it (Galatians 1:6-9). Obedience through faith to the revealed will of God is what He desires (Matthew 7:21-23).
To be candid, but honest, denominationalism is not of God, but of humanity, and it will not commend one to God. There is only one church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). While we may share certain tenets with denominations, the Lord’s church is not a denomination, but His blood-bought church, which alone is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Our responsibility is not to join them, but to bring them to knowledge of the truth, faith in the truth, obedience to the truth, that God may add them to His church in truth. This is what is unique about the New Testament church. It is not the invention of human will, but that established by God through Christ (Matthew 16:18), revealed in Scripture, identified by its submission to God’s authority.
A noted preacher in our brotherhood told me several years ago, “The church of Christ will be the last denomination!” By that, he was lamenting our lack of fellowship with the denominational world. I would amend his comments to say, “Christ’s church alone is His church, and will never compromise His truth to become a denomination.” If we follow the teaching of Christ revealed in Scripture, we are what we say, the church of Christ, and by remaining faithful to this calling, we can have every confidence in the salvation that we hold dear. As Peter exhorts, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).