By Frank Jamerson
Have you noticed that those who become disenchanted with the Lord’s system, and accuse the Lord’s church of being a denomination, often end up endorsing and joining a group that acknowledges its denominational status? If these folks are really opposed to denominationalism and interested in getting churches to follow the New Testament pattern, why do they join denominations?
No doubt, there are many church members who do not understand why denominationalism is wrong. They use expressions such as “church of Christ preacher . . . congregation of the church of Christ . . . I am church of Christ,” etc., that indicates a lack of understanding of the undenominational nature of Christ’s way, but I have observed that often those who criticize with great vigor such expressions among brethren become amazingly silent and cooperative when they join a denomination.
The Lord’s church is not a denomination and those who have sectarian attitudes and terminology need to be taught more accurately the word of God. Denominationalism is a work of the flesh. The word “heresies,” or “parties,” (Gal. 5:20) means “a choosing, choice; then, that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects” (W.E. Vine). The word of God says that “they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). If the church of which you are a member is a “denomination, ” you should get out of it! When a brother says that it “does not bother me to refer to the church as a denomination,” he is saying that it does not upset him to teach that Christ died for a work of the flesh! One has to be truly disenchanted to make such a statement.
I have often wondered why those who cause trouble in churches and make accusations that they are “denominations, ” become “trouble free” when they join a denomination. They suddenly are not opposed to denominationalism. Maybe it is for the same reason that Russian citizens do not criticize their system. Russia does not put up with it! Likewise, the denominations that disenchanted church members join would not put up with their criticism. Freedom to criticize denominationalism is about like freedom to criticize Russia!
Though we are not obliged to provide an audience for every critic, we should realize that criticism is the price of freedom. The alternative would be to submit to a central headquarters and accept whatever is handed down. The disenchanted church member who leaves the Lord’s church to join a denomination has lost his freedom because he has accepted denominationalism.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 5, p. 154
March 1, 1984