The Evils Of Denominationalism
By Ron Boatwright
There is so much confusion in the world today pertaining to denominational beliefs. The hundreds of different religious denominations all wear different names, teach different doctrines, practice different forms of worship, have different plans of salvation, and each has its own earthly headquarters. Because of all of the different and conflicting denominational doctrines, one must do something more than, less than, or different from what the Bible says to become a member of that particular denominational church. Quotations from the Bible are in red. “For God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), but men are.
The Bible says of God “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). All things we need to know to be pleasing to God are given to us in the Bible. We do not need creed books, manuals, or anything else to please God. In fact to use them will cause one to displease God which will cause him to be eternally lost in Hell. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 says, “Let no man deceive you by any means”. Jesus warns us to, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
The denominations do not worship God according to what the Bible only says. They have added to, deleted from, and changed what God specifies in the Bible as to how He is to be worshipped. Jesus says, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Many denominational churches react in bitterness and hatred when the truth about denominationalism is presented.
People in denominations are as the Bible says, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). They do this by, “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). God’s word says, “But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). This is continuing to happen and has become more prevalent in the denominational world today.
Denominationalism does not respect the New Testament Scriptures that Jesus has sole authority in religious matters. Jesus says, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Notice it says that “ALL” we do must be “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. To do “ALL” in the name of the Lord Jesus is to do “ALL” by His authority and not according to the creed books of men. The apostle Paul wrote the to the Lord’s church in
, “that you may learn in us not to go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6); but those in denominations have not learned this. Such matters as God’s specified plan of salvation, church organization and work, worship, religious names, etc. must all be determined only by what the scriptures authorize, and not by the councils and conventions of men where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). If all people were following the Bible and the Bible only, there would be no denominations. Corinth
Obeying such doctrines as the Mormon doctrine, Baptist doctrine, Methodist doctrine, Nazarene doctrine, Lutheran doctrine, Episcopal doctrine, Presbyterian doctrine, Roman Catholic doctrine, Greek Orthodox doctrine, etc. will only make one a member of that particular denomination. It will not make one a Christian and a member of the Lord’s one true church. The names men give their churches give honor and glory to other men, things, and places; but not to Christ. By the names they give their churches they do not even claim to belong to Christ. Confronted by so many conflicting doctrines, people are so confused and don’t know what to believe. The Bible says, “The churches of Christ greet you.” (Romans 16:16). There is honor and glory given to Christ in the designation, “churches of Christ”?
Those in the various denominations may carry a Bible, but notice what they do with it. “Which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). Prejudice, preconceived ideas and false doctrine blind people to the truth of Christ. And because of this Jesus says, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).
The denominations are one of the cleverest and most deceptive things Satan has ever originated. Denominational doctrines are robbing men of the salvation God wants to give them. All denominations exist without God’s authority and those who enter them are still lost in sin. There are millions of honest and sincere people who are members of the various differing denominations. These will be eternally lost in Hell in spite of their sincerity if they remain in them and don’t repent. Jesus says, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13). If one is not a member of the Lord’s one true church then he is not saved, because the Lord only adds the saved to His church.
Denominationalism fails to recognize the truth of “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalms 127:1). Satan promotes his false doctrine that one church is just as good as another. Satan has “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25). Men may join their denominational churches but the Lord only adds the saved to His one church (Acts 2:47). There are no unsaved people in the Lord’s church. But one cannot go to Heaven and belong to and worship in a denomination. Every denominational church on this earth is in deadly competition with the Lord’s one true church for the souls of men. This denominational competition will cause millions of souls to be lost eternally in Hell.
Consider all of the mutually exclusive and conflicting doctrines held by the more than 600 different denominational churches and how they believe all their conflicting doctrines to be true. But the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). This is spiritual death in eternity. Denominational lies have caused millions of people to go through life believing they are saved when they are actually still lost. They have been fooled by the lies of Satan. They think they are saved when they gave up their sinful habits and joined a man-made religious denomination. They give liberally of their time, energy, and their money to their denomination in thinking they are doing God’s work when they are actually working for Satan. Denominationalism does great harm in luring people into an irrational spirit of assurance of “I feel in my heart that I am saved”.
What will Jesus tell these people on Judgment Day? Jesus says, “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. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23). These people called Jesus their Lord. Why are the many people going to be told on the Judgment Day by the Lord “I never knew you, depart from Me”? It is because in their denominations they did the will of men and not “the will of My Father in heaven”. The worse thing that will ever be said to an individual is when the Lord says to those who are lost, “I never knew you, depart from Me”. This is going to be sad and shocking to the many people who have done the will of men and not the will of God when they are sent away into eternal torment. But they chose not to follow God’s will but to follow the will of men. Surprises will greet many on Judgment Day as they strive to argue with the Lord in trying to point to their many different denominational works in which they have been engaged. But to no avail because they chose to follow the doctrines and commandments of men and not the will of God.
“Many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There is so much false doctrine being taught today which many people blindly accept. Many people are blind to the truth. Jesus says, “And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). The ditch is the eternal torment of Hell that awaits both the denominational leaders and their followers. But Christ is only “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9) and not those who obey some man-made doctrine.
We are warned not to give those in denominations any support or encouragement as they continue to spread their false doctrine. The Bible warns, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds (2 John 9-11)”. By teaching or following a doctrine other than the doctrine of Christ, one becomes a follower of evil deeds. If we give them encouragement or have fellowship with them in their false doctrine we also become guilty with them and we will lose our souls in Hell if we don’t repent. Having fellowship with them would include worshipping with them.
Denominationalism disregards the divine origin of the Lord’s one church. Jesus came into the world to establish His one and only church through which to save a lost and dying humanity. Jesus said in reference to the confession Peter made that “Upon this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). The word “church” is singular, meaning one and only one and the word “My” is possessive, meaning it belongs only to the Lord. Jesus began His one church more than 1900 years ago. Christ “loved the Church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus did not die for or establish any of the more than 600 different denominations which men have begun during the past 500 years. Denominations are of human origin and have no scriptural authority to exist. The Lord only has His one church.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). The Bible says there is only one God, even though there are many false gods. The Bible says there is only one body even though there are many false counterfeit bodies. What is the Lord’s one body? Ephesians 1:22-23 says that God gave Christ “to be head over all things to the church, which is His body”. The Lord’s one body is His one church. Christ is the one and only head of the
. Christ is not the head of any denominational church. All of the denominational churches are nothing more than counterfeit churches. Counterfeits are worthless impostures which will cause those who are in them to be eternally lost. Ephesians 5:23 says that “Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body”. Christ will only save His one body which is his one church. churchof Christ
Many people do not want to hear the truth, because if they did they would have to obey it. “And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). If we want to be saved we must have a love of the truth and obey it.
Satan has many workers in the world today. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ? And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Satan’s deceitful workers appear to be ministers of Christ.
To enter a denomination one must reject God’s plan of salvation. But Jesus says, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him: the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Denominations claim to be the servants of Christ while they urge people to reject Christ’s plan of salvation, Christ’s one church, and Christ’s way of worship. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Today many people want to hear what is pleasing to them.
Denominational preachers persuade people to accept the false doctrine that they are saved by “accepting Jesus as your personal Saviour” and saying the “sinner’s prayer” and to reject Jesus who says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). One needs help to misunderstand this. The denominations laugh at what Jesus requires and say that baptism has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins or salvation. Denominationalism is inherently sinful and stands in opposition to the will of Christ. This is sad and will cause many good honest people to be eternally lost in Hell because they believed a lie of Satan. Satan says it is alright to be baptized to join a denomination, after you “think” you are saved because even Satan knows that God saves one at the point of baptism, not before. Satan knows that being baptized to join a denomination does one no good and that if one is not baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16) to be saved (Mark 16:16), he still has every sin he ever committed and is still lost.
Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30). Denominationalism does great harm because it elevates man’s opinion over the truth of God’s word and fosters a false sense of eternal security. They do this “by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18).
The cure for denominationalism is the same cure for any other sin. Repentance! Jesus says, “I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). If people want to go to Heaven and not Hell, they must come out of their denominations and be baptized (immersed) for the remissions of sins. “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). If one really wants to be saved, Jesus says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Then the Bible says, “And the Lord will add to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The Lord does not add the saved to some denomination but He adds them to the
(Romans 16:16), where they can worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus promises, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). churchof Christ