Religion is like going out to dinner with friends. Everyone may order something different but we can all sit at the same table – Dalai Lama
THE word denomination is not found in the Bible. Jesus never taught there should be divisions in the church with significant doctrinal differences. The original church was a single congregation of Christ’s followers.
Some modern denominations emphasise slight doctrinal differences, but more often they simply offer different styles of worship to fit the differing tastes and preferences of Christians.
Most Christian churches have far more in common than they have in disagreement with each other. Research in the US a couple of years ago indicated that the majority of protestant/evangelical congregations shared at least 90 per cent of the same beliefs. The researchers found little disagreement over the most basic elements of Christianity — such as Jesus’ life and teachings, including His deity, death and resurrection.
There is a common Christian faith that is recognisable in a large outdoor church in Sri Lanka, an evangelical meeting in Latin America, a small Anglican church in Melbourne or Hobart and a Catholic cathedral in Rome. The cultural “flavour” may be different but the heart is the same.
Diversity is a good thing in Christianity. Disunity is not.
The great theologian J.B.Phillips said he understood why some people could not understand 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.