“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all” (Ephesians 4:5-6 NLT).
Variety is the spice of life, and with religion, there’s certainly a plethora of flavors.
During my early years—the ones I don’t remember—I belonged to the Southern Baptist denomination because my parents did. Around age six, I became a Methodist—not by choice but because my father decided God was calling him into the ministry. He chose a local college that happened to be Methodist. The only difference I noticed then—or for the next eight years—was that Methodists sprinkled for baptism while Baptists dunked. At mid-life, I was scorned by a particular denomination due to an unfortunate divorce. Having a bad taste in my mouth, I moseyed over to yet another denomination who looked at the circumstances surrounding my situation, rather than just black-balling me outright. Here, I stayed for the next five years. I noticed quite a few differences in liturgy, music, and doctrine. Currently, I’m back where I began as a child.
But if there is only one God, one faith, and one baptism, why are there so many denominations? Just as some are confused by the excess of Bible translations, so are many by the overabundance of denominations.
I once had a discussion about this issue with a pastor friend from a different denomination than I am. He concluded what I’ve deduced myself: “Somebody is wrong.” At least, partially. Denominations abound because of different interpretations about governmental form, musical style, worship practices, modes of baptism, time of baptism, definitions of words such as sanctification and justification, and over which spiritual gifts are still active.
Having been exposed to numerous denominations, I’ve concluded that we’re all probably in error at some point. But the good news is that we are all more correct than incorrect. All Christian religions teach that Jesus is the avenue to God. He is the One who paid sin’s price on Calvary, and by faith in him, we are forgiven, cleansed, and ushered into God’s family. The non-essentials may pull us apart, but the one essential unites us into the Church of the living God.
Do you belong to the one true Church?