Friday, August 3, 2012

Humble Your Denomination

Humble Your Denomination

As I write this to you I feel a need to first explain the biblical meaning of  denomination, in order to give some clarity on The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (1Cor 14:14-23).  We spoke about this on Friday when we addressed you’re going to church with members of your family while at your family reunion. I know that I am long winded but I think you being an intellect will give me some room to wiggle.

Please note that this is written to you  (This post is actual written in response to a letter given to me about how to serve God.) not to everyone else. Not all teaching is for all people, theology confuses most Christians and most have no idea what they believe, and cannot explain the process of salvation if it meant their life, and it does. Therefore what I am writing is for your knowledge only that you may be given a starting point to study what you believe; not to give to others as a way to show your knowledge, nor is it to be used to teach anything, nor as a way to impose your faith on someone else, rather I write this to give you the intellectual surety of your faith.

You will find in the Christian faith there are many that cannot stand sound doctrine and will come up against you for teaching it. There is a whole lot that I want to teach the church but most would run away if they had sound teaching.  So I give this to you that you, peradventure, that you may come into the understanding of what God has in store for you. But more importantly that you will be counted among those that can rightly discern what is the faith in which rest all your hopes.

Concerning Defending the Faith
Concerning defending the faith, I try to caution against the immature Christians trying to defend the faith. Trust me many “mature” so to speak Christians should not defend the faith as well, because defending the faith without sound doctrine can destroy the possibility of conversion (winning them to Christ). And to bring all men to Christ is our first and most important goal.
1 Peter 3:15, says "be ready to give an answer in defense for the hope that you have."  And we become ready to give an answer in defense through studying sound theology. When this is done we are then able to; 

Demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

As I began to write this I realized that I would not be able to address Romans 14:14-23 [1] but will be able to complete this letter later. Yet though I would like, I am not addressing it, but it is addressed for and alternative standpoint. However, I am directly addressing the issue of respecting differences within our faith, and why we need to humble ourselves to fit into their way of doing things when we visit them. It should be noted that I am speaking of other Christians that worship Christ differently form us.  However, it goes without saying that this does not include those people or groups that say they are in Christ but by there doctrine, or actions or denial of the deity of Jesus  makes them heretics.

Defining Denominations
Denominations are the tools by which the devil uses to pit one Christian against another. Yet denominations are very essential in fulfilling the depth of our worship.  Because Christianity bends the heart of the man to the love of God, unlike many other religions that bind the man to that law of the religion, it (Christianity) is not staggered by, or invalidated because  of prevailing culture. This in itself is what makes the world at enmity to the fullness of the Gospel. 

For the Christian the law is secondary and thus is always trumped by Grace and its redemption which comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  Christianity as it was in the book of Acts is able to transcend all cultures, social and financial levels and traditions this is the why we have an array of different denominations. Christianity molds to the culture without ever giving up the truth of the Gospel.  Because Christianity does not deal with what we do, but having a right heart before God and faith in Christ Jesus. The implications of our faith are not held in constraint by man, or his traditions, or even social status.  This is what the Apostle Paul is saying when he says “the liberty we have in Christ”. (Some versions say “the freedom we have in Christ”) Galatians2:3-4

So what is a denomination and what does the word mean?  
The word denomination means to separate by name. we arrive at this meaning from the structure of the word
  • First we have  “DE” meaning to take from or separate, as in the word decapitate; and
  • Secondly we have “Nomination” which means to identify by name, as to nominate a person to office. 
More importantly in order for denominations to be sound and still be rightly serving Christ there must be no division on the base doctrine of the Bible, everyone must believe the foundation doctrine without question.  It is this unified foundation doctrine that make Christianity a religion. This statement is over and above any personal opinion we have of religion. Since every Christian must believe  these to even call himself a Christian.

When we consider this meaning and its application in Christendom we find a pure unmolested use, which is good; that is until we try to apply it to congregations like our own that profess being non-denominational. This problem arises because in order for a church to be by the purity of the name non-denominational it would mean that it was not exclusive of denominations but inclusive of all denominations and their respective doctrine.  Of course we know that this is utterly impossible both in logic and worship. Because a church without denomination would be without doctrine and their members would be ignorant to the word God. Therefore we understand that without the foundation doctrine of Christianity that church would truly catholic [2] and therefore not part of the body of Christ.

The Dichotomy of Non-Denominational

Since doctrine is nothing more than teaching, a non-denominational church would have to accept all doctrine of every church in worship. This of course is a complete impossibility because some doctrines are antagonistic to others, while there is a dichotomy between others For example some denominations teach there is no speaking in tongue, and while others teach there is. Neither doctrine is correct, neither is incorrect even though proponents of both will bet, and are betting their salvation on being correct. These two doctrines are antagonistic to one another but sound understanding of the Bible doctrine (Solas Biblica/Solas Scriptura ) tells us the none of the power applications of Pentecostal, charismatic or non-denominational or similar doctrine are necessary for salvation, if they were a requirement for salvation then Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and other like denominations and all their members would all go to hell. More importantly if speaking in tongues was a requirement for salvation, then salvation would not be a free gift it would be something that we have achieved, Salvation would be earned,  and the work of Jesus Christ would have been for nothing. 

 This of course is true of any denomination for which we apply this simple reasoning. If baptism is a requirement for salvation as the Baptist and Roman Catholics both contend. Then every other person who has ever put his faith in Jesus Christ but was not either Catholic or Baptist will burn eternally in hell.  Moreover this would mean that while on the cross Jesus lied to the thief.  When He said "Today you will be with me in paradise" Luke 23:43 Are we willing to hold onto our denomination that strongly that we come up against the very Lord we say we are saved by?

There are dichotomy teaching between denominations, for example some believe the office of Apostle is no longer in application and prophecy is all gone, while other readily adhered to the office of apostle and prophet. However, Bible is quiet on this subject and both sides defend their stance with scripture that implies their opinions but does not prove this opinion. Now because a prophet cannot both exist and not exist at the same time he/she is either or is not; and since two different doctrines believe both sides of this expression this is called a dichotomy.

·         Thirdly, none of us are truly Baptist or Lutheran, or Pentecostal or Presbyterian, all of us believe a combination of two or more denominations. Partly because of what we can understand, partly because of what we are taught, partly because of how we were hurt, and this is OK as long as we all agree on the foundation doctrine of the Bible

No the Nicene Creed in not a requirement for salvation, nor is it even God’s word for salvation, it is simply the results of a group of men who decided to simplify the foundation beliefs of Christianity in a few short sentences.  So I have chosen the Nicene Creed  over and against both the Apostles Creed and the Athanasian Creed which though, are older than the Nicene Creed, are not as widely accepted because they confess Christ’ descent into Hell, an action which is not supported by any scripture in the bible yet is taught in many churches. Selah…….  

One more time; 

… because they confess Christ’ descent into Hell, an action which is NOT supported by ANY scripture in the Bible yet is taught in many churches.

As a matter of fact the thing that identifies Christians as Christian is not what they say they are, it is what they believe. Therefore acceptable foundation doctrine  makes clear that Roman Catholics, Jehovah Witness and Mormons are not Christians because their core beliefs are not true of Christian orthodoxy. ( Right understanding)

So as you can see it is completely impossible to have a non-denominational Church, since the second we identify ourselves as non-denominational we become a denomination, we have in effect separated ourselves from the others that identify themselves, by their denomination (Baptist, Lutheran, etc.). Moreover we have named this separation and become the very concept (separation by name) which this denomination was intended to fix.

Should Women Wear Hats in Church?
Now let address your concerns about your aunt's church. Should a woman wear head covering?  My personal opinion is yes! But I also think that women should wear stockings, and only hymns should sung on Sundays, and church should be 8 hours long, I also believe that Church should start on time, and that a woman should be obedient to their husband. But that is just me. I ask this question to show how different churches which love the same Lord, are able to not see eye to eye on simple tertiary teaching. This is the freedom that we have in Christ. If we had only one way to worship, and everyone independent of culture, and upbringing, and socially acceptable behavior were all forced to worship exactly the same then we would be returning back into the bondage of law, and worship would the result of obedience to that law not faith and love of God through Christ Jesus. And if there is no faith, then there is no Grace. Surely you have read that we are saved not by works but through Grace alone. This being so if there is no Grace then there is no salvation and we all are going to burn eternally in hell.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery Galatians 2:4 (ESV)

 So the question is what should we do when we visit our auntie at the family reunion and the doctrine of your auntie’s church seem too strict for our way of worship?  When auntie asks us to join her at church should you tell her that she is crazy and you ain't going to no  legalistic church where women have to wear hats, and stocking, can’t show no skin and sit in the back of the church? 

That depends on if you believe that your auntie is worshiping the devil. If she is worshiping the devil then by all means stay at home, better yet run away from her as quickly as you can. However, if she is worshiping Jesus Christ but have the freedom (Gal 2:4) of a different view (Doctrine) on how to worship Him you should go, and put on stocking, flat shoes, a hat, gloves, and sit at the back of the church if that is the doctrine of her church.  Is your pride greater than your worship?  If this seems too much for you to accept, than consider what are the possible responses of your auntie because of your prideful rejection of the practiced doctrine of her church?
  •  After Auntie hears our response she is saddened by your answer, possibly she  is angered with you for not having any respect for her faith.
  • She may feel that you think your doctrine (the way you worship) is better than her way of worship. And in truth, you do, or else you would not be reading this article.
  • She may feel like you are speaking down to her as if because of where you live you have access to some greater knowledge.  You know when they move to the big city they have a habit of talking down to anyone not from Philly, New York. / Los Angeles, San Diego or Chicago
  • Auntie may begin to question whether her doctrine is correct and even if her own faith is true. But Paul warns us that we must not be a stumbling block for someone else’s faith

So this is what the Apostle Says we should do.
Romans 14:21-22 (KJV) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

I know it's time I became an expositor of Romans 14:21-22, here goes.
·                  (V21a) It is not good to eat meat or drink etc.
Here we are taught by the apostle that we should avoid anything (eating and drinking, dressing, and even worship) that which may be an occasion of offense or apostasy to our brethren. I think that the two working words here are “offense and apostasy”   I am appalled at those Pentecostal that visit non-charismatic or Pentecostal church and speak in tongues stopping the worship of those that are there for God. Paul put a lot of restrictions on speaking in tongues but we take them off saying we have the freedom to speak in tongues. But this is only true to the level by which we  do not offend anyone else.

·                  (V21b)That causes your brother to stumble ( or offended)
It is important that we understand that stumble does not mean physical but spiritual. It means anything that may confuse him or perplex his mind to the level where it may prevent him from growing in the faith. That can also mean anything that may cause him to become indecisive or to undermine whether willingly or wittingly the teaching (of  his pastor, denomination or local Body of Christ) which has brought him this far in his faith. We should never tear that the wall of salvation that another man has built because of our prideful attachment to our denomination.
·                  (V21c) or is made weak
Once again it is dealing with faith (spiritual) not physical,  “made Weak” actually means to be removed from power, without knowledge of what is right and wrong, good or evil lawful and unlawful to fall under the dominion of erroneous thinking
·                  (V22a) Hast thou Faith
This very short line gives light to two applications
First it ask do you have the faith in as much that you are not overcome, made to question your actions or even that the food eaten (different doctrine) from a sister in body in Christ? Will sitting in the back of the church make God for you invalid? Will putting on a dress or flat shoes? Are you so unstable in your faith that one requirement to worship with your brother causes you to fall from grace? ( Maybe I should say jump from Grace)

 The second application has to do with giving your doctrine to other people without them asking for it. It goes on to say keep your faith between yourself and your God. Now this is not in opposition  of the Great Commission this is meant to set a standard between two Christians.  This is especially true of doctrine issues, we cannot forget that every Christian is a member of the Body of Christ and as spiritual brothers and sister’s son and daughters of the all mighty God we must treat them with their due respect. If we don’t give right honor to the children of God how can we expect the world to give us this due respect.
·                  (V22b) Happy is he that condemneth not himself
Now Paul teaches us that we should not condemn ourselves because we did something which is contrary to our doctrine. Because in doing what thing we have maintained in others the strength of their faith we can live with this occasional action in peace of mind toward our ministry for Christ. Where there is peace of mind there can be happiness of circumstance.

Sola Deo Gloria
Your brother in Christ

[1] Romans 14:14-23 (ESV) I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean (wrong in sound worship) in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, (how you worship) you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat (how you worship), do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (or Doctrine) but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food (Doctrine), destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats(or impose his doctrine on another brother). It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
[2] in this way we define catholic and not the roman catholic church but the universal body of Christ.