Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthian Church that he could not yet feed them the solid food of the Word because they were still infants in Christ requiring milk.
His evaluation of them stemmed from the fact that they had established factions within the church based upon their Apostle of choice. For one said, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos or Cephas.”
In this singular act of carnal immaturity we have revealed the seeds of denominationalism. For there is no difference between saying I am of Paul, I am of Apollos or Cephas as saying I am of John Smyth, John Welsey, Martin Luther or Chuck Smith.
The World Christian Encyclopedia 2001 Edition lists 33,000 protestant denominations in 238 countries.
This is a far cry from the unity that was Jesus heart wherein He prayed in John 17:23- 24, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Instead of witnessing to the unbelieving world through a united front for Christ the reality of the past 1,500 years has been the continual splintering of the Church over matters that are mostly unjustifiable – understanding that sometimes it is indeed necessary to disassociate.
This uncomfortable reality has proved Paul’s point that many in the Church are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy. In addition it has also given ammunition to atheists who deny the existence of God citing as one proof the lack of unity within the Church.
Though choosing to associate with like-minded individuals in corporate worship is not sinful in itself it does become so when we exalt the unity and stature of our own association above the unity that is inherent to the whole Body of Christ.
Paul underscores this point when writing to theCorinthian Church later in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into oneSpirit.”
I am aware of the fact that no one person can single handedly abolish denominational elitism but we can each ask God to reveal and reform, if necessary, the state of our own hearts regarding this matter.
And from this point forward we can each endeavor to keep the unity of the faith by living according to the following precept coined by Augustine, “In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity!”
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