What’s your denomination?

 

I get alot of questions and comments about denominations. No, I’m not talking about these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m talking more about something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that is a small chart (so it won’t take up the whole blog), but it covers just the major denominations among churches, and just the major denominations in America at that.

What is a denomination?

From Wikipedia (and we know they are always right, ha!) – A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.

From Harveypedia – A denomination is a group of believers that form a sect based off of an interpretation in scripture, administration, practice, or any number of things that would otherwise result in this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, by the way. That still happens, anyways.

 

So, what gives? You *normally* don’t see this sort of militaristic action taken inside of America when different religious groups get up in arms, but mind you, there is plenty of denominational warfare.

Just think of the people who claim to be Christian in America. Here’s some more pictures of some of those groups:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what do the people behind these representations have in common?

Not much. But I’m going to make the following assumptions (very dangerous, I know, but face it, you’re not referring to my blog to write your doctoral thesis):

1. They believe that their belief system is correct.

2. They are willing to defend their belief system, even sacrifice for it.

3. These are all images I found of people who label themselves as Christians.

 

I’m not going to even begin to make the dangerous trip of saying which qualify and which don’t qualify as legitimate Christians. It’s a slippery slope, and I just happen to not be God. I too have very specific, very opinionated beliefs. None of those images represent the specific beliefs I adhere to.

By the way, there are some major, foundational beliefs that represent the core tenets of Christianity. That’s a future blog posting. But yes, there does exist “dealbreaker” doctrines – to deny their validity is to deny Christianity by definition.

Back to the topic…

So many people are attending non-denominational churches in an effort to avoid the division that a denominational tag seemingly accompanies. Which is pretty ironic, considering how a. they are classified just like denominational churches are – by their beliefs (pentecostal, reformed, legalistic, etc), and b. they lack the good things that a denominational structure brings, and yes, there are good things!

Just off the top of my head, here are some great things that a denominational structure brings:

1. Organization

2. A set of unified beliefs

3. The “pooling” of resources, so that churches can have a larger, worldwide impact

4. Publishing companies that correspond with the denominational beliefs, such as “Lifeway” in my case (southern baptists).

5. Many more – this blog is being done without the benefit of days of research and reading.

 

So, can we see any clarity at all with umpteen denominations carrying out their goals, missions, beliefs, and agendas in America and all over the world?

How do believers figure out which is the right denomination?

Is there a “most right” denomination?

What separates the denominations from what I would call the “cults,” that is, organizations set up as denominations, but so far off track that they have indeed rejected the fundamental beliefs that Christians embrace, or they have embraced beliefs that would discredit them as Christians?

Umm, yeah. So I can write some great questions, can’t I!

Here are some very short answers. Books and books have been written about this, so don’t expect me to magically solve this for the whole world. That’ll take me at least three blog posts.

 

So, can we see any clarity at all with umpteen denominations carrying out their goals, missions, beliefs, and agendas in America and all over the world?

God is bigger than the division. Does it irk me to no end that the “Christians” with the most media exposure are the ones who are uttering nonsense that couldn’t be further away from the REAL truth of the Gospel? You bet your bippie.

Do I shudder knowing that the same denomination adjective in my church is also present in a very publicized nutcase factory in Kansas that has nothing better to do than protest funerals of the fallen military? And they apparently honest-to-God believe they are carrying out the mandate of God by spreading hate? Why yes, I do shudder.

Does it bother me that the cesspool of American spirituality is so shallow that many actually believe that the publicized nonsense of Westboro and other cults is representative of what I as a southern baptist pastor stand for?

Do I believe that God is bigger than all of this, and that there is not one human or a trillion humans together who can ever divert his perfect plan for humanity, carried out through His Son and continuing today as the avenue for broken humanity to have relationship with perfect divinity? Emphatically, yes.

To quote some silliness i was spouting earlier, the Bible doesn’t say “in the end times, people will ride unicorns up rainbows all day long and everyone will be perfectly happy as the world experiences increasing warm fuzzy feelings because people just love each other.”

Nope, divisions with Christianity were predicted in the Bible.

One spot is 2 Peter, 2nd chapter:

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping…

So yes, we have divisions within divisions within divisions.

The thing is, God is bigger, supreme, sovereign, near, loving, just, faithful, and is worthy of each of us living a thousand lives and dedicating each moment to learning more about Him.

A perfect God uses imperfect people who organize into groups full of weaknesses and flaws to accomplish His perfect will. One of those most awesome things about God is that He uses us! Our brokenness, our heartbreak, our failures, our misunderstandings, our lack of capacity to fathom just about anything – and God does something through us we could never do on our own. We are here on a mission which, in my humble opinion, does not include hitting someone on the head with a stick. In fact, it involves caring for people, ministering to the hurting, caring for the less fortunate, and otherwise doing what He wants us to do, not what we get in our heads that we should be doing on our own.

1 Timothy 1:17

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Concerning the other question – I’m going to save them for future writings.

 

I hope I haven’t come across as terribly blasphemous. That’s the thing about division. I’m sure I’m blasphemous to someone out there!

-Pastor Harvey

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s