by Doy Moyer

Denominationalism today is not just about one particular doctrine but a mindset that relates to how we think about the Lord’s body. Denominational thinking perceives the church (universal) as comprised of an interconnected web of congregations instead of seeing the church as comprised of individual Christians without respect to time or location. Christians today are in the same body as Paul and Peter. They are “the assembly (church) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Hebrews 12:12).

Local churches are also comprised of individual Christians, and each congregation exists as a lampstand accountable to the Lord. Within each group, there may be those who are doing right and those who are doing wrong, as Revelation 2-3 demonstrates. In other words, having your name on a local church directory does not guarantee your salvation, and a congregation listed in a directory somewhere is no guarantee that the lampstand won’t be removed.

But to critique denominationalism and then turn around and argue as if the church is made up of a bunch of similar congregations is to betray the concept. Each congregation should be scripturally evaluated on its own terms, and each Christian should seek to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Yet, to expect to find a flawless congregation is naive. As many problems as Corinth had, they were still called the “church of God that is in Corinth” (I Corinthians 1:2). That didn’t mean they could be satisfied with the problems, and they were given instructions to correct them, but the Lord is patient and gives time to repent. Be patient, be zealous, and seek the welfare of God’s people everywhere.

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