A call to avoid denominationalism within the church is righteous because it’s the calling of God (John 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10).
But the danger in some attempts to answer that call comes when the determining factor becomes the echo of men and women and not the voice of God.
For instance, the church today, in our goal of avoiding denominationalism, may actually become denominational by:
- requiring a certain translation of the Bible or condemning others for not using a certain translation.
- insisting that certain topics not be publicly addressed from “the pulpit” on certain days because the denominational world is talking about or recognizing them.
- being upset at how many worship services a sister congregation offers on Sunday (which is a different topic from the acts of worship being offered).
- avoiding any imagery of the cross or other “denominational appearances” in connection with the furniture or layout of the church building (steeples, crosses on communion trays, presence of kitchens, etc.).
- using “Church of Christ” in the place of “Christian” in reference to our identity within the religious world.
Simple fact of the matter is when it comes to avoiding denominationalism I believe it can be done because God desires it, but in our attempts to avoid such we can become the very thing we wish to avoid if we do not carefully examine our motivation for supporting or withdrawing from certain actions we take as the church.
The doctrine of God’s church must rest strongly upon the foundation delivered some 2,000 years ago (Ephesians 2:19-21; 1 Peter 4:11; Jude 1:3), but the “doing” of God’s church must not become pigeonholed into the behavior of one certain culture or even one certain decade, and this can be done without coming at the cost of the readiness of mind displayed by the one certain century who received the revealed will of God (Acts 17:10-12).
A failure to see this is a failure to comprehend what the restoration movement was and should still be about, and that’s about avoiding denominationalism without becoming denominational.
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NKJV)