Monday, November 9, 2009

For the Googling Mind...

Google and the internet has changed many things in this information age and allows for us to find others out there saying, believing and exhorting similar things. Not to mention you can find out something about just about anything by "Googling" it.

For instance I found this fellow Mark A Copeland saying something similar about my stance against "Denominational Divergence".

Below is his well thought out point by point presentation/sermon about denominational divergence and why it is wrong;

Why Is Denominationalism Wrong?


1. While many people are attracted to the good news of the grace of God
offered through His Son Jesus Christ, certain questions often linger
in their minds...
a. Why are there so many different denominations?
b. Can't the followers of Jesus Christ learn to get along?
c. What can be done about the religious division that exists today?
d. Is it possible for me to be simply a Christian, following Jesus
without being a member of any denomination?

2. In reply to these questions, some make an effort to discount the
significance of religious division, suggesting...
a. That the differences are not all that great
b. Or that religious division is good, for it enables people to find
a church that suits them personally
-- But there are several reasons why I believe these answers are
wrong and do a disservice to the cause of Christ

3. In this series of lessons, I have several objectives in mind...
a. To explain why denominationalism is wrong
b. To illustrate how one can simply be a Christian, serving Jesus
without being a member of any denomination
c. To suggest how followers of Christ might be able "to maintain the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" - cf. Ep 4:3

4. In this lesson, I wish to explain...
a. Why denominationalism is wrong
b. Why anyone who truly follows Christ will do all they can to avoid
participating in it

[First, perhaps a definition of terms is in order...]


1. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English

"A large group of religious congregations united under a
common faith and name and organized under a single
administrative and legal hierarchy."

2. From Webster's:

"A religious organization uniting in a single legal and
administrative body a number of local congregations."

3. In simple laymen terms, a denomination is a group of
congregations that are joined together under some governing
a. The number of congregations can be as few as two or more
b. But by their tie to a governing body above the local
congregation, by definition they are "denominated" from all
congregations that do not submit to the same authority
4. Some examples:
a. The Roman Catholic Church is a denomination made up of
those churches that submit to the pope in Rome
b. The Eastern Orthodox Church is a denomination made up of
those churches that submit to the patriarch of
c. The Anglican Church of England is a denomination made up of
those churches that submit to the archbishop of Cantebury
d. The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) is made up of those
churches that submit to the synod in Missouri
e. The International Church of Christ is made up of those
churches that submit to the Boston Church of Christ
-- These are just a few of the thousands of different
denominations that now exist!

1. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language, it is:
a. "The tendency to separate into religious denominations"
b. "Advocacy of separation into religious denominations"
c. "Strict adherence to a denomination; sectarianism"
2. Again, Webster's dictionary defines it as:
a. "Devotion to denominational principles or interests"
b. "Narrow emphasizing of denominational differences:

3. For the purpose in this series, I will be applying the term to
any approval of the denominational division which exists today

a. I concede that many people in denominations today are not
all that devoted to their denominational principles or
b. But by membership in a denomination they are by implication
advocating separation into religious denominations

[But is denominationalism really all that bad? Am I suggesting that
one cannot serve Christ faithfully while participating in religious
division? The answer to both questions is "Yes!"

To understand the reason for saying this, let's examine...]


1. That is, it is without Scriptural support
a. There is no basis in the Bible for local churches being
divided up into various denominational bodies
b. There is no denomination that can go to the Bible and say,
"See that passage? There is our church (denomination)!"
2. In the New Testament...
a. Local congregations were independent, self-governing
b. Church organization was limited to within the local
congregation, with elders (also known as pastors, bishops,
overseers, presbyters) appointed to oversee only the
congregation of which they were members - cf. Ac 20:17,28;
1Pe 5:1-2

3. The only authority above the local church in the New Testament
was Christ and His apostles...
a. Once the church began, apostles were not replaced after
they died
b. But through the Word of God, the authority of Christ and
His apostles continues
4. Individuals, synods, conferences, etc., that presume to usurp
authority over local congregations today do so without
Scriptural authority

1. I.e., not only is it without scriptural support, it is
contrary to what the Bible teaches
2. It is contrary to the prayer of Jesus for unity among His
believers - Jn 17:20-23
3. It is condemned by Paul in his epistle to the church at
a. There are to be no divisions among believers - 1Co 1:10-13
b. Sectarianism is a sign of carnality - 1Co 3:3-4
4. It opposes the efforts of Christ on the cross! - Ep 2:14-16
a. Jesus died to break down the wall of division
b. Jesus died to reconcile man to God in 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!

1. Jesus knew that unity among His disciples would be "the final
a. Cf. "that the world may believe" - Jn 17:21
b. In view of Jesus' words, we should not be surprised when
unbelievers are slow to accept the gospel coming from a
divided church
2. Many people point to the divided condition of those professing
to follow Christ...
a. Atheists and agnostics often use religious division as an
excuse not to believe in God
b. Adherents to non-Christian religions (such as Islam,
Judaism, etc.) will often use denominationalism as a reason
not to believe in Christ
3. Denominationalism has also given support and encouragement to
the cults
a. Mormonism started in reaction to the denominationalism of
Joseph Smith's day
b. Those who call themselves "Jehovah's Witnesses" use
religious division to encourage people to follow their
strictly-controlled organization


1. From Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation Movement:

"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
Christian. 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: The Westminster
Press, 1943, p. 135)

2. From John Wesley, another great reformation leader, among
whose followers are Methodists, Wesleyans, etc.:

"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
more, but be buried in eternal oblivion."
- John Wesley,
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)

3. From Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest Baptist preachers
who ever lived:

"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."
- Spurgeon
Memorial Library, Vol. I., p. 168


1. Well, that day has not yet come, and denominationalism with its
religious division seems to be as strong as ever!

2. But all is not lost...
a. For throughout the world, more and more people are throwing aside
their denominational shackles
b. They are following Jesus Christ in the freedom of gospel liberty
that comes from being simply a Christian!
c. And what may be a surprise to some, they are able to do so "being
like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one
mind" - cf. Php 2:2

3. How is this possible?
a. That is what I hope to demonstrate starting with the next lesson
b. But it begins with two things:
1) A strong desire to follow Jesus Christ and His prayer for
unity - cf. Jn 17:20-23
2) An understanding of the carnal nature of division, and why
denominationalism is wrong - cf. 1Co 3:3-4

Dear friend, don't you want to be simply a Christian, a follower of the
Lord Jesus Christ...?

A lesson from Mark A.Copeland visit his website Executable Outlines to read more...

The Lord bless and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

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All posts by M.A.C. © Bruce W. Moar

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