Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Blessing of Disunity

One of the common objections to Christianity that I hear often is that if Christianity is true, why are there so many churches? Of course church in this sense means denomination, or church tradition. There are some churches that will tell you they are not a part of any denomination, but still they are a part of a certain form of Christianity.
My first reaction to denominations is that I don't see them as such a bad thing. There are significant doctrinal issues that are emphasized and debated between denominations and that can get quite heated. Additionally, many churches frankly teach things that are against the teachings in Scripture. However, the differences between Bible-believing churches is usually not as much about doctrine as it is about the demographic that the church reaches. One church might reach the blue collar working class, while another reaches the white collar middle class. Some churches cater to an extended family. Other let one exist in an anonymous fashion. Some churches focus on music that shows musical achievement as an offering to God, other churches seek music that strikes an emotional chord. Some churches work to build a multi-ethnic community while others seek to be a safe haven for those of a certain ethnic heritage. In a sense this kind of division allows more people to participate in various types of churches than if there was one sanctioned denomination. In a sense, this organizational disunity allows for unity under a broader banner of belonging to Christ. If the only type of denomination we had was one for the educated, middle-class in America, then we might have organizational unity at the sacrifice of one swath of society being comfortable in church. It is better that there is the organizational disunity with the benefit of sensing brotherhood with believers from that church with the different sort of music down the street.
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