"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will ALL be one just as you and I are one." John 17:20-21a (Jesus Praying)
"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of All, Who is Over All, and Through All, and In All." Ephesians 4 :5,6
"Behold, how Good and How Pleasant it is for Brethren to Dwell Together in Unity." Psalm 133:1
Denomination: [dih-nom-uh-ney-shuhn]: a class or kind of persons or things distinguished by a specific name.
Classify: [ˈkla-sə-ˌfī]: to assign to a category.
Category: [ˈka-tə-ˌgȯr-ē]: a division within a system of Classfication.
Seventh Day Adventist
There is division within denomination as well. There could be another drawer showing the divisions within denominations; Pentecostal, First Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Churches of God.
Baptist, First Baptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist.
What about Non-Denominational? Aren't they off the hook? No, in fact it can be a statement of the desire to stand alone.
"We don't need to abandon our denominational constructs, just the mindsets that allow us to continue to operate without Honoring, Thinking about, Praying for, and Reaching out to our brothers and sisters in other churches and denominations."
Where Does Denominationalism Come From
Our position is not Anti-Denominational, but rather Pro-Unity in the Body of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve ate of the one tree in garden that they were told not to eat, and the tree was that of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Before partaking of that tree it appears they lived without the ability to know the difference.
The ability to see differences doesn't stop with differences between good and evil, but differences in general. Now that man's nature is tainted by sin this ability to discern differences doesn't end with good and evil.
I've marveled at how this is evident in young children who haven't lived long enough to have been endoctrinated in hate. On school grounds, and parks you see this in action. Kids who are most different from the majority are targeted for ridicule and isolation with cruel and devasting effects. The sinful nature capitilizes upon this ability to evil ends.
This is at the heart of denominationalism. When people have a different understanding of biblical concepts, or whose worship style is different, or are of a different race, or of a different socio-economic status, and on and on, the sinful nature would note the difference, separate from, and dishonor those who are different.
Creation, God's handiwork demonstrates incredible diversity, which itself is a reflection of the one who created it all. This diversity was not meant to separate us, but to draw us together, to make us stronger, better. God is a God of diversity.
Revelation 12:10 - Here Jesus calls Satan the "Accuser" of the brethren. The Greek word that was translated "Accuser" is the word "kategoria". This is where we get our English word "Category".
Categorization is the work of division, where similar things (or people with similar theology) are grouped together, and kept separated to themselves.
Well isn't that Unity? No! That is homogeneity. Homogeneity is NOT the same as Unity. Divine unity is at its pinnacle in the midst of diversity. Any Division or Separation among believers is NOT the work of God; it is the work of the accuser, the "kategoria".
The Savior (Reconciler)
"All things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the Ministry of Reconcilation."
2 Corinthians 5:18
"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will ALL be one just as you and I are one."
The business of God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is Reconciliation; Jesus said that He must be about His Father's business (Luke 2:49). Jesus became the means of the Father's work of reconciliation through His death and resurrection.
So if the Father and the Son are about Reconciliation, the question arises;
"WHOSE HANDIWORK DOES DENOMINATIONALISM IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST MOST REFLECT?"
It seems clear that denominationalism does NOT reflect the work of Jesus upon His bride; she has been touched by another.
The Oxford Dictionary (online) gives a two-fold definition of the word "Reconciliation"; it goes like this:
1. to restore Friendly Relations.
2. the action of making one view or belief compatible with
In Thayer's Greek Lexicon it shows that the word Reconcilation, in 2 Corinthians 5:18 & 19, is the Greek word katallage (kä-täl-lä-gā'), which is defined in this way;
1. exchange; of the business of money changers
2. adjustment of a difference, reconciliation
Reconciliation is about facilitating Exchange; the divine sharing that God had mind for us from before creation. He created us to NOT be all sufficient, but to find in Him, and each other what we lack. This is the heart of Jesus message of serving and giving.
In Bible times people would come from all around to do business, and would have different forms of currency. This lack of standardized money made it difficult for merchants to conduct business, because each party did not know HOW TO VALUE EACH OTHERS CURRENCY. The money changers would FIND A WAY TO OVERCOME THE DIFFERENCES in currency so that people could do business together.
Now, with this understanding, let's paraphrase 2 Corinthians 5:18
"All things are of God who has Overcome the differences He had with us so we could relate to Him by Jesus Christ, and He has given to us the Ministry of overcoming differences so we can relate to Him and our brothers in the faith"
Jesus did the work necessary to reconcile man to the Father, now we are to do the work of being reconciled to each other.
Like Never Before
God has called ALL who believe in His son to the ministry of Reconciliation; where we figure out how to relate to one another even though we come to the table with different currency. We are Commanded to overcome our differences so we too can do the Father's business.
The church has not done very well in this area in modern history, and it has resulted in a weak, unattractive bride. Like never before the Church of Jesus Christ needs to apply itself to the ministry we've been given and figure how to get around our man-made differences so that we can join forces and fight against our common enemy, Satan, and quit fighting each other.
Did God Make A Mistake?
We all know the answer to that question is a resounding "NO!" God is Perfect in All of His ways. So how is it that we can have different ways of interpreting scripture?
Was it an Oversight on God's part?
Was God unable to overcome the weakness of the men He, by
His Holy Spirit, inspired to write His Word?
Is anything in God's Word there by happenstance?
The answer to all of these questions is, again, "NO!" If this is correct then we must conclude that God left these doctrines as they were for a higher purpose. I cannot even begin to understand what that purpose is, but He has shown us His desire that we overcome these differences to His glory.
Jesus teaches that greatest witness to the world that He is who He claimed to be is when we, those who belong to Him, love each other in front of them (John 15:35).
This is NOT what the world has had demonstrated in front of them; rather, they've witnessed a church that operates in the spirit of Competition, not in the Spirit of Cooperation, or at best co-exists in total indifference to each other.
This is NOT universally true. There are examples of church bodies honoring, loving and reaching out to one another in the Spirit of Christ, but this is generally the exception and not the rule.
True unity in the body of Christ requires intentionality, with deliberate changes in the way we do church.
This Is The Season
We believe God is moving in His bride to bring us into a spirit of unity for His glory, not just for a good public relations move.
We don't need to abandon our denominational constructs, just the mindsets that allow us to continue to operate without Honoring, Thinking about, Praying for, and Reaching out to our brothers and sisters in other churches and denominations. We need to love each other more than our belief statements.
There are movements toward religious unity in the world today. To be clear, we do not believe that all Religions are equal, or that all religions serve the same god. The unity that God desires is among those who come to Him according to His prescribed way.
There are some things upon which we must agree, God made sure that they were crystal clear in His Word. One such is that there is only one way to the Father and that is through His Son, Christ Jesus. This is the hinge pin upon which the unity that we seek must hang. But the truth is, and we must be honest, there are subjects in the Bible where it is not so crystal clear. On such subjects it is detrimental to be dogmatic. Again, if those areas are there then God left them there for some purpose leading to His glory.
Perhaps our most powerful witness to a lost world is seen as we set aside dogmatism in such areas, overcoming our differences, Honoring, Thinking about, Praying for and Reaching out to one another in true Christian love.
"By this will all men know that you are my disciples (ones who've learned from Me), by the Love you have one for another." John 13:35
In the love of the Father, and Jesus Christ His Son.