We are told to all teach and hold to the same things. If we must teach and do alike, are we all to be Unitarians, Trinitarians or Universalists? Somewhere in time some folks decided that they must distinguish themselves and should be identified by a different set of instructions and names: some became Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholic, Adventists, and a myriad of others. That was done because they did not all teach and hold to the same things. But then they were not the first. And there is not so much as a thread of unity between all of these groups and disciplines.
Does any one of these broad groups and the rest have it right. Certainly they all cannot. And if there is only one faith and one hope, which one is the right one — which is The Way?
Recently the political question has again been raised: Is a Mormon a Christian? Perhaps we must all become Mormons and hold to their teachings in order to be found faithful? Surely Mormons believe that.
Let me pose some troubling questions. If you call yourself by some other person’s name than Christ’s, or by some name somebody else picked for you; or if you are called after an action or a process, and let’s suppose you post it over a door, in a text, on a marquee, or in your heart – does that make you a better Christian? Does it make you a Christian at all? It does make you different doesn’t it? Even if it is an afterthought, is what you practice under another name of any value to the state of your soul? If it is we had all better find out which one does the trick.
How about this: Does the Word of God date prior to 328, 606, 1312, 1439, 1609, or 1824? Did it appear recently as some addendum or did the new supersede what had originally been given? Did the renewed truth of God show up some place in the remote or not so remote past, in some other century early or in modern times? If it did doesn’t that make Jesus a liar (or was he simply mistaken)? Doesn’t that also say the same for all of the apostles and prophets of the NT?
Perhaps we ought to start by answering this question: Whose name is it that we are commanded to honor and to wear? I might quickly ask another: why do the scriptures call disciples Christians?
We could do the exact same form of dating and ask the very same questions about every name and every Christian religious group known. And we can ask the same things about every other variation we can possibly find with the same result – except that is for a single one: the assembly that Jesus founded and the apostles established and described – the only one found in both form and practice within the pages of a NT.
So how many ways can we have it and still get it right? Is it an open field full of fat game birds just ready to break for the tree line? Or is there just one bird standing alone? Bret Stephens, columnist and author, writing on the existence today of the religion of Zoroaster, noted that all of their sacred texts had been destroyed by Alexander the Great. That of course did not put a stop to things. They are still around. Some of those variations on Christianity are much the same. Some have no link to a thing in either the Old or New Testament. Some focus on a single verse in Mark sixteen and make it a calling card to the exclusion of other things,making snake handling a spiritual sign. Some seem to have made up everything they do. But pointing these things out will not stop the proliferation of doctrines and assemblies. Yet perhaps it may cause someone to have second thoughts and to start reading a bible.
I would suggest you should know this is not a multiple choice exam. And these are not rhetorical questions. Will any of us be saved by aligning ourselves with any one of the hundreds of groups, sects or denominations that exist today? Are these groups about serving God or more about serving men? If about serving God, then which one is IT? Jesus once asked, When the Son of Man returns, will he even find faith upon the earth? Well?
Perhaps we should attempt to join every group, supposing against all reason that every one of them teaches the truth? That would surely keep us busy. Though it sounds silly; aren’t there good people found in each one? Don’t they all believe in what they do and teach, just as the Muslims and Buddhists?
You should know that there are several people alive right now who claim to be the Christ, the Messiah, and some of them head huge organizations with millions of followers. Should we stop what we are doing and go and follow one of them? Which one?
Everybody claims to have some greater knowledge about The Way and The Truth. But Jesus told us that only He, The Word, is that.
Well then, does anybody bother to teach the truth today? If your answer to that is yes, how do you know they teach the truth? And if you said you’re certain and sure because you can find everything they do listed in the New Testament; then do you worship with them to the exclusion of all other distractions? And are you trying with all your might to get your friends and family through the proverbial front door? Does it matter for your soul and for theirs? If not, then please explain what are you doing?
The place I am going with this is obviously populated by many different things. I plan to offer, over the next few weeks, a partial, simple and insubstantial answer to the question: Where did all the denominations come from? I hope to offer a smattering of available information on some of the main groups, and where and how they got started. I may not be politically correct (horrors!); but I will strive for accuracy.
Rest assured, but not comfortably, that not a single one of these groups can ever trace themselves back in some unbroken line to the pages of the New Testament. But there is one assembly in form and worship that can find themself and what they teach and do in there. But then if we find the one that fills the patterns, perhaps we might ask the outlandish rhetorical question (or one like it) — if it looks like a duck, quacks, has feathers and webbed feet, what is it? Hmm, and it makes me wonder.
Hopefully we might all be able to answer the question: is the church of the bible still around today? I have no doubt, what about you?