What is a Denomination?
There are thousands of different denominations that claim allegiance to Jesus Christ in the United States. This does not include religious organizations such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and numerous occult religious orders. How can all these denominations claiming allegiance to Jesus Christ go by the same Bible and yet differ in belief and practice? All claim to be called of God, yet contradict each other?
The Word of God teaches, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (I Corinthians 14:33). So, let’s examine from Scripture answers to: 1) Can all these denominations go by the Bible and differ? 2) Can all these denominations be called by the same God of heaven and contradict one another? 3) Is Jesus Christ the author, founder, builder and head of each denomination? 4) Are all these denominations just alternate routes all leading to heaven? 5) Does it really make any difference which church you go to?
First, let’s define denominationalism. A denomination is "a sect, class, or division" (Webster’s). A sect is "a party dissenting from an established or parent church; a denomination" (Webster’s). Denominationalism is simply "division into denominations" (Webster’s). What we learn from secular definitions is that a denomination is simply a division from the established or parent church. What would the established or parent church be?
The Bible tells us about the “parent church” or the first church established. Notice what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH (emp LS); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Who was going to build what? JESUS CHRIST said HE was going to build HIS CHURCH! The church that Jesus Christ built was and still is the "established or parent church” regarding denominationalism. All other churches are denominations. Denominationalism is simply the dividing from the original church, the church that Jesus Christ built, into a separate group of people that are sectarian.
The church that Jesus Christ built was founded upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, New Testament teaching (Ephesians 2:19-20). Thus, the New Testament church that we read about in the Bible is not a denomination, but the first or original church. The New Testament church followed the doctrine (teaching) of the apostles (Acts 2:42, 47), verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Denominationalism is a division from the New Testament church, thus teaches and practices the doctrines of men (Matthew 15:7-9).
Is denominationalism, division, sectarianism sinful? Lord willing, more next time. Meanwhile, read and study Matthew 15:13.