Why Are Denominations Dangerous?
Jesus wants us to live in unity but instead our manmade denominations divide us
I recently attended a friend’s ordination ceremony who had graduated from seminary and became a minister. It’s not the first such occasion I attended, and it won’t likely be the last. It was, however, the first time I really listened to what took place.
Integrated into the liturgy of the proceedings were a series of questions posed to the new minister. Early on one of the queries caught my attention. I’ll purposely not quote the question to hide the identity of the guilty denomination, but I will paraphrase it.
In essence the denomination asked the young minister to pledge his loyalty to it and do his best to promote its mission locally and around the world.
My friend’s expected response affirmed his willingness to do so.
I don’t think I would have agreed to such a condition. Shouldn’t we pledge our loyalty to God and do our best to promote his mission locally and around the world?
With 43,000 Protestant denominations, why does each one work so hard to preserve and promote its own brand of Christianity, often at the expense of others? Why not ditch the denomination and instead work hard to promote Christ?
With this still bouncing around in my brain, a second item caught my attention as the ceremony wound down. In this part of the proceedings, my friend promised to take various actions. One such action has him pursuing unity within the church. My friend promised to do so.Our denominations divide us. Jesus unites us. Which is more important? May we act accordingly. Click To Tweet
Assuming that by church those words refer to the universal church of Jesus, as opposed to the denomination, I see a contradiction of intent, that my friend promised to pursue two mutually exclusive goals.
Our Protestant denominations divide us, whereas Jesus wants us to be one, to get along with each other, and to live in unity (John 17:21, 23). When we consider this carefully, our manmade denominations are the antithesis of the unity Jesus prays for.
If my friend would indeed pursue unity as he promised, he should seek to dismantle the denomination, because its very existence opposes unity.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.