Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What is the right denomination?

This subject has probably been beaten to death by many ministers and many denominations. People parody each other's denominations. People flat out condemn other denominations. I have some bad news for some and incredibly liberating news for others. News that is as old as the New Testament. There is no denomination that is the "right one". BUT There are denominations that are flat out wrong and are not a denomination at all but a cult.

How can you tell?

Simple in answer and tough in carrying it out: READ THE BIBLE. Test what is presented to you in church apologetics. Look for deviations from what you read in the bible compared to the denomination.

Some denominations are stronger in some areas of the christian faith than others and each definitely has weak spots. This is not the same thing as a cult.

The false denomination:
If there is a statement of faith or church politics that is in direct conflict with the Bible then you know you have a false doctrine. An example would be a denomination that sponsors a lifestyle in direct conflict with biblical teaching. Like a denomination that says it is ok to have a gay minister. That's probably the most extreme example on record but it is easily identified as a denomination with a false doctrine in their peripheral writings (writings other than New and Old Testament).

The "known for" denomination:
Many denominations are known for being very strong in an area of biblical teaching. Mennonites, for example, are very strong in helping others with physical needs: food, shelter etc. But they absolutely have a weak spot when it comes to evangelism. BUT, evangelism is not dismissed from the faith, it is just a weak area. This denomination is valid and has a definitive role in the body of Christ.

The other end of the "known for" spectrum would be the Pentecostal denomination. This denomination focuses largely on evangelism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are weaker on supplying the physical needs of the people around them outside of the church. They are every bit as valid as the Mennonites but very different in terms of church focus.

In between these two there are varying degrees of effectivity in both areas of the faith and other areas not mentioned here for lack of time and space.

Bottom line 1: STUDY THE BIBLE and be careful of judging one denomination as having a more important role than another. The one that seems more important to you is likely the part of the body that you are most closely identified with in terms of your desires to serve God. The one that has a church acceptance of a clea and biblically unacceptable principal as an official part of their church is a cult and not a Christian denomination at all. The devil will disguise himself as a number of things. It's really not that hard to figure out as long as you keep reading. Things will become clearer and clearer the more that you read and pray for guidance.

Bottom line 2: We are all, as Christians, the body of Christ. We all should have a yearning to serve God in a manner that we are best equipped to serve or desire to serve. Be careful not to condemn the hand if you are the foot etc... Be very careful not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. But also don't be suckered by liars. There are "churches" that are anything but churches. Keep your eyes open to lies and your heart open to God.

Why do I assume to write as one with authority on this? I am both Pentecostal and Mennonite...and neither. I belong to the majority of both denominations' stated principals but cannot bring myself to saying one has a greater role than the other. Only different roles. I have a desire to support the roles of both. Fortunately I can say with great certainty that I am a member of the body of Christ and that both of these extremely different denominations are parts of that body as well. Some would argue that these extremes are not compatible but most of those people have never actually been significantly involved in both. Either that or they put pride in their denominations in front of their faith in Christ.

Here's something to watch out for: Be wary of any church that talks about their pedigreed name MORE than they talk about Jesus. Be wary of a church that raises their specific passion/burden above the passion/burden of another church. That's pride and has little to do with Christ. There is nothing wrong with being positive about the role of a denomination but if it becomes a bragging point or a "historical" discussion that comes up more often than actually getting to people who need to meet Christ...or if a main driver of the the denomination is full of committees and councils and social affairs...then I will run the risk of saying that church is in danger of being full of crap and really ticking God off. Summed up, if souls aren't getting saved where you are going to church you are either in the wrong church or you are there to change that fact. Odds are you are there to change that fact whether you are comfortable with that or not. If you don't think the rest of that church's body, that you are in, can handle new christians and help them in their walk then you are definitely in the wrong church and need to leave.

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