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Why so many Christian Denominations?

Blankman, Drew & Todd Augustine.  Pocket Dictionary of North American Denominations.  Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

The preface of this introductory booklet of denominations in North America (which includes such nonChristian groups as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) states, “There are thousands of denominations in North America” (7).  This is not difficult to imagine, as within most of the mainline denominations, a number of subgroups exist.  Apart from Roman Catholicism, it would appear, the various church bodies subsist under various names and designations.  However, even Roman Catholicism, for its claim to unity, is vastly divided and far from united.

One might wonder why all these categorizations (denominations) exist.  The reality of Christendom today seems to be that of fragmentation, not unity in the confession of the same faith.  The “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” and “one body” of Ephesians 4:4,5 appears nonexistent.

The ecumenical movement strives for the visual demonstration of a united Christendom, albeit in a quite deficient way.  Agreeing to disagree does not work in the realm of God’s revelation in Christ.  Nor does emphasizing only the areas of agreement among Christians offer the solution for uniting the differing church bodies under one umbrella.

The answer to bring about true unity in Christendom is not to minimize the differences and to maximize the agreements.  Neither is the answer to focus only on what might be determined to be the essentials and then allow considerable freedom on “other” teachings deemed by some to be nonessential, even though God has spoken about these very things, too (i.e. the ordination of women, the acceptance of homosexuality, redefining sin, etc.).

The answer for today’s fragmented Christendom is to turn from its departure of Holy Scripture and the doctrine of Jesus Christ to it, and to continually pray and strive for genuine unity—not the sham unity of a false and deceiving ecumenicalism, but the true unity of faith which demonstrates itself in same-saying—that is—confessing together as one—the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Holy Scripture.

Here, however, is right where the problem lies…Not all do or will confess the same thing concerning Christ and concerning the doctrine revealed in the Holy Bible.  This is really the reason why so many different denominations exist today—because not all say (teach) the same thing.

What is the Bible?  Who is Jesus?  Who has the hope of eternal life?  What are the Sacraments?  These are questions that call for answers, and for which various answers will be given.  The fault, however, is not to be found in the Holy Bible.  The fault is to be found in those who disbelieve it and use it contrary to God’s will, which we only know from Holy Scripture itself.

As God says through the prophet Jeremiah, “He who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28).

And also, as Jesus Himself says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word (John 14:23).

So why do all the various denominations exist?  Because they do not all teach the same doctrine.  And because they do not all believe, teach, and confess the same doctrine, they do not consistently all believe, teach, and confess the same Christ.

St. Paul writes, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).  Even a little departure from the Word of God can (and has) led to apostasy from the true and saving faith.

Though one may continue to believe in Jesus for salvation from sin and death, such faith is quite weakened (and weakening) should one also continue to believe in even theistic evolution or deny the miraculous accounts of Jonah, Jesus feeding the 5000, etc.  Really, it is inconsistent to say that one believes in Jesus and His Word and yet to deny the very Word given by our Lord.

Believing in Jesus Christ and denying Holy Scripture is inconsistent for the Christian and for Christianity, for one who truly does believe in Jesus Christ will also hold His Word to be true.

How can one rightly believe in Jesus Christ if that one continues to deny that very Word which testifies of Christ?  Here we are not only talking about the Words themselves, but also about the meaning of the Words—not the meaning which we place on them—but the meaning which God attaches to them, Scripture interpreting Scripture.

By God’s grace, and only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, does anyone have the hope of eternal life.  This means that eternal life is the gift of God and not the work of man (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is faith in Christ alone that saves.  This is true (John 3:16-18).  And one is saved only as one remains in this true faith.  For this reason is it necessary to continue in the Word of God—that one remain in such faith and thus be made more sure of God’s grace in Christ.

Any other doctrine than God’s will only lead away from and not to, Christ and eternal life.

For this reason, St. Paul writes, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

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19 Responses

  1. The issue then becomes, who is right? No denomination believes it is wrong, and every one believes that they are faithfully interpreting God’s word. Who is right?

    • Ken,

      You are correct. Every denomination does believe that they are using God’s Word properly. However, this does not mean that they are, does it? For example, what does Jesus mean when he says, “If you remain/continue/abide in My Word, you are truly my disciples?” (John 8:31). What is the Word of Jesus? Many pick and choose, based on criteria apart from what the text actually says. As you are well aware, the Historical Critical Method of interpretation is alive and well. How we do determine what is actually God’s Word and what is not according to this kind of interpretational tool, or can we? And based on what? How do the various denominations define God’s Word? The differences indicate that unity in belief & doctrine does not yet fully exist, nor will it, as long as the written Word of God continues to be questioned, rejected, and denied (John 10:27; 14:21-23; Jeremiah 23:11-32)

      Should one not take the Bible fully as God’s Word and believe all of it to be God’s Word, one will only continually move further away from the text itself and its meaning. This can be certainly demonstrated from the example of your own denomination.

      The issue is not really about claiming to be faithful to Scripture. The issue, really, is whether faithfulness to Holy Scripture truly exists. The myriad of denominations today exist because such faithfulness to Holy Scripture is clearly not present. Many reject the written Word by reinterpreting it according to their own assumptions or ideologies, yet see Isaiah 5:20 (i.e. with reference to the ordination of women and homosexuals, universal salvation).

      You ask, then, which denomination is right? The denomination which preaches and teaches according to the Word of God alone, and not according to their own interpretation, reason, ideology, philosophy, or man-made theology. Another way of saying this is, the denomination which believes, teaches, and confesses what the Bible actually says and means according to the text and not according to any other source(s) is the denomination which is faithful to God and His Word. And this not only “officially,” but also practically, in practice and the actual preaching and teaching.

      If we can get the past the idea that we’re all saying the same when we’re actually not, we’re on to something.

  2. A number of years ago I had a discussion with a minister that did not believe baptism was necessary for salvation. I pointed out Mark 16:16 in the KJV. He told me that it did not belong in the Bible. If you look for the same verse in the NIV you will not find it.

    The problem Christianity has here is not only which church is preaching the word of God but which church actually has the word of God. If you read about the history of the Bible you will find that there were a lot of bibles and some fell out of favor because of translation problems, they were not accurate. History tells us that sometimes
    those early scribes did not always get things copied 100%. You drop the word not and that can change an entire meaning of a sentence. Also the Catholic bible has books that the KJV does not contain.

    What Christianity needs today are some prophets to get the doctrines straightened out. An appeal to the bible has not worked for almost 2000 years there is no reason to think it will work today.

    • With reference to Mark 16:16, I understand that questions exist concerning the text. However, Mark 16:16 is not the only location in Holy Scripture where we read about Baptism (see Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:1ff; Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 3:21).

      Though I do appreciate what you’re saying, is the problem the lack of prophets, or faithfulness to Christ’s Word? Manifold doctrines exist today. Which one’s are right and which are not? How would one know if the prophet was actually a prophet of the true God? Many have and still do claim such a title, but how can we (or do we) know?

      Concerning faithfulness to Christ’s Word, I think I understand what you’re getting at. If we don’t know whether the Word is right, how can we be faithful to it? Will a prophet change that?

      You’re right that appeals have been and are made to the Bible. But what kind of appeals, and does the Bible actually support such propositions?

      What if the doctrines are straightened out, but few believe them?

  3. I believe baptism is necessary and even though there is ample evidence in the bible that it is necessary there are still groups out there that do not think it is necessary. An appeal to the Bible has changed neither thier mind nor mine. The problem is is that we are human and we come to different conclusions when given the same facts. Look at the doctine of the Trinity. JW do not believe it. If you read thier pamphlets they can quote scripture that brings into question that doctrine. They can also point to history and show it maybe a man made doctrine. I can see how they come to the conclusions they do and they are using the Bible.

    Would a prophet solve the problem? Probably not. Moses still had rebellion in the camp even after he parted the Red Sea. The only thing a prophet will do is to set the doctrine straight. It is up to us as to whether we will believe or not. I guess if one really got desperate he could ask God if the man was a prophet.

    The only thing that will settle the issues, as I see it, is when Christ returns and even in some quarters he will have to earn peoples respect, which I am sure he will do.

    • On the last day, when the Lord returns, the Bible says, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7) At that time, truly, He will not have to earn peoples respect, because He will come in all of His glory. Everyone will recognize Him for who He is. However, it will then be too late for the unbelievers, and they will only fear Jesus, for their sins will still be against them.

      As for a prophet, read Jeremiah 23. Many a false prophet preached and claimed that their preaching was of God, but it was not. Jesus Himself said that false prophets would arise (i.e. Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24). St. Peter and Paul also speak of those who teach falsely and follow their false doctrines, 2 Peter 2:1 & 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 2 Timothy 3:1-9. Jesus also said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

      You’re right! The problem is that we are human, and we refuse the revelation that God has given in His Holy Word. We continue to seek that which God has not given rather than give thanks for what He has. As for the JWs, yes, they do deny cardinal Christian doctrines, even inventing their own Scriptures to “support” their teachings. But such is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to believe Him and His Word according to the Bible. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27), and “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). He also says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23-24).

      Question…why do you think Baptism is necessary?

      • Question…why do you think Baptism is necessary? The reason I think baptism is necessary is a strong case can be made for it in the bible, as you showed by quoteing those scriptures.

        As for a prophet, read Jeremiah 23. Many a false prophet preached and claimed that their preaching was of God, but it was not. You quoted Jeremiah along along with several others. The question I would have if there are false prophets are there true prophets?

        The way of Christ is to believe Him and His Word according to the Bible. Which bible are we talking about here? There have been many bibles down through the centuries. Why don’t we use the Catholic bible after all they can reach back far deeper back into Christian history then the Protestants can. All the bibles do not say the same thing. Mark 16:16 in the new KJV and NIV is a case in point.

        However, it will then be too late for the unbelievers, and they will only fear Jesus, for their sins will still be against them. Who are unbelievers? Those that don’t believe Jesus is the son of God or those that don’t believe in Protestant doctrines.

        Your original blog is talking about an apostacy. Even though you don’t come out and say it that is what it is. The reason we have so many different religions is that different people understand the same bible verse differently they also take things out of context. As you pointed out even a little departure from the truth cause errors in belief.

        October 16, 2012 at 4:46 am said. Question… Why in the world are you up so early? I hope you are not wasteing good sleeping time replying to this discussion.

      • Though I appreciate your question, “why do you think Baptism is necessary?”, it really doesn’t matter what I think, but what God says. Just a few references will do, which I encourage you to read: Mark 11:28-33 (see also Matthew 28:18-20); John 3:5-6 (rebirth/born again, see also John 1:12-13); Acts 2:38 (i.e. Acts 8:36ff; 16:33; 18:8; 19:5); Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:21. These passages clearly speak about Baptism.

        False prophets (False teachers) do exist, not only as recorded in the OT, but also in the NT as well (and today). These teach falsely about God, Christ, salvation, etc. In contrast to the false prophets/teachers/preachers, there are true prophets/teachers/preachers. We believe that prophets in the sense of the OT prophets concluded with John the Baptism. Their task was to proclaim God’s law and His salvation in the coming one. Recall that John pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Today, no prophets of God (in the sense of the OT prophets) continue to exist. In the NT, the common word for those whom Jesus sent out was apostles. Today, no apostles directly sent by God still exist. Through His body, the Church, Christ continues, however, to send His servants (often called pastors) to preach His Word for the salvation of souls.

        You again raise a definitive point, which Bible? Non-Catholics do not have the Apocrypha (books between the Testaments) in their Bibles. We do not hold to them as God’s Word. But why is that? A good question to ask is, “What do they say of Christ?” Another is this, “Do the writings speak according to the analogy of faith,” which means, “Do the writings speak according to the true doctrine and the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?” In other words, “Are the writings consistent with God’s revelation?”

        I know that there is much room for discussion here, and we could get into the finer points, which would be helpful, I think, as time allows. Essentially, though, you hit the key element, “Believing in Jesus according to His Word.” Have you read any of the Apocrypha, or any other “Bibles”? What do they say about Christ?

        Concerning the reference to Mark 16, are you aware of the reason(s) the mentioned verses are either retained or omitted? Are these the only verses having to do with Baptism and faith? See Galatians 3:26-29. A key Scriptural hermeneutic is, “Scripture interprets Scripture.” Though the verses in Mark 16 are not included in many of the earlier manuscripts of the New Testament, references elsewhere can also be used to address questions that might arise do to textual variances.

        Unbelievers are those who don’t believe in Jesus, John 3:16-18, 36; 1 John 5:10-12. Christian doctrine is that which teaches Christ aright, according to the Word which He has given. All of protestant doctrine is not in accord with the Bible, nor is all Roman Catholic doctrine. But that doctrine which accords with Scripture alone is the true Biblical doctrine, and this alone leads to eternal salvation, for it clearly confesses Christ.

        True, different understandings of the Bible exist, to be sure. I would go a step further and say that so many religions (and also denominations) exist because not all believe God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. Even though all Christian denominations will use the Bible, how do they use it, and what do they say (consistently) about Christ?

        The morning when I responded, I may have had trouble sleeping. Thanks for asking!

        I look forward to continuing our conversation.

  4. Pastor Reeder

    I think that you and I would agree that on both baptism and in the fact that something has happened to Christianity. Where we differ is on the reason why there are so many different Christian denominations. I believe part of the reason is that the Bibles are not the same nor are they inerrant. Different Bibles came from different texts and some of these texts are considered more reliable than others. I am going to paste in a website that you can read at your leisure. http://av1611.com/kjbp/charts/themagicmarker.html

    As for Apocrypha I have not read the extra books in the Catholic Bible but I have read the book of Jasher. It shed some light on Noah and his ark as well as a few other OT stories. I found some of it hard to believe until I realized that those stories are no stranger then Samson killing a 1000 men with the jaw bone of an ass, which would be a good trick with an M16.

    Your statement “We believe that prophets in the sense of the OT prophets concluded with John the Baptism” is not accurate, see Acts 11:27 and Acts 13:1. What I mean is that the belief is wrong. I am sure you believe John was the last prophet but he wasn’t.

    When you or Christians say you have the word of God you need to specify which word or Bible you are talking about because they are not all the same.

    I hope you are sleeping better; 4:00 am is much too early to be in front of a computer screen.

    Take care

    KC

    • KC,

      It’s been awhile, far too long. I am getting to sleep earlier now, so this is good!

      Thanks for the site! I did skim it over. As I’m sure you are aware, different translations of the Bible are also the consequence of different sources (copies) used for the respective translations. The King James Version, for example, is based on the Textus Receptus, whereas the New International Version is based on copies which have been found to be of earlier date. In a real sense, English readers of the Biblical text (regardless of translation used) are at the mercy of the translator. I recommend using different translations and comparing them to one another. Of course, using the Hebrew and the Greek can draw one closer to the original text, but one still has to be discerning, to be sure.

      Beginning from different foundations does result in different denominations. One of the problems, of course, is the fact that even should the same translation be used, readers will continue to believe differently according to what the text actually says. Take, for example, the well known verse of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJ). Does it specifically say that God sent His Son only for those who will believe, or does it simply say that God sent His Son because He loved the world, without any condition of faith whatsoever? If the latter, then God sent His Son for all people, that all would be saved. However, not all do or will believe. Some will not (see John 3:17-18). But any unbelief does not change who God loves, nor the ultimate reason God sent His Son. Not believing in Jesus does condemn (i.e., John 3:36), while believing in Jesus does save (John 6:47), but God did not send His Son only to those who would believe according to this verse or any other (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4).

      Some do actually believe, teach, and confess that God’s love is conditional, contrary to the Biblical teaching of God’s grace and favor through Christ (i.e. Ephesians 2:8-9). As much as starting on the wrong foundation leads to different denominations, so even more, having a different faith and confession of Christ (His identity, His Work, His Word) demonstrates error, and advances false ideas and notions about God, His grace, and His mercy in Christ, and also how God works.

      We might be using different definitions of Old Testament prophets here. When I speak of John the Baptist as the last of the OT prophets, reflect on the words of Jesus, where He spoke of John as Elijah (Matthew 11:13-15). Here, Jesus also says, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13; see also Hebrews 1:1-2; Romans 1:1-2). Taking Jesus at His Word, then, how do you understand what Jesus is saying? With reference to the Acts 12 and 13, yes, you are right, prophets continued in the New Testament (See also Ephesians 4:11, where Paul speaks of apostles and prophets). Yet, was the content of their preaching and teaching a pointing to the Christ who had not yet come (the first time)? When I speak of John as the last of the OT prophets, this is what I had meant, that He was the last to declare that the Messiah was coming. John had the blessed task, also of declaring Him present, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the word” (John 1:29).

      When Jesus “came on the scene,” the OT found its fulfillment (i.e. Matthew 5:17; see also Colossians 2:6-23).

      What “Bible” or translation do you use, for clarification? I actually refer to several. The quotes above are from the NKJ, but I reference the Hebrew OT (and Greek Septuagint) and the Greek NT.

      I hope to response more speedily in the future. Much has taken a back seat over the past few months, but things are changing…

      Hope all is well!

      • Hello Pastor Reeder

        I am glad you are sleeping better, it makes life a little easier if you are rested.

        I would have to agree with you that John was the last OT prophet. However as Acts 11:27 makes clear he was not the last prophet.

        You state that different texts are responsible for the different bibles, a
        statement I would agree with. You also indicate that we are at the mercy of the translators which I would also agree with. This brings me back to my original point. Part of the reason we have so many denomination is that we have different bibles and they don’t always say the same thing.

        You admit to using different bibles for clarification. One has to ask himself if the bible is the word of God then why should they differ. The answar is simple the bible is not the word of God. It is mans attempt to keep the word of God coherent and in some areas we fall a little short.

        Without prophets and apostles, as they had in the NT, to keep the
        doctrine straight Christianty is like a ship without a rudder.

        Take care

        KC

      • Hello KC,

        When I speak of different texts, though, at least with reference to the copies of the original, there are ways of determining which are more authentic and closer to the original (i.e. textual criticism). We can get into that a little bit more if you’d like. But the different translations might not necessarily result in the plethora of denominations, though I’m sure for some they do. For example, some claim “KJV only” and separate themselves from others who use the NIV or ASV. Some of the newer translations mislead, or worse, revise the text, and therefore, also the meaning (i.e. gender-inclusive translations). I would say, though, that these are not faithful translations, for they do not rightly confess Christ (i.e. in Old Testament prophecies about Jesus, who is male, not neuter or female).

        With reference to prophets and apostles keeping the doctrine straight, how would we know today if they themselves are keeping the doctrine straight? If any of the translations are uncertain, how would we know if the prophet or apostle is speaking truthfully? To what do we compare their words?

        For clarification, I hadn’t meant to say that I use different Bibles for clarification. I do use different translations, and am finding myself studying the Hebrew and the Greek more, but we distinguish between a different Bible (i.e. The New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witness ) and a different translation (i.e. King James Version, New International Version, etc.).

        Again, for clarification, even should different Christians read the same translation of the Bible, there is the likelihood that not all will agree with what it says, not because of the translation, but because of what the text actually says.

        For example, when Peter writes, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21), how do you understand this verse, as Peter actually saying that Baptism actually saves the one baptized, or as Peter saying something else entirely different, and on what basis do you say this?

        For another example, read 1 John 1:8-9. Is John here speaking to/of Christians, or to/of nonChristians? Does God forgive us our sins because we confess our sins or on account of His faithfulness to His Word that He will forgive on account of His Son, Jesus Christ?

        Out of curiosity, which Bible (or translation) do you use? If we’re working with the same text, it might be easier to discuss scriptural matters.

        Thanks, and I hope all is well!

  5. Hello Pastor Reeder

    I use the KJV of the bible. I think it is generally agreed that it is a good translation, not perfect but good.

    You ask how would we could know if the apostles or prophets were keeping the doctrine straight. One might ask himself how did the early Christian converts know if people like Peter, Thomas, James, or any of the original twelve apostle were keeping doctrine straight. They had no bible as we know it and nothing to compare the apostle words against. As the apostles preached they were writing or createing scripture. If God sends apostles today I would hope that we could listen to them and then ask God if they really are his apostles. If God won’t answar a simple question like that then we really can’t be held accountable for incorrect beliefs.

    I am not saying that the entire reason we have so many denominations is because differences in the bibles but it is one of the reasons.

    Take care

    KC

    • Hello KC,

      A blessed Easter to you and your family!

      Concerning the keeping of the doctrine by the apostles, actually, they did have the Word of the Old Testament. Jesus Himself references these in several places:

      John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

      Luke 4:16-21 16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the
      Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found
      the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He
      has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are
      oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat
      down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled
      in your hearing.”

      Luke 24:25-27 25 Then He (Jesus) said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 “Ought not the
      Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in
      all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

      Luke 24:44-47 44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled
      which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they
      might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise
      from the dead the third day, 47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at
      Jerusalem.

      According to the preceding references (there are others, too), Jesus referenced the Old Testament Scriptures. By doing so, He testified of their veracity, and of His relation to them (see also Hebrews 1:1-2).

      Concerning the Apostles referencing the Old Testament Scriptures, and Christ’s fulfillment of them, see:
      1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (v4)
      Acts 2:29-36; 10:42-43; 13:29-39; 17:2-3, (see v11)
      See also 2 Timothy 3:15-17 & 2 Peter 1:19-21

      The apostles themselves claimed that they were preaching nothing contrary to the Word of God. Of course, claiming something doesn’t make a thing so. However, what they preached was according to the Word of the Old Testament Scriptures, which Christ fulfilled. Thus, what they preached was right and true. See especially Acts 17:11 and the Bereans. The people could verify whether or not the apostles’ preaching was true on account of the texts which they had to examine them.

      In claiming that what they preached was the Word of God, the apostles were claiming to be true preachers of the Word. Either they are or they are not. How do we know? By the words which they speak. We compare what they write/speak with what is written (Consider Galatians 1:6-9). We do the same today, according to the Holy Scriptures which have been handed down for us, that we, too, might believe and so be saved (John 20:31).

      Concerning God answering any questions whether or not a teacher or preacher be false, He does — in His Word. If they preach according to that, they are right and true. If not, them we are not to hear (Matthew 7:15-23; John 10:27; 1 John 4:1ff).

      Looking within or waiting for God to give us an internal assurance for proper distinctions is means for deception (Romans 10:17). Jesus calls His followers/disciples to His Word (i.e. John 8:31ff; 14:21ff; etc.) Also, the disciples themselves only drew attention and proclaimed the Christ of Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:2; Hebrews 12:1-2).

      What other reasons would you offer for the myriad of denominations?

      • Pastor Reeder

        I trust that you had a pleasant Easter. What the Easter bunny has to do with Christ is beyond me but I hope your kids or grandchildren found plenty of Easter eggs.

        I think that the reason we have so many denominations is due to a number of factors. One is that the bibles do not always agree with each other. Another reason is that if you put 15 people in a room and read them a passage of scripture you would get 10 different interpretations, especially if you took something out of Isaiah. This is because different people have different life experiences and that is the frame of references they use. When pagans were converted to Christianity they brought with them their old beliefs, that is where the Easter bunny comes from.

        In Luke 24:13-32 Luke tells us of an experience that two fellow believers had with the resurrected Christ. In verse 32 they make reference to their heart. One has to ask himself why is that detail there? Does it have significance or is it just some meaningless detail. Apparently Luke thought it was of some worth because he included it in his gospel. The Mormons will tell you that it was the Holy Ghost bearing record of the truthfulness of what this apparent stranger was telling them. Whatever the reason both Luke and the two men thought it was a necessary detail. If God can’t help us to understand truth when we hear it then we are hopelessly lost. Judging by all the different denominations an appeal to the Bible has not worked.

        Take care

        KC

      • Hi KC,

        I had a blessed Easter. I have to confess that the correlation between the Easter bunny and Easter escapes me, too.

        If you mean, “by appeal” that simply stating that the Bible is true has not worked, I would agree. Such a claim may work with those who already believe, but likely not with those who don’t, as they do not recognize the Bible for what it is. On the other hand, if you mean, “by appeal” that the Word itself (read, preached, etc.) has not worked, I would strongly disagree, as God Himself promises that His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:10-11), His Word is spirit and life (John 6:63), and His Word is powerful (effective) (Hebrews 4:12).

        The example that you gave about the people in the room is accurate. Life experiences do influence how we understand things, including the Scriptures. Consider, too, that we also have our sinful human reason to contend with (see 1 Corinthians 2:14, for example, also John 3:6). We can’t believe the things of God unless God gives the faith to believe.

        There will always be present those who reject the Word rightly spoken, preached, read, etc. Recall that not everyone who heard Jesus believed (i.e. Luke 4:16-30; John 6:60-69; 8, etc.). Jesus also said that the same would happen for those who follow him (John 15:18-25; Luke 10:16). Not all would hear and believe.

        Part of the problem, too, is that not all speak rightly concerning Christ. The Lord says through Jeremiah the prophet says, “He who has My Word, let him speak faithfully” (23:28).

        I appreciate your attention to Luke 24:32. Notice, the timing (the when) of their burning hearts…”as he (Jesus) was speaking on the way, as opened to us the Scriptures” (see v25-27 and 44-47). Their hearts did burn, to be sure, but not apart from the Word spoken to them (see Romans 10:17). We too would say that it was the Holy Spirit creating the faith, but not apart from the Word spoken (see 1 Corinthians 12:3, also John 16:13).

        Verse 32 was not at all an insignificant detail. You’re absolutely right!

  6. Hello Pastor Reeder

    I have been reading through the posts of our discussions of why there are so many Christian denominations. My conclusion after reading them is that we really don’t differ all that much, at least not enough to take up valuable banwidth by continuing this discussion.

    If history is correct, and I believe it is, the Christian church was fairly well united while the apostle were alive. It was not perfect but at least the apostles kept the doctrine straight. Once they died off you started getting many different denomination. Constantine in 325 AD at Nicea was just trying to get these different denomination to sing off the same sheet of music, so even back then they had the same problem we have today. The apostles appear to be the glue that held the church together.

    I agree with your statement on Luke 24:32. As Christ opened up thier understanding of the scriptures thier hearts burned within them. Could we not expect a similar experience if we were to hear an apostle? I think God would let us know one way or the other.

    At the very beginning of your first post you make the following statement “which includes such nonChristian groups as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons”. I have worked with people from both these religions and both groups believe that Jesus is the Christ. What they don’t believe is some of the traditional Christian doctrine, like the trinity. We need to keep things in perspective. 500 or 600 years ago the Protestants were consider nonChristian or worse by Christianity of the day, namely the Catholics. In another 100 years or less the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons will be considered Christian.

    I complain about wasting valuable bandwidth and then proceed to use up some more of it. I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

    Take care

    Casey

    • KC,

      JW’s and Mormons may be considered “Christian” in even less than a hundred years. In fact, some cites and “authorities” already do. However, the “christianity” which they profess is not orthodox (right) Christianity. We know this by what they both uniquely teach about Christ. JW’s do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, and Mormons do not believe that Jesus is the only Son of God. Neither believe that Jesus’ death was sufficient ransom for all sin. They teach that we must do something for salvation, if even a little. This, my friend, is teaching that is outside of the true Christian faith.

      I wouldn’t call you a hypocrite with reference to bandwidth. We do, however, have points of departure.

      Peace,

      PR

      • Hello Pastor Reeder

        I am sure we have points of departure but that is what makes discussions interesting. It has been a pleasure reading and replying to your posts. I wish you luck in your ministry and your family.

        Best regards

        Casey

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