Sifting the Net ...


Benefits of Denominationalism?

Ron Milliner

The Web site, Matthias Media, proclaims itself as a place of "Resources for Growing Christians" ( It was started in Australia by Phillip Jensen. He is associated with the Anglican Church of Australia.

One of the articles on this Web site is entitled, "Christian Unity and Denominations" by John Woodhouse ( In this article, Mr. Woodhouse speaks about the "benefits of denominationalism." He says, "One of the chief benefits of denominationalism is the freedom of conscience it allows," which is basically that one can choose to believe whatever he thinks the Bible teaches. Mr. Woodhouse actually believes that there were denominations in the days of the New Testament: one denomination was "the Pauline churches," and another was the non-Pauline churches.

When Paul wrote in Galatians 2:7, "that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter," he was not suggesting that there were two gospels producing two different types of churches. In fact, in the first chapter, he had declared, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7). There was only one gospel, and it produced only one church, or body (Ephesians 4:4-6). Peter, James, and John did not divide up into a different "fellowship" from Paul, but instead gave him "and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship" (Galatians 2:9).

Jesus prayed for the unity of His believers (John 17:20-21). Paul urged it (1 Corinthians 1:10). Peter also commanded it (1 Peter 3:8). Dissensions and divisions are works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20, ESV).

What is denominationalism? The Encarta Dictionary defines denomination as "a religious grouping within a faith, for example, a section of the Christian church that has specific beliefs and practices that differ from those of other groupings and its own system of organization." On the Web site (, the American Heritage Dictionary's definition for denominationalism is given as, "The tendency to separate into religious denominations." When you have groupings or separations based on different beliefs and practices is that not what is condemned in the passages cited above? So when one speaks of the "benefits of denominationalism," why is that not the same as speaking of the "benefits of sin?"

"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). - 2004 Little Stream Run, Owensboro, Kentucky 42303-1891,


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