Denominationalism is an Evil System
The average person outside the church of Christ has no idea that denominationalism is an evil system and a curse to mankind. To such people denominationalism is synonymous with Christianity, and to speak of destroying denominationalism is to speak of destroying the church. However, let me say that if every denomination on earth were destroyed, it would not “unchurch” a single Christian, nor would it mean an end to the church of Christ.
The church established by our Lord existed for a long time before denominationalism as we have it today began. The modern denominational system actually began with the efforts of several men to reform the Roman Catholic Church. After the church of Christ apostatized so far as to resolve itself into the Catholic Church, this Church became so corrupt that even many of her own clergy could not stomach the evil conditions, so these men set out to bring about a reformation within Catholicism. Of course, history shows that their attempts failed, for the Catholic Church refused to be reformed. The reformers, however, gathered about them many disciples, thus splitting the religious world into various denominations.
For example, the disciples of Martin Luther became Lutherans and formed the Lutheran Church. The disciples of John Calvin carried his teachings to Scotland and established the Presbyterian Church. King Henry VIII threw off the papal yoke and settled his own yoke on the necks of the people, forming the Church of England, with her younger American sister, the Protestant Episcopal Church. These examples could be multiplied to account for the existence of most major denominations which we have today. Suffice it to say that neither the Catholic Church nor any of the Protestant churches is the church as established by Christ. It remained for other men to restore the church of Christ through Bible preaching. We have the church today as a distinct people, separate and apart from denominationalism. We ask, is it better to be a member of the church of Christ, or of a human denomination unknown to the New Testament?
The idea held by many people is that all of the denominations are just branches of the church built by Jesus, and that one can be a member of the church in the denomination of his choice. This idea is so commonly held that it deserves examination.
First of all, it must he admitted that no two denominations teach the same thing. The Baptist Church insists on the immersion of adults, while the Methodist Church allows the sprinkling of infants. Now these two do not agree; in fact, they directly contradict one another. Yet it is held that both are just branches of the same church. Strange vine, indeed, that bears different fruit on every branch!
Jesus prayed for the unity of all those who believe on Him through the apostles’ word. Only the rankest infidel would say that our Lord’s prayer went unanswered. All true believers are one in His church. But the denominations are not united, therefore they do not make up Christ’s church.
Someone may ask, did not Christ say, “I am the vine, ye are the branches?” Yes, but He did not say that denominations are the branches. Jesus, in John 15:5-8 is speaking to His disciples:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
It is obvious that Christ was here speaking of individual disciples as branches, and not churches.
Preachers sometimes thank God that we can “join the church of our choice,” and that there are so many different kinds of churches to choose from. Surely such preachers are unaware of the great evils of denominationalism. They do not realize that denominationalism is a system of religious division, and as such works against the desires of our Lord for unity. Denominationalism keeps people out of the church of Christ, causing them to be lost. Denominationalism divides families, hinders the progress of Christianity, and makes infidels by its contradictory teachings.
Again we ask, is it better to be a member of the church of Christ, or of a human denomination unknown to the New Testament?