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What is the church? What's it supposed to be like and why

Denominations

Postby Industry » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:40 pm

It seems like a binary proposition: Either most denominational differences are ultimately irrelevant wastes of time, or many "Christians" are hell-bound.

Unless there's something between Heaven and Hell for those that would not be sent to either.
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Re: Denominations

Postby jimwalton » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:45 pm

Hmm. I would say neither. Denominational differences, though sometimes problematic (self-centered, because of pride, ignorance, etc.), have been a strength to the Church. There are many reasons for the different denominations, and most of them are positive, meaning promoting a better Church.

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. It's like a beneficial tolerance.

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 and a strength.

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 (church historian) 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."

Hopefully some of those items help you understand. The denominational differences aren't necessarily irrelevant wastes of time, nor are we of the opinion that "all denominations except my own are going to hell." Nor that there's something between heaven and hell for the other denominations. Instead, the different denominations are in the long run a strength of diversity, tolerance, and emphasis. That's my humble opinion.
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Re: Denominations

Postby Industry » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:04 pm

Perhaps I could have worded it differently. I meant that any given denominational difference would either cause one to be Hell-bound or be inconsequential in affecting their acceptance to Heaven. While everything you said it true, I don't think it affects that idea. A sin is a sin even if one denomination decides not to see it as such, whether they are genuinely mistaken or not.
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Re: Denominations

Postby jimwalton » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:05 pm

Yeah, I'm still not sure where you're coming from and what you are asking. Sin has nothing to do with denominations or denominationalism. Denominational differences don't cause anyone to be hell-bound. You're right that a sin is a sin is a sin, but I just don't get where thinking about denominations has anything to do with the question then. Sorry, I'm still confused, then.
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Re: Denominations

Postby Industry » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:01 pm

The conditions to enter heaven are either objective or relative. If they are objective, every denominational difference either violates those conditions or it doesn't. Therefore, while denominational differences may make a difference to the people who follow them, they do not affect one's entry into heaven.
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Re: Denominations

Postby jimwalton » Fri May 04, 2018 4:36 pm

> The conditions to enter heaven are either objective or relative.

I'm not so sure this a safe assumption. While the Bible gives us various conditions to enter heaven, God as judge retains the authority and right to offer grace and/or mercy as He chooses. So there may be objective conditions, but not necessarily inviolable objectivity. "Then it's relative," you may claim, but relativity is possibly a disastrous term to use to describe how people enter heaven, since objective conditions are given in Scripture. I'm of the opinion that the two categories of objective and relative are inadequate terms for the situation at hand.

> If they are objective, every denominational difference either violates those conditions or it doesn't.

This is not necessarily true, either, because many of the differences between denominations (such as governing polity or the purpose of the church) have nothing to do with heaven or how to get there.

> Therefore, while denominational differences may make a difference to the people who follow them, they do not affect one's entry into heaven.

Right. So it does not follow that most denominational differences are necessarily irrelevant wastes of time, or that many Christians are hell-bound. There are plenty of other categories for denominational differences.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Fri May 04, 2018 4:36 pm.
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