Small Group-The Church & Dominations-02/21/18
As you read the following texts, write in the margin LOCAL or UNIVERSLAL for the church.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
- Ephesians 1:22 And he put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church
- Colossians 1:8a And He is the head of the body, the church.
- Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
- Acts 12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.
- Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
- Acts 9:31a So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.
- Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her
- Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae
- Romans 16:5a Greet also the church in their house.
- Acts 15:3-4, 19 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them… Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God
- 2 Corinthians 1:1a Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth…
- Colossians 4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1a Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians…
Question: What do you see about the church from those texts?
- It seems to me that the NT sees only ONE Church… located in different places. But, we can begin to see the seeds of denominationalism taking root.
Read: 1 Corinthians 3:4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
Question: What do you see here about the church?
- Some local churches were following Paul, other local churches were following Apollos. Division was developing between local churches and the Apostle Paul condemns it.
Question: What might that verse say if it were written today?
- I follow John Calvin. I follow John Wesley. I follow Luther. I follow Benny Hinn. I follow John MacArthur… you get the point.
Many people / Christians today attend a particular church because of who they ‘follow.’
It is interesting what Martin Luther, John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon had to say about this:
- I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone… No, no, no dear friends; let us abolish all party names and call ourselves Christians after Him whose doctrine we have. (A Compendia of Luther’s Theology, pg. 135, The Westminster Press, 1943.)
- Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms which have divided the Christian world, were forgot…that the very name (Methodist) might never be mentioned more, but be buried in eternal oblivion. -John Wesley (Universal Knowledge, Vol. 9, pg. 540)
- I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living! I hope that the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ’s name last forever. –Charles Spurgeon (Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. 1, pg. 168.)
You know, according to this, perhaps we should take Baptist out of the name of our church? Just a thought.
We know that many of Paul’s letters to the churches were written to combat heresy in that church. Truth is, not all churches listened to Paul’s warnings. It is highly likely that even within those that did listen to him, there were some who didn’t and they left to start their own gathering… church.
- That continued and still does. False teaching enters the church, some fight it, others don’t and they leave to start their own church.
Now, false teaching is not the only reason there are denominations / different kinds of churches.
ILL: In the 1890s there was a small Baptist church in Mayfield County, Kentucky. The church had two deacons who were constantly arguing and bickering over some issue or the other. One of them put up a small wooden peg on the back wall so the pastor could hang up his hat. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged. “How dare you put a peg in the wall without first consulting me!” The people in the church took sides and the congregation eventually split. Today the residents of Mayfield County still refer to the two churches as Peg Baptist Church and Anti-Peg Baptist Church. (David Rigg)
Question: What might some of the others reasons be for denominations / different kinds of churches?
- Personalities, churches are made up of people and some people just don’t get along with each other
- How the church does missions. How the church chooses to worship
- How the church baptizes and does Communion
- How the church organizes its leadership. Language, ethnicity, finances
- Difference in doctrine
Denominations are a reality and we will always have them until Jesus comes back and establishes His rule over His Church where there will be:
- One head (Jesus)
- One body (Christians… saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.)
- One teaching/doctrine (The very Word of God)
- One worship: (All hearts/minds/bodies surrendered to Jesus Christ in praise and thanksgiving)
Read: Luke 9:49-50 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Question: Does that text have any relevance to our understanding of denominations?
The way most people in the US identify the church is by denomination. The English word denomination comes from the Latin word denominare, which means “to name.”
- A denomination is an association or fellowship of congregations within a religion that have the same beliefs or creed, engage in similar practices, and cooperate with each other to develop and maintain shared ministry.
Seen in this light, Presbyterians are Presbyterians specifically because they share the same beliefs/creeds, engage in similar practices, and cooperate with each other to develop and maintain shared ministry.
The idea is that each individual church wants to put a name to their particular group of believers. But it is not exclusive to Christianity.
- It is also used to describe the four branches of Judaism(Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist).
- Within Islam, it can refer to the branches or sects (such as Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadiyya, as well as their various subdivisions.
Within Christianity, it was in America that denominationalism took off with complete vigor.
Question: Does anyone know why that might be?
- The United States promises every American the free exercise of religion.
- The First Amendment, ratified in 1791, affirms that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
- James Madison, who became the fourth president of the United States wrote, “The religion…of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man.
- This policy is one reason so many people immigrated to the colonies in the early years of our country. As these people arrived, they brought with them their churches and denominations. (Ron Rhodes)
|Faith Group or tradition||Claimed Founder||Date||Location|
|Roman Catholic||Jesus, Peter||Circa 30||Judea|
|Orthodox churches||Jesus, Peter||Circa 30||Judea|
|Swiss Reformed Church||Zwingli||1523||Switzerland|
|Mennonites||No single founder||1525||Switzerland|
|Anglican Communion||King Henry 8||1534||England|
|Baptist Churches||John Smyth||1605||Holland|
|Dutch Reformed||Michaelis Jones||1628||Netherlands|
|Congregationalism||John & Charles Wesley||1744||England|
|Seventh Day Adventists||Ellen White||1860||NH, USA|
|Salvation Army||William Booth||1865||England|