Need for Many Denominations?

Recently we again heard the argument that since our society is so diverse, with so many different kinds of persons with so many different needs, we need a variety of denominations to meet those needs.

We admit that there are multitudes with various needs, attitudes and feelings. However, we raise the following questions: First, did not Jesus know that was true when He built His church? There were twelve Apostles, each about as different from the other as one can imagine. Why did He not tell each one of them to start a different denomination? Second, what need does anyone have that could not be met in the Lord's church?

Let us admit that there may be congregations that are so fossilized in their traditional way of thinking and doing that they might oppose having only one song and a prayer before the lesson. It is not improper for us to examine our traditional way of doing things and strive to find a more effective way of presenting the gospel.

Those of us who have been in other nations or cultures recognize that we may do things in various ways without the necessity of forming a denomination. If we were in a society in which there were those who were accustomed to taking their shoes off and sitting on the bare floor with crossed legs, there would be nothing unscriptural about starting a new congregation in which they did that. That is far different than advocating different denominations, or different doctrines or practices in worship that are not authorized by God. There is as much authority for sitting on the bare floor as there is for sitting on a padded pew.

If we can find that kind of authority for women elders, instrumental music or any of the other innovations that are being pushed by some, then we could properly fellowship another congregation that was doing those things, even if we did not feel comfortable with them.

We can properly worship with a congregation that does not have a Sunday morning Bible study as we normally have. We can worship with one where all the members drink the fruit of the vine from one container. We do not have a right to split the church about those things, or start a denomination that teaches falsehood about doing them. We need to make a distinction between the right of a person to conclude that it is best for all in the congregation to drink the fruit of the vine out of the same container, and the right of that person to make that conclusion a part of the plan of salvation, or teach that one will be lost if he does not believe that.

We do not need to form another church just because we do things in a different way, as long as both are scriptural. If a thing is wrong to practice, we certainly do not need to form another church to practice that.

T. Pierce Brown

[Editor's note: Division into denominations is clearly condemned in Scripture (1 Cor. 1:10-13). There is but one church, the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23). "[There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4). "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Col. 3:15). See also Rom. 12:4,5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12,13,20. R.D.]

Published in The Old Paths Archive