Why Are There So Many Denominations in Christianity?
When the Lord Jesus came to earth to do His work in person, all those who believed in Him came under His name. The apostles spread the gospel everywhere, and connected together all the brothers and sisters who had accepted the salvation of the Lord Jesus and come under His name, uniting them into one in Christ. They only followed Jesus Christ. Just as the scriptures read, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:5–6). Therefore, there weren’t different denominations in the age of apostles.
The last days have arrived. The followers of the Lord all have faith in the same God, read the same Bible, and keep the Lord’s teachings. However, more than two thousand different denominations have come into being, and each of them holds onto the tenet: Our denomination is the most orthodox in the world. So there appears a situation where they all became kings of their own castles, formed cliques and sticked to their own views, and no one would defer to anyone else. This makes lots of devout believers in the Lord confused: All those who are in the name of the Lord Jesus look up to His salvation of the cross, receive baptism, break bread, practice being humble and patient, and to forbear and love others, and walk the way opened up by the Lord Jesus. So why do so many denominations arise? Why is this so?
Regarding this issue, I have once asked many preachers and pastors, as well as doctors of theology. However, none can explain it. Later, one of my friends who has preached for many years gave me a book and I found the answer in it, “People have studied the Bible for all these years, they have come up with so many explanations, and put in so much work; they also have many differences of opinion about the Bible, which they debate endlessly, such that over two thousand different denominations have been formed today” (“Concerning the Bible (1)”). Pondering these words, I understood: Because we corrupt humans have arrogant nature, we work for the Lord by our gifts and knowledge. Some people came up with many theological theories from investigating the Bible and they preached the Bible out of context, relying on their own ideas and imaginations. Because each of them had different understandings of the Bible, differences of opinions emerged. Therefore, they began to organize groups to hold power alone and have their own set of rules. They brought believers before them and made them believe in and follow God according to their sermons. In this way, believers unconsciously turned God into a mere figurehead, This is how many different denominations formed.
For example, some people saw the Bible say that when the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost, the Lord’s disciples could speak in tongues and had various gifts. So, they place importance on gifts from the Holy Spirit and believe that one is certain to speak in tongues as soon as he is baptized, just like how the Holy Spirit descended upon man on Pentecost. When some people read these Bible verses, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10), they began to regard the theory of being justified by faith as most important. In their opinion, they have been saved and can enter into the kingdom of heaven as long as they believe in God in their hearts and confess with their mouths. There are also some people when they saw what the Lord Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7) when He talked about reborn with Nicodemus, they think that following the Lord requires being born again, confessing their sins and repenting. … Because each of them has their own set of theological theories and doctrines, there formed many different denominations, such as the Pentecostal, the Justification by Faith Church, Born Again Movement, and so forth. Furthermore, many people in their respective denominations think that their own understandings are the highest and their knowledge of God is by far the purest, so none of them accept others’ understandings, which leads them to attack, argue, and exclude each other, thus breaking up the denominations into even smaller factions.
As a matter of fact, these sayings of every denomination are all people’s imaginations and conceptions, and are the out-of-context knowledge of the Bible. They are only workable in their respective denominations, but cannot completely convince the whole of Christianity. This is the reason why though there is one Bible, one God, one body and one belief, there appears thousands of denominations.
Many brothers and sisters are puzzled: Will this situation continue like this? Since all brothers and sisters believe in the same God, how can we unite and genuinely come back before God? On this account, I prayed to and sought the Lord along with many co-workers, and we studied the scriptures together. Then, we saw these words in the Bible, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him” (Ephesians 1:10). We also read the Lord Jesus’ words, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it” (Isaiah 2:2). The book my friend gave me also explained it clearly: “There are several major religions in the world, and each has its own head, or leader, and the followers are spread across different countries and regions all over the world; every country, be it large or small, has different religions within it. However, regardless of how many religions there are across the world, all people within the universe ultimately exist under the guidance of one God, and their existence is not guided by religious heads or leaders. This is to say that mankind is not guided by a particular religious head or leader; rather, the whole of mankind is led by the Creator, who created the heavens and earth and all things, and who also created mankind—this is a fact. Although the world has several major religions, regardless of how great they are, they all exist under the dominion of the Creator, and none of them can exceed the scope of this dominion. The development of mankind, social progress, the development of natural sciences—each is inseparable from the arrangements of the Creator, and this work is not something that can be done by any given religious head. Religious heads are merely the leaders of a particular religion, and cannot represent God, nor can they represent the One who created the heavens and earth and all things. Religious heads can lead all those within the entire religion, but they cannot command all creatures beneath the heavens—this is a universally acknowledged fact. Religious heads are merely leaders, and cannot stand equal to God (the Creator). All things are in the hands of the Creator, and in the end they will all return to the hands of the Creator. Mankind was originally made by God, and regardless of the religion, every person will return under the dominion of God—this is inevitable. Only God is the Most High among all things, and the highest ruler among all creatures must also return under His dominion. No matter how high the status of a man, that man cannot take mankind to a suitable destination, and no one is able to class all things according to kind. Jehovah Himself created mankind and classed each according to kind, and when the end time arrives He will still do His own work Himself, classing all things according to kind—this work cannot be done by any apart from God” (“Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God”). From these words, we knew that corrupt mankind cannot resolve this problem, because all of the religious heads and leaders are all men, created beings. God is the Creator. People in every denomination will come under God’s authority. We can also see that in the last days, the scene “all peoples will flow to this mountain” will appear. Only God Himself can carry out this work, no one has the ability to do it. So only when God comes can true believers in God from all denominations return under His name. All will praise the name of one true God and at that time all will come under only one shepherd.