Denominational Cities

There are a lot of disagreements between the various denomination in the Church, and even between various congregations within those denominations. Some congregations are non-denominational, yet they can still be as unfriendly toward other churches.

During the Reformation, countries were divided by regions. Each region could choose to be Catholic, Lutheran, or whatever else was springing up at the time (predominantly Catholic or Lutheran). About a thousand years ago, during “The Great Schism” of the Church, Eastern Orthodox churches usually were not allowed in the Western part of what was left of the Roman Empire, and Roman Catholic churches usually were not allowed in the Eastern part.

It makes one wonder: Did the various cities squabble between each other during the time of the Apostles?

Did the Roman believers say to the Corinthian or Ephesian believers “You have too much focus on sex!”

Did the Galatians say to the Colossians “You follow too many rules!”

Did the Colossians reply to the Galatians “You are changing the gospel!”

It is a historical fact that all of the major Church Councils in the first millennium A.D. came together to resolve disputes between believers, with many disagreements based in different cities.

So, did the cities and regions bicker between each other while remaining somewhat united within each city (because we know many Jews attempted to disrupt the believers)?

I read an article a few months back about Buenos Aires pastors from across the denominational spectrum finding the need for city-wide unity between churches. There are still issues, but it does demonstrate that it is possible for a city to be unified in Christ.

The real issue, I think, is that there is a lack of proper communication. When two sides come together and each is certain of its own rightness and the wrongness of the other, that is not communication. That is two sides yelling at each other. With everyone yelling, nothing can be heard.

We need to get back to patience and active listening. We need to remember how to investigate and learn. We need a paradigm shift (change our thinking).

Instead of focusing on what is wrong with other denominations and churches, we should focus on what is right, where we agree. Should we try to preserve sound doctrine? Of course! However, we should not get up in arms over something as simple as a piano bench, nor should we write off others has heretics because some believe in infant baptism or only adult baptism. I will not tell you where I stand on the baptism issue (at least not now). However, if you cannot even associate with someone because of this belief while at the same time they disagree with your definition of speaking in tongues, get over yourself. If you cannot stand to be near someone who believes human free-will plays a bigger role than you think it does, get over yourself. If you think everyone who believes in pre-destination and election is too legalistic, but you yourself refuse to listen to secular music, get over yourself. All of these go both ways!

Our problem is not disagreements over doctrine or benches or paint or friendships. Our problem is actually two-fold:

1) Pride. We get in our own way.

2) Assumptions and misunderstandings. If a man has beer cans and bottles all around his house, you might assume he is a drunkard or partier. Later, you find out he goes around collecting cans and bottles for recycling and keeps one or two from each location. See how simple it can be to misjudge a situation? We often do this within the Church.

Remember, Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

No wonder the church suffers! We do not even show ourselves love!

To be fair, though, too many people both in and out of the Church (at least in our Western culture) rarely take the time to learn why someone thinks a certain way or acts the way they do. People in and out of the Church want things their own way.

Perhaps we could be unified cities again if we could learn patience and how to get over ourselves …

    • Melanie
    • July 23rd, 2011

    Amen!

    • Melanie
    • July 24th, 2011

    I read the post and replied earlier when I was on my phone, but I would like to come back and add that this has really been burdening my heart lately. First Corinthians 13:2 really kicks our pride in the teeth by telling us this attitude makes us NOTHING. And in one of my favorite verses, Psalm 133:1, our Father drops a not-so-subtle hint of what He REALLY wants from the body of believers. Only the Word of God and the Holy Spirit should ever change what we believe about doctrine. On the flip side of that coin – who am I to play Holy Spirit and try to conform others to my image??? It is NOT POSSIBLE for any of us to be completely accurate about the entire Canon of Scripture. We must study our Bibles. We must seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit. We must encourage others to do the same. We must not argue.

    • A friend of mine runs a college/young adult ministry, and after a night of impromptu baptisms, including several people he knew had been baptized before, he was asking God why some of them were baptized again. The response he heard was “Don’t let your doctrine get in the way of my will.” That was two and a half years ago, and it sticks with me. It reminds me that there are many different doctrines out their that vary by as little as a punctuation mark but are pretty much the same thing. Soon after hearing about this, I read from a book by a charismatic leader. He wrote of going on a trip to evangelize an unreached people group. He was astonished to see that upon belief these people did not speak in tongues but did many other miracles. It shook his understanding of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit to his core. That story actually taught me that I had been way too harsh on denominations and churches which teach tongues is a sign of salvation (as well as other churches with other beliefs).

      Together, these things remind me that none of us has it all figured out, and to assume someone is 100% wrong in their theology is akin to claiming I am 100% right in mine. I have been a prideful little cuss instead of a loving follower of Christ Jesus.

      You are quite right. It is God who should move, not our mouths.

  1. July 26th, 2011

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