Overwhelming disappointment

 

Why am I disappointed? In the church. When I look at what the world church has become, a system of denominations, it makes me sad. We can say all we want that we are unified together, that we are one body, but we aren’t. We label ourselves as Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, and Methodists. We make sure as heck that people know that we aren’t a denomination other than the one we are. We often badmouth other denominations as being misguided (which I am extremely guilty of myself). Christ left this earth when he established one global church. I notice in the Bible that the structure of the church seems to be that there are individual, independent congregations, that seem to share the same general leaders, who teach them and guide them, but point them to Scripture as their source of truth in their faith. But today, rather than follow this (very generalized) model, we have created all these separations and divisions in the church. I have more than once had people ask me why there are so many versions of Christianity. My answers are often insufficient, and that is a big part of turning others away. We don’t even know what we believe. We can’t even get along with each other.I’m not saying that we all have to agree 100% of the time on absolutely everything, but we shouldn’t split up because of that, it’s just like marriage and divorce.

I highly doubt that I will see a unified, non-denominational church in my lifetime, though, that is what I pray for.

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6 thoughts on “Overwhelming disappointment

  1. Grace and Peace!

    Good post. I’m not sure non-denominationalism should be the goal. Denominations are tied to identities more localized than the universal Christian identity we share. They pertain to certain worldviews that contextualize the Gospel message in terms that help us understand it. As a mostly-Germanic person, Lutheranism makes a lot of sense to me, but might seem insane to someone from Appalachia, for example. And that’s OK. God’s Holy Spirit honors diversity. You’re right, though, that our differences often stand as stumbling blocks in the way of our seeing the larger truth – that all of us (of every denomination and faith tradition) need God’s grace.

  2. Hello,

    Your prayer will come about someday; and that day may be when Jesus returns. He will bring unity to His church.

    I have an opinion as to why there are so many denominations. It’s all because of pride and ego. The human ego motivates us to put our own stamp on things, to personalize things. This desire to make our mark does not exclude Christianity. I suspect that each denomination originated from an effort by the founder to impose their personal ideas and beliefs upon Christianity. I’m no religious historian, so I’m just speculating here. But you don’t have to be an historian to recognize the power and influence of selfish pride. After all, pride is the basis of the original sin; the fall of Adam and Eve.

    I like your comparison to marriage and divorce. I believe a healthy marriage is based on mutual humility. And divorce usually results from selfishness. It makes sense to me that relationships within the church react in the same way.

    Thanks a lot for your post.

  3. Well, as much as I may not like to admit it, I see the Protestant reformation. I see the frustration of the reformers and their inability to stay with the church they so strongly disagree with. I see stubborness on both sides of the table that has lasted for hundreds of years. Most prominently, maybe I see myself.

  4. Awesome post. I’ve been thinking about and discussing church a lot lately on my blog. I am tired of tradition for tradition sake and want to see more of the Life that is in Christ displayed. The lack of unity I see is frustrating.

  5. Hi again,

    It’s funny about the Protestant Reformation. Not funny “ha ha,” but funny “curious.” If you ask Protestants (especially Lutherans – the tribe to which I belong although I was raised Catholic) they never left the Church: the Church kicked them out. It’s all a matter of perspective. 🙂 I don’t think that even Catholics would disagree that the Church of the 16th century was in grievous error at the time. They’ve done much to reform the Church, but there are still many issues that divide Catholics from Protestants and one type of Protestant from another type.

    I’ve been thinking about my last response in light of some of the other responses to this post. There are a lot of good points, but I still think that there’s some value in denominations. Unity for unity’s sake is just as horrible as tradition for tradition’s sake. (Catholics will disagree with me here.) But I’m still thinking about this “stumbling block” deal. I have problems with contemporary Christian music. I know it’s not about me and my preferences, but I really, really, really (REALLY!) dislike CCM. It’s a stumbling block for me in terms of worshipping in the Spirit.

    That’s just a silly example to point out that different denominations tend to favor one style over another. It’s not that I *can’t* worship in a Baptist service because there’s no liturgy, but there isn’t as much visceral connection for me in a Baptist church. Not that Baptists are wrong about the way they worship – it just doesn’t work for me.

    Another issue is theology. Now, on some level I do really agree with you guys: the adjective doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a Catholic Christian, a Pentecostal Christian, a Presbyterian Christian, it’s clear that the Christian part is the common denominator. All of those churches have different ways of being Christian, but they all *are* Christian, and in that sense, there already is one universal church. Is it such a crime to identify more with one adjectival Christian church? I don’t think it is. We just all have different theologies, all of which are probably wrong. I don’t get worked up about it, because I suspect that God will straighten us out one of these days.

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