Monday, July 9, 2012

Denomination Domination: What Does the Bible say About Denominations


John 17:21

"That they all may 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."

All true believers in Jesus Christ are one, as in the Body of Christ. Why then, are there so many denominations, versions and flavors of Christianity?

Maybe a better question is, what does the Bible say about denominations? Before you ask, yes it certainly does have something to say.

For starters, a good possible overview of general denominations is in Revelation 2 - 3 Jesus Christ Himself gives letters to the churches. This is a whole 'nother study, but one interpretation of these letters is that each church represents an aspect of a period in Church history. Ephesus, the Apostolic Church until the Laodicean Church which is basically us now.

A good look at the theory (with a highly pro-Catholic slant can be found here. Chuck Missler's recent series suggests that from Thyatira onward, these churches will continue until the Great Tribulation or Jesus returns.

Some "experts" and this theory have described that Thyatira (Revelation 2:18 - 29) is actually the Catholic Church. This would make Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) the Reformation of course.

Thyatira gets good marks for charity, faith and such, but really misses it on the idolotry point. Well, specifically meat sacrificed to idols anyways. And Catholicism does have alot of charity, traditionally. Look at Mother Theresa.

I really can't judge the actual faithfulness of Catholics, but i would suppose that devout Catholics probably do have alot of faith. "Faith in what or who?" exactly, would be a great question to consider at a later time.

But then Jesus mentions the whole thing about idols. Say what you want, but just about every Catholic church i've set foot in is full of idols.

Yes, they are.

These are statues made in the image of a saint (we are all saints in Christ) or Mary or even Jesus. But people pray to the statues.

"An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion."

As Missler sort of said, those in the Protestant camp, especially those who DO think Thyatira is Catholicism should really take a long hard look at Sardis. There doesn't seem to be much good said about it.

Many then believe that puts us in Laodicea now.

So take a good look at those and you'll basically see that both denominations (Catholic and Protestant) have alot of repenting to do.

A thought not original to me, but one I should mention. In Luke 13, Jesus could be describing denominations as well.

Luke 13:18 - 21

18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. 20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

In verses 18 and 19, the Kingdom of God is described as a mustard seed but it grows into a tree so large that birds take roost in it. The mustard seed could possibly represent that all it takes to enter God's Kingdom and be right with Him is a little faith. But in this story, it grows into a large tree, whereas mustard plants should be small. Perhaps it grew into a tree because each denomination "branched off" and continued to grow.

Catholicism grew and grew, then came Lutheran-ism, then that continued until you had Calvin and Methodists, Baptists and so on til today where we have stuff that looks like a denomination, but has rejected sound doctrine. There's a long list of who these might be.

The Church (aka the Kingdom of God?) Has grown to a "tree" and birds (demonic powers, false teachings) have taken roost in the tree.

Verses 20 and 21 continue the metaphor using leaven, another symbol typically reserved for sin and unrighteousness. Sin tried to hide and conceal itself in God's Church, something paralleled with Jesus' parallel of the wheats and the tares.

Nearly every denomination has had some scandal or has slid to compromise morally to fit with the times. The Anglicans (i think) ordained homosexual bishops. Catholics have pedophile (and some say possible satanism) in their ranks. Lutherans (of the ELCA anyways) and at least some Presbyterians have also ordained gay clergy. Indeed, the birds have been roosting and the leaven has been rising for a while.

Yet we know that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ and His true remnant Church as promised in Matthew 16:18.

It's clear to me the Bible (not surprisingly) anticipated the nonsense of denominationalism. At best, denominations represent God's way of reaching people using different methods. Slightly less than best, they're man's best and feeble attempt to understand God's Word and what He would have of us. At worst, they represent Satan and man's attempt to control and divide the Body of Christ.

The only thing i can really say about denominations is that we need to get away from the teachings of mere men (myself included) and focus on what the Bible says. Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen according to the scriptures.

1 Corinthians 2:2 - 4

2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

I'm guilty of straying from that as well, explaining this, or debunking that. At the end of the day, any given issue is either glorifying God, glorifying Jesus Christ or it isn't. And if it isn't, we should really question if it belongs in our lives or not. Yoga, qigong, Edgar Cayce, Nostradmus, conspiracies and UFOs. Do they glorify Jesus? Do they brind us closer to seeking His face. No way! Perhaps a 2 hour yoga/conspiracy, etc. session could become a Bible reading/prayer session instead. i don't know. Is anything in our lives of satan? Get rid of it!


My experience with denominations.

Don't take this as a judgment, it's just what happened with me. It also possibly demonstrates the effects of what happens when birds are roosting where they ought not to be and what happens when a baby believer listens to them sing.

Also, I'm a hard person to deal with (probably) and my many failed friendships prove this. So, i wholly admit there are factors that are my fault. Also, look at their doctrine, and compare it to God's Word, the Bible. If it doesn't line up, then don't go with it.

In the end, i believe that God can use different denominational styles to reach certain kinds of people. It's when we get too wrapped up in deciding which one is right, or placing too much faith in one line of man's thoughts that we get into trouble. Don't exchange God's glory for man's pharisaicalism. Nor should we be too ecumenical, saying anything goes.

When i was saved at 19, i still lived at home with my parents. We didn't really go to church. Ok, we never did. But on the few times i did go as a child it was to Catholic mass with my grandma. So, after a year or two of listening to Insight for Living, i decided i needed to find a church. I wanted to expand my relationship with God, connect with other believers my own age, and of course eventually meet the right girl.

Catholic Church

Catholic churches are indeed beautiful and grand. The artwork is some of the finest, the organ music, i loved it. I suppose the art could be a way to show people the Bible stories, and one could use it to witness. At least the Catholics still sing good hymns as opposed to love songs with just the word "Jesus" added in. I also liked the Saturday and wednesday services.

What i didn't like is kneeling, (sort of, sort of not) to a statue (Mary? Not Mary?) before i sat down. So i didn't. I also found it hard to connect with anyone, so i didn't. Outside of the usual peace be with you spiel, there wasn't really anyone i could talk to. Luckily, a Catholic lady i know recently told me that was normal, and something they were bad at. It also seemed pretty dead, with folks repeating phrases in the Mass with no emotion. Many of which, were phrases i didnt know.

Later on in more recent years i felt there was a (superficial?) connection to Buddhism. You have the whole monastary thing, prayer beads, repetition of specific prayers by rote. All in all, Catholicism just didn't work for me. I'll reserve my personal opinion on Catholicism as Jesus Christ will be the one to judge them as with every church.


Basically the same stuff as Catholicism, minus all of the images.


I sort of fit in here... for a while. What i liked is that the people were very friendly and for the most part accepted me. The sermon and services were all good. The fellowship aferwards was fun and even the Bible study was fun.

But, there were bad things here too. The worst were my own fault i suppose. First, i basically let the pastor be God's message to me, rather than spending time in the Word. Sure, i had time in the word, but i used it as an excuse for laziness.

Second, the pastor admitted this himself, that Presbyterians had "ordered" the Holy Spirit right out, with all of the manmade rules and books of order and whatnot. There was also a lack of Biblical application in doing things. And the pastor himself questioned (not totally directly) the literalness of scripture and he sort of focused and directed all of his sermons on how to apply the Bible to his pet social issue, which was admittedly an important one. But also one easily dealt with in the moment of true conversion.

We also selected two pastors who didn't measure up to the standard in Timothy (the one about being husband of one wife, etc. And of course, they did not work out.

There was also alot of politics. Literally, we voted on stuff alot.

I was also put in a leadership position for the singles ministry, which ultimately failed. I had alot of faith issues there, but no one really checked me out. I was later put in charge of teaching highschool kids sunday school mainly because no one else wanted to do it. Again i failed there too. I was at my most backslidden, and yet i was given this great responsiblity. Whatever all that is worth. So i guess that shows the grace extended to others, but also a lack of discernment and reliance upon God's word.

I then settled on a non-denominational church, which has fit me the best so far.

So take all that don't build doctrine on it, don't change your denomination because of it, thats just where I've been. Rather than a bird roosting, I've been a monkey hopping from branch to branch.


  1. Ivan Stewart, a Church of Christ author asked me the other day if I thought God condoned denominations and I said they probably operated like the hands, arms and feet of the church carrying different ministries forward for God. I was foolishly trying to be diplomatic because I'am not in the Church of Christ(the one that claims not to be a denomination but the original church) His intent is of course to show that his (denomination) is the real church. A very nice man and he pointed out 1st Corinthians 1:10-13 which is a scripture I will use regarding denominations because it clearly shows God does not approve of all the divisions and doctrine.
    As for the Church of Christ, it has its own issues and error. The truth is there are churches under different names some denominations and some non-denominational that have doctrines correct enough and similiar enough to unite.
    In all truth the true church of God should come together.

    1. Good point,

      I hope I was able to convey that on one hand God can use denominations to reach people in different ways. On the other hand, we're told that not only is this division against the Lord's desire for us, but it also makes it easier for the wicked one to find a roost.

      Furthermore, no denomination is the right one, or wholly wrong either, and we shouldn't make an idol of one denomination over another.

      So I hope that was made clear up above, and thanks for your comment!