If Christians believe in absolute truth, why are there so many different denominations?


(Whitney Bowman) #1

Hi everyone

I am new to Connect, and I apologize if this is in the wrong place. I would really appreciate some help in understanding (and explaining) how we as Christians believe in absolute truth yet there are so many different denominations. To my non-Christian friend, I think it seems as though we as Christians can’t agree - so why should they believe?

Thanks in advance for your help. I was recently introduced to RZIM by a family member, and in so many ways I have found the same joy I experienced when I first heard of Jesus. Somewhere in the threads I’ve perused I read that people may become Christians for social, rational, and emotional reasons. I had two and was missing the rational, which needless to say caused some problems. Thank you for the work and commitment of RZIM.


(Jamie Hobbs) #2

This one confuses a lot of people, @wbowman. Lost and saved alike. I’ve recently had the blessing of preaching a couple messages on unity in the church, which speaks at least in part to this topic. When the non-Christian looks at the church and sees disunity, they often rightly think, “why should I join that disunity when I have plenty of my own?” One of the passages I preached from was Titus 3, and verse 9 says, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.” Let there be no dissension in the church.

Now, I will say that this is slightly different when talking about denominations. I came from a place of not wanting dissension within an individual church. But dissension across the entirety of the body of Christ is much more complicated. For that reason, I’d approach the question a slightly different way. Ravi and other RZIM speakers have constantly said that you never judge a worldview by its abuse. Likewise, you shouldn’t judge the Christian worldview by some of the misguided actions of those who claim Christianity. Disagreements on religious practice and doctrine will happen and there are verses that deal with those (1 Tim 1:3-4, 2 Tim 2:23, etc), but when it gets to a division over core beliefs, now we have a problem.

Perhaps you could advise your friend to look at the person of Jesus Himself, as therein lies the ultimate standard. Yes, we all fail, but He does not. It is in Him that we find the absolute truth that you mentioned before, not in the devices of man. So like a former pastor of mine used to say, “we major on the majors and minor on the minors.” If we have disagreements over non-critical tenets of faith, that’s fine. If we want to go to a different denomination because we like the worship style better, no problem. As long as the doctrine is sound and comports with the Bible. However, when essential doctrines are in question, we should always be guided by the Spirit and look to the person of Jesus for the absolute truth.


(SeanO) #3

@wbowman A denomination is formed when two groups cannot disagree enough that they feel they cannot worship together. That is all that a denomination is… There are two fundamental types of denominations - those based in false teaching and those who accept Jesus as Lord but disagree on secondary or tertiary issues.

Denominations Based in False Teaching

Even in the times of the apostle Paul, there were lots of false teachers. Some taught that Christians had to keep all of the Jewish laws and some taught that Christians could live lives of sin after being saved. So this has been a problem since the beginning.

Denominations that Accept Jesus

Here are two articles that have a very positive view of denominations - a hopeful view. And I think that is great - in essentials unity. That is the classic phrase. Sometimes Churches who accept Christ still disagree on issues like baptism and feel the need to have their own congregation. But that does not mean they are not one in Christ.

And @Jamie_Hobbs made a great point for your friend. Our confidence is not in man’s ability to get along, but in the power and love of Jesus Himself, which we can know through history, the Word and the Spirit. Hope those thoughts are helpful.

“Some people may disagree with me, but I think when God looks at all the Christ–honoring, Bible–following churches in your city he sees the body of Christ— not specific denominations. Here is a quote that’s guided a lot of churches over the ages: “In essentials, unity. In non–essentials, liberty. In all things, love.” Think about what that quote means. Let’s be sure we are united on the stuff that’s really important (like Christ), that we allow freedom for those things that aren’t “essential,” and always practice love when we disagree.”

“Fundamentalists were unable to discern the difference between those who denied the deity of Christ and those who engaged in card-playing.”

“Let’s move from handwringing to hopefulness.”

“I’m calling for Gospel commonalities that are more important and that supersede our denominational distinctions.”


Why are there so many denominations and even in each denominations different dispensations
(SeanO) #4

@wbowman One other thought came to mind over dinner. The reality is that our adversary, the accuser or ‘satan’, is the father of lies and comes as an angel of light. And Jesus says that the way is narrow and few there are who find it. So we know that there will be much false teaching that we must avoid - Jesus and the apostles constantly warned us about this fact.

So, if Christianity is true, we would expect lots of lies about to be spread around! The existence of division and denominations with false teaching is proof that we have an adversary and that the human heart is prone to wander.

Now, this does not apply to denominations that uphold Jesus as Lord and are not divisive. My previous post addresses that aspect of denominations who do uphold truth in some form.

Matthew 4:17 - But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 24:4-5 - Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

2 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, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.

Galatians 1:8 - But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 - For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

John 8:44 - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


(Whitney Bowman) #5

Thank y’all so much @Jamie_Hobbs @SeanO . It’s quite helpful for both my own walk and as I have further conversations with my friend, and I will continue to ponder, pray over and study this. Thank y’all so much!


(SeanO) #6

@wbowman Glad to be helpful :slight_smile: The Lord Jesus bless your studies.


(angelina Edmonston) #7

This is a wonderful reminder to the church.

I have nearly posted in the past two weeks feeling quiet down over teachings I have heard from Christian brethren. I went to the Got Questions page and I still have questions. One such friend has gotten into Kingdom Now stuff, And some things I am clearly concerned for her salvation. There is more I have heard from folks and even now in my church they started teaching Lent. :slightly_frowning_face:

There is such a need for sound doctrine. I have felt very lonely in my walk and so have my husband.

I appreciate prayers.


(SeanO) #8

@angelina_Edmonston May the Lord Jesus strengthen both you and your husband during this season! I am not familiar with ‘Kingdom Now’, so I cannot speak to that group. But there is nothing wrong with celebrating Lent as long as it does not become a means to salvation. Here is an article from Christianity Today on Lent that I thought did a fairly good job of discussing why protestants may celebrate it. Blessings!