Theology Survey (3): Denominations

Question: Is the fact that there are different denominations in the church a good thing or a bad thing?

#1: Assuming you are referring to Christianity…Good and bad. Bad, when the division is genuinely divisive: i.e. one group asserts themselves as having the final word on truth and the superior understanding such that there is nothing to be gained by being in a different denomination. Good, when historically orthodox Christianity is embraced, differences within that swath appreciated (and discussed), and when we realize that we may just have things to learn from each other. In terms of the main threads of Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism/evangelicalism, and Eastern Orthodoxy, I hold that each uniquely offers (with strengths and weaknesses) a voice that when joined with the others creates a weaving that better represents God’s truth and grace in its bigness and diversity. Yet, it is necessary for us to be in dialogue with other streams of Christianity so that we will understand our differences as well as see how the differences actually make a difference.

With different opinions, different perceptions, different ‘eye glasses’ that millions of people look through, you will have different religions formed. The complexity of creation entails inevitable religious differences. This idea also effects denominations within a religion. Baptist, Methodist, presbo’s, non-denom, Lutheran, catholic, whateva, all have common ground with God. In Biblical doctrine, within Gods spoken word, people argue over the different ‘translations’ and ‘meaning of the sentence’ where denominations form. I can see that the one elementary truth, Jesus Christ, has been manipulated and formed in MANdates by religious authority over the centuries. In the Bible, there was one church. I personally believe there should be one church. Now, I think that man can, in all his effort, put a complete and total end to racism, but with the complexity of creation, I believe it is impossible. So, to answer the question is it ‘good or bad’, I would say that it isn’t good or bad that we have different denominations, it is just something that we may have to accept.
Furthermore, the denomination “Presbyterian” refers to an eldership overseeing the church, I am (will be officially) a member of the church, which is simply a label put on a community of common believers with a system of checks and balances. There’s nothing wrong with that, there is no way of losing my salvation by the community’s beliefs. Therefore, I don’t see the other denominations as being in the wrong, unless they do not teach the truth of Jesus. They may just have different structures that oversee its foundation. Democracy is ok with me, I’m ok with her.

Denominations come from human division and disagreement over theological and doctrinal belief. I couldn’t with a clear conscious say that divisions of any sort are good, because Paul clearly commands against them (1 Cor. 1:10). That said, it is also imperative to have a clear, and true understanding of the doctrine presented in the gospel. I can’t say I’m wise enough to know the solution to this paradox.

o I think some aspects are good, but others are not. Some good aspects are that there can be different doctrines, and people can find churches that fit to what they believe on specific issues. The bad part is that it really causes division among believers. People associate certain stereotypes with certain denominations and that is not good, because we are called to be united under Christ, and by being so separate, I do not feel like we are acting as one.

o I think that I teeter between indifference to the idea of different denominations within the church and being troubled by this division. I think that it may be a natural separation between people with varied beliefs for the purpose of learning and living in a way that is most in-line with what they believe to be true of God. But I do not believe that God ultimately wants any form of division in the church. On the one hand, if someone or some church is leading people away from the truth, it would be devastating to allow this to continue for the sake of “keeping the peace”. But on the other hand, I do not think that all differences in beliefs should be a reason for segregating the children of God. I think that as human beings continue to seek the truth that is yet to be fully revealed, there will inevitably be people that are earnestly seeking to follow in footsteps of Christ that have certain wrong beliefs. By God’s grace and His immeasurable patience, we will continue to learn more about Him and “be able to test and approve what [His] will is” …fine-tune our theology, if you will.

I think there are positives and negatives. Denominations carry with them different styles and flavors that make the Church at large a more interesting and diverse place. However, sometimes these differences cause division among Christians. Things that are doctrinally insignificant create walls between different groups so that a congregation or denomination is isolated. The church is a body and we are supposed to rely on one another and isolation is entirely against that.

If by church we’re talking about the universal Church, the company of all people who claim to live according to the standards established by God throughout the Bible, then it’s a bad thing. If, however, we’re addressing the “church,” the company of all people who go to a physical church building once a week, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As long as there are these groups of people who go to a physical building, a church, but have no real grasp of the veracity and demands of the Bible, then it’s okay that the greater Church, the company of all people faithful to the one true God, don’t want to associate with the other group, which is defined by buildings and has little to do with this idea of a universal group of faithful people.

Denominations come from our inability to fully understand God; so as a result of our imperfect nature, our ideas about God are also imperfect and people view things differently. I don’t know if it is generally good or bad, but just the way it is. I guess since we were not created to fully understand God and His reasoning on this earth it is a good thing, but it is bad when it divides Christians against each other.

Denominations come from sin. There are a few exceptions but for the most part, religions shouldn’t have denominations. People break off from churches because they want to believe their own beliefs, not God’s.
Last week, a friend talked about division in the church. He described that being a member of a church is like being married. You don’t divorce your wife if she disagrees with you on an issue, so you shouldn’t leave a church. You learn and compromise from these disagreements, which make your marriage (church) better. God is your focus when you work out the kinks, while you are the focus when you leave.

I feel that denominations come from people seeking fellowship with others who share common beliefs…OR with people who share a common “Sin-Nature”. There are many groups who gather together because they share the same struggle with the same sin, and do not want to feel guilty or convicted about their continued defiance in the face of an almighty GOD. So they meet in the safety of a group who jettisons said particular sin from the group…pacifying and appeasing their conscience, while quenching the HOLY SPIRIT!
The questions as to whether they are good or bad depends on the extreme to which they are taken and the grounds for which they are established. There are many denominations who differ only on a few points of methodology, while other’s have extremely worldviews.
Paul promises in 1 Cor. 11:19 that… “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” Factions translates in the Greek as G139 – Choices, opinions, sects. Paul promises that there must be differences so that the theology and doctrine of those who are correct will be noticed. Yet he also warns of factions in 2 Cor. 12:20… “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” as well as in Gal. 5:20 where Paul includes factions in the acts of the sinful nature… “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” These versus create quite the paradox. I, however, feel that denominations create an environment that is too often conducive with arguments and unedifying debates, resulting in a spirit of judgment and condemnation toward other believers.

Generally speaking, I find denominations to be a bad thing. This is because I’ve read scripture that says we should be like-minded as Christians, and I think dividing ourselves up based on doctrine is harmful to the sense of community that Christians are called to have. After talking with people of other denominations or churches than myself, I have sometimes felt that we almost don’t worship the same God because of views are do different. It’s hard to connect with a person who has different ideals about God than yourself, and that’s why I see the use of denominations, but I can’t find the answer to what to do about being like-minded since there are so many different interpretations about scripture.

Denominations come from disagreements within the Church. They are bad things in that they are the result of the Church refusing to reason with and love its family.

It is a good thing provided we are recognizing that the church is still one body, and that all Christians are united on that front. But I think it can be a bad thing because of the hostile division that it can cause, and the way that we see people in other denominations. I think sometimes it can be easy to forget that we are all one body, and it may give us reasons to treat each other without respect, even with less respect than we would to someone who isn’t a Christian. But I also think people need to be able to discern for themselves, they need to think and learn, and see differences in what others believe in order to decide for themselves what they believe to be true. Comparisons can be a good thing in this situation, and to see the differences in theology will hopefully cause people to think more deeply about truth, and what that really means. If there was only one denomination, would there be too much controversy and disagreement within the church, on things that aren’t crucial issues to the faith? The destruction of this would be far greater than having different denominations. We are created free, and in that we are free to choose what we deem to be right. But at the same time, there has to be an absolute truth, something that is absolutely right, and there needs to be lines drawn. What are the requirements of a certain church or a certain denomination, what makes you included? I don’t know what these should be.

I think there were probably a few main ones around the time of the reformation (Calvin…Luther…Anabaptists and Baptists). I can’t remember when Methodists came around. I think they are both good and bad. Good in the sense that there are a lot of aspects of God that different denominations pick up….but bad because they then pick up heresies along the way.

Denominations come from a difference in how we understand scripture, God, and the church. Denominations come from a lack of understanding, and a mass of pride. “I’m right, your wrong.” “Let’s start our own church so we can be right in our own little bubble.” Sadly it’s become a norm. And even more sadly people don’t understand how close they are to one another. “You believe in infinite baptism? I don’t.” These are things that separate us. Really? What does that really have to do with how I understand Jesus?
Maybe denomintations aren’t completely bad though. Perhaps they are a reflection of us. A reflection of the body. We are all different. A lot of us experience the Lord in different ways. All these division give a lot of different people a plethora of ways to worship their creator.

Denominations come from Martin Luther. Ha.

I guess they come from people disagreeing on different issues in the church, and people wanting to split away from others who don’t agree.

It makes sense to me why they exist, and I think in the beginning the split from the Catholic Church was based in good reasoning because it was calling out something that was Biblically wrong. However, I think that denominations are generally a bad thing. I don’t think that the Church as in the Body of Christ was set up to be split and fractioned and all over the place, but instead was meant to be one unit, a body, working and functioning together.

I don’t think divisions amongst God’s children is ever a good thing, but I do think it is an inevitable part of being human, part of our nature as sinners.

Neither. It is a product of the imperfect ability to know what is true all of the time, which is inherent in postlapsarian humans. It is only bad insofar as the Fall is bad. That Christians today have the freedom to believe differently one to another is, in my personal opinion, good.

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