What Does the Bible Say About Denominational Churches?
The term denominational church is used to describe a particular Christian church that falls into a specific religious denomination based on a specific set of beliefs. This may be in regards to its beliefs, practices, leadership or structure. Over the centuries, different denominations have formed, and these each bring their own unique history and sets of beliefs.
In regards to what the Bible says about denominational churches, in some ways there can be no definitive answer as there are thousands of denominations, each one with its own interpretations of scripture. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few simple guidelines to how one should think about the subject. Firstly, when we look at the Bible we find instructions about how to remain an intact and unified family of faith, even if the denominations may be different in beliefs and practice.
The main message of unity is seen in Galatians, where the Apostle Paul tells believers to “closely join together in love, working together with one heartbeat” despite differences between them. This teaches us that even if we come from two different denominations, we are still united together through our love for each other and God’s love for us. In fact, this is repeated by Paul in the same letter when he says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female. All of us are one in Christ”.
Furthermore, when we look at the New Testament, denominations are rarely referred to outright. Instead, we find verses such as “We should serve God as one” and “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism” that lead us to a clear understanding that Christianity should be seen as a single entity, no matter a person’s denomination.
On the other hand, the Bible does not make it clear whether it is okay for denominations to remain separate, yet it does call for us to respect each other. This respect for others should even extend to non-believers, and while there are different denominations, there should be no true divide in fellowship between believers. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:44 “You must love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
Therefore, whilst the Bible doesn’t necessarily provide an answer regarding denominational churches, it does help us to understand the importance of unity and respect in our relationships with one another—no matter the denomination.
The origin of denominational churches can be traced back to The Reformation which took place in the 16th century. During this time period, religious leaders all over Europe started to challenge the traditional religious thinking and practices of the Catholic Church. This led to a split in the Church and the birth of Protestantism. Soon after, many splinter groups and denominations began to be formed and this led to the denominational churches we have today.
Today, two of the largest Christian denominations are Protestant and Roman Catholic. Protestantism comprises of a number of different denominations such as Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist, whilst the Catholic denomination is divided up into Oriental and Roman Catholicism. Each of these different denominations have their own unique set of beliefs and practices, whilst also sharing some core beliefs in common.
Generally speaking, all denominations of the Christian faith agree on fundamental beliefs such as the trinity, Jesus being the son of God and salvation through Jesus. Despite this, there are still some distinct differences between various denominations in regards to some more detailed beliefs and practices, such as baptism, the role of salvation and the afterlife.
For example, Baptists practice believer’s baptism, which is a ceremony where a person needs to declare their faith in Christ in order to be baptized. However, many other denominations, such as Catholics, see baptism as a sign of faith that must be made for an infant regardless of whether they have declared their faith already or not. Similarly, many denominations have different interpretations of salvation and the afterlife. For example, Presbyterians focus on salvation being the result of a person’s own actions whilst Methodists believe that salvation comes from the grace of God.
The differences between denominations do not stop at dogma and beliefs, but also extend to the structure of the church. Different denominational churches have different ways of organising their services, ceremonies and leadership. For example, some denominations will appoint pastors over churches whilst others will appoint bishops.
Similarly, there are also differences in how denominations will organise church services. Some will follow a liturgical structure at their services, whilst others may be more informal and free flowing. Similarly, some denominations may also have a strong focus on specific sections of scripture whilst others may be more broad and all-encompassing.
Relation to Other Denominations
Whilst it may appear on the surface that there are vast divides between different denominations of Christianity in terms of beliefs and practices, the reality is that many denominations share a strong sense of unity and fellowship. This is demonstrated in the ever increasing number of initiatives that are being undertaken by denominations to unite together, including joint mission projects, interfaith dialogues and even shared worship services.
It has been found that the more time denominations spend together and work together, the stronger the sense of unity and understanding becomes. In fact, many denominations have found that by working together they can more effectively spread the Gospel, care for those in need and provide a stronger sense of community and togetherness.
To summarise, whilst the Bible does not provide a definitive answer to what it says about denominational churches, it does provide some useful information on unity and respect. By looking closer at the different denominations we can see a real sense of unity and fellowship being formed between them, with joint initiatives, projects and shared services helping to further this. Thus, it is clear that even though denominational churches may have different beliefs, if we look a little closer we can see that they are united together by a shared love for each other and faith in God.
A husband of one wife, father of two beautiful girls, laborer of Lord, Jesus Christ, and a servant to God’s His saints. I hope to encourage you by God’s grace. Thank you for stopping by.