Why Do You Oppose Denominationalism?

By Darwin Hunter


Sometimes we are asked by our religious friends, “Why do you strenuously object to denominationalism?  Isn’t the church of Christ a denomination, too?”  Usually, such a person is confused about what we teach, and an explanation is certainly in order (1 Peter 3:15).

First of all, it needs to be explained what a denomination is. “Denomination” is defined as “the act of naming; a name; designation; the name of a class or group.”  As you probably know, in currency and coins, you have different named monies denoting different values.  And, denominations teach that they are a part of the whole body of Christ.  In other words, they teach each denomination (differently named group) is apart of the church.  “Denominationalism” is defined as “the tendency to separate Into religious sects or denominations.”

The concept is certainly different from New Testament Language, isn’t it? What denominations teach is that one named group is as good as the next one, that all of these groups are going to Heaven, in spite of their teaching different ways to be saved, and espousing different ways to worship, as though the Bible teaches no certain way.  How can it be that various sects teach different ways to Heaven, yet are alt a part of the same church Jesus built (Matthew 16:18)?  Did Paul and Peter found different religious groups who taught different ways?  Of course not!  They did not found new “churches” but taught the one church or spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4, 1:22-23). Thus, establishing denominations which teach different from the New Testament way is promoting error, and causing division.

Paul strictly taught that calling oneself after different religious names was divisive and anti-Christian (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  The early church was instructed to wear the name of Christ only, not the names of men or certain doctrinal beliefs (1 Peter 4:16; Acts 11:26).  In the New Testament, faithful Christians called themselves after Jesus only, and not after different names.

In churches of Christ, we desire to be only members of the Christ-founded church of the New Testament.  We desire to wear only the name “Christian” as in apostolic days.  And, we firmly believe that denominationalism is divisive and contrary to the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-21.  May we simply obey Christ in belief, repentance, and baptism and be added to His church. (Acts 2:38-47).  We also desire to “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” lest we deviate from the Holy Spirit-given instructions, and bring God’s wrath upon ourselves (Acts 2:42; Galatians 1:6-9).

The church of Christ is nothing more than the church revealed in the Bible. As we plant the same “seed,” we will produce the same church (Luke 8:11).

That church is not a denomination!