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Chapter 25 - The Case Against Denominations
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? - 1 Corinthians 1:12-13
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. - Philippians 2:2
Denominations by their very existence show a lack of unity among Christians. Satan has over the centuries influenced Christianity by exploiting our inclination towards the flesh to first turn Christianity into a procedural collectivized system, and then fragment it into smaller franchise brands so that the Christian became a sort of consumer shopping for a 'best fit' Christianity instead of seeking to grow closer to the Lord in wisdom and truth.
The overall objective for Satan was to use Christians to build the civilization from which he could gain the technology to enslave the world. Having accomplished this, he now has to have this civilization sort of implode so that its functionality is not an obstacle to implementing the technology he used it to develop in the way he wants to.
The first step in making denominations was to turn Christian focus towards 'important' leaders. This was done in several ways, but the basic process can be seen with the institution of the seminary. The word 'theology' means the study of God, which implies a subject the understanding of which can be mastered as evidenced by obtaining a graduation certificate.
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. - 1 Corinthians 8:1
However, it was not just through the diverting of men with intellect or speaking skills into vanity that Satanís plans were advanced. There was the contribution by every Christian who was willing to take a path of ease and comfort by letting the 'leader' do the work of Christianity.
Satan has made great use of Christians with abilities encouraged to have a high view of themselves. Calvin, Augustine, Luther, and countless others have all been led to put forth a package of doctrine that while intended to correct error often becomes just another franchise 'brand'. The trap these men fall into is thinking they have it 'figured out'. They may start with good motives but usually end up putting God in a 'box'. As each 'brand' of Christianity comes on to the market, it becomes just another denomination implying it has the 'right' package.
In the movie 'The Truman Show', the title character is a young man whose whole life has been televised from birth (the fact of which he has been kept unaware). He has been kept in an artifical town thinking he has been making choices when he has been manipulated to remain. In one scene (a flashback to when he was a child in school) he declares his ambition to be an explorer. The teacher quickly declares that there is no point because everything has already been discovered.
Denominations have a similar suppressing effect on Christians declaring that smarter people have already done all the exploration of the bible and God and that there is nothing for the Christian to do but sit down, shut up, and do what he is told (similar to the instruction he has received for 12 years in public school). If instruction is offered, it is expected to reproduce what has already been declared.
A man once talking with a friend who was becoming frustrated with his criticism of traditional church practice. He finally said, 'OK, what would your system be'? The difficulty the man had in answering using 'system' terms led him to conclude that what might be called organizational (denominational) Christianity could not accommodate what might be called relational Christianity. The difference appeared so great to him that a radical search for unencumbered Christianity would have to be made outside denominational boundaries. Denominations often act like a religion machine intended to move product with as little difficulty as possible. Relational Christianity seemed incompatible with mechanical Christianity.
Denominations by their very existence create disunity by declaring themselves 'right' and others 'wrong'. Denominations often quench the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians by discouraging independent inquiry and substituting a finished product made by others as a substitute.
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