Some Thoughts about Denominations

In the course of writing and research I see a lot of articles and blog posts within the world of Christianity.  A constant recurring theme is “who’s got the ‘right’ denomination.”  Denominational squabbles have existed forever, I suppose.  I don’t get it though.

First of all, denominations are inherently divisive.  What is that bit in the Word about a house divided against itself?  That’s what denominations are – division in the “house” of the church.  I don’t know how to get around denominational division, but it is still division and a profound weakness to the church.

The really big thing that jumps out at me is, in constantly seeking the “right” denomination are we asking the right question?  Why are we seeking the right denomination?  There is no right denomination – obviously, personal opinion here.  Every denomination – with the possible exception of Catholic or Orthodox, who debate which came first – has been started in reaction to others, an anti-denomination if you will.   Why is “anti” another organization a good basis for the foundation of a denomination?  I understand how the theological process works to make a new schism.  I also know in some cases the founders of a denomination did not set out to start a new denomination.  Luther is a great example.  He wanted to bring truth to his own church.  They excommunicated him; that was not his choice and he seriously sought God’s direction in the process. 

But are we asking the right question when we debate who has the right denomination when the fact is none of us will ever have “perfect” theology because our human understanding will never, on this earth, be able to perfectly understand the mind and nature of God.  It is impossible.  Would we be better spending our time seeking God to improve our own personal understanding and relationship with God?  There are only so many hours in a day, and days in each life.  Are we wasting valuable time squabbling over theological bits and pieces instead of keeping our eyes on the ball of godly purpose – living life in relationship with God and others?

 Why are we seeking the right denomination instead of seeking to live in personal relationship with and in Christ?  That is a full-time, all-absorbing occupation.

I know it is hard to avoid theological wrangling when we feel strongly about points we feel we have come to hold dearly, sometimes at significant personal cost.  I don’t know if I can resist it fully myself, even when I consciously find it objectionable.  I can wax eloquent on theological issues such as Calvinism (don’t get me started), etc.  But how much value is there in the fight?  Debating details of theology is rarely the matter of defending truth and righteousness that we “feel” it is.  Entire online forums exist solely for the purpose of “defending” denomination and denominationally-distinctive theology — for promoting and continuing division on the church.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?

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