Are Denominations allowed by scripture?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Jack Matthews, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. Jack Matthews

    Jack Matthews
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    I invited an acquaintance from my neighborhood to come to church with me. He has told me he doesn't really attend regularly anywhere in particular, and when he goes, he attends Belmont Church, a large, non-denominational church here in Nashville. It seems that there is a Bible study teacher in that particular church who has at some point taught that the scripture doesn't authorize the church to split up into denominations, on the contrary, warns against human-made divisions. My neighbor interprets this as it being sinful to attend a church that wears a denominational label.

    I'd never thought about it as being necessarily "sinful," understanding that denominations have their origins in cultural foundations. His response to me was for me to find a place in the Bible where God gives permission to Christians to divide themselves up into groups with differing identities as the body of Christ. Personally, I don't view my involvement in a Baptist church as being necessarily or intentionally divisive in the body of Christ.

    I'm sure there are those here who can provide a reasonable response to this particular situation.
     
  2. tragic_pizza

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    Well, I's challenge this cat to explain how going to another church besides fill-in-the-blank denomination's church is at all different than attending a given denomination.
     
  3. Darron Steele

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    I hope this might be helpful. Yes, the Bible does teach against dividing the church. Thanks to the post-apostolic church's disregard of the Scriptures, we have trouble agreeing on how to follow the Scriptures best while in church. Hence, we have hundreds of different types of churches called "denominations."

    It is important to remember that all are generally agreed regarding life outside of church. This is the bulk of the week for most of us.

    The situation described in the first paragraph is bad enough, but some seem to want to make this worse. There are multiple words that the KJV translates "division." The strongest one means "standing apart." That is what is used at Romans 16:17 when Paul says "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them" (ASV) = "Borthers, I ask you to look out for those who cause people to be against each other and who upset other people's faith. They are against the true teaching you learned. Stay away from them" (ICB).

    Some people try to convince people to "stand apart" from others within the Lord's church. The "non-denominational" teacher you mentioned is doing that. He is being what has been called an "anti-sectarian sectarian."

    Hebrews 10:24b-5 "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (ASV). This describes our primary purpose for even meeting as churches: encouraging each other to do the good deeds we do outside of church that we all pretty much agree on.

    We should not be encouraging Christians to entirely dissociate with other Christians on the basis of things that are relevant only during church meeting time.
     
    #3 Darron Steele, Aug 21, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2006
  4. genesis12

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    How can a question like that be answered? The idea of denominations does not exist in scripture.
     
  5. Jack Matthews

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    I think it is interesting that people who attend churches that are not affiliated with denominational bodies have a tendency to think they are not being divisive or "denominational" in their thinking or practice of faith. I wonder if there is such a thing as a church that doesn't truly exhibit some characteristic that identifies it as denominational whether it is actually affiliated with an organized group or not. Independent Baptists are Baptist, Charismatics and Pentecostals have distinctive doctrinal characteristics as well, and people who go to the Church of Christ know exactly which colleges and missionaries to support, and which to avoid.

    As to the question and statement by Genesis 12, would you then say that there is no way to serve the Lord properly by being involved in a denominational church?
     
  6. Eliyahu

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    Any denomination is prohibited ( ! Cor 1:11-18)
    There was no Rome Presbyterian Church, Ephesians Baptist Church, Thessalonian Methodist Church, etc.
     
  7. tinytim

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    Actually Jesus was a Baptist.. a Baptist baptized him....

    Yeah, I know.... I just couldn't help myself from the temptation to be stupid! lol

    Well, to think about it...
     
  8. El_Guero

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    Jack

    One great post!

    It is scary when Baptists do not know what we hold to - the NT model of church.

    ;)


     
  9. Marcia

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    I bet that that Belmont Church has their own distinctives that make them a denomination, even if they deny being one. Do they baptize infants? How often do they have communion? Do they have wine in communion? Do they have elders and/or deacons? If they have answers as to how they do any of these, they are practicing denominational distinctives.

    Denominations are not divisions as long as they hold to the essentials of the faith. Denominations merely mark some distinctives on secondary issues such as baptism, communion, ordination of pastors, church gov't, etc.

    The biblical prohibition on division in the Bible has either to do with fighting among each other so that there are human divisions and no reconciliation, or it has to do with dividing over non-essentials (as in, if you have communion only quarterly, you are not a Christian). Those are sinful.

    Doctrine, however, is divisive so that when one departs from the essentials of the faith, they are not part of the faith, but that is not what denominations are about.

    This accusation of denominations is one of the favorite ploys of Mormon missionaries. It's sad when Christians practice it. It just shows their ignorance of the Bible, imo.
     
  10. pinoybaptist

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    So you can tell the guy that his church is not "non-denominational" after all.
    He belongs to a church that believes what it does, as you stated it, and I am sure he fellowships only with churches that believe as they do, so they have a denomination. It is a "non-denominational" denomination. To spin off on another poster's explanation, their church is a "non-standing apart church" standing apart church.:tongue3:
    I think I'd better go and take my early morning run now.
    I'm getting confused. (Uhmmmm. could it be my blood sugar's high, or low ?).:wavey:
     
  11. Inquiring Mind

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    Exactly what are the essentials?

    Exactly what are secondaries?

    Is there scripture support for these two distinctions?

    Has God really given us Primary and Secondary beliefs? If so, where in the Bible is this idea taught.
     
  12. Marcia

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    The essentials are what is taught in the NT concerning the Trinity, the deity of Christ, his virgin birth, his bodily resurrection, the words of scripture being God-breathed, and the 2nd coming of Christ. Some of these are given as the gospel in several places (don't have time to look them up now) but all of them have been held by the historic Christian faith for 2000 years.

    The Trinity, and the deity of Christ: The nature of God and the nature of Christ are essentials because who you believe in is a matter of salvation or eternal separation from God. If you have the wrong God or Jesus, you are lost.

    The resurrection: Paul said we are without hope if there was no bodily resurrection of Christ.

    The virgin birth: If this was not true, then it affects the nature of Christ, because then we have a Christ who is totally human.

    Scripture: If the Bible is not the word of God, then there is no point in even discussing this topic.

    That's my short response.
     
  13. Inquiring Mind

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    You have defined certain beliefs as essentials and claim that some beliefs are secondary. I ask again, where is this doctrine of essentials and secondarys found in the Bible?

    Where in the Bible does it say that there are primary/essential/mandatory/etc beliefs and everything else is secondary?

    Where does it say what is to be believed mandatorialy and what is optional?
     
    #13 Inquiring Mind, Aug 22, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2006
  14. LeBuick

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    I said Jesus was a Jew at a Church and I thought the Pastor was going to put me out. I had to explain it to him in his office after the service. He thought Jesus was a Christian.
     
  15. Darron Steele

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    Here is what I believe about this. For a church to be a church of Christians, its members must be Christians. Hence, the people of that church must believe the Gospel that makes us Christians. This is what I would loosely associate with what has been labeled "essential."

    A church should have as its main purpose Hebrews 10:24b-5 "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting `one another'; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (ASV).

    The purpose of churches even existing is to encourage us to be acting as Christians -- doing the good deeds we should be doing out of a motivation of love. These good deeds are done in and out of church.

    I hold this to be top priority for churches to exist. If a church does not do this, it does not matter what it is teaching; it is neglecting its reason to exist.

    Hence, what is called `secondary' loosely equates with the things taught in assembly that matter only to when we are assembled.
     
  16. scorpia

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    The Lord God Jesus is the only Good Pastor

     
  17. pinoybaptist

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    The essentials :

    1. The Creatorship of God;
    2. The Fall of Man;
    3. Sin and the Devil;
    4. The TriUnity of God;
    5. The Grace of God;
    6. Jesus, Salvation, and Redemption;
    7. The Scriptures as Inerrant and God-breathed;
    8. The Bodily Resurrection of Christ;
    9. Priesthood of the Believer;
    10. The Two Ordinances;
    11. The Efficacy of the Blood of Christ;
    12. The Immutability of God;
    13. The Incarnation of Christ;
    14. The Impeccability of Christ;
    These, I believe, are the essentials.
    And then you have the acronym for Baptist;

    B-ible as the only rule of faith and practice;
    A-utonomy of the Local Church;
    P-riesthood of the Believer;
    T-wo Ordinances;
    I-mmersion as the mode of baptism;
    S-ecurity of the Believer;
    T-wo Offices in the Church, Pastor and Deacons;

    The Non-Essentials ? Anything which is in the so-called "gray" areas which are sometimes used to justify doctrines or practice.

    Personally, I do not subscribe to the idea of essentials and non-essentials because the latter can be used to cause division among brethren or to justify, at best, error, and at worse, apostasy.

    Let me give you an example.

    Among Primitive Baptists, we do not hold that tithing is a valid New Testament practice or doctrine for the New Testament church. However, since mission-ism, as opposed to scriptural missions, crept in among my people, and proselytes were added to those calling themselves Primitive Baptists in foreign lands, including my own country, the Philippines, which proselytes came from other Baptist orders who were used to teaching tithes as a means of support for the church's needs and for pastors, the American Primitive Baptists who went there on "mission", began to teach tithing as a non-essential for division or non-fellowship, while teaching here in their own churches that tithing is not a New Testament practice or doctrine for New Testament churches.

    That's what I meant when I said essentials can be used to justify error. And you might add, hypocrisy.
     
    #17 pinoybaptist, Aug 23, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2006
  18. tragic_pizza

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    I'm glad you qualified your list with "I believe,"because there are a couple of those which are problematic to some believers.


    First is
    number 7. Yes, the Scriptures are God-breathed, and infallible in all points of doctrine and spiritual truth. Strict inerrancy is difficult in light of the fact that God spoke through humans to write.

    Also, you'll find disagreement on "ordinances" versus "sacraments," and upon the number and methods thereof. For example, you and I would agree on the number and likely the identification: baptism and the Lord's Supper. However, I'm betting you and I would not agree on the method of baptism, and you'll have a hard time agreeing with Lutheran, Catholic, and Episcopalian Christians on the meaning of the Lord's Supper.

    It is a mistake to believe in any particular doctrine. Our belief must be in God, and how God is expressed in the Person of Jesus Christ. Doctrines are how we explain and codify that faith.
     
  19. pinoybaptist

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    For a moment I couldn't believe what you wrote about strict inerrancy versus infallible, aobut ordinances, sacraments, and the mode of baptism.
    Until I realized this was the "Other Christian Denominations" forum, and not one which was strictly for Baptists.
    My apologies, but you are right, in as far as denominational take on some which we Baptists deem to be essentials.
     
  20. tragic_pizza

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    Aren't there Baptists who would argue the same thing, though? I mean, not the "sacrament" stuff, but the inerrancy vs. infallibility issue?
     

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