Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
Why Are There So Many Churches Teaching Differently?
-by Tony Warren
t's a Good Question. But the answer is not as complicated as some people would have us believe. First of all, ownership of historic Christianity is not by any particular group or denomination. No religious group can lay exclusive rights upon Christ (as some attempted to do). Christ may be found of those who have never even been inside a Church. Christianity itself is not the reason we have so many Churches teaching so many different things. Simply put, the reason we have so many professing Christians who hold to so many different views of scripture, is primarily because everyone who says that they are a Christian, are not Christians. That's the simple truth of the matter. It is not because God hasn't provided us with everything we need to know in order to make a just decision on what is right, or because scripture cannot honorably be understood by us, it is because many simply choose not to receive what scripture says.
2nd Timothy 3:15-17
- "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
- That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Simply taking the name of Christ does not make one a Christian. Throughout history we have had professed Christians who burned people at the stake, or tortured them mercilessly. But does that mean that they actually were true Christians? I think not. A Christian is prescribed by their wearing of the spiritual cloth, and faith consists of more than an individual merely saying he is Christian. It is a way of life which is pervasive and defined by the Word of God, not simply a label that one takes hold of.
- "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach".
- "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
- A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
- And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
In a perfect world, all true Christians, after a period of time discussing and comparing scriptures with scripture, would sooner or later have to come to the truth of it. Because they (presumably) all accept every verse of scripture as true and authoritative and none to be ignored. And so comparing and harmonizing scripture, they would soon reconcile all of them to come to the proper understanding. But in reality, this is not a perfect world, and man still dwells in the body of this flesh. Therefore do men's own bias work against them in their consideration of scripture. It is God alone who can intervene and direct our steps righteousness that we walk the correct paths.
- "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."
Let me give you a practical example. There are verses in scripture which "seem" to indicate that we are saved by works. And there are Theologians who read those verses, come to this conclusion, and then cling to it like it was their security blanket. No verse that you present to them which qualifies the verse in question will change their mind. Because they have become indoctrinated. So when you say, "what about this verse, or that verse," they will completely ignore or trample under foot the verse you request they read, and instead retort saying something like, "you've misinterpreted the verse" (even though you quoted it word for word), or they'll redirect the subject, saying, "No, what about this other verse?" In other words, they won't reconcile all the verses honestly to come to truth, they'll completely ignore or dismiss the ones which show their doctrine in error, and will present another which they think supports their view. It then becomes a battle of futility or a test of "who can give most verses without really answering the questions," contest. It has deteriorated into a contest of theological egos, not a search for the truth.
In debating circles, this tactic is often called, presenting "dueling scriptures." But truth is, scriptures do not duel with each other. Men do! Therefore these men are really at war with themselves.
A sound hermeneutic is founded upon the second basic principle. "No scripture passage can contradict another." All scriptures must first be recognized as authoritative and completely true, and then reconciled with all others. We understand that in situations where there are seeming contradictions, one scripture must qualify another. We can go to the example of when Satan tried Christ in the desert:
- "And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
- "...It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
On the Other hand, the faithful steward or caretaker of scripture, when presented with God's witness which does not support his view, will not simply ignore it, but will receive it as truth (after all, it too is God's Word), will surrender to it's authority and harmonize it with the other scripture. This is because we starts out with the most basic of fundamental biblical principles. We agree all scriptures are true and authoritative and we study them to see what is being said. For example, in the case of the apparent contradiction of Salvation by works we would agree:
- YES, the Bible says, he that does not keep the Word of God will not be Saved. That's true. But it also says that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. So then, we know that it cannot mean that we can keep the law in working for our Salvation, rather careful consideration of all relevant scriptures indicates that our works are the evidence of your Salvation. So that anyone without this evidence, cannot be Saved. Then we would present testimony to 'the whole' commentary of scriptures which proves that.
- "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few".
2nd Corinthians 4:2
- "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
- "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
- O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
- I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Sadly, many today have grown comfortable in their error and consider anyone bringing scriptures which contradict their teachings to be "attacking them" or their Church. They are uncomfortable with scriptures which prove their doctrines wrong, and that is often manifested in them striking out in anger. For all their speaking about the gross errors of the Catholic Church concerning tradition, many Protestants are clinging to that exact same form of tradition in holding to their group or denominational teachings over the Biblical mandates. Nevertheless, the Spirit works mightily in many to overcome this error.
We can be sure of one thing, God informs us in scripture that the Lord resists the proud, but gives Grace to the humble. The ability to ignore scriptures in order to hold onto Church doctrine is rooted in pride. It's not our job to condemn them. In love and with patience we pray that many will turn from false teachings and receive the truth of the Word. We can but witness to that truth, and ask that the Lord would reveal it to them. God uses our prayers as a means of His working for good.
- "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much."
But we also know full well that the Church is responsible, and it both can and must discern truth in doctrines. It's obligated to do so. There is no grey area, there is no lukewarm. There is only black and white and hot and cold. Scripture does not compromise, and neither should the Church capitulate to the pressures of the world around it.
Our job is to bear faithful witness to the truth, and God will show the increase. Judge not, but do not shy away from correcting with scripture, that others may come to know the truth of what is written. God's word is not our enemy, unless we fight against it. Unfortunately many do, and that is the primary reason we have so many different doctrines. They stand against the Christ of the Bible, and want a Christ of their own making. they are offended by the Lord's Christ.
- "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
- "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended."
1st John 2:27-28
- "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
- And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
So, why are there so many denominations? First because all who call themselves Christian are not Christians. Second, it is a biblical fact that the body of Christ cannot be divided (Matthew 12:25-29; Mark 3:24-26; 1st Corinthians 1:13). Just because one denomination or group believes that it's best to immerse to baptize Christians, and another group believes that it's best to sprinkle water to baptize doesn't mean that the Church is divided or has no unity. People who point to the proliferation of denominations as proof of some flaw in Christianity don't really understand Christianity. Their arguments that it would be one group united as Jesus desired if it was true does not stand the test of scripture. Jesus Himself told the Church there would be different groups, and that still they were all of the same body.
- "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
- And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."