Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why Are There So Many Denominations? - Martin Wiles

Series: Hey God…I Have a Question

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. Ephesians 4:5-6 NLT

Variety is the spice of life, and with religion there’s certainly a plethora of flavors.

During my early years—the ones I don’t remember, I was a Baptist because my parents were. Around age six, I became a Methodist—not by choice but because my father decided God was calling him into the ministry. He chose a local college which happened to be Methodist. The only difference I noticed then—or for the next eight years, was that Methodists sprinkled for baptism while Baptists dunked. At mid-life, I was scorned by a particular denomination due to an unfortunate divorce. Having a bad taste in my mouth, I mosied over to a charismatic denomination where I stayed for the next five years. Here I noticed quite a few differences in liturgy, music, and doctrine. Currently, I’m back where I began as a child. 

If there is only one God, one faith, and one baptism, why are there so many denominations? Just as some are confused by the excess of Bible translations, so are many by the overabundance of denominations.

Recently, a pastor friend from a different denomination and I had a discussion about this issue. He concluded what I’ve deduced myself: “Somebody is wrong.” At least partially. Denominations abound because of the different interpretations about governmental form, musical style, worship practices, modes of baptism, time of baptism, definitions of words such as sanctification and justification, and over which spiritual gifts are still active. 

Having been exposed to numerous denominations, I’ve concluded that while “Yes” somebody is wrong, there is more correct than incorrect. All Christian religions teach that Jesus is the avenue to God. He is the one who paid sin’s price on Calvary, and by faith in him I am forgiven, cleansed, and ushered into God’s family. The non-essentials may pull us apart, but the one essential unites us into the Church of the living God.

Do you belong to the one true Church?

Prayer: Gracious Father, we pray for the holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace…Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it, for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen. (Taken from the The Book of Common Prayer.)
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Martin N Michelle
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