Denominationalism - 1 Cor. 1:10-13
What is denominationalism? Church ( ekklesia) called out, refers to an assembly or group. Universally, the church is composed of all saved individuals, regardless of time and location. Acts 2:47. The scripture reveal no universal organization or structure ranks. Eph. 1:22, “Christ is head over all things to the church”. Locally, a congregation is a group of Christians who work together to carry out God’s will as a church. A local group is organized with elders and deacons. Phil. 1:1. It is not tied to any larger structure. It is autonomous. Stands alone.
We want to study the dangers of denominationalism. Is it scriptural or authorized by God? What is a denominational action? What do they do?
DEFINITION OF DENOMINATIONALISM. TWO DEFINATIONS STAND OUT.
1. Webster—the act of naming.
2. American Heritage—a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and order of ranks. And organized group of religious congregations. Catholic church you have pope, cardinals, priest, bishops in local congregations, church in Rome is main headquarters and leadership ship is there.
THE ACT OF NAMING.
Groups have become sects that are known by their exclusive names. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. if you are one, you are not the other. There is a separation based upon names and peculiar doctrines. The names are generally unscriptural, though some may be, “Church of God. So you have, Baptist Christians, Lutheran Christians, Methodist and Presbyterian Christian. In the NT they were just called a Christian with no hyphenated name before it, like Baptist Christian. Acts 11:26, “and the disciples were called Christian’s first at Antioch”.
ORGANIZED GROUP OF CONGREGATIONS. Centralization
1. There is usually some kind of headquarters to which local groups are tied. Each denomination forms its own universal body with its structure and order of ranks. This characterizes the vast number of denominations. Problem is, one cannot find this pattern in NT.
2. Why do denominations exist? They exist because of division. The old argument, “we cannot understand the Bible alike” or “well that’s your own interpretation”. Take away division, there are no denominations. What does the Bible say about division?
3. The Bible condemns division. I Cor. 1:10-13. Note the naming of dividing taking place by calling themselves after men. This is what a denomination is.
a. A. Lutheran Church—Martin Luther.
b. Methodist Church—John Wesley.
4. Jesus prayed for unity. John 17:20, 21. Division is contrary to Lord’s Prayer.
5. God’s will for unity. Eph. 4:1-6.
6. There is one body (universal), the church. Eph. 1:22, 23. (All under a common faith. Denominationalism violates this by establishing separate bodies of organized congregations. You have Baptist denomination with its universal headquarters, its structure and rank, doctrine. You have others under same structure, rank and doctrine, claiming all of these parts makes up the whole. This is not in the Bible.
7. One faith vs. many faiths of denominations. We often hear, “it does not matter what you believe,” or choose the church of your choice”. Church in this statement is usually equated with “denomination. These concepts are a violation of “the one faith” in Jude 3. God did not have in mind various denominations, each with their own set of different doctrines.
8. Why do denominations hold to one Lord, one God, but yet violate one body and one faith. Eph. 4:3. If one can understand there is one Lord and God, why not one faith and one body.
9. A denomination is not what God planned and purposed. Denominations were not founded by the Lord. Matthew 16:18. His church is the one that follows his words, patterns set forth in the NT. Psalms 127:1, Matthew 15:13. (planted-to bring forth) There were no denominations in the 1st century,
10. What is denominational action—it is separating into various divisions based upon name and doctrine. Each denomination will not condemn the other, but likewise a Baptist church will not allow a catholic preacher to preach the catholic doctrine in a Baptist assembly, nor will a 7th day Adventist allow a church of God denomination preacher to preach in their pulpit and make the statement, “the Adventist believe as we believe.
11. Their name and teaching is what separates them from one another.
- CL Bruner