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As a good Protestant, I think the reformation was a very healthy thing. I agree whole heartedly with the "Sola" warcries of the reformation. 1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone") 2 Sola fide ("by faith alone") 3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone") 4 Solus Christus ("through Christ alone") 5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone") The above would be what started the path towards multiple denominations. The easiest way to explain it would be to say that people have come up with different secondary beliefs that are mutually exclusive to one another. As a result, people who agree with each other banded together. The important thing to recognize is that the core, foundational beliefs are held by the majority of all denominations. Although, I think we've all seen the moral decline of the Church here in America over the past decade which brings even this into question. But what you'll still normally see is that Churches will agree that God is Trinity, that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, paid the price for your sins on the cross, was resurrected, and will one day return to judge and redeem the world. You'll also see agreements that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that our primary goal in life is to glorify Christ with our lives and spread the good news to other people. But what makes therefore denominational differences are the secondary, non-Salvific issues. What I would contend is that the Holy Spirit's role in this world and in our lives is to point us towards Christ. Not to lay out every theological question we have on a nice excel spreadsheet. There are some things that we just will not be able to understand this side of heaven. It is over these secondary issues that denominational differences are most clearly seen. So one denomination is heavy on predestination, while another denomination is heavy on free will. One denomination is heavy on hymns and minimal instruments, another denomination is lead by an electric guitar. I would say that so long as the Church you are attending affirms the core, foundational beliefs of Christianity, that you're fine going there. Different people have different personalities, and so some churches are going to be better fits than others. What's important to me is that Protestant denominations continue to claim the foundational beliefs of Christianity: 1) Trinity (primarily Divinity of Christ) 2) Virgin birth, sinless life, atoning work on Cross 3) Resurrection 4) Inspiration of Scripture 5) Final return of Christ to judge and redeem
That was a very good question. And the Bible has already predicted that this would occur. Denominationalism is one of the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19,20. Satan the Devil is the one behind denominationalism. Its aim is to cause confusion and mislead many. Bible says the Devil is misleading the whole inhabited earth, (Revelation 12:9). It also reveals the greatest way through which the devil operates is through false religion. (Revelation 17 and 18). What is false religion? It comprises of religions which : 1. do not believe in God or his existence; 2. those that profess faith and believe in God but do not recognize Jesus as Son of God and God's mean of salvation; 3. those that profess faith in God and in Christ and use the Bible but their teachings, expectations and way of life do not tally with Bible truth. The True Christian Church is not divided, in line with Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-24, for unity and oneness of his true followers. Evidence show that God has answered that prayer of Jesus. The task before sincere people is to search for that true congregation of believers. It is a daunting task in view of the preponderance of false religion. However, Jesus and the Bible assure us that It is possible to identify that true congregation of believers. And actually it is not that difficult for sincere ones to find the truth. We are asked to seek, find and knock. Prayer, watchfulness, humility and hunger for the truth has helped many to find that true religion.
The Holy Spirit was speaking to me on this subject earlier today before I got on my E-Bible E-mail. It is very unfortunate that we have so many different denominations and interpretations on One Bible. "God is not the author of confusion, Man is. Anytime man has the opportunity to get his hands on something he finds a way to muck it up. If Jesus were alive today he would disapprove with the many different denominations of today. When Jesus was alive there was one true Saviour, he was our perfect example. He foretold of many false teachers, prophets and wolves in sheep clothing.There was only one denomination after his ascension and they were called "The Way or Christians". What we know to be differences between denominations are not ancillary or complimentary aspects of that denomination. They are dominant. The differences are so profound that labeling is necessary. The small differences are so vast that they dominate the religion and the people. In essence the rules of today are likened to the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus time. People are so hung up on religion that it is my way or the Highway, and not the Jesus way. Denominations are so hung up on themselves that they disallow for the true aspects of Christianity, which is love, freedom, charity, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, being led by the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit. Some think that because they have a large following that it must be God. They think that they choose God, when we know God chose us. It is unfortunate that people are willing followers to a church and not to God. Denominations are self-fulfilling and self-gratifying, trying to please denomination (man)rather than please God. When I attend some denominations I feel a deep void. No Spirit in the service, a dead service speaking to a long dead religion. Remember Jesus said "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto;life and few are those that find it" Finally, by permission of the Spirit, the return of Jesus will occur when his gospel is preached and taught around the world. Not by sacrifices or ought of man. Not for the glory of any flesh. But taught by the Holy Spirit. We will long for the return, we will cry out for his return, we will tarry for his return. We realize how much we need him. Pray always for one another. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
The answer is found in Acts 20:28-30 ‘Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit made you overseers, to feed the assembly of God that He acquired through His own blood, for I have known this, that there shall enter in, after my departing, grievous wolves unto you, not sparing the flock, and of your own selves there shall arise men, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. This began while Paul was still alive and thus he says that all Asia had gone out from him and he gives the names of two men who were probably well known as examples of those who have turned away: 2Ti 1:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. This turning away from the gospel - good news message that Jesus was given to being to Israel and to the world through his chosen apostles - sent forth ones has been going on since the beginning of the called-out assembly. It is the first sign that Jesus gave to look for, saying many would fall away and preach a false gospel and a false Christ and that is happening as I write these words.
There are many Christian denominations because they failed to resolve differences in theology. Yes, the Church should agree. The Roman Catholic Church has always considered it a duty of the highest rank to seek full unity with estranged communions of fellow-Christians. It is good to hear news that there are developments with the ongoing dialogues between Catholic-Orthodox, Catholic-Anglican and Catholic-Protestant. An important milestone, I would say, is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of 1999 between Catholic and Lutherans. It states that the churches now share "a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ." Slowly, we are healing old wounds, and we can finally submit to what Christ prayed for, "Be one, just as you[Father] and I are one."
This issue is important. Although many denominations agree on primary aspects of the Bible, many secondary aspects are in dispute. Where I live, churches of different denominations co-operate and work together, as if there is no such thing as a 'denomination', however people will often say that they cannot go to a certain church because of its denomination, or that they will only go to a certain kind of church. Where I live, people who go to Anglican churches do not refer to themselves as 'Anglicans'; nor do those who go to United Reformed churches refer to themselves as 'United-Reformed Christians', because we are all a unity under Christ. In 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses the church in Corinth, where people were actively denying Christ; congregation members were considering joining themselves with prostitutes; even someone was sleeping with his father's wife. But what is amazing, is that the first thing mentioned by Paul was the division in the church. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
1 Cor 12:27 - "All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it." I think the Biblical analogy of "Christ's body" is a great way to explain denominational differences. In a human body, the embryo starts with the same, core instruction: "You are human." Then, based on environment and other factors, this embryo differentiates into different organs, appendages, and different cell types. Cells in the heart might read our "instructions" and say "boy, I'd best be thumping in concert with my siblings, all the live-long day!" :-) A blood cell says, "well, I should be running around, everywhere, doing all this work. The instructions are clear, to me." Every part in the body obeys the same instructions, yet comes to a different conclusion, and therefore, serves its purpose. Problems arise not with the differences in behavior, or interpretation, but the idea that there is only one, valid interpretation. When this happens, a cell might say, "nope, everyone's gotta believe exactly what I do, and do exactly what I do, or how are they Christian?" And they begin demanding, in their "reproduction," in their evangelism, that everyone believe precisely what they do. What biological phenomenon does that behavior seem like, to you? "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand." - Romans 14:4 The church should agree that we are all human. :-)
Why are there so many Christian denominations? Shouldn't the church agree? This question is a bit confusing unless we define what we mean by the word "denominations". There are two ways to consider the definition. If by "denominations" we mean different congregations of believers whose traditional practices differ but who ascribe to the teaching of scripture then there is nothing wrong with having as many such movements in their traditional settings. Here I have in mind the Evangelicals, the Pentecostals and the charismatics who uphold biblical truth. The other method by which we may understand denominations is to consider them as a collection of sects and cults that claim legitimacy to the Christian faith including Mormons, Jehovah witness, evangelicals, Pentecostals and a host of other sects. The problem here lies in extreme or varying interpretations of scripture so that cults such as Jehovah Witnesses who reject the divinity of Jesus and Mormons also contradict the Bible are the difficult group here who should best be identified as cults or sects rather denominations.. I am assuming that the questioner did not imply this kind of consortium because there can never be any agreement between those who teach biblical truth and those who reject, contradict or add to its teachings. Let me go back to the first group which I consider as genuine or legitimate denominations or assemblies of believers who accept the teachings of the Bible. These denominations do not have serious issues of disagreement except for their different church traditions and minor variations on scripture interpretation. There is therefore no serious basis for considering that they are in disagreement with each to a point that we need to bring them into agreement or convergence. If by "agree" the questioner meant that these assemblies should merge into one faith movement, I do not consider that a necessary approach in their context because their traditions appeal to various distinct regions in their societal context and some have centuries of established traditions which will not be easy to simply abandon in favor of others. For instance, the Pentecostal lay more emphasis on the "empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues as evidence of being filled with the Spirit but Evangelicals generally consider this interpretation as an "overstated" theology of the Holy Spirit. Both agree that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and this is the fundamental point of convergence between the two sides. There are other minor areas of doctrinal differences or interpretative distinctions which are not significant enough to warrant any biblical concern. My view is that the first set of denominations are agreed on fundamental biblical concepts and doctrines and this is where their unity is established. For example I am an evangelical minister yet I have close minister friends from the Pentecostal side and we have exchanged ministry speaking engagements with them. I am in full fellowship with these brethren and we do ministry work together when we mount joint programs or mission work within a target community. I have absolutely no doubt that where are in true spiritual fellowship even though we may hold some differing opinions on interpretation of scriptural doctrines regarding the working of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of His gifts in the church community or the offices of apostle. On the other hand I would never consider the Mormons or Jehovah's Witness as denominations with whom I can be in fellowship. These are cults that distort the teachings of the Bible and can never be legitimate denominations or arms of the universal body of believers in Christ.
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