The term "denomination" or "denominationalism" is actually a misnomer. A misnomer is a wrong
name or designation. "Denominationalism" is the term used by many in the religious world in
reference to the different sects or divisions of "Christendom" such as Baptist, Catholic,
Methodist, and so forth. Denominationalism is a misnomer because it is against the will of
God. Paul made it clear for all ages that God does not want the church to be divided. By
inspiration Paul said, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10). When
men act in such a way as to directly contradict what God has said within His word then it is
no longer God's church or Christ's church rather it becomes man's church. Denominational bodies
are not different sects or divisions of the church of Christ. They are different sects or
divisions of a perverse man-made organization.
Nearly all denominations claim to be part of the universal church of Christ. They say there are Episcopal Christians, Nazarene Christians, Lutheran Christians, Mennonite Christians, et al. Each claiming their part but each holding to their own diverse doctrines and practices. Often these doctrines and practices contradict other denominations. It is little wonder why so many folks are throwing up their hands is bewilderment, puzzled by the diversity that exists. Many are asking, "Why are there so many denominations?" In answer to that question, we propose five reasons for your consideration.
One of the most fundamental principles of Christianity is the fear of God. This fear does not cause a person to flee from God in terror but it is reverential fear. It motivates us to live as He directs because we fear displeasing Him and His judgment. The writer of old said, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14). If every person truly feared God, everyone would do exactly what God instructs through His word and denominationalism would cease to exist.
No doubt there are some in the denominational world who fear God but out of ignorance remain in sectarianism. As those in Athens, they "ignorantly worship" (Acts 17:23). They are ignorant that denominationalism is contrary to the will of God. Such articles as this are written with the hope that the readers realize some of the falsities of sectarianism and turn in obedience to the truth. There are some in sectarianism who are presently searching for a body of people who are seeking to do only that which God instructs — no more and no less. As they come to understand the Bible, they begin to discover the errors of denominationalism and they become dissatisfied. Once they learn the truth, they accept it with open arms. They obey the truth (thus, purifying their souls) and are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Pet. 1:23).
If honest men actually love the lost, they would teach only the Bible for it alone will bring men to faith, obedience, and salvation. These three things are built upon the previous. Salvation results from obedience and obedience results from faith. Faith results from hearing God's word. Paul declared, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Hence, denominational teachers must not love the lost for they do not teach the truth. Truth cannot contradict itself! Denominations teach they are unified but in actuality they are diverse. Since denominations contradict one another in doctrine, they must not teach the truth. When doctrines contradict, all those doctrines cannot be true. One of those doctrines may be the truth but not necessarily. If sectarian teachers loved the lost, they would put away their sectarian doctrines and creeds written by men. Plus, they would lay hold of and hold fast to the Bible.
Sadly, the majority of people have a misconception of Jesus which is the consequence of denominational teaching. There is too much teaching from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and not enough from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Most think that Jesus was a good man, always happy, never stern. The Bible introduces us to a tender compassionate Jesus who was intent on doing the will of God even to the degree of rebuking the religious teachers of His day. To the Pharisees, Jesus said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). To the Sadducees, Jesus said, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22:29). Most want to paint the picture of Jesus as only a lamb but the Bible paints Jesus as a lion and a lamb. We can see Jesus the lamb in His compassion as He wept for His friends who had lost a loved one in death (John 11) and we can see Jesus the lion as He cleanses the temple of the changers of money with a scourge (John 2:13-17). Denominationalists tend to ignore both aspects of Jesus because they over emphasize what they want to hear.
The world is full of worldliness! Many denominations exist today because someone did not like what the Lord or one of His apostles taught on a given subject and so they changed it to their own fancies and fashions. Paul warned of this very thing when he said, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Notice that "they heap to themselves teachers" after their own fleshly desires. It is no secret that some of the great cathedrals of the world were built by the sale of indulgences. This lack of spiritual values has led to many denominations.
It is not my intent to be rude or crude but to answer this question openly and honestly. There are more than three hundred denominations! Each one with different doctrines and practices. Our call is for each denomination to put away their sectarian creeds and turn to only the Bible; for it alone is the word of God. Since that will never happen, our plea to you as an individual is to separate yourself from denominationalism and become simply a Christian.