There is a great joke I once heard that I would like to share with everyone, which pokes fun at the attitude of many Christians today:
“I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said ‘Stop! Don’t do it!’
‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he said.
‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’
‘Well… are you religious?’ He said yes. I said, ‘Me too! Are you Christian or another religion?’
‘Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ?
‘Neat, me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’
‘Wow, this is amazing! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?’
‘Baptist Church of God!’
“Amazing! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?’
‘Reformed Baptist Church of God!’
This is unbelievable! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?’
He said, ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!’
I said, ‘Oh. In that case, die you heretic scum’, and I pushed him off the bridge myself.
While the above joke makes us chuckle, we must realize the sad truth that it seeks to uncover. There are simply way too many denominations in Christianity.
Some estimates suggest there are as many as 20,000-40,000 denominations within Christianity. That number is probably greatly exaggerated and many are probably not actual “denominations.” Most are just being divided or categorized based on a very trivial belief which wouldn’t be enough to constitute a denomination by most standards.
Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that too many denominations and branches exist within Christianity. If you think about it, it is quite shocking this has happened since the Bible is quite firm against this.
Most Christians have done exactly what Jesus and His disciples prayed that we wouldn’t do: We’ve Denominated and Divided.
In the scriptures, it is quite obvious how passionate Jesus was about this, and you can catch a glimpse of this in his prayers:
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (Jn. 17:20-23).
The apostle Paul also wrote:
So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
After reading the above scriptures, it is quite clear how serious Jesus and His disciples were about keeping unity and one faith (or denomination). So if Jesus is so clear and serious about it, why haven’t Christians obeyed?
Why We Break Up Into Denominations
The first thing to keep in mind is that Satan himself loves denominations. Most denominational splits happen for two reasons: Pride, and false teaching, and Satan is the master of both. Those two things probably account for every denominational spit in the history of Christianity. This shouldn’t surprise us, for Jesus warned that there would be an increase in false teachers as the end times nears.
Denominations, as bad as they may be, also do one thing well: They help preserve truth when absolutely necessary. As Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “I’d rather be divided in truth than united in error.”
We should fight and contend for the faith, but at the same time, we must remove fellowship from those who seek to pervert the truth of the Gospel. We should love other Christians and seek harmony and fellowship, but act swiftly to remove false teachers or those causing divisions. When the truth is preserved, the false teacher will probably branch off and start a new cult/denomination. But hey, at least the truth still stands firm. The true church will always exist. Jesus said of His church:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Granted, there are some topics or doctrine which may be debatable or ambiguous, but that is NOT a reason to divide Christians in most cases. Only under serious issues, such as perverting the Gospel or insisting on a false teaching, should we seek to divide.
Which Denomination is Best?
I used to take a staunchly “non-denominational” stance when I was younger, but as I’ve grown, I’ve come to realize why denominations sometimes are necessary. They help put a label on your beliefs, and you can use this label to help identify others who are like-minded. I am a Christian first and foremost. That will never change. Besides that, I attend a church that is Baptist. I am Baptist second because I feel Baptists teach the word of God.
That doesn’t mean all Baptist churches are faithful, but I know mine is, and that is a blessing in today’s world.
Will There Ever Be One Church and One Faith?
If you read Revelation, you will see that in the end there will be divisions and different views, and false prophets, etc.
What this means is that until God destroys heaven and Earth, there will be denominations, false cults, false teachers, etc. I fully realize that while I am preaching against denominations, we will have them until God Himself puts an end to the lies. We will only have true unity when we are in the literal presence of God and Christ.
There will come a day when the true church will rejoice and praise God for eternity. Amen.