by Terry Campbell
Sentry Magazine, September 2001
"Denominationalism" denotes a group of people devoted to a specific religious belief system who assemble under the name of a person, or concept, as their focus within a formal organizational environment governed by those of prominence that hold to that belief system. They have creeds and by-laws that equal the Bible in authority in matters pertaining to guidance for religious expression of assembly and living. To know how a "denominational group functions and exists, one must review their creeds and by-laws. Many people claim that the Bible is their prime authority, however. Denominations arc generally religious groups of many decades and even centuries old. Non-denominationalism denotes those who are not restricted to, or associated with, religious denominations and yet still assemble within a formal organizational environment governed by those of prominence that hold to their specific belief system.
Non-denominational groups generally assemble under the name of a concept and they also have creeds and by-laws that equal the Bible in authority in matters pertaining to guidance for religious expression of assembly and living. To know how a "nondenominational" group functions and exists, one must review their creeds and by-laws. Many people claim that the Bible is their prime authority, however. Non-denominational churches are generally religious groups that have split from, or individuals who have previously left, a denominational group.
If we are not "Non-Denominational" and not Denominational" then what are we? This question is asked often of those who watch our lives and see something different as they try to fit us into their own known religious boxes. We are part of the church that the Lord Jesus Christ said that He Himself would build. "Jesus said '... I will build my church'" (Matthew 16:16-18). We are lively stones within it (I Peter 2:5).
The "church of Jesus" denotes a group of people devoted to the teachings of the Bible as given by Jesus Himself for His church. We have the teachings of Jesus recorded for us in the writings of the Bible as first penned by the apostles in the first century. We gather under the name of the Lord Jesus Christ only and accept His headship over the church as our only governing authority. We have no creeds or by-laws, and follow the Bible as the only authority for Christian service. To know how such a group functions and exists, one only needs to look to the pages of the New Testament for understanding. The church of Jesus goes back to the first century as the apostles spread the words of Jesus and established the first assemblies of Christians from town-to-town by preaching from house-to-house and publicly (Acts 20:20).
The apostles spoke what Jesus said (Galatians 1:11-12; II Peter 3:1-2; Jude 3,17). And Jesus spoke what He heard from the Father (John 8:26-29; 12:47-50, Revelation 1:1) God said that we are to listen to His Son Jesus (Matthew 17:4-8; II Peter 1:16-18). We are to abide in the teachings of Christ (II John 9-10) and avoid those who do not follow His words (II John 11; I Timothy 6:3-5; I John 4:5-6).
Who are we? We are of the one body (church), one Spirit. one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God that the Bible speaks of (Ephesians 4:4-6).