Religious Division Vs. Biblical Truth
Why are there so many different churches today? When you look at the religious division that exists among those who claim to be Christians, doesn’t it leave you wondering how any of us can know the truth at all? We know we can know the truth if we want to because Jesus told us we can. He said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). The question is not whether or not we can understand the truth, but whether or not we are willing to accept the truth for what it actually is? The many denominations and divisions of “Christianity” actually lead people to believe God’s word must be to confusing or difficult to understand. Imagine someone who decides to examine Christianity for the first time. They investigate the thousands of different churches who claim to follow Christ and they find that they all have varying names and teach different doctrines. That person would be led into confusion and believe it is impossible to know the real truth. We have one God and one Bible, yet many believe and teach doctrines that are not supported by the Scripture. This counters the very thing Jesus prayed about to His father. He prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20,21). Jesus prayed for unity among those who would believe in Him, and stated that unity would lead others to believe in Him as well. Denominationalism actually turns people away from the truth of God’s word and builds doubt instead of faith in seekers of the truth. The Bible is crystal clear regarding the one true New Testament church and it condemns those who would set out to divide it. Let’s consider a few facts from the New Testament regarding division, and notice the consequences for those who would choose to participate in such.
1. Denominationalism and the division of the Body of Christ are strictly forbidden in the New Testament. The apostle Paul confronted the issue of division at the church in Corinth. Paul was notified that certain Christians there were dividing the congregation to follow after different preachers and apostles. Paul wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). He went on to tell them that their divisive actions were “carnal” and that they were “behaving like mere men” (1 Cor. 3:3). They were destroying the unity that Jesus had prayed for. Is the truth of Paul’s words too difficult for us to understand? The statements above seem straightforward and simple enough. If division were carnal and sinful in the first century, wouldn’t it also be considered so today as well?
2. Divisions, strife, and contentions are considered works of the flesh. Why did the many denominations originate? A study of history will show that the many denominational organizations of today have developed over the course of the last several hundreds years because of contentions, strife, and desires to follow after the teaching of certain men instead of the unified truth of the Bible. Paul wrote that such characteristics are considered works of the flesh and “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).
3. When a group of people alter God’s word and separate themselves from the “One Body”, they cease to abide in the doctrine of Christ. The apostle John warned against those who do so when he wrote, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 John 9). Those who do so are to be avoided. Paul exhorted the Romans to “Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). The one church is Christ’s body (Eph. 4:4). When man divides the church into denominations, they break apart the very body of Christ. -Ed