Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the
name of Paul? (1Cor 1:13)
Denomination. The word brings to my mind negative connotations, much like swearwords do. It creates a feeling-type-picture of something I would wish to avoid if at all possible. Words like "outhouse" and "armpit" give me the same type feeling.
But that's just me. My feelings regarding words have very little or no connection with reality. For instance, names like Sammy give me negative feelings because of past associations. And names like David and Mark give me good feelings. Mary Ann, on the other hand, creates in me warm and tender feelings.
Those names effect me in the way I described. You might have just the opposite feelings toward them.
But how about Judas or Brutus? Chances are most people would regard those names pretty much like everyone else.
Nomination. I can't find nomination in the dictionary except as a derivative of "nominate." Nominate means (as we already suspected) "to propose for election, to appoint for office, and to name or appoint a date or place."
I don't see how any of that fits. I'll break the word down even further.
"Nom," like "nom de plume" means "pen name," in other words, not a real name, but a phoney one used to hide one's real identity. So, I suspect the word "nom" means "Name." I take it than that "nominate" means the name of an office or place. Makes a little more sense, I suppose: But surely there must be a better word to describe a place where God's people meet and worship. (We say; "What church do you go to?" And what we really mean is, "What denomination do you belong to?")
A little more investigation.
Above Nominate I find "nomenclature." Now, had it not been staring me in the face, I would have missed that word, but perhaps it might be a key. Nomenclature means: "Person's or community's system of names for things."
That makes sense. That being the case, shouldn't the word for segments of the Church be denomenclature-ion, or something such?
No, I guess not. Guess we're stuck with "denomination." Even though it is a repugnant word, at least it is easier to say.
Interesting; the word just below nomenclature is "Nominal." I have often heard of someone being a "nominal Christian." Wonder just what that means?
Nominal: "Existing in name only; not real or actual." No mistaking that meaning. And there's that word "name" again.
So now, it appears, we have a "name" of a place where people meet to worship, and a group of people who, as it would seem, go to that place, but are not really a part of them.
So, what does "de-" mean?
I don't know about you, but it sounds to me like "Denomination" means to completely Not be a place where people come to worship God. Where true Christians will not be found. In other words; Not the True Church?
Denominations are groups of people divided. "I belong to this denomination, and you belong to that denomination." (And, of course, yours is wrong, and mine is right.) It's a division, but of What, and Why?
The Why part is easy enough. It's a matter of Math, which began when Adam and Eve were in the Garden. God told them to "Multiply," and fill the earth. That was easy enough, and I haven't heard of any resistance to that command from either Adam and Eve, or from any of their descendants.
"And fill the earth." That means to scatter. Or does it?
At the Tower of Babel, mankind tried to work together to "reach God." And God scattered them and gave them different languages to separate them and keep them separated. It sounds like God didn't want mankind to hang around one place.
Or is it possible that it wasn't staying together that God was concerned with, but rather the Tower, and the Means by which they were trying to reach God?
A topic for another investigation. Even more so considering that God gave the Gift of Tongues, which is a means for everyone to understand one another and bring them together, at Pentecost.
So people divide. And to this day, Nations divide, States divide. And families divide and scatter across the world.
So it's not surprising that denominations divide, and form smaller denominations, that divide and form tiny denominations - each certain that they are the one and only denomination that God smiles on and approves of.
Again, another topic for another time.
Families divide, parents divorce and remarry, divorce and remarry, etc, etc (I am referring to the same people here). Children marry and leave home, and often leave home (even pushed out of the nest) long before time for them to marry.
That's families. And, unfortunately, that's so common it has become "natural."
I think we are all in agreement that it is not. But what can we do about it?
I'm going to paint a picture of a new "convert" to Christianity; A baby; A "Newborn" of the "Born-Again" family.
"Have you been baptized? Only sprinkled? Can't be a Christian unless you've been submerged."
"Was you baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? No? Oops, got to do it again."
"Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit like at Pentecost? Do you speak in tongues? Do you pick up serpents and drink poison?"
"Do you take of the Sacraments regularly and go before the alter often?"
"Do you. . . ?"
You get the picture.
So now you have everything going for you, "all your ducks in a row," as the saying goes. You have, and are fulfilling everything any of the strictest denominations could possibly require. You even have a menagerie of snakes in your garage.
A knock at your door.
"But do you read our Bible? Do you study our doctrines? You may do all those other things that don't mean a thing in our doctrines, but you are only partially saved if you don't come to our church."
So you learn that all you have learned, all you have done is for naught. You have to start over again.
One denomination stealing members from other denominations.
And like families, when you change from one to another, you not only change your name, but your doctrines as well -- and fervently so. A Hatfield adopted by the McCoys.
Is the Church the Bride of Christ? I suppose it is; the Bible tells me so.
Is the Church for our own pleasure and grandizement, or for His?
And that, dear soul, is the crux of the problem.
Of course this is a modern problem. I mean, the churches of antiquity never had this problem. They were all in agreement. Right?
When was the first break in the organized chain called the church? Was it when Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to the door in the 1500's? This truly was a dividing point as the Roman Catholic church had very strong bonds up until that time that no one dare break. If you are other than Roman Catholic, regardless of your denomination or faith, you might consider that.
(A note of interest here. The dictionary defines Catholic as: "Universal; all-embracing; of wide sympathies and interests." I can't but help think of the Crusades, the "rack" (torture chambers for "heretics,") the Witch hunts, the martyrdom of Martin Luther amongst many other detractors.)
Given thought, there was another break before Luther; it was in the 9th century A.D. [Another note to those of you too young to remember what A.D. and B.C. meant before the modern intelligentsia got hold of them. A.D. (Anno Domini) is Latin for "In the year of Our Lord;" and B.C. means "Before Christ." Now they call it "before the common era." They will do anything to get Christ, and God out of our lives. In psychology they would call this "denial," however the very ones who have created the word to describe the process are very often the very ones who are doing the denying.
A long sidebar, wasn't it? I seem to have more "notes" than I do story.]
So, again, in the 9th century "after Christ" the Greek Orthodox church broke away from the Roman Catholic church. Could there have been any others before?
Around 300 A.D. the Church (Capital Church again) was highly persecuted. If you were a Christian, and refused to denounce Christ -- at worst you became food for the lions, at best you lost everything you owned and the one who "squealed" on you got a tenth of it all.
Then in 313 Constantine (Emperor of Rome) saw a vision, became a Christian, and said that everyone could worship how they pleased. Up until this time becoming a Christian meant great risk. It was Heart-Felt. With the edict of Constantine a person was a nobody if they weren't Christian. The word took on no more meaning than saying one's name: In fact, less.
Soon after this edict non-Christians were the ones being persecuted. Now you had to be a Christian to stay alive. I'll bet there was a flood of converts then. Wasn't much need for evangelism or missionaries as we know them today, do you think?
In other words, what a person said they were meant nothing. They were whatever the King or Queen said they should be.
Kind of like now, huh? No king or queen to tell us how to think, just the Education System, the Media, and the prevailing popular opinion.
[Another sidebar. When I was young the question "Are you a Christian" was rarely asked. It was assumed that everyone was Christian, after all, this was a "Christian Nation," so at least everyone would say they were in order to be part of the "Norm," and be considered as decent folk. No, the question on everyone's lips was, "What church (denomination) do you go to?]
Now we've come to a point in time -- not centuries, but just a few short years after Jesus. Surely at this point the Church is unified and believe the same doctrines. Right?
The Church is hiding from the Jews, and hiding from the Romans; in fact hiding from everyone who is not a Christian. It would be foolish to think that such a down-trodden and persecuted people, a people with such devotion to a cause, such a devotion to God, would be divided. Right?
Then there was the Judaizers who were trying to convert the new Christians to Judaism, or at least to compromise them.
In fact, even when Jesus walked this earth, all but the twelve deserted Him. And one of the twelve betrayed Him. Then when Jesus was crucified, the eleven went their own way. Jesus found Peter and the eleven back at the Sea of Galilee fishing, where He found them at the beginning of His ministry.
And who are the True Christians? Perhaps Jesus' admonition to the twelve gives us a hint. He said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you...." (John 15:16-19)
I don't have the answer to those questions; But;
But it's not conclusions, or answers, that I am looking for in these searches, so it's not surprising that I find none. What I am trying to do is understand the question a little better.]
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