Sin of Denominationalism

God's Law & Man's Compromise

We need to start our overview of denominationalism with man's frequent tendency to follow God only so far as it suits him.

Breech of Uzza

6 And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. 7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. 8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. 9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. 10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. 11 And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. I Chronicles 13:6-11

We read this wondering, "Why?" What was Uzza's offense? Is God just? If there was a reason, did David know what was expected of him?
Looking a little further, we find answers:

12 And said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. 13 For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. 14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bare the ark of the God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD. I Chronicles 15:12-15

God had given commandments on how His ark was to be handled. The ark pointed directly to God and was to be treated reverently. God commanded the ark to be carried by Levites, with poles going through loops on the sides of the ark. David knew this. It was in the books of Moses which David would have hand copied for himself, being a king of Israel. So then, what offense did Uzza make? God never commissioned him to handle the ark. The ark looked as if it might have fallen so he saved it. This may look good, but God showed through Uzza's death, this apparent good was really evil. If the commandment on transporting the ark had been obeyed, near disaster wouldn't have occurred. A good done while doing evil is unacceptable.

Is God just in such action? We know God wouldn't commit injustice, but if we don't understand this story we may wonder. Many things God commanded we consider trivial. A little lie won't hurt, it may not be exactly right, but it'll do. This is what David did here. God, on the other hand, doesn't give a command to pass the time of day. Any command He gives can't be lightly discarded. If we won't obey Him, how can we call Him 'Lord'. In disregarding His words, we're no longer following His Lordship.

To sum up Uzza: David thought the issue of how to move the ark was a trivial technicality, the cart will suffice, but God's commandments aren't trivial. Uzza crossed the border that demanded instant wrath. If he hadn't, and the ark hadn't stumbled, God's visible displeasure might very well have never been shown.

Solomon & The Harlots

Another story of compromise is found in I Kings 3:16-28. Two harlots approach Solomon's throne. They want him to command a child to be given to his rightful mother, one being an imposter. God's law commanded the death penalty for harlotry. The fact these harlots came boldly before the throne, indicates the king wouldn't carry out such laws. They'd have no reason for believing this, so early in Solomon's reign, unless it had been David's policy to ignore this law. In this passage, no condemnation is made over the crime of harlotry. No Uzza to reach out and call down God's immediate judgment. We see Solomon's wisdom demonstrated, thinking this shows God's approval. David compromised with Uzza, crossing a threshold and found God backing His original laws.

The High Places

During the reigns of Judah's godly kings, some left the high places. After King Manasseh's repentance, it says they sacrificed still in the high places, but only to the LORD (2 Chronicles 33:17). God said in the law that sacrifices were to be offered only before his tabernacle. People felt free to do what God had forbidden in their efforts to please Him. How illogical! God didn't send fire and brimstone, but He said this was unacceptable (Leviticus 17:1-9 - includes before the temple was built; Deuteronomy 12:1-14). We see that even Samuel violated this, he offered in many different towns and on the battlefield with Saul (I Samuel 13:1- 14; Samuel would have offered the sacrifice as soon as he arrived).

King Saul's Authority

With a little different twist, we see King Saul cursing anyone who ate before the evening of the battle (I Samuel 14:24-29, 35-45). His son Jonathan didn't hear and ate. Later Jonathan almost lost his life for this and God showed He still called for accountability. Saul's restriction wasn't wise, but the position of authority he held gave authority to his commands, stupid or not. If we saw a pastor do something God seemed to back up, we'd assume God sanctioned that man and think all his ideas to be obeyed. Looking at Saul, we see this is foolishness, otherwise the killer Doeg would be a righteous man to be venerated.

Denominationalism - Is Close Really Good Enough?

We do the same today with denominations. God blesses something someone does, and we assume God's approval is on his path. We assume this because the ark on the cart has been going fine and God's visible wrath hasn't fallen. The founder even has God's visible approval in his life, as did David, so we reason the sect we belong to must be good.

God forbid it, yet we think, as David did over the ark, the fellowship arrangement is trivial, denominationalism suffices.

I for one don't care to take Uzza's approach. Even if the cart hadn't rocked, do you want to be going in a path displeasing to God? From my experience, most Christians don't care whether they're totally pleasing to God - "close enough" will suffice the majority. People compromise at different levels saying, "close is good enough". Some compromise on denominations, others compromise using profanity.

We think loving our spouse and children, going to "church", donating time, services, money, etc. is great and God'll be satisfied. No need to get picky over little things like language. HOW CAN WE FOOL OURSELVES? God isn't a vendor to be bartered with and meet terms acceptable to both. He's God! If ones a Christian, then His Lordship leaves no room for bartering. Jesus' call to the Kingdom was to Repent and Believe. Is leaving any sin undealt with repenting? If it remains ignored, He isn't Lord of your life. If you choose a "church" on grounds of your personal preferences, then He isn't obeyed. The church IS NOT a Democracy - It's a Theocracy! If God condemns something, it's condemned. If He OKs something, no man can rewrite His laws!

The Evidence of Denominational Wickedness

Two things I want to look at. They show the exclusiveness and wickedness of denominationalism.


The first comes from a discussion on the matter of growth of Southern Baptists. Quoting now and listing three of the nine items mentioned:

"Usually the subject is approached from the positive point of view. 'How shall we grow?' - View the subject from the other direction - 'How did Southern Baptists not grow?' What are some of the courses which may lead to mediocrity, if not to oblivion? Several suggestions may be listed:

1. Practice open church membership - this will devaluate our Baptist position.

5. Be apologetic regarding the use of the name 'Baptists' - this will weaken our prestige.

9. Solicit financial support from non-Baptists - this will make beggars of the churches.

There are other roads which might open the way to denominational nothingness, but this combination would probably make others unnecessary." - Robert G. Lee

End Quote

The insults this denominational promotion speaks against the body of Christ are enormous. Listing the three items over again, rewording it in its stand against Christ's work we have:

1. Those who are members of the Body of Christ, accepted in and by Jesus according to His terms, are not acceptable to us. They must go a step beyond to be good enough to be one of our special group. We have our special stands that are to be itemized to be above and beyond the Bible. The Bible cannot stand alone as the basis for power amongst our group. One cannot have voting rights amongst others in our group (membership entails voting rights in the Southern Baptist churches).

5. Our grouping is a badge of honor to be held high. Like I Corinthians says, 'I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas...' we must hold our distinctiveness high so the people see Baptists, not Christians. They also see division, not unity, emphasized in the body of Christ. Our prestige and our pride must be maintained.

9. We feel the work we're doing is spreading the Gospel and doing God's work. We don't want and can't accept the help of other servants of God to promote His work or accept the help of other servants of God (they're not good enough yet). They can't be allowed to contribute to glorify Him, for the work we do must be done in the name of BAPTIST and forward our BAPTIST cause. If a fellow Christian is willing to swear allegiance to our Baptist name, they can be fully accepted among us.


The second item showing the wickedness and exclusiveness of denominationalism, is found in the back of a booklet entitled, 'This We Believe' by Aimee Semple McPherson of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. It's their declaration of faith. Under 'Members', pages 29 and 30:

"Applicants for membership shall be first examined as to their faith, prayed with and encouraged by the Pastor or person or persons designated by said Pastor. Such applicant must show evidence of having genuine born-again experience, and living a Christ-like life, a deep love for the winning of souls, and the furthering of the course of Foursquare Gospel evangelism throughout the earth, and must declare his loyalty to, and willingness to assist in the support of this association, both with his substance, as well as his undivided effort. Each such applicant shall express his recognition of the fact that 'a house divided against itself cannot stand,' and his adherence to the policy of this association, that there shall be no disloyalty, insubordination, whispering, criticizing, or backbiting of this association, or its leaders, and that if at any time any member feels that he is no longer loyal or in unqualified sympathy or one-accord with this association, he shall ask for a letter of dismissal, and quietly withdraw from membership, and that if he should fail so to do, the authorities of the association reserve the right to tender such member such letter of dismissal; that the love of souls and the passion for soul winning must be the great undergirder and supreme end toward which all efforts lead, and that sidelines, nonessential issues and hair-splitting of doctrines which tend to break the unity and detract from the great white-heated flame of soul-winning must be checked wherever found, and that Christ must be made the central Figure and be lifted up till all men will see, love and be drawn near unto Him."

End Quote

Listing the terms of membership in its stand against Christ's work, we have something that contradicts itself. It has fine sounding principals, saying a person really has to be a born-again Christian and sounds noble in the end with statements of commitment to refusing hair-splitting and promoting soul winning and lifting up Christ. Such noble sounding parts make some overlook the evil found through the rest.

It makes itself exclusive in Christ. They say He's to be the peak, but by their structure they make themselves that peak. To be one of them you must be accepted as one of Christ's and swear further allegiance than Christ demands in His Word. His word isn't sufficient to be one of them. By being more exclusive than Christ, they make their own laws above Christ and say you may be good enough for Him, but not yet for us. In that, they truly set themselves above the Head. They say how evil it is to break the unity, but in making their denomination, they immediately break the unity of the body of Christ, making a subgroup broken off from the whole. How does this promote unity?

Furthermore, the outline of disfellowship given for dealing with sin in the scriptures isn't sufficient. A special protection clause is demanded of a believer to swear allegiance to the corporation and its special exclusive members. What's more, if you find sin in the organization, you agree to quietly dismiss yourself and not openly rebuke for their wickedness, " longer loyal or in unqualified sympathy or one-accord with this association, he shall ask for a letter of dismissal, and quietly withdraw from membership."

Denominational Woes!

When a denomination begins work in a community, it doesn't say, "let's add to the local gathering of believers". It doesn't check to see if there is one! It just starts its own brand of "church", is polite to other local assemblies, but doesn't stop its separate gathering. Its refusal to join with them isn't, "you're walking in sin," but, "you're not part of our association".

Denominationalism, Sectarianism, Cliques, special subgroups, special ministries that assemble only amongst themselves on the basis of who's part of the special ministry, all these are part of the same thing: a special group apart from the body of Christ. The scripture strongly condemns this. The basis of the church in the New Testament, is the gathering of believers in the locality. Physical limitation alone is the basis for division. We're to gather with Christians that live in our area. A gathering that's based on denominationalism, or call it what you like, can't be considered the church. The church is the assembling of believers, not some special sub-grouping.

I Corinthians chapter 12 talks about the church in comparison to the human body, equating different members as different body parts. In each community, the whole of the body forms the church. For some of the members to regularly gather as a separate assembly would not be the body. Take for an example that you found an eyelid, a couple teeth, an ear and maybe a leg in your front yard. You wouldn't call the police telling them to come quickly, you found a body in the front yard. You would clearly recognize that wasn't a body at all. In fact, you'd recognize such a finding as an unnatural, gruesome discovery. When we call a sectarian assembly a "church", it's about equal to calling the few body parts a body. We all really know better.

Note what these Christians said:

¥ "I pray you leave my name alone. Do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians" - Martin Luther

¥ "I wish the name Methodist might never be mentioned again, but lost in eternal oblivion." - John Wesley

¥ "I say of the Baptist name, let it parish, but let Christ's own name last for ever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living." - Charles Spurgeon

Christian Assembly

This brings up the assembly the Bible outlines:


We find two passages in Acts that tell us there's repentance and conversion. These saved assembled together:

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:37-42

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19

Next we see that no divisions are allowed from the bedrock of Christ, and the carnality of divisions:

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. I Corinthians 1:10-17

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 3:1-11

The division of the body of Christ is to be based on locality. This division is based on physical limitations, not on personal tastes and prejudices. Basis on anything else is sinful.

Look at how the different epistles begin. They're to the church in the town it's addressed to, not the churches of the town. When an epistle is addressed to a district, which contains many cities then it says "churches" as in Galatians 1:1,2. (I Corinthians 1:1,2,10-13; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1,2; I Thessalonians 1:1).

Finally, the basis of assembly Jesus gave:

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20


24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24,25


The Bible's clear and strong. It falls under the term 'sect'.

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, Acts 5:17

We need to understand the word "sect" thats used in the Greek of the New Testament. The word is "hairesis" which is also translated "heresy" in the New Testament. Our concept of this word comes from the Catholic Inquisition where everyone who wasn't Catholic was called a heretic. The word in the Greek has no such meaning, however. In fact, the word has no evil meaning in itself. Quoting the definition from Dake's Annotated Bible, "The word itself has no evil meaning. It simply refers to a doctrinal view or belief at variance with the recognized and accepted tenets of a system, church, or party. The word heretic is used once in Scripture (Titus 3:10), and means one who holds a heresy; a dissenter, nonconformist. It only takes on an evil meaning when sound doctrine is rejected and fallacy is accepted and taught in preference to truth. If the doctrine is unsound and one dissents from the main body who holds the fallacy, then he is a heretic in a good sense. The word signifies a sect or party, whether good or bad, distinguished from all other sects and parties. It formerly was applied to different sects of heathen philosophers.

...Jews called Christians a sect (Acts 24:5,14; 28:22) and Christians called the Pharisees and Sadducees and other groups sects (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 26:5)..." D.A.R.B., New Testament, p. 127, col. 4, e.

In other words, Christianity was a "heresy" of Judaism. Christ set up his group, party of followers, and anyone who comes along and takes what He has established and adds to that, then that branching off from His establishment is a new party or "heresy". Understanding this when we read Titus 3:10, shines light on the crime being referred to:

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Titus 3:10

In a simple non-exhaustive definition, heresy is to hold to pet doctrines, apostacy is to abandon the doctrines for new false ones.


First, a brief scriptural outline as it would apply to this:

I Corinthians 5:12,13 (Judge those within, not without);
Galatians 6:1,2; Ephesians 5:11,12 (Have no fellowship with unfruitful works of but rather reprove) = I Thessalonians 5:22 (Abstain from appearance of evil - evil not to obey);
II Thessalonians 3:6,14 = 2:15 (withdraw yourselves from every brother that...); Matthew 18:15-17 (the process of dealing with sin);
II Timothy 4:1,2 (Reprove, rebuke, exhort...).

As Christians, we have a responsibility to assemble together where possible, but when unrepentant sin reigns, there's the violation of one of the basic principals required for Christian assembly.

There are three principals for the Christian assembly:

¥ "Do we worship the same God?"

¥ "Are we saved the same way?"

¥ "Do we bring forth fruits meet for repentance?"

Upon this basis, we have the formula for Biblical Christian Church Membership. Namely: If I'm a Christian, If I live in a locale, If I gather (assemble) with the other Christians in that locale, then I AM A MEMBER OF THAT GATHERING (ASSEMBLY). PERIOD. [a=b, b=c, then a=c]
The Biblical formula is simple and clear. Anything more is a branch, 'heresy', from Christ's establishment. The scripture says after a first and second admonition, reject those who do this to His gathering! (Titus 3:10).


When the Billy Graham Crusade went to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the local Bible College in Three Hills refused to help the Crusade. Why? On what basis? Shouldn't we join with everyone who wants to get people saved? This sounds unchristian, to refuse to help in such a noble pursuit. After a second look, however, one should begin to wonder. The groups participating in the Crusades take a slice of the fruit. With follow-up efforts, the people go to different "churches". In other words, if you're brought by your Methodist friend and go forward, you're urged by the friend to believe the decision you made is properly followed up by going to his "church". The Crusade wouldn't say otherwise, would dare not say otherwise. With a little research of the group, apart from being a sect, you'd find that a portion of the offerings of the Methodists go to help such causes as the homosexuals. Indirectly, help in such actually helps forward an evil empire. The Methodists aren't the only major denomination that promotes such. I know someone whose father was a circuit rider Methodist preacher, he grew up in the Methodist church and in his old age finally cut ties with the Methodist church because of its homosexual promotion.

Unity's important, but not at the cost of fellowship with the unrepentant.

The principal of heresy we've covered answers this question without hesitation.

Titus 3:10 (Previously quoted), and:

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. II Thessalonians 3:6,14

The Bible gives light for this. For many this is too much, and they'll continue promoting the spirit of heresy. We need to ask ourselves, "What's more important, following Christ or involvement in some 'church'?"

Corinthian Spat - A Play
Sectarianism - A Poem