The Denomination Divide

In Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone

Denominational Divides

A Problem of Identity

Every time I try to type denomination, I mistype it by starting the word with demon— perhaps there is something to that.

This whole different denomination thing feels like one the church’s biggest shams. It’s scandalous. More scandalous than the church’s problems of self-indulgence, money scandals, even sexual transgressions.

Denominations are the asterisks we’ve drawn next to our name, the small print we’ve written to the plan of salvation. They’re the “gotcha!” that’s signals the world that we have an identity problem.

We, as a whole, don’t know who we are.

We think we know who we are, based on the religious institutions and their definitions of what kind of Christian we are. But they get it wrong all the time. Add that those same organizations are notorious for refusing to accept a misstep in their theology, and you end up with division. Mass division.

From what I can tell, denominations are the result of over-prioritizing certain aspects of Christianity. Aspects like discipline, philanthropy, emotionalism, or spirituality.

It’s odd, though, because no denomination can honestly say Jesus lived, or identified himself, the way they do. Jesus didn’t lead an overly disciplined, regiment lifestyle. He was disciplined, as well as philanthropic, emotional and most certainly spiritual, but none of them are how we identify with Jesus. And if they are, it’s because of the spread of the denominational doctrines, not because of what we see in scripture.

It’s sad to think that we, the body of believers, a body that should seek to overcome pride, power, and prestige, are so far removed from such a concept. Our misinterpretations and conflicts of doctrine divide us, and has done so for so long… it is our normal

Jesus most often spoke to His being the Son of God, and that through his obedience and relationship with God, grace would be extended to all people around the world. He didn’t seem to need another label.

Jesus was the Son of God. And according to John’s gospel, we too can be “sons of God” (John 1:11). We don’t need another label either.

Our denominational divides send a message of dissension, pride, competition and misappropriation of priorities that contaminates our ability to spread the great message of God’s grace. People can’t hear the message of the gospel for the much louder clamor of our church enterprise-building, rigid traditional power-mongering, and doctrinal bickering.

We’ve misidentified ourselves.

Christians aren’t meant to wear Catholic or Protestant badges. Baptists or Pentecostal. Methodists or Lutherans. We should be identified the way Jesus was… as (born-again) children of God. Children who wrestle with finding out why God left us on this planet after saving us. Children trying desperately to live a life God smiles on.

It’s sad to think that as the children of God who seek to overcome pride, power, and prestige, we are so far removed from primarily identifying ourselves by our relationship with Him. Our misinterpretations and doctrinal conflicts have divided us for so long… it’s our normal.

Let’s go back to this demon– thing because there’s a point to be made there. As far as I can tell, one of Satan’s most effective tactics is in tempting us to, as the saying goes, “Major in the minors!” So far, in this area, he’s been quite successful. We’ve allowed a bunch of minors to become a major problem.

 

What small step do you think we can take to overcome denominational division in the church?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.