10 Reasons Why I Am Not a Member of a Denomination
There are hundreds of denominations claiming to be a part of Christianity. Most people who claim to be “Christians” also claim to be a member of a denomination. I am writing to explain from the New Testament why that I am not a member of any of them.
Webster defines “denomination as “a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices.” Many times, we hear the word “church” uses in reference to a denomination. Webster defines “church” as a) the whole body of Christians, b) denomination, and c) congregation.
Definition a) is found in the N.T. “Church” is used to describe the one body of Chris-tians, composed of individuals Christ has saved because they have made Him their head by subjecting their will to His (Eph 4:4; 5:23).
Definition c) is also found in the N.T. “Church” is used to describe a congregation of believers who work and worship together in a certain place such as “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor 1:2).
However, definition b) is not in the N.T. The word “church” was never used to de-scribe a denomination, an organization of congregations tied together by their com-mon belief and practice. This leads me to reason #1 why I am not a member of a de-nomination – Jesus never set up a denomination – not one, much less many. This is reason enough for me not to be a member of a denomination! But there are more.
#2: Denominations have positions of oversight that are not found in the N.T. Once men assume that “church” is a body of congregations, the next logical step is to create a structure to enable the congregations to work together. A business needs management as big as its organization, be it local, regional, national, or worldwide. The Lord set up local management in the form of elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2). But, the Lord did not provide for regional, national, or worldwide managers of His people. If He had wanted congregations to function together in this way, then He would have set up the needed management positions. But, in the first few centuries A.D., men invented larger positions of management – first citywide, then regional, then worldwide in the person of the Pope in A.D. 606 – thus bringing into existence the Catholic Church, the first denomination. Other denominations have followed, setting up similar positions, though naming their officers differently.
#3: Denominations give men authority that belongs only to Christ. As men assumed these offices, they claimed and asserted authority over other Christians. By “authority” I mean “the right to com-mand”. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18). If the Father gave Him all authority, then there is none for anyone else. If He has given it to Him in heaven and on earth, then there is no one on earth that can claim authority. The story of the first centuries of “Christianity” could be summed up as “the fall from servant to master”. Jesus said that His kingdom would not be like the kingdoms of the Gentiles with great men exercising authority over others, but the greatest among them would be their servant (Mt 20:20-28). However, some men took the power of the Gentile kings and other men submitted themselves to it, subjecting themselves to their spiritual rulings and even to their secular laws. Granting authority to men began with the Catholic Church, but it has carried forward into the Protestant Churches as well. If such authority is not demonstrated in a Pope, then it is in a president; if it is not manifested by a council, then it is in a synod or a convention.
#4: Denominations exalt men and their members follow their doctrines instead of the N.T. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for taking on exalted titles such as “Rabbi”, “Father”, and “Leader”, for such exalted titles belong only to God and Christ (Mt 23:8-12). Yet those in denominational high places accept the praise of men by the use of “Father”, “Reverend” and other such titles. Those within the denominations follow these authority figures instead of Christ. Instead of taking the “one faith”, the gospel of Christ (Eph 4:5; Gal 1:6-9) as their creed, denominations unite on their beliefs and practices as spelled out by church authorities in catechisms, confessions of faith, disciplines, manuals, etc. Their teaching is constantly amended by a vote…
#5: Denominational conversions shut people out of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that by practicing their man-made religion and proselyting others into it, they had not entered the kingdom of heaven and they were shutting their converts out of it. So, in like manner, those who practice their man-made form of “Christianity” have not come under heaven’s rule and, in proselyting others to their creed, they have shut them out of the kingdom of heaven.
#6: Denominational worship and service is vain. Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees, “But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Mt 15:9). So, would service to God according to denominational creeds be any more profitable? Surely not! Jesus said that many would profess on the Judgment Day that they had done many wonderful things in His name, but He would send them away, saying that He never had a relationship with them because what they did “in His name” was actually not in His name or did not have His authority (Mt 7:21-23). Sadly, so many labor hard according men’s doctrines and are headed for the Lord’s eternal rejection.
#7: Denominations foster loyalty to an organization of men, loyalty that should only belong to Christ. When I talk with denominational members about their faith, one of the first things that comes up is their denominational affiliation. Even to question that affiliation is to have a short conversation. Men are wedded to their de-nominations, especially if their forefathers were/are members. Paul said that men should not be “of Paul”, “of Apollos”, or “of Cephas”. Christ is the important One – it is He who died for us and we should be baptized in His name (1 Cor 1:12-13). Yet, the allegiance to organizations who have been founded by men and who are led by men is so strong!
#8: Denominations create division among professed disciples of Christ. Allegiance to men -to their organizations, leaders, and doctrines - naturally creates division. If one is “of” one denomination, then he is not “of” the others. If he follows one of men’s creeds, then he rejects the others. To this we ask the question Paul asked so long ago, “Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor 1:13).
#9: Denominations will be uprooted. In response to criticism concerning His strong remarks to the scribes and Pharisees about their man-made religion, Jesus did not back off, but rather He said, “Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted” (Mt 15:13). At the great “Rooting Day”, the Father will pull up all religions that He did not plant. He did not plant denominations, so He will root them up.
#10: I want to be only a “Christian”. In the N.T., disciples of Jesus were not known by their allegiance to an organization of congregations, but by their allegiance to Christ. That is why they were called “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28). Still Jesus calls for men to glorify God in this name (1 Pet 4:16).
10 Reasons to Leave
If you are a member of a denomination, I beg you to consider something you may never have considered before- leaving your denomination – for the same reasons that I am not a member of one:
- Jesus did not establish a denomination.
- Men have greater than local oversight.
- Men have authority that is Christ’s.
- Men are exalted; their creeds followed.
- Men are shut out of heaven’s kingdom.
- Worship according to men is vain.
- Loyalty to organization instead of Christ.
- Denominations create division.
- Denominations will be uprooted.
- You want to be just a “Christian”.
For the sake of your soul, for the Scriptural reasons stated above, won’t you soberly consider ending your denominational membership?
Become just a Christian! Then join yourself to a local congregation – the only organizational team prescribed by Jesus – not just any local congregation, but a local congregation that is teaching, worshiping, and working according to the teaching of Jesus in His New Testament.