What is wrong with Denominationalism?
Some of the questions that are expressed by non-believers and some believers alike are; Why are there so many different denominations that separate people into different groups based on doctrinal difference, all the while saying, they are under one Head who is Jesus Christ? Why can't people who say they follow Christ get along with each other enough to travel the same path in unity? If Jesus is the Head and He is providing the different paths for the different religious denominations to follow, it is only logical to think that He has multi personalities and each personality do not know what the other is doing. Although He prayed for unity in His body, He is promoting division and doctrinal differences that can never unite. I am inclined to believe that someone other than Jesus the Head, is planting such unbelievable ideas and acceptance of the different paths of denominationalism!
I understand that many people in denominations today are not all that devoted to their denominational principles or interests, but by membership in a denomination they are by implication advocating segregation and relationship with other believers is hindered.
Is denominationalism really all that bad? Can a believer follow Christ fully or faithfully while participating in religious division that divides members of the Body of Christ while under the headship of someone other than the Head...Christ, if not it is bad.
Though denominationalsim may do some good is it still wrong? It is without Scriptural support, there is no basis in scripture for local churches being divided up into various denominational bodies. In the New Testament...Local congregations were independent and self-governing but were the same Church. Church structure was limited to within the local congregation, with elders (also known as pastors, bishops. overseers, presbyters) appointed to oversee only the local congregation of which they were part, Ac 20:17,28; 1 Pe 5:1-2. The only authority above the local church in the New Testament was Christ and His apostles. At this point we need to understand something...Jesus established His Church, once His Church began, the apostles were not physically replaced by someone else after they died however, through the Word of God, the authority of Christ and the Spirit by which the apostles operated continues in the Body of Christ by being appointed by Christ from the Body of Christ and not by man-made institutions (Paul was such an apostle given to the body of Christ by God). Individuals, denominations, synods, conferences, etc., that place man in authority over local congregations today do so without Scriptural authority and are usurping the authority of Christ
Not only is denominationalism without scriptural support it is "anti-scriptural" and contrary to what scripture teaches. It is contrary to the prayer of Jesus for unity among His Body, Jn 17:20-23. It is condemned by Paul in his epistle to the Church at Corinth...there are to be no divisions among believers, 1 Co 1:10. Segregation is a sign of carnality, 1 Co 3:3-4. It opposes the efforts of Christ on the cross, Ep 2:14-16. Jesus died to break down the wall of division, Jesus died to reconcile man to God as ONE body. Just as sinning works against the efforts of Christ on the cross (for He also died to put away sin), so it is with denominational division!
Also deniominationalism is harmful to the cause of Christ and His gospel. Jesus knew that unity among His disciples would be "the final apologetic", "that the world may believe" Jn 17:21. In view of Jesus' words, we should not be surprised when unbelievers are slow to accept the gospel coming from divided
"church". Many people point to the divided condition of those professing to follow Christ...agnostics often use religious division as an excuse not to believe in God. Adherents to other religions (such as Islam, Judaism, etc.) will often use denominationalism as a reason not to believe in Christ.
Understanding that denominationalism is not biblical has led to men who were a part of the Reformation to have made the following statements. Luther stated, "I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for any one. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but Christians. How then should I, poor, foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of Christ a name derived from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after Him Whose doctrine we have." - Hugh Thomason Kerr, A Compend of Luther's Theology (Philadelphia: p. 135)
John Wesley, another reformation leader, among whose followers are the Methodists, stated, "Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world, were forgot and that the very name [Methodist] might never be mentioned any more, but be buried in eternal oblivion." Universal Knowledge, A Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Arts, Science, History, Biography, Law, Literature, Religions, Nations, Races, Customs, and Institutions, Vol. 9, Edward A. Pace, Editor (New York: Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1927, p. 540)
Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher stated, "I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living! I hope that the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ's name last forever." (Memorial Library, Vol. I., p. 168).
Well, as we all know that day has not yet come, and religion with its denominational divisions seems to have a hold on people as strong as ever! The blindness of deception is great and needs to be broken!