Is the Church of Christ a Denomination?

By Carrol R. Sutton

There are hundreds of denominations (religious bodies authorized by man’s authority and governed by human wisdom) in the United States of America alone. They differ in name, doctrine and practice and yet all of them claim to be of God and that God is with them. Are these denominations authorized by the authority of God? Are they governed by God’s wisdom? Is God the author of all this division and confusion? Are they really of God? Is God really with them? (See 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:1-6 and 1 Cor. 14:33.)

Many people say, “the church of Christ is just another denomination.” There may be some religious bodies called “the church of Christ” which may be denominations but when people make that statement referring to those who are truly following the teaching of the New Testament, it is merely an assumption. If a person understands the teaching of Christ and is honest, he will not make such a statement. The church of Christ is not a denomination, nor any part of any denomination! Neither is any denomination any part of the body of Christ!”

Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church ” (Matt. 16:18). The pronoun “my” indicates that the church would be “of” or “belong to ” Christ. The church that Christ built is “of” and “belongs to ” him! Did Jesus have any denomination in mind when he said, “I will build my church”? Obviously not. Jesus did not promise to build a denomination! There is no evidence that Jesus ever built a single, solitary denomination!

To what denomination did the apostles, the three thousand Jews on Pentecost, the Samaritans, the eunuch, the jailor and the Corinthians belong (or were a part of) after they obeyed the Lord’s will? (See Acts 2:1-47; 8; 16:25-34; 18:8; 1 Cor. 12:13.) Were they not Christians? Were they not citizens in the kingdom (Col. 1:13-14), and members of the body of Christ which is the church? (See Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 12.) But they were not “of” and did not “belong to” any denomination! To be a member of a denomination a person must meet the requirements set forth by that denomination. To be a Christian, to be in the body of Christ which is the church, one must meet the requirements set forth by the Lord.

In the first century, the Lord added the saved to the church which was purchased with his blood. (See Acts 2:47; 20:28 and Eph. 5:25.) What about now? If a sinner hears and believes the gospel (Rom. 10:17; Mk. 16:15-16), repents of sins (Acts 2:38), confesses faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10), and is baptized for remission of sins in order to get into Christ (Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:26-27) just like the 3,000 on Pentecost in Acts 2, the Samaritans in Acts 8:5-13, the eunuch in Acts 8:26-39, the jailor in Acts 16:22-34 and the Corinthians in Acts 18:8, will that make him a member of any denomination on earth? If so, why does it and which one? Please tell us to which denomination did the early Christians belong? Since Acts 2:47 tells us that the Lord added the saved to the church, do you think that God has changed his plan and today he adds the saved to various denominations?

All denominations exist without the authority of Christ. No denomination that exists today is the church of Christ or, in other words, the church of or that belongs to Christ. The church of Christ, i.e., the church that Jesus built, is not a denomination!

Since it is obvious from a study of the Scriptures that a person can be a Christian, live, work, worship and die in the Lord and be saved eternally without joining or even hearing of a human denomination, every denomination on earth is a non-essential, useless, and worthless institution as far as man’s salvation is concerned! So why should any person who is interested in going to heaven be in one? In Matthew 15:13 Jesus said, ‘Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”

Why not put your faith in Jesus Christ? Why not obey his gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-9) that you may be saved and added to his church? (See Acts 2:47.) If you are not in the church, Christ is not your eternal Savior? (See Eph. 5:23.)

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 6, p. 176
March 15, 1990