If each church is preaching God’s Word, then should there not be just one church?
If not one church, then why not just one religion?
Seems odd that Presbyterian, Protestant, Catholicism, Non-Denominational,
all think they are God’s Word.
With that said, how can there be two Catholic churches both speaking different versions of the “same Word” only miles apart from one another?
Same with the other religions as well.
- Unsure Where To Go
The longer answer is that we need to define “church” - when we’re referring to a localized group of people (some would say “a body of believers”), we would refer to them as a “church” with a lower-case “c,” meaning that the local church is one of many which form the “Church” with a capitalized “C” - In Christ, there is no difference between slave or freeman, Jew or Gentile, etc… all those who claim Christ as their Savior and their Lord make up the Church - a singular body of believers spanning the globe. And that singular body of believers choose to meet in localized bodies of believers to worship Jesus as King. As an analogy, consider firefighters or police officers. They each have their own station/town/area to protect, but are all called to the same service, generally will work together as needed, but also operate independently… and yes, just as there are some poor examples of public servants, the same can sadly be said of people in the church.
Wow… good question(s). I’m glad you’re both logical and brave enough to ask the hard questions, because that’s when you really begin to peel the layers back and get to the answers you’re seeking. Clearly there are a number of questions posed here, so let’s begin breaking them down and analyzing each component, so we can begin putting them back together to form coherent (and detailed) answers.
If each church is preaching God’s Word, then shouldn’t there be just one church? - yes. That’s how it started. In the book of Acts in the Bible, we can read of the birth of the church and they had the same vision, same mission, and same foundational beliefs that they followed. As the Truth spread and churches grew, there were local churches that were a part of the Church (see above explanation). I do need to note here, however, that not all “churches” follow God’s Word… some just want to “sprinkle some Jesus” on their teachings, just as we’d sprinkle some sugar on an elephant ear at the local fair. They don’t make Jesus and His Word their central focus and foundation for beliefs, but rather use Him to suit themselves when it works. Paul warned his young pastor-friend Timothy of this very thing in 2 Tim. 4:1-5.
I’m going to lump your remaining statements into a single question, and make a point of clarification. You discuss different religions and refer to denominations under the “religion” of Christianity, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re referring the question to why there are so many denominations, as opposed to why are there so many religions. Let’s briefly explain the differences: denominations fall under the umbrella of Christianity, which is a “world religion.” Christianity falls under the umbrella of “religion,” as does Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and even atheism. So, we’re going to focus on why there are different denominations within the “Christianity” umbrella.
Denominations of Christianity exist because of a disagreement about “secondary” doctrines - those beliefs that I tend to explain as being held in an open hand. These secondary doctrines are by definition secondary to the “primary” doctrines that churches hold, which makes it a Christian church (or, a church that follow’s Christ). I’ve listed these “Primary” doctrines (or set of beliefs) below:
1. There is only one God (Exodus 20:3, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 45:5)
2. The one God exists as a Trinity of persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14)
3. Jesus Christ is both 100% God and 100% man (John 1:1,14; John 8:24; Col. 2:8-10; 1 John 4:1-4)
4. Jesus Christ was physically born of a virgin named Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27)
5. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, died a brutal death as the payment for sin, was buried, and physically rose from the dead, which is called “the Gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1-4, Gal. 1:8-9, 1 Cor. 15:14)
6. The salvation of mankind as individuals is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to the Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone, also known as the “5 solas” (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:1-2)
7. Jesus will return again (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 19:11-16)
Those are the essentials… and if a “church” believes in those things, then it can Biblically call itself a Christian church.
The denominations come into play on the secondary (or tertiary, etc.) doctrines that are more open for interpretation. Some examples of these:
1. What day of the week should we worship? Saturday? Sunday? Tuesday mornings?
2. Is baptism by immersion or sprinkling with water?
3. How often should we have communion? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
4. When will Jesus come back? before the tribulation? during it? after it?
5. Should women be elders/pastors? Is that an office reserved for men only?
6. Can I “lose” my salvation?
Some of these doctrines can be interpreted in different ways (which is also Biblical according to Romans 14:1-5), and in doing so, groups of people, tribes of people, etc. have gathered who are like-minded and in agreement not only with the primary doctrines, but also with their own set of secondary doctrines. Sadly, some denominations exist because they’ve INCORRECTLY interpreted the Bible and have done so willfully in order to allow certain sins (actions prohibited in the Bible) to become allowable.
But, the good news is this - God loves us so much that He puts up with our failures (great is HIS faithfulness). In spite of our differences, Jesus is still King and worthy of all honor and glory. Thankfully, neither salvation nor damnation is dependent upon our differences - salvation is based on our personal relationship with Christ. In other words, it’s ALL ABOUT JESUS!!
My encouragement to you is this - find a church who’s willing to stand firm and be unified on the essentials (the primary doctrines), who’s willing to show grace and freedom on the non-essentials (the secondary doctrines), and who’s willing to show love in all things. I’d invite you to CommUNITY Church, as I’m pretty confident that we try to do that to the best of our abilities. We don’t always have it perfect, but that’s ok because no perfect people are allowed in anyway. :-)