Ask Singular Or Plural?

By Larry Ray Hafley

The religious world thrives and derives its life from diversity-the plurality of creeds, doctrines, ceremonies and organizations is the blood that sanctifies the soul of denominationalism. It is presumed and assumed that all of the various varieties of church polity and policy are approved of God. Thus, spiritual governments and institutions continue to “abound yet more and more.” But are these innumerable ecclesiastical structures pleasing to God?

Jesus spoke of “the kingdom of heaven” and of “my church” (Matt. 4:17; 16:18). He mentioned “the gospel,” “the word of the kingdom.” He said, “I am the true vine.” “I am the door of the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd.” “There shall be one fold and one shepherd. ” “I am the way, the truth, and the life. ” And who can ever forget the singular emphasis of Matthew 7:13,14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”? The Lord earnestly and ardently condemned human doctrines and “the commandments of men,” and said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:8,9,13). Does this imply that all the assorted plants in the garden of denominationalism are of God?

The New Testament speaks of “the faith,” “the way of truth,” “the gospel,” “the doctrine of the Lord.” It says Christ is the head of the church, “which is his body,” and there is “but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 1:22,23; 4:4). There are no references to separate and distinct religious organizations, except to reprove and rebuke them (1 Cor. 1:10-16; 3 Jn. 9; Acts 20:28-32; 2 Pet. 2:1,2). The emphasis of the Bible is oneness (Eph. 4:4-6). The singular thrust of scores of Scriptures refutes the plurality of modern day denominationalism.

But Consider The Reverse

Just suppose that the New Testament spoke of different gospels, doctrines, churches, ways of truth, and faiths of Christ. Imagine a passage which says,

“There are many bodies and many Spirits, even as ye are called in many hopes of your callings; many Lords, many faiths, many baptisms, many Gods and Fathers of us all who are above all and through all and in you all” (cf. Eph. 4:4-6).

If such a passage were in the Bible, what would you say if someone said, “I know it says that, but I believe we are limited to one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father” (Eph. 4:4-6)? Obviously, if the word of God directly specified a plurality of acceptable doctrines and churches, we could not contend for a single one alone. But the Bible does not so state! It says, “One.” Therefore, . . . well, you see the point, do you not?

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 22, p. 687
November 15, 1984