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What Does the Bible Say About..Denominations?

If one believes in Christianity, does one have to be in a denomination (Catholic, Protestant, etc.) or can one say that he or she is a Christian, period? I know someone that grew up in a household where the belief of God was talked about, but the denomination was never brought up. Where does that put this person?

Answer

It would be difficult to say that someone has to be in a denomination to be a Christian. The denominations of Christianity that we now know did not come about for hundreds of years. The earliest Christians were just Christians. In John 17 Jesus prayed for unity among his followers, not division.

Denominations begin when people differ over an interpretation of the Bible or (as is the case in the Anglican Church) someone doesnít get his own way and so breaks off from another group. Thus, denominations are necessarily divisive and against the will of Jesus and the statement of Paul that there is one body/church (Ephesians 4:4).

When I was growing up I was taught that anyone who wore a name not found for Godís people in the Bible was putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Some emphasize a person other than Jesus (Luther, Wesley), an action/process/form of government (baptism, method, orthodoxy, espicopate, presbytery), a place (England, Scotland, Rome, Greece, community), a date (Pentecost, Sabbath), a thing (Bible, gospel, holiness, new life, purity, unity). Even those that wear a designation found in the Bible (Christian, Church of God, Church of Christ) may or may not be a denomination. Some who claim to be non-denominational actually preach denominational doctrines.

A Christian is one who obeys Christ, regardless of what he or anyone else calls him. Anyone who varies from what is found in the Bible, in matters of doctrine rather than of choice, is to that extent less a Christian and more a denominationalist.

There is nothing wrong, and much right, with a person who does not claim a denomination, but just claims to be a Christian. As long as he is following Christ that is just how it ought to be.