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Why are there different denominations?

Postby Curator » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:24 pm

Why are there different denominations of Christianity and are there any right/wrong denominations? I don’t know what the differences are between all the denominations. Take for example, Russian Orthodox and Roman Orthodox, or Methodist and Presbyterian, or Baptist and Pentecostal. Help is appreciated, thanks. :)

Re: Why are there different denominations?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:13 am

There are many reasons for the different denominations.

1. Christianity is a big tent, allowing differences of perspective and opinion as long as one subscribes to the nonnegotiable basics that unify all Christians.

2. There are differences in belief (denominations) because Christians are thinking people. We are not lemmings who close our eyes, toss our brains in the trashcan, and follow blindly.

3. Diversity is healthy.

4. All being of one persuasion is not a desirable thing. It is only through the proliferation of differences that we can attain to the truth of the one true God (Eph. 3.10: “the manifold (many-variegated, many colored, many sided) wisdom of God”).

5. Some denominations were shaped by local politics and cultural situations. Not every strategy or perspective works in every locale, and Christianity has the flexibility to accommodate cultural divergences. Protestant traditions diverged as they became regionally focused. At the same time, Protestant unity often transcended political divisions.

6. Note that the unity Scripture advocates is spiritual rather than organizational.

7. Denominations are sometimes the results of what different congregations wish to stress: God’s sovereignty, God’s love, feeding the hungry, the authority of the Word of God. This is not to claim that emphasizing one facet means discarding another, but churches are free in Christ to emphasize one strength over another (Gal. 2.9-10).

8. Some denominations are subscriptions to different kinds of governmental system, whether hierarchical (which some deem a benefit), or the independence of each congregation (which others deem of value). The Bible didn’t specify how are churches are to be governed except by godly people (elders), so the structure is open to variation.

9. Mark Noll says, “If…you think that the incarnation of God in a particular time and place means that the Christian faith is meant to be particularized for different people in different cultures, if you think God is the origin of this differentiation, and if you do not regard all denominations except your own as sub-Christian—well, we just might expect Christianity on the ground to display a lot of diversity. Should a South Sea island church look like a Fifth Avenue New York church? Probably not. Should they be organized in one organization? Perhaps ideally, but it’s not so bad if different Protestant organizations don’t regard each other as hopelessly in error. … It’s only a theological problem if…people say, ‘I think my denomination is the only right way, and every other denomination is deficient to the point of infidelity.’ ”

As Jennifer Power McNutt said, “The earthly church is always contextual in nature. It must function in a particular time, space, nation, culture, and language. At the same time, it is called by God to proclaim a divinely revealed message that attests to the person and work of Jesus Christ for all time, space, nations, cultures, and languages. ... Christianity has never looked exactly the same in every time and space. Nor has one hierarchy governed it. Contextualizing the church is not a scandal or a weakness. On the contrary, the ability to adapt to context has been one of Christianity’s greatest strengths.”

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