No denominations in Heaven

religion-heaven

THAT old troublemaker Martin Luther turns 630 in a few days. You might wonder what he would think of the Christianity in the 21st Century.

Martin Lutherwas not kind about Protestant groups other than his own, particularly the Baptists who had won many converts from the Catholics.

But Luther also seemed to think that denominations were unnecessary. “I ask that men make no reference to my name, and call themselves not Lutherans, but Christians,” he said.

But he had already opened a can of worms. The rise of thousands of denominations within the Christian faith can be traced back to the movement to “reform” the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th century.

The word denomination is not found in the Bible. The original church was a single congregation of Christ’s followers.

Diversity is a good thing in Christianity. Disunity is not.

Eventually, you didn’t even have to be a Christian to be denominational. British writer Quentin Crisp said when he told the people of Northern Ireland that he was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, “Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”

The great theologian J.B.Phillips said he understood why some people could not comprehend why the churches can’t “get together”.

He said: “The problem is doubtless complicated, for there are many honest differences held with equal sincerity, but it is only made insoluble because the different denominations are (possibly unconsciously) imagining God to be Roman or Anglican or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or what have you.

“If they could see beyond their little inadequate god, and glimpse the reality of God, they might even laugh a little and perhaps weep a little. The result would be a unity that actually does transcend differences, “

One thing’s for sure. There will be no denominations in Heaven. But there might be plenty in Hell.

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31 thoughts on “No denominations in Heaven

  1. I actually do not see anything wrong with denominations anymore. I used to, but not now. Now I look with different eyes. Now I see and know that irrespective of what denomination a Christian may be, in the Spirit, we can still be connected and one.

    I laugh when you say in Heaven there won’t be this and there won’t be that, and certainly not any denominations, when in actual fact every time we worship God together in spirit and in truth, when we are connected and one in spirit here amongst the living, we experience Heaven on earth, right here, right now.

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    • Really?? ….”One thing’s for sure. There will be no denominations in Heaven. ”

      That’ll put a few jewish noses out of joint!

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    • er… it’s not that simple, Mon. ‘Denomination’ doesn’t necessarily just refer to variations within a particular sect. (Such as ‘christianity’.

      ‘Denomination’: A group of religious congregations having its own organization and a distinctive faith

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    • In Spirit and in Truth we are united. The example of the last supper and the breaking of bread and drinking of wine representing the blood and body of Christ.

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  2. Cute cartoon ~ but defeats the purpose a bit, doesn’t it?
    I’ve never met a single person who can exist without conflict. Not even that mild-mannered Jimmy Olsen clone who stirs the possum on this very blog. 😯

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  3. Denominations occur over doctrinal differences. We often over doctrinise things that do not require it. There is one faith, one baptism, one Holy Spirit who is in all through all and over all. Amen.

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  4. Denominations can be a useful division. We can analyse who is central to the Christian faith. We can determine that Mormons are not Christians or universalists. But when we speak of liberal Christians the line is not so clear. But many claim to be Christian but deny core tenants yet they speak for ” Christianity”.

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      • And, I believe doctrine matters and that it is necessary for a Christian’s faith and life.

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      • Dreamweaver,
        Yeah, I like that. Those ‘many mansions’ may yet prove to be home to a whole lot of persons who dont agree with the common Christian preconceptions.

        Now Bryan, I must take you to task on your statement that ‘the original church was a single congregation.of Christ’s followers’. Just how long are you allowing for this single ‘original church’? Can you really claim this with a straight face?

        I’d point out that it was only a few short years after the Crucifixion, that there were literally two denominations clearly defined – the Jerusalem church for the Jews and the Pauline church for the gentiles. Then when you read through the rules and practices of the sector that lived with and promoted the Didache you find a very different sounding system of basic sacramental worship to that promoted by Paul.

        As well, Paul spends a lot of ink in his epistles berating his readers around the ‘world’ for varying from his teachings, which as he states, (with curses attached), must under no circumstances be varied from – (even if an angel from heaven……!). He indicates concepts and doctrines being promoted that just have to represent heresies and the roots of varying denominations. He mentions those who claim that Jesus Christ didnt ‘come in the flesh’ for example, So the Gnostics were an important lot quite early. I’ve read the comment in some modern Christian writing, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses of today probably come closest to just what the earliest Christian church was like.

        Paul was clearly a very passionate and difficult guy who squabbled with those who worked with him. He indicates just how some of the communities that he had established were varying from what he taught, and also were being led to think differently by individuals who were influential in their groups. And these differences, he makes plain were not just simple issues of local rules, etc. The Epistle of Peter admits that some things taught by ‘Brother’ Paul are really difficult, (and presumably divisive!)

        Paul was clearly not talking about persons outside the church when he demanded about just how come some of them were maintaining there was no resurrection from the dead. If you take the Apocalypse literally in its letters to the Angels of the seven churches, you see very very clearly that big variations and real divisions were occurring too.

        Very early in the piece, it must be admitted, there were differences developing, and factions showing themselves… ‘some are of Paul, and some are of Apollos’ etc etc.

        Bart Ehrman has written a book on the matter called ‘Lost Christianities’ for anyone who doubts the seriousness and magnitude of the issue.

        No, no single original church I’m afraid, – at least not for more than a few very short years. Over to you Bryan!

        Rian.

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      • Rian,
        If you had read the Bible instead of mocking it, you would have understood that there were no separate churches (Jerusalem and Gentile). When differences of opinion between Judaism and Gentiles arose, different representatives from different parts of the Roman Empire met at Jerusalem and sorted out their differences. Paul was the representative of the Gentiles as Peter was the rep for the Jews.

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      • davinci,
        Looked carefully through my posting there, and have not been able to detect a single word that ‘mocks’ the Bible. I referred back to the Bible accurately on several occasions in what I said.

        I stand by what I said there (and I think with all due respect) that the Jewish and the Gentile churches were very distinctly like separate Denominations. Also, may I add that the accounts in Acts indicate that Paul was still regarded with a great deal of suspicion by the Jerusalem Christians, since they demanded of him that he submit to a rather humiliating test of his faithfulness at the Temple.
        Rian

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      • HI Monica/Alexie,

        It was interesting for me to observe that you jumped up in some sort of defense of Paul (presumably in response to my posting) and yet, apart from davinci’s attempt at correction on the Jerusalem and Gentile churches, nobody actually tackled my points about the extremely un-united church that existed during the middle of the First Century. There were big divisions, and they largely appear to have developed from the time Paul came on the scene and attempted to convert the gentiles. Can anyone point to where I was wrong there???

        Someone on this List several months back, suggested that I apparently ‘have problems’ with Paul. Yes that is true – very big ones; but I’m not going to deal with these problems just here and now.

        Rian.

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      • davinci Hi,

        Well I feel most gratified to observe that apart from your lone suggestion regarding the essential unity of the Jerusalem and Gentile Churches, no-one has made any attempt to demonstrate that I was wrong about the dis-unity in the early church.

        No-one else? ??? ?? you? or you? huh?

        Okay you are all agreeing with me that Bryan’s blog was incorrect there. So can you make a small adjustment for future blogs on this, please Bryan. There was NOT a single united church with common doctrine in the early church.

        Cheers, Rian.

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      • To Bryan. Part 1 of 2.

        Quote Bryan ‘The word denomination is not found in the Bible. The original church was a single congregation of Christ’s followers.’

        Quote Rian … “No, no single original church I’m afraid, – at least not for more than a few very short years.”

        Quote Bryan. “On the contrary Rian. YOU have provided no evidence of your opinion.(sic) I prefer to trust the genuine scholars.”
        ————————————————————————————————
        Well Bryan, when I am debating with Christians, and especially when I have a lot of Bible quotes, I dont feel I need to give book chapter and verse, because I am paying them the compliment of knowing the texts or of being capable of looking them up for themselves.

        But Okay you want the references. Here they are, and since I was referring the reader back to the Bible itself, what I said was hardly just my opinion. You dont need to be any sort of ‘genuine’ scholar to simply point out Testamental references.

        Keep well in mind that if Paul (or whoever) condemns a particular sort of teaching or heresy, then by sheer logic that teaching must be circulating and corrupting the faithful. In a couple of my texts I’ve added references about the verses from my copy of the NIV.

        A.—Existence of HERESIES (in other words,- no SINGLE united congregation at all).–
        Revelations 2.6. You hate the practices of the Nicolaitanes, which also I hate. (ref. a heretical sect WITHIN THE CHURCH that has worked out a compromise with the pagan societies.)
        Rev. 2.15. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teachings of the Nicolaitanes.
        2 Corinth. 11.4 if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted…..
        Romans 16. 17. Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.
        1 John 1. That which was from the beginning which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched. (ref. John contradicts here the heresy of the Gnostics)
        2 John 7. Many deceivers who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh have gone out into the world…
        Corinth. 11.27.. and in danger from false brothers.
        1Corinth. 15.13. how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? (now there is a real difference of opinion and doctrine!) Galatians 1.6. you are so quickly deserting the one who called you… and turning to a different gospel… Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion.
        Gal. 4. 8/9. Now that you know God, … how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles.
        .1 Timothy. 1.3 You may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.
        1 Titus. 1.10. There are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the Circumcision group. They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by teaching things that they ought not to teach.
        2nd Peter 2.1. But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Many will follow their destructive ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

        Rian. part B to follow.

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      • Part B to Bryan.

        B.DISRUPTIVE PEOPLE in the communities who behave and teach wrongly–

        Gal. 3. You foolish Galatians , Who has bewitched you?
        2 Cor. 11. 5. I do not think I am in the least inferior to those super apostles…
        Rev. 2.2 You cannot tolerate those who claim to be apostles, but are not…
        1 Corinth. 1.12 there are quarrels amongst you. What I mean is this: One of you says I follow Paul. Another… I follow Apollos, another I follow Cephas.
        1 John 4. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. (Ref. The false prophets who were inspired by the spirit of the anti-Christ.)
        Jude. 1.4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men who……. deny Jesus Christ ….
        1 Tim. 19. Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander whom I have handed over to Satan.
        Jude 1.11 These men are blemishes at your love feasts…….
        Gal. 4. 17. Those people are zealous to win you over,….. so that you may be zealous for them.

        ———Indications of Other ‘denominations?———————-

        Mark9.38 and Luke 9.49 ‘We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us. (Note this. It reads like a plain example of a separate and burgeoning Denomination. ‘HE IS NOT ONE OF US!’ they tell Jesus. But Jesus doesnt reject him.)
        2 Tim. 1.13. You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. (my note – there is no indication here that the Asian people have dropped their actual Christianity. They’ve just dumped their allegiance to Paul. Of course, they MIGHT represent heretics or just some other kind of Denomination)
        ————————————————————————————————————-
        There you have evidence from the inerrant Scripture to demonstrate no single unified church back at the beginning, with just one doctrine. Not just my opinion! What sort of GENUINE scholars could they be who apparently miss the above quotes? So, over to you Bryan.

        Rian.

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  5. We are talking about Christian denominations? Do only Cnristians go to Heaven? If you will meet only Christans there, are others in other of the ‘many mansions’ and don’t have to mix with you?

    Ah, marvellous how each of us has a different concept of Heaven!

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  6. Who really invented Christianity? Was it Jesus? Or did Paul invent an elaborate mythology—that has distorted or destroyed the authentic teachings of Jesus? There are some rather crazy proponents of this basic perspective. Manywho claim Paul created Christianity is based on a mythical Christ figure with little basis in historical reality point to the small number of references in his writings to the teachings and life of Jesus. Some have no basis for their ideas. Paul, and his colleagues, knew Jesus as a real person. Others want to promote a myth and ignore the many thousands of scholars throughout the ages and the witness of the Bible. Instead they look upon suspect people and groups such as the Jesus Seminar and many others. It is indeed a sad intellectual and academic failing. But the failing is not one of skill but one of effort, bias and not being infilled with the Spirit. In the end the critics do not know the gospel and Paul does indeed know the gospel. His love for his people in the Churches was obvious and those we love we will rebuke and guide.Paul was chosen by Christ and needs no other to acknowledge his position in Christ. He spent time in jail for his faith, was beaten and was passionate. Critics sit back in arms chairs throwing stonmes but missing the mark of who Paul was in Christ.

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    • I love Paul the apostle. I’d have to say that he’s my favourite apostle. Never used to feel that way though. At first I could not understand what he was saying in the Bible and I even mocked him, making jokes about what the thorn in his side may have been, God forgive me. But not now. Now I believe he was one of the greatest apostles, if not the greatest apostle.

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      • Paul’s Letter to the Romans

        “The Book of Romans is considered the most important book in The Bible by many because it is the most comprehensive statement of New Covenant theology. Just one verse from this Epistle is credited with igniting the entire Protestant Reformation. What could be accomplished if we grasped this great message in its entirety? Just one phrase from it, “the just shall live by faith” (see Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4) ignited the Protestant Reformation and changed Western civilization. Certainly the pen in this apostle’s hand was more powerful than any sword. No conqueror in history had the impact on the course of civilization than this one letter did.” — Rick Joyner

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    • SGod spoke to Jesus. God spoke to Paul. Different understandings of the same basic message. We don’t worship Paul of course, but neither did Jesus wish to be worshipped, consistently referring to himself as the Son of Man.

      The church has built on the synthesis of these two great complementary teachings to give us a figure completely worthy of worship. We have made that Person as real as any historical figure and it is good to worship Him. I believe that is God’s will.

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  7. Firstly, Martin Luther never intended to leave the Catholic Church until they kicked him out. Same with the Wesley bros from the Church of England. Same with the Booths from methodist Church. Same with the apostles from Judaism. See the pattern here?
    Secondly some of the protestant churches developed along similar lines without having had contact with one another. Luther’s counterpart in Switzerland (zwingli) remarked on the fact that he and Luther had never met yet they developed similar doctrines and held similar views regarding Rome.

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    • Ah Alexie,

      So you can assure us there that the Bible makes the guarantee that whatever the Bible says is accurate. Glad I’ve got that clear!

      Though I’m not really sure that any ‘historians’ other than Christian believing ones, concur quite so completely about much of the evidence on Paul.

      There are some of us dissenters who have little doubt that the whole text of Acts of the Apostles though based on some essential truth, was essentially a work of Christian propaganda designed specifically to validate (St) Paul. As is pointed out in regard to the exact historicity of Jesus, there is virtually no evidence from the early/mid First Century that proves Paul even existed, – other than the copies of copies of copies of the Christian Testament documents, as well as the claims and statements of later Christian Fathers.

      It is told that Paul ventured (and was eventually taken) far away from Palestine, unlike the reported movements of Jesus. Strange that Josephus and others failed to notice one like Paul who caused so many serious rumpuses around the Roman Empire, AND is reported to have had so many good friends (and relatives too?) among the Roman authorities.

      But as you say there, ‘1st century Biblical data is unanimous and clear’, so we must believe it!

      Rian

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      • What’s that saying Rian,

        “For those who believe no proof (other than the Word of God/Bible) is necessary”? And that’s what you are up against. You won’t be changing our minds any time soon my friend. 🙂

        I found this to be an interesting and unbiased read:

        Outside the New Testament

        “It might come as a surprise, but outside our New Testament records we have very little additional historical information about Paul other than the valuable tradition that Jerome preserves for us that he was born in the Galilee. The early Christian writers of the second century (usually referred to as the “Apostolic Fathers”) mention his name less than a dozen times, holding him up as an example of heroic faith, but nothing of historical interest is related by any of them. For example, Ignatius, the early second century bishop of Antioch writes:

        For neither I nor anyone like me can keep pace with the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who, when he was among you in the presence of the men of that time, accurately and reliably taught the word concerning the truth.[xvii]”

        This author also contradicts another source I put on the blog that claimed the description in the (Gnostic) Coptic Acts of Paul and Thecla, allegedly describing Jesus as “a man small in size, bald-headed with eyebrows meeting, rather hook-nosed” (v.3) was actually describing Paul the apostle and not Jesus as claimed on the ‘holy prepuce blog’. And this author argues that this description of Paul is unreliable.

        ttp://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/the-quest-for-the-historical-paul/

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      • Hi Mon my love,

        Yep, I know full well that I would not be changing anyone’s mind on the matter, and actually I am not attempting to. But do keep in mind that in absolutely every religion, true believers need no proof. Christians in their extraordinary surety sound exactly like the devotees of all other religions. While thinking of that, I have to say that I’ve never in all my life seen a passage of such sheer arrogance as that bit attributed to Paul stating that ‘even if an angel from heaven’ came and taught a doctrine different from his… etc etc.

        Marvellous some of the things people can believe and treat as if they were ‘Gospel’. In my first working years in Melbourne (early/mid fifties), I boarded in Richmond, with a very elderly English lady, who was a devoted C. of E. adherent. I recall her describing to me about the Sunday School class of littlies she instructed. Apparently this particular Sunday, she was waxing long and enthusiastically about the chlldhood of Jesus; and with a straight face she told her little kids how one day during his duties in his fathers Carpernters shop, he cut his hand with the chisel. Immediately he just popped his bleeding finger in his mouth, but HE DIDNT CRY!!!. Her young charges listened awestruck, and repeated ‘Wow, – he DIDNT CRY????’ ‘No’, she answered with a creditable conviction… “No, he didnt cry!’

        True, – believers need no proof.

        In regard to the testimonies to Paul’s existence and status, well, by the time that dear old Jerome came along, it was a couple of hundred years later, and the basis of Christian belief as well as dogmatic faith in the Bible were well entrenched. So Jerome was working with the same traditions of Christianity that his important contemporaries Augustine and Eusebius were grounded in. Of course he duly followed suit. Ignatius appears to be just about the first authority (outside the Christian Testament) to deliver a theology and Jesus (and Paul) tradition rather like ours. You cant glean very much in contrast from the Didache (perhaps roughly from about the same time) though it doesnt appear to promote or describe anything like the traditional Eucharist that we know.

        Oh and I agree that the descriptions of the unpleasant bow-legged Paul bear no more validity (in evidence) than the image given by several of the Fathers of what Jesus looked like. Certainly as I mentioned before, the image of the disfigured Suffering Servant from Isaiah was the basis that led a lot of the early fathers to believe that Jesus was truly ugly.

        I notice that no-one has made any serious attempt to refute my original comments on the disunity within the first Christian movement that showed up almost as soon as Paul joined in. davinci mentioned only the Jerusalem versus Gentile groups. I would still maintain that this latter was definitely a split into two denominations that did not readily mix in practice, – however much their ‘reps’ may have exchanged ‘the hand of friendship’. But so much of that stuff in The Acts always appears just a little bit too ‘Sweetness and Light’ to be believable.

        There are quite a number of texts in the Christian Testament that suggest Paul’s unpopularity. In 2nd Timothy, Paul (or whoever wrote it under his name) states rather shockingly that all his people in Asia had deserted him. I dont find that at all surprising.

        Rian.

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      • Monica, your link to Bible archiology and the quest for the historical Paul, is very interesting. Thank you.

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  8. 1st century Biblical data on Paul is unanimous and clear. it contains information which historians find persuasive in demonstrating that Paul was reliable. Biblical testimony from those who knew the Apostles or who were familiar with their views and writings affirmed Paul’s reliability.

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  9. Cuttingedge.org

    “As with most theological lies, this argument carries with it a speck of truth. Christianity is an outgrowth of First Covenant Judaism; Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all Old Testament Messianic prophecies and types. The Apostle Paul did recognize this truth, as he espoused in Romans 11:24, where he stated that the root of the tree called Christianity is a Jewish root; but, then Paul stated that the Jews had been temporarily cut off from that root because they rejected the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul did recognize that the Christian Church was a separate entity from old Judaism, he understood the symbolism of the tapestry between the Holy of Holies and the Sanctuary being ripped in two the moment Jesus commanded His spirit to leave His body. Paul did recognize that the Church of Jesus Christ was prophesied of old and that Jesus fully intended to establish His Church!”

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