Visiting Churches

Reflecting on Church #14: A Theology That Divides Jesus’s Church

Speaking in Tongues–or Not

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #14.

My experience at this church is an enigma.

On one side, their friendliness embraced me. Their service was energetic and appealing. I wanted more.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

On the other side, their theological stance that speaking in tongues is a required sign to validate a true salvation experience, communicates that I didn’t belong. It serves to push me away. They have a theology that divides.

Their doctrine makes a distinction that places much of Christianity on the outside. Instead of dividing Jesus’ church with declarations he didn’t proclaim, let’s accept our differing opinions and embrace one another.

Today our church excels in making distinctions over matters that are trivial compared to the centrality of following Jesus and being his disciples. This divides the church of Jesus.

These disagreements are the reason why we have 42,000 Protestant denominations in existence today.

Instead of having a theology that divides, Jesus prayed that we would be one, that we would live in unity to best point people to his Father (John 17:21-22).

The early church functioned with one heart and mind, just as Jesus prayed. Their actions were consistent with his request that they would be one then, just as we would be one today. Jesus prayed it, and the early church did it.

Why can’t we do that too?

Unity describes what everyone of us should pursue and how every church should behave. Jesus yearns for us to be united. But over the centuries Jesus’s followers in his church have done a poor job living in unity, as one.

Instead we embrace a theology that divides the church of Jesus. Shame on us.

[See my reflections about Church #13 and Church #15 or start with Church #1.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus 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.