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Denominationalism

by Levi Sisemore

   I appreciate the words of the late Mark Ashton, Anglican (Episcopalian) pastor, in a chapter contributed to the book Worship by the Book (D.A. Carson, editor), as he critiques a notion that the Anglican church must stay thoroughly Anglican in form, ritual, and liturgy (forms and order of worship): “If it is ever to play a part in English national life again, the Church of England has to recover its spiritual reason for existing. God has promised to bless the preaching of Jesus Christ. He has not promised to bless denominational distinctives. If Anglicans continue to preach Anglicanism and not the gospel, Anglicanism will continue to die. But if as Anglicans we preach the gospel, the Church of England may yet have a future in the purposes of God” (108). In other words, for survival they must not preach themselves, but they must preach Christ! Amen!

Friends, there is not any salvation in an “Anglican gospel,” “Baptist gospel,” “Methodist gospel,” “Presbyterian gospel,” “Assemblies of God gospel,” “Church-o-Christ gospel,” or any other “gospel” that is produced by a denominational mindset. Every spiritual blessing is found in Christ (Eph. 1:3), not in a denominational body or mindset. As a system and religious world view, the very idea of denominationalism undermines the unity of the church and the singularity gospel. Let us not legitimize division among believers by “agreeing to disagree,” but let us return to the Bible and study out those things which divide and – thus – come to grips with true Bible-based, gospel unity!

Jesus is the head of his body, which the Bible calls “the church” (Eph. 1:22f). The church is not a literal body, just like Jesus is not a literal head. The church is a collection of people – souls – who belong to Jesus (purchased with his own blood) and who live for him. In Ephesians 4:4 the Bible says there is one body (i.e., one church). Jesus’ sacrifice ransomed one people, he has one bride, God dwells in one spiritual temple, God is shepherd over one spiritual flock, God cultivates one spiritual field …

For the church to be one – not just in theory, but in practice – then we all must give up the idea that believers can be divided according to denominational preference or tradition.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9).




One Response to “Denominationalism”

  1. Bro. Sisemore, a very fine article. Looks like we were both thinking along similar lines of thought. I am concerned that so few maintain a plea for restoration and unity in the Lord’s body.



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