The phenomenon of denominationalism in Christianity

Denominationalism is a phenomenon, since its existence has got no Biblical base, as Christianity is biblically constituted. The apostle Paul attempted to deal with this phenomenon in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. However, while disapproving of its venomous existence in strong terms, Paul was merely dealing with the effect, without exposing the cause.  This is why close to two millennia years, the cause of denominationalism continues to disgracefully affect Christianity.

The law of cause and effect reveals that there cannot be an effect without a cause. Denominationalism is an effect, the cause of which is discussed in this document. Christian leaders, obviously get confused, when unable to establish its cause—notwithstanding their desire to effectively eradicate it.

They know that denominationalism is not scripturally backed, yet characterising Christianity, more than any other religion. None of the denominational leaders can claim to be effective in dealing with denominationalism. The reason being that, without establishing root causes, the more entrenched into it the person becomes.

Christianity has always had a readily available scapegoat, for all wrongs in this world. All blame is bestowed on the scripturally personified character called Satan. But here is an irony: the same Satan was defeated at the cross.

Christianity is the only institution that was given dominion to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. In other words, Satan stands defeated (Mark 16:16-18). Where then, is the problem of Christianity? Jesus said only the truth will set the disciples free.

We first have to appreciate the dichotomous principles, ensconced in unity and division. Unity projects the achievements of Jesus on the cross. The Satan-sponsored division cannot be associated with Christianity. As expected to be the light, Christianity, in its proper application, should not project division.

But it is division that exists in Christianity, also cascaded in other relational institutions, like politics—with its venomous effect on human survival. Families and other social groupings are not spared, as also languishing under the yoke of division, without solutions in sight. The defeated humanity lifts up its hands in despair, yet also acknowledging effective services of Jesus.

There are two causes of departure: The first is considered justifiable, as projecting survival objectives. Under such circumstances, the person uses departure as solution; rather than confront whatever causes others to fail to comprehend what enhances group survival.

The other cause of departure can be regarded as anti-survival, as the person focuses on personal benefits, ahead of everyone else. That person is simply driven by desire to elevate self, at the expense of other group members.

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However, both such causes of division are one and the same. Division is the opposite of unity, which implies absence of division. Interestingly, while academically revealing that self-centredness causes division, not a single person has ever accepted being driven by self-centredness, the world over.

Those justifiably projecting good reasons for separation, simply express agreement with this analysis. Their disagreement qualifies the symptom of divisional cause in grandeur scale.  Disagreement is caused by misunderstanding, emanating from confusion. See [Genuine conflict is between good and evil].

For illustration, let me use an imaginary metallic object, described differently by members of a group of three people. Such members agree that there is an object in front of them. But they are unable to agree on the construct nature of the object.

The first member is quite certain that the object is plastic. The second member being equally certain and adamant that the object is metallic. While the third member has got no doubt that the object would be wooden. The divergent descriptions of the nature of the object, becomes cause for division.

Obviously, as can be seen, one of the group members holds correct description of the object, while the rest are incorrect. If any of the three members of this group decided to depart, due to disagreements, that person espouses division.

The person leaving could be the one with the accurate description of the metallic object. One does not necessarily have to be wrong or right, to espouse division. Separating from other group members makes you an agent of division, regardless of your holding of truthful data or not.  See [By rejecting the child born they became antichrists].

That unity could be sustained by leadership imposition, in that group, where the leader dictates against the opinions of others. Yet even the worst despots, known to exist, can never accept being driven by desire to elevate self. Such leaders become heroes to those adulating them, though ruthlessly dealing with dissenters.

Nevertheless, even without dictatorial leadership, members could consent projecting some semblance of unity in their group. They allow each member to uphold their respective standpoints, without interfering with each other’s viewpoints. As long as they identify themselves as belonging to the same group.

Each would be totally convinced of their respective positions being truthful. But that is what justifies the term hypocrisy. One cannot pretend to be united, when totally in disagreement with those that the person claims to be in agreement with. The group would be intact, albeit fictitiously.

In the spirit of desiring to avoid pretence, unable to bear with the magnitude of hypocrisy, one of the group members could decide to move out. Scientifically, that person would be espousing division. The Bible also exposes such people, as projecting divisive tendencies:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19) (ESV).

This is notwithstanding that the other two group members would also be holding divisive opinions. The rhetoric in accusative proclamations would be piled on the departing member. But that would not be projecting the truth on the ground.

What is even most intriguing is revelation that projects wrongness in departure, even when holding truthful data.  The person may receive cumulative support from others, even outside the group, as to eventually obtain heroic status. But the departure establishes corruption, later to affect future generations.

This describes the pattern, in what sustains the current civilization. Those bestowed with heroism, throughout history, have always been men and women, departing from confusion, due to failure to agree with other members. Christianity, is sustained in denominationalism, due to such departures.

Anyone departing, naturally becomes a hero, when holding valuable information, though stubbornly rejected by other group members. Ordinary people eventually bestow heroism on such dissenting individuals, as long as holding valuable data.  Such people become deified, when compared with their former group members, holding false information.

Nothing appears wrong with that behaviour, as sustaining our current civilization. This appears as good and acceptable, as long as the person with progressive information is rewarded. The former group members, from where the hero comes, may become despised and treated badly for their ignorance. Regrettably, this is what sustains everything unacceptable with the current civilization.

God never created substandard human beings, deserving to be treated as inferior to others. God’s Kingdom demands that a person with knowledge should carry the responsibility to help the ignorant ones. Instead of treating the ignorant ones as inferior, such people deserve to be treated with utmost respect, as Jesus insisted:

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28) (ESV).

Had Christians been practicing this principle, there certainly would be no denominationalism in Christianity. Interestingly, other social entities could be influenced to behave likewise. This is why Jesus said Christians are the light of the world. The world would become better than it currently is.

Jesus came to eradicate all social problems, yet people treated Jesus as unimportant. People prefer adulating human achievers, more than Jesus (John 5:44). Human problems continue to exist in this world, due to people’s inability to effectively apply Jesus’ instructions. See [The only time a Christian should be depressed].

Now let us come back to our imaginary group of three members, holding differing opinions, concerning the metallic object before them. How could they deal with divisions caused by the diversified description of the object? The solution could be arrived at, by simply using the principle prescribed by Jesus.

The other two group members hold wrong descriptions of the metallic object. Only one out of the three, holds accurate information. Let us assume that these three group members follow Jesus’ principle, in handling such divisive viewpoints. The one with correct information carries sacrificial responsibility to help others. See [There is no denomination that represents truth].

To start with, the one with correct information understands those with incorrect information. But those holding incorrect information cannot understand the one with correct information. Instead of bolting out of the group, the person with correct information is responsible to help his friends.

In our ordinary ways of looking at things, the person with correct information has an advantage over others. But in Jesus’ way of looking at things, the person with correct information is disadvantaged. He bears the responsibility to enlighten his friends to also appreciate the truth, concerning what constitutes the quality of the object.

Obviously, this cannot be easy, because his friends would also be adamant, supposing to be holding what is true, though unverified. In Christianity, the apostle John accurately describes the magnitude of this undertaking, bestowed on one with truthful data. This nullifies all reasons for departing:

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:16-17) (ESV).

Physically speaking, the person with knowledge, or information, deserves respect. But according to Jesus, that person carries a heavy responsibility of helping those still in darkness. He does not behave like Cain, who when asked of the whereabouts of his brother, became dismissive, as not being his brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9).

The knowledge held by the person with correct information, requires bearing responsibility to help the ignorant brothers. Such an undertaking is as risky as life-threatening. The person may die attempting to help the ignorant brother, as ignorance can be very dangerous.

Christianity requires that the person with information should help his friends, leading to attainment of eternal life. That person could, as well, be regarded as a hero, for revealing the required information. But such advantageous treatment may also lead to losing the important aspect, as sustained in conditions of eternal life.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4) (ESV).

In our imaginary group of three, the person with correct information, becomes a blessing to others. He/she remains humble, as not to seek recognition. His/her mission is to add value on other people, without being obsessed with desire to receive credit from others.

Such humility, leads to eradication of conflict from other group members, who may not even appreciate the source of such valuable information. But the bottom line is that the person with correct information bears a heavy responsibility to help others. In other words, there is no advantage in acquiring information ahead of others.

When applied in Christianity, this principle could effectively eradicate all causes of denominationalism, which is caused by desiring to be recognized. Jesus did not separate with the Jewish community, notwithstanding being treated badly, yet holding valuable information. Later, His disciples similarly suffered and got ruthlessly killed.

Persecution for one’s conviction is rarely experienced in modern day Christianity, where the principle of departure is adopted as a norm. Departure can be the easiest way of dealing with conflict. But without appreciating the significance of confronting—Christianity remains irrelevant—though holding access to useful information from Jesus Christ.

What is missed by many, is that those being idolized for holding valuable information, have received their reward, according to Jesus. Nevertheless, the purpose of Jesus, will never fail, according to His promise. This website heralds such information, to those who are sincere in desiring to follow Christ.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.

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