FRACTURES CHURCH - NO MORE DENOMINATIONS
By Bill Sizemore
No one knows how many Christian denominations there are in the world today. Wikipedia places the number at around 38,000. That number may sound absurdly high to you, but when you start breaking down the divisions that exist among the Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, just to name a few of the larger groups, the number of denominations seems to increase exponentially.
Whatever the actual number is, in the eyes of God any number above zero is too high. Just before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He asked the Father to make his followers all one, so the world would know that He really had been sent by the Father. The Apostle Paul took that prayer seriously and put it into the form of a command or admonition. Paul said that there were to be no divisions among Christians. In his epistles to the Corinthians and the Ephesians, he explained what that meant. He said Christians were all to speak the same thing and be of the same mind and judgment.
Have we taken the prayer of Jesus or Paul’s words to the early church seriously, or have we more or less ignored them? You decide. Drive through the average American city and count how many different churches you see. An average size town will have between two and four dozen churches, all with different names and doctrinal statements. Larger cities will often have several hundred churches, each one declaring to the world just how divided Christians are.
We routinely build churches right across the street from other churches. Why? Because we disagree about something. Because we disagree, we refuse to worship under the same roof, even though when pressed most of us will admit that the people in those other churches are probably every bit as much “Christian” as we are. (I am not talking about so-called churches that deny the miracles of the Bible, the deity of Christ, or His bodily resurrection.)
Christians wonder why the church is harvesting so few souls compared to the ones being lost to unbelief. We have our excuses, but they all ring hollow in God’s ears. We take comfort in the passage that says, “the path that leads to life is narrow, and few there be that find it.” We use that verse as our excuse for not reaching the masses. But think about it for a moment. Jesus prayed that His followers would all be one, so the world would know and believe who he is. So, what do we do? We go out and preach who He is with our words, but by our actions we do the exact opposite of the one thing the Lord said would cause the world to believe. Our divisions are not only an embarrassment to the Gospel, they are a direct violation of the expressed will of God. They are sin. They prevent the world from believing our message. We may ignore our divisions because we are used to them, but they are nonetheless sin, and as such they produce undesirable consequences, as all sins do.
Whether we are talking about full-blown denominations or independent churches that operate as a “denomination of one,” each and every division of the body of Christ is prohibited by Scripture. No denomination can justify its existence in light of Scripture. Furthermore, as a prohibited entity, no denomination has the authority to create its own doctrines or articles of faith. That may sound bold, but it is true and it is time we realized it.
I became so deeply troubled by this centuries old problem that I wrote (and just released) a 324 page book about the effect denominationalism and other forms of church division have on the Christian church. The book is called The Fractured Church. This is not one of those “let’s all be nicer to one another” books about church unity. Neither does it advocate that we all go down the “World Council of Churches” road and attempt to create a false or structural unity by ignoring essential Christian doctrines.
The Fractured Church is the boldest book anyone has written to date on the subject of denominationalism and division in all its forms. The editorial reviewer for the book’s publisher called it a “powerful, powerful read” and went on to say, “No one will read this book without being deeply stirred.”
I didn’t write The Fractured Church simply to point out a problem that has been ignored for too long, though making people aware of the seriousness of our challenge is a necessary starting point. But the book does much more than that. It shows us historically how and why so many denominations formed (including easy to read charts showing all the major denominational splits). It explains why almost every movement or group ended up as a full-blown denomination even though the people leading the group declared right up front that the last thing they wanted to do was start another denomination and further divide the body of Christ.
The book discusses a time when disputes within the church did not lead to divisions or the formation of new denominations. What did believers know then that we don’t know now? How did they keep from dividing over major issues when we divide routinely over small ones?
There is a powerful chapter on eschatology, which explains why a flawed view of the end times has prevented Christians from believing for genuine church unity and led them to accept a status quo that is a stench in the nostrils of God.
One of the more powerful chapters in the book talks about the Tower of Babel, where God revealed that unity is a force of immeasurable power. God divided the nations at Babel. He confounded their languages so rebellious mankind would not be “one,” because in God’s own words, if they were one, there was nothing they couldn’t do. Literally. Since that day, the enemy has been attempting to unify unbelievers in their rebellion against God, which is in all likelihood the end game behind the one world government movement. In the meanwhile, the Lord is seeking to unify believers and remove all divisions from the church. Why? So the church could tap into and utilize the unlimited power of unity, an event that will sound the death knell for the gates of hell.
I am uncomfortable speaking in superlatives about a book I wrote, but if I didn’t believe I was led to write it, then I should not have written the first paragraph. Right? I believe The Fractured Church has the ability to change the course of human history. Literally. It serves as a wake-up call, but it goes further than that. It points the way out of the labyrinth we have created.
I believe unity will come, whether by repentance and revival or by persecution. The Christian church is not going to end up a divided body, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, as Paul describes in Ephesians 4. The church is going to be a mature man, rising to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” which is what Paul describes one verse earlier.
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As many people as possible should read this book. I am asking you to log on to www.fracturedchurch.com and order a copy for yourself. It will be shipped within one business day. After you have read the book, you may want to email us about sending a copy to several or all of the pastors or ministers in your city or town. We have a bulk pricing program just for that purpose.
Here’s my guarantee: If you do not agree that this is the boldest and most powerful and informative book you have read on denominationalism, return your copy for a full refund, minus return shipping.
I will say one more thing in closing. You may look around you at the divided mess the church is in and conclude that genuine unity is an impossibility. That’s understandable. But know this: After you have read The Fractured Church, you will not only believe that unity is possible. You will believe that it is inevitable.
Bill Sizemore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved