Wednesday, April 21, 2004


I was talking with someone the other day about denominationalism. The prevailing philosophy regarding denominations is that they are somehow inherently ungodly or anti-Christian. This belief is born out of the "one church" ideology which, although is a valid Biblical view it is often taken out of context. We must accept that on a global scale all believers make up "the Church" and it is that global "Church" which Christ will return to redeem. But the fact that the church is made up of many segments embracing many different styles and viewpoints is not in any way categorically unscriptural. It is important to recognize that every denomination in existence has its origin in a genuine move of God. To deny this fact is to risk becoming sectarian and exclusionary... the very thing most denomination-bashers hate the most.

I taught a series of sermons years ago in which I discussed how the nature of Christ, his personality traits, seemed to be divided between men and women... women tending to be more emotionally based and reflecting the nurturing, compassionate, creative sides of Christ... while men tend more toward rationalism and reflect the constructive, strategic, warrior nature. And when we marry and become one flesh we are only then the total reflection of the nature of Christ.

I lay that argument out simply to say I believe that denominations serve much the same purpose. The nature of the Church... the global Church... is such that no single segment of it is a perfect representation of the Bride of Christ... each of those movements that eventually birthed a denomination were given a truth... a portion of the nature of Christ which they championed. Often they were born out of backlash to an immobile or stagnant movement which had championed another truth but had begun to deny the new revelation. Therefore the new revelation becomes that which the new movement champions. As time progresses each denomination seems to have a unique ideology... a concept or truth that distinguishes them from others. Just coming to mind I can think of Assemblies of God championing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I think of Calvary Chapels championing exegesis, Baptists and evangelism, Nazarenes and holiness, and you can think of others, also. The tendency is for one group to perceive the others as in error but the truth is more likely that they all hold a truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit... and they perceive their truth as THE truth... but it is only when they come together and can embrace all of these truths together do we get a real picture of the Bride of Christ.

Now some will say that there are areas that are completely contradictory and that is true. Obviously it can't be true that you can lose your salvation and it be also true that once you're saved you're always saved. It can't be true that the Holy Spirit empowers us to speak in tongues and it be also true that tongues are demonic. But the truth is somewhere in there when we put it all on the table. I'm not a proponent of abandoning the identity of a movement. I sincerely believe its the tension between these perspectives that keeps us out of more error than we have now. I can't help but think of Catholicism through the centuries when, as the only purveyor of truth, they became corrupt. A person should find that area which God has called them to... that which he has asked them to champion... and do so.

We will always find ourselves in error when we determine that our position cannot be flawed. There is NOBODY and no movement that has perfect doctrine and is without error. That is the only sane and truly healthy perspective to hold.

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