Back Beyond Denominationalism

James E. Farley

Denominationalism is division. The very word means to name so as to divide. Bankers, when referring to various divisions of money, use the word. If you go to a bank and ask for a one hundred dollar bill to be broken or divided, the clerk may very well ask you, “What denominations would you like?” Of course, what the clerk means is, “How do you want it divided? Do you want five twenty dollar bills, or a fifty dollar bill, two twenties, and a ten?” 

When we speak of religious denominations, the word means the same; and, from a glance at the Scriptures, one can see that religious division is sinful. Just hours before going to the cross, our Lord prayed for unity among those who believe in Him. (John 17:20-21). He did not pray for “unity in diversity,” but He prayed that believers “…be one, as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” 

Unity, not “union,” is for what our Lord prayed! Those among the denominations typically use the word “unity” when they actually mean “union.” There is a difference. If a cruel person would tie two cats’ tails together and hang them over a clothesline, you would have “union,” but who in his right mind would contend that you would have “unity.” I suppose one could say that these cats had a form of “unity in diversity,” but it would not be the kind of unity for which our Lord prayed in John 17, would it? 

Furthermore, the prayer of our Lord implies that denominationalism is the “seed bed” of atheism. Remember, He prayed that believers be one “…that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” The division that we see in the world of religion lends itself to unbelief. Denominationalists need to see this clearly.

There are currently well over 400 religious denominations in the United States alone. Each one claims to follow Jesus, to be a “Christian denomination.” This is obviously contrary to “the doctrine of Christ” (John 17:20-21; 2 John 9-11). Therefore, anyone who espouses and encourages this division does not have God. 

The inspired apostle Paul wrote with the authority of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37-38; Colossians 3:17). He wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Here is a clarion call from God for those who had strayed from Christ’s doctrine to be restored to God’s mind on the matter. “No divisions” is just that! It is “no denominations!” Read the context of 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.

Our plea among the churches of Christ is for men and women to drop all the trappings of man-made denominationalism; the man-made names, creeds, religious titles, catechisms, confessions of faith, etc. We call upon all who believe to truly unite upon the Bible as our only guide in matters of faith and practice. We, with Paul, call upon all to “speak the same thing … that there be no divisions … be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

What is it that we are to speak the same in order to attain to and to maintain true Bible unity? Peter wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Peter 4:11). The Bible is right! 

The Bible is “the seed” (Luke 8:11). If we plant only the Bible in the hearts of honest and good people, we will get only what the information within the “seed” says. The Bible only makes Christians only. Compare Matthew 15:13. -PO Box 285, Crum, WV 25669. 

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