The Denomination Divide

In Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone8 Comments

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?

The following two tabs change content below.
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.
8 comments
Carl Rooker
Carl Rooker

There is one thing that all true Christians have in common, no matter what denomination they belong to (Remember, I said "true Christian").  That one thing is Our Head, Jesus Christ.  He comes first, everything else comes after Him.  If the Church of Jesus Christ took this approach, different denominations would not be a problem.  There is room for honest diversity.

Adron Ung
Adron Ung

@@antwuanmalone

I like your topic of interest and the way you perpetrated it. Furthermore, I agree that denominations have caused a serious divide in the body of Christ. But, the fact still remains that some denominations were formed because certain people just couldn't tolerate the unsound nor Biblical based doctrine of their mother church. Still, being of a certain denomination can't save anyone from the fires of hell. Only Jesus can save us from the fires of hell. It's when people promote grace as a license for sin that I get dearly concerned as I'm sure you have noticed: 

4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4)


So yeah, there are a lot of separations. I think that some were essential for the maintenance of sound doctrine...but, there are so many that [without knowing Scripture] it can be hard to know what's right. But, there is one distinction that I think has to be made. The more that I research the Roman Catholic Church, the more concerned I am. I think that they are totally wrong in claiming to be the first checking founded upon St. Peter. This may be new news to you...so what can I say.


Well, actually I have a lot to say on this...and I just wrote it today: 

 https://www.facebook.com/notes/adron-ung/roman-catholicism-aka-not-legit-christianityhence-my-reasons/591270497551964

Do read my link and my cited sources, especially the first 2 in the link. What I learned from them still haunts me...and I'm distressed because of it. 

Also, I remember reading the Heavenly Man by brother Yun a summer or 2 ago...and wow! Okay, I'm not going to cite page and number because it's been a while...and actually I'm not an avid reader, but this book was amazing!! What brother Yun states is that the church in Southern China was thriving until all this dissension sneaked into the their churches via Christian books. Before Christian books aside from the Bible came in, everyone was in unity interpreting the Bible for WHAT IT IS....NOT WHAT SOMEONE CLAIMS IT TO BE.

Chace Gordon talks about this...and let me guarantee that what he says here is sound in doctrine. I promise. I vow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jd-go6B-XM&feature=youtube


Nevertheless, I very much so DISAGREE with the ROMAN Catholic church, so see my link and especially the first two sources I cited from it.




Tarzanbeta
Tarzanbeta

It infuriates me that these divisions exist.  And yet, it needs to be; because before, when only a couple of "denominations" ruled, there was great prejudice and torture.  But because of the existence of all of these divisions, now there exists the freedom for some to obtain the truth without being tortured (at least where there is freedom to have the divisions; but for places where there is not that freedom, those who obtain the truth and hold to it are quickly judged and harmed for the truth).  When you begin to see the churches form into one whole, then you will see a sign of the times.  For the churches will drive out those that present the truth in an effort to retain their form of division.  At that time also the church leaders will agree to unify against those that have the truth.  Do you think that Jesus will come down and just change the names on the signs of the churches?  Have you not read that there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth?  Like Jesus said, "For it must happen that offenses take place; but woe unto those through whom the offenses come!"  For some it is the tradition; for others it is branding in the name of tradition but in the spirit of greed; and for some others it is because of ignorance.  Those who hold the truth exist under these many banners, but it won't be like that forever.  They will be driven out.  The truth is not a blessing, neither is it a freedom, to the people of today, as it was to Israel of old.  Jesus has died for us already.  So then He will not be coming back this time to walk the earth again and set the ways straight for Him; because the way has already been set straight.  But we have planted obstacles in the way.  It is like the kingdom of God is a mountain and there are many ways up that mountain.  But the only way that goes to the summit is covered with all of the garbage the hikers trashed on their way up the other paths - other paths that they chose in an effort to be original or daring.  And so those who seek to go to the summit of the mountain see that they must wade through all of the garbage, and also, must clean the path up on their way.  But every one that witnesses all of the garbage on that path is disheartened by the amount of cleaning required; so instead, every one convinces themselves and others that they should take another path, by chance that one of the closer paths could cross over and lead into the right path.  But it is not so.  And because they take the different path instead of cleaning up the true path, they find themselves distracted, and at war with wild beasts, and eventually quitting their journey to the summit.  Instead they set up camp at the mountain and say, "This is as close as we are allowed to get.  We will call this the way, because this is as close as anyone can get to the summit, unless they want to pick up all that garbage."  And then they use the path as their garbage dump, because they set up camp at their place, and needed a place to get rid of all of their rubbish.  The rubbish are the servants of God.  And all the camps will throw their rubbish into the path as a stumbling block for all that want to go up the Way.  If you have the truth, the path is your resting place.  God places us on the summit.  What is garbage to the quitters is life to God.  But the quitters have need to justify themselves, and to claim they have a way, to further cover their foolishness.  So they guide others up the mountain.  Also, that the others that they call will hopefully have resources to restore their camps on the side of the mountain.  These others are welcomed, and they are told, "Look at all of that trash to get to the summit!  It is better if you come with us.  We have a better way."  And then when their guest arrives, they say, "This is as far as anyone can get, unless you want to pick up the garbage.  So we will wait here at this path for God, for Him to set us up on the summit.  In the meantime, God sent you to us to bring us resources.  It is lawful for you to share with us."  And then when those resources are dried up, they are thrown into the path to the summit.  The path is like a ditch that leads up the mountain to the summit.  So then the path to the summit is filled with the dead bodies of the righteous.  But because they made their way on the path, and did not quit, God will pick them up and place them on the top.  But for those that sought another way, and guided others another way, and stole from them, and played tricks on them to preserve themselves; and said, "It is okay that there are many of us, and that we have many different parts of this mountain.  It is like Israel of old, that there were many tribes and each had a portion.  So then we are the same."  But they are the tribes of Satan.  So the churches today are the churches of Satan.  But the faithful of the Lord are within these churches to help bring some out of the turmoil that is within.  But these faithful will soon be thrown into the ditch.  That mountain upon which they hoped to be placed will be brought down upon their heads not long thereafter.  For the righteous will be risen, and taken up out of the way.  And the volcano will erupt, and lava will spew forth all over every side of the mountain.  And the lava of the wrath of God will burn up all the wickedness that called itself the body of Christ; for those members were not of the Lord, but those members were evil.  And because they plucked not out their eyes, and tore off neither their arms, neither their legs, nor their members, that a part may burn up instead of the whole body, therefore will their whole body burn.  And the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever.  And the righteous who were thrown into that ditch will look down as they that raped them and stole from them and destroyed them are destroyed with the destruction that they meted out.  The power of the body of Christ has been spread out, as predicted by Daniel.  It is thoroughly spread, and thin.  The members of Christ are within each church building and organization, calling out those that might be faithful, to come out.  For the body of Christ reunites at His coming; not on this old earth.

James
James

I assume you meant "sinful competitiveness" (but I've been wrong before). Is that always the case between different denominations or is it possible that people really believe they've got it right and other denominations, not so much? If each denomination is acting in good faith (sorry about the pun) and truly believes they are obeying God's will, they may not be sinning so much as they are just wrong. I know that sounds strange, but people have a tendency to take the Bible and look at it in all sorts of crazy ways. Add to that the fact that even trying our best to understand the Word of God in its original languages and contexts, there's a lot we just don't know about. It's inevitable that we will get our doctrine messed up. No one has it right, IMHO (which makes groups like the Greek Orthodox church just crazy because they believe they their traditions come down unchanged, from the days of Peter and Paul). As far as sticking around, no worries. I'm a notorious blabber-mouth in the blogosphere. Of course, you could occasionally drop by *clickable linky---> my place on occasion and chime in. (hint, hint).

James
James

I understand what you're saying and I agree, but people subdivide, categorize, and pigeon-hole all the time. Even in the day of Jesus, there were different sects of Judaism and they dramatically disagreed with each other. If you read the Pirkei Avot (Wisdom of our Fathers) in the Talmud, you'll see the two great Rabbinic schools in the late Second Temple period, Hillel and Shammai, disagreed tremendously (both Hillel and Shammai pre-dated Jesus by about a generation). Ever since there has been this thing we call "religion", there have been groups and sub-groups and splinter groups and all manner of ways to pull apart what God put together. I seriously doubt we'll have unity in "the church" until Jesus returns to straighten us all out. The incredible irony I see coming our way is that when he returns, he'll tell us that we *all* got it wrong at one place or another. I also suspect he'll return looking and acting more "Jewish" than the vast majority of believers are comfortable with, which most Christians will never see coming. I hear what you're saying and in my own way, I try to teach unity and trust (although in my case, it's between Christianity and Judaism) on my blog as well, but I also know what it's like to beat my head against a brick wall. We can and must do our best to prepare the way for Christ's return but we must also realize that he's going to do most of the "heavy lifting".

antwuanm
antwuanm moderator

@Carl Rooker Indeed. "Honest diversity" as you aptly call it is sorely missing in the church. And I'm not so much calling for one denomination (though I believe to be only one truth), as I am a cooperative among denominations, and an awareness that our perceived division hurts the spreading of the gospel to the increasing cynical and skeptical unsaved among us.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I'm fine with subdivisions and sub-groups to some degree. It seems God likes variety (when you consider his creation). My issue is that it's not a subgroup. It's separate. It's like if California were to secede from America, but still want to be called and American state... Jesus will fix all that when he returns, you're right, but that will be because he will have done away with the sinful comparitiveness we have in us... thanks for commenting, as always James. I'm really happy you stick around.

Carl Rooker
Carl Rooker

@antwuanm @Carl Rooker  I don't believe that we need one denomination either...I do believe that we need to think in terms of One Body whose head is Jesus.  The various denominations need to think of themselves as individual parts of the same body.  A hand can not say to the foot that it is not a part of the same body, can it?  Neither can the foot say it is a more important or better part of the body than the nose or ear.


On the same token, we can not say of those who, for whatever reason, have left churches that they have left Christ.  The distain shown towards those true Christians who have either left a church, or have been driven out, is appalling.  They are still members of the Body, and need to be treated (loved) as such.


I believe that our lack of true Unity, and our lack of love for each other is, in large part, why Christianity is held in such low esteem today.