May 1, 2019

What is a denomination?

Holy Cow -Not literally.

Another topic in the world of spirituality that can fry the brain is this, the whole issue of denominational loyalty.

However, when you get to the root of what a denomination really is, you will find that it in itself is not a biblical premise. It's not.

So what is a denomination?

A denomination is defined as an organized aggregate of worship centers or congregations of similar ecclesiastical tradition within a specific country; i.e., as an organized Christian church or culture or religious group or community of believers, within a particular country. Whose component congregations and members are called by the same denominational name in different areas, regarding themselves as one autonomous Christian church distinct from other denominations, churches, and traditions.

As defined here, world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries, these denominations themselves being composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches or congregations.' (Barrett et al, volume 1, page 16, Table 1-5, emphasis added)‍

Well, that is the educated, or better yet the theologically based premise of what this word defines. However. There is a different perspective that one needs to take into account. What is it really? What is a denomination at its core? Let's look at this passage then we can get into the meat of it.

1st Corinthians 3:4-7For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him. I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.

This is no different than one saying, I am a Protestant, I am a Methodist, I am a Baptist, I am a Presbyterian, I Am a Reformer I am..... A something in the 33,000 categorical identifiers who claim to have the right theology. A denomination is nothing more than a clear identification as described above which clearly teaches that this behavior is not good.

Think about it for a moment, "I am a Baptist !"

Baptist: it's one of the most well-known denominations in Protestant Christianity and aptly named after its central belief in believer's baptism, where a person chooses to publicly proclaim their faith in Christ by baptism. Oh, wait, Calvinistic Baptists, General Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Old Regulars, Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists, and Independent Baptists. All based on the identification of believers baptism. Yes, it's that simple.

Protestant: Protesting

Pentecostal: The Day of Pentecost

Reformer: The reformation

Lutheranism: Martin Luther

Methodism: The methods of the Wesley Boys.

The list goes on. This all boils down to our need to categorize items in our world that fit with our identity preferences. In other words, if we feel passionate about believers baptism, we will tend to congregate with those who are like minded. Which in itself is the real church model? However, doing so defeats one major issue. Saying you are of baptist, protestant, etc. is precisely what Paul was teaching against. The same applies to a teacher becoming the center of attention. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. One of the caveats to the Christian faith is simple. God comes first. Period.

The fact that leaders in the theological spectrum even partake in this identification categorization is, well, wrong. It's showing me that they genuinely don't see the magnitude of what is being requested by our maker. This is one of the reasons we never know this identification module in the Bible. Churches are always demographically identified. In other words, the church of Phoenix, The church of Peoria, The church of Scottsdale would be a biblical response to a gathering of the like-minded.

This is one of those issues that has me scratching my head. Why is it that we rely on men and organizations ( another post to come ) to engage us with our maker.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires...

The real question is simply this, how are you going to identify yourself as a believer ? More to come on this subject however, the question is valid. Think about it for a moment : ) The real model is so far from what we see today that it's a brain jumble. This verse clearly speaks about not identifying with anything/anyone other than God himself. Yet we do it without any hesitation. Why? More on that to come. In my mind, giving yourself to God, without doubt, sparing nothing and making Him core is not only what he is demanding, but genuinely wanting. Yet we follow the ideas of men first more often than not...

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