“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:32 KJV.
What started out as an initiative to reform the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century has led to hundreds of denominations within the Christian religion by the 21st century. While these denominations have some beliefs in common, there are many significant differences.
Denominations are organized for different reasons that almost always begin with conflict and confrontation over doctrinal differences. Rather than resolve the issue, man would rather start another group that promotes his own agenda.
Some denominations still adhere to interpretations of scripture that support positions against women, blacks, homosexuality and interracial marriages. Along denominational lines, Christians have misinterpreted, or intentionally misused, scripture to justify their views on political and social issues, which usually translates into power for the leader.
Denominations are also used as status markers associated with one’s level of education, wealth and social status.
The one thing Christians from every denomination have in common is their quest for the truth. Getting to this truth has been a problem from the beginning. The Apostle Paul sought to address many of these issues.
So, why are there so many Christian denominations? Because there are so many Christians who believe their interpretation of the truth is the right truth and they would rather change denominations than interpretations.
Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston
Denominations are as diverse as our culture There are many reasons why there are so many Christian denominations. But first I must point to the Protestant Reformation, which was started when a German priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 complaints (The 95 Theses) with the Catholic Church on the church door at Wittenburg in 1517.
This marked the first major split in Christianity (other than the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church), but it didn’t just split — it fractured like glass dropped from a roof.
From there, the different denominations, churches and movements can be attributed to the great diversity among humans as well as humans’ inability to get along. Denominations are defined by differences in worship style and preference — differences that cross cultural, racial and generational divides.
Denominations have also developed out of a variety of scriptural interpretations, theologies and traditions.
As a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a movement started by Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone in an attempt to bring all denominations together at the Communion table, I wish we as Christians could stop fragmenting and start pulling together. (I do have to point out the fact that this movement for unity, started in the 1800s, eventually became its own denomination.) But I believe that Christ does not care about denominations and I don’t think that Christ finds one to be better than any other.
Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)