Church

Kingston Road Church

Are denominations biblical? Recently I told a friend of mine that I didn’t think denominations were biblical, and I haven’t heard from him since I made that statement. Now it’s possible that there is some other reason our contact has diminished, but I have a hunch that I may have offended him.

My intention was not to offend, and I don’t mean to offend anyone else that reads this. The point I was trying to make is that God is interested in building his kingdom, and seeing his kingdom expanded on the earth. One of the ways that happens is as his people come together, and serve together in unity.

Lessons in Our Lord, Jesus Christ’s Prayers

Jesus taught us to pray,

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

—Matthew 6:10

In John 17 Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer, right before he was delivered over to be crucified, that the church would be unified.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you , that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

—John 17:20-23

Christ prayed that the church would be unified so that the world would know, in essence that we are representatives of Christ on earth, and that we are loved by the Father. We are to be witnesses, so that the world will believe in Christ.

The Importance of Unity in Kingdom Work

My point isn’t that we are in sin if we are in a denomination. My wife and I serve for a denominational mission. I’m more concerned that we strive for unity within the church, and seek to partner with other ministries to see the kingdom expanded on earth as it is in heaven.

I do think that denominations serve a purpose, and God does use them for kingdom work. Just as we have people with different personalities, each church has a personality and it appeals to some people more than others. They do a better job of reaching a particular segment of society.

Tim Keller – Movement Dynamics

Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has a helpful short video. He speaks of the importance of catholicity of spirit (largeness of spirit). “No church is perfectly balanced and no denomination is perfectly balanced … we all need each other that’s the beginning of catholicity of spirit.” Understanding that we all need each other and working together for that end is kingdom work. It makes the Father’s heart glad.

What is your Opinion?

Maybe the question of whether denominations are biblical or not isn’t the best question. What do you think? Maybe a better question is how can the church put aside her differences for the sake of the kingdom? How can we demonstrate true catholicity of spirit? I’d love to hear from you – let me know what you think.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Comments
  1. When we consider history, we might observe that denominations usually have their origin in an historical move of God. For instance the Lutherans, the Baptists, Presbyterians, etc. trace their origins to the truths of the Reformation. Methodism arose when the Wesleyans fine tuned the doctrines of sanctification during the Great Awakening of Europe and America. In so doing, they divided much of Protestantism & became the primary vehicle of revival throughout the 19th century. When God restored the truth of Pentecost, the Wesleyans were divided, and so on, and so on. Denominations represent the husk of former moves of God, which at some point rejected new light as it was restored. This has been the process since the Reformation, ie. “I will divide Shechem” (Ps. 60:6). Thus we should recognize the truth affirmed before, while standing ready with a willing heart for more.

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    • I agree there are some good reasons that denominations have started, and obviously there are some churches today that are so far from the gospel that they are merely social clubs. I am encouraged though that I’m seeing more groups willing to work cross-denominationally, and the Lord is blessing.

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  2. Larry Who says:

    Watchman Nee wrote a book entitled, “The Normal Christian Church Life.” In it, he states a good argument that all biblical churches must be city-churches in that they adapt to the needs of a particular local area rather than an all encompassing, one size fits all, denomination. Frank Viola and many others agree with Nee on this issue. I tend to agree with Nee and Viola.

    Now, can a denomination fit this? Probably not, or at least, I haven’t heard of one as yet.

    It really comes down to what people believe a church should be. If people are looking only for a place to visit for one hour per week, do a little singing, listen to some scripture, then most denominations fit the bill.

    But my vision of the church is one that disciples, encourages, exhorts, comforts, fellowships, trains, and allows the believers to grow up and be used in their church and community. This can only be done on a local basis because each city and area will be different and have different needs.

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    • Thanks so much for your comment.

      I’m familiar with the authors you mentioned, but I can’t say that I’ve read their material, which leaves me at disadvantage.

      I think that Jesus and Paul made it clear that they loved the church, but they did try to correct the problems they saw. Also, there is a sense in which we can say Paul left the main Christian group at the time – the Israelites and went to start churches among Gentiles. Most of us in the church today are benefactors of that decision.

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  3. Satan will divide any work that is striving to bring glory to God. There is church division recorded during the time of the Apostle Paul. It will be an ongoing battle until Christ;s return to rule. It is a fact of life. There is no such thing as a perfect church. If there were a perfect church, I would not join it because I’d hate to be the one to ruin it unintentionally.

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  4. Pieter Stok says:

    Great post. The Bible speaks a great deal about unity. Our witness diminishes, when are dis-unified and we compromise the gospel.

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  5. Naphtali says:

    I agree. Denominations have become a case in point for fighting over doctrine. I just want to worship God.

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    • The Lord loves his bride even though she has many flaws. It’s an example of his wonderful grace and tender mercies which are new every morning. He does desire our worship and we should worship in unity! I’m grateful that God is so merciful

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  6. Reblogged this on Gab & Graffiti and commented:
    This might not be the “best” question, but it’s a pretty good question for me. For everyone.

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