human denomination came into existence hundreds of years after
Jesus built his church, but the principle underlying modern
denominationalism is condemned by the inspired apostle Paul
1:10-13, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that ye 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. For it hath
been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of
the house of Chlo'e, that there are contentions among you. 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. Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of
were divided, and they were wearing names which both contributed
to and gave evidence of their division. Paul condemned their
division and their calling themselves after the names of human
beings. If such division, even in a local church of Christ was
condemned by the inspired apostle, how would one go about
seeking to justify modern-day denominationalism?
unfortunate that the idea prevails in the religious world that
one who is a Christian either belongs to some denomination or
else has chosen not to belong to any church at all.
Some seem to equate church membership with membership in some
denomination. Is it possible for people to belong to the church
Jesus built, to be in an organized congregation so they may all
work and worship together as a church, and none of them belong
to any denomination?
UNDENOMINATIONAL CHRISTIANITY IS POSSIBLE!
The term undenominational Christianity never would
have been used by Christians in the first century, because at
that time there were not any denominations.
In other words, when people heard, believed and obeyed
the gospel, they were saved and added by the Lord to his
"Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the
Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
They saw no need to form or join a denomination.
Nothing in the gospel of Christ would lead one to become
a member of any denomination.
This shows beyond a doubt that undenominational
Christianity is possible.
This fact is admitted by all.
For example, should you ask a preacher of Denomination
"A", "Do you believe one can be a Christian and not belong to
your denomination?" his answer would be "Yes!"
Should you ask him, "Does becoming a Christian make
one a member of your denomination?" he likely would reply,
This is not the same as saying one can be a Christian
and not be a member of the church Jesus built.
It is still possible for people to become Christians,
members of the church Jesus built, without being members of any
THE NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT LEAD ONE INTO A DENOMINATION.
In the New Testament those who obeyed the gospel of
Christ were added by the Lord to His church.
Nobody in the New Testament was ever invited to join
the church. Instead, the Lord added every saved person to
".And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
There is not one word in the New Testament that suggests
one should become a member of some denomination.
This fact is one upon which even preachers of various
denominations would agree.
One must go beyond the teaching of the New Testament in
order to become a member of a denomination.
Denominations, then, are made-up of those who have done
something the New Testament did not lead them to do.
Such is not true concerning the church one reads about in
the New Testament; one becomes a member of that church by doing
just exactly what the New Testament teaches, and nothing more.
Notice two very important implications of this fact:
The only reason there is denominations in the world is
because some have left the teachings of the New Testament.
And every denomination would cease to exist if every
person in the world would simply come back to the teaching of
the New Testament.
Both of these are necessary inferences from the
acknowledged fact that the New Testament does not teach one to
form or join any denomination. But it does teach that the Lord
adds every saved person to His church.
THOSE WHO ADHERE TO THE TEACHING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ARE
NOT IN DENOMINATIONS.
By adhering strictly to the teaching of the New
Testament, a person becomes a member of the church we read about
in the Bible, but one could never get into any denomination by
If the New Testament does not lead one to become a member
of a denomination, then one cannot adhere strictly to the
teaching of the New Testament and get into a denomination.
Only those not strictly adhering to the teaching of the
New Testament can become something the New Testament does not
lead them to become
IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST A DENOMINATION?
There are some who affirm that the church of Christ is a
They offer as evidence our shortcomings, our
While we readily acknowledge that we are far from being
perfect, this does not prove we are members of some
Christians in the first century were also not perfect,
but they were members of the church Jesus built, and that church
is not a denomination.
They were members of that church because they had obeyed
the gospel of Christ and were saved, and the Lord adds the saved
to His church.
If the church of Christ is a denomination, then it is
because those of us who are members thereof did something in
becoming members thereof that the New Testament does not teach
us to do.
If such were the case we should immediately get out of
that denomination and obey the simple gospel of Christ.
But the man or woman does not live who can show that we
did something other than that which the New Testament teaches
one to do in becoming members of the church.
CALLING THE CHURCH A DENOMINATION DOES NOT MAKE IT ONE.
When Paul was taken as a prisoner to Rome, certain
religious leaders among the Jews referred to Christianity as a
"And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of
Judea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came
showed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee
what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that
every where it is spoken against."
These Jewish leaders knew that the Jewish religious world
was divided into a number of different sects.
Two of the major sects of the Jews were the Pharisees and
The Jewish leaders at Rome thought Christianity was
simply another Jewish sect.
They called Christianity a sect, but that did not make it
The fact they were uninformed concerning the church of
Christ made them think of it as simply another sect.
But that which they mistakenly referred to as a sect was
the church which had been purchased by the blood of the Son of
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock,
over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed
the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
The Jewish leaders of Rome were not being mean in
referring to the church as a sect; they simply did not know any
They were very familiar with sectarianism among
themselves, and they evidently assumed that any religious group
would be a sect.
Those who affirm that the church of Christ is a
denomination are not necessarily being mean in so doing; they
simply do not know any better.
Being familiar with denominationalism, they erroneously
assumed that any religious group must be a denomination.
Occasionally we are asked, "What are you religiously?"
or "What denomination are you a member of?"
When we answer, "I am a Christian," the person
inquiring may say, "Yes, I know, but what kind?"
To answer by saying, "The kind one reads about in the
New Testament," or "A New Testament Christian," is
not very helpful to the questioner. He or she does not
understand that there is such a thing as undenominational
Christianity, and that people can be members of the church Jesus
built without ever belonging to any denomination.
WHAT DENOMINATION WOULD THIS BE?
Several years ago, a group of Christians made an
evangelistic trip into one of the countries formerly behind
the Iron Curtain.
While there they advertised their efforts using the
words, "New Testament Christianity." After they
dismissed one of their assemblies and many of the people left,
but a rather large group lingered behind to talk. They said
they had been reading and studying the Bible, and were committed
to it as their only guide in religious matters. Each one of
them had been immersed for the remission of sins after a simple
confession of his or her faith in Christ. They claimed to
be nothing but Christians. The words, "New Testament
Christianity," had caught their attention. They wanted to
know if there could possibly be other people in the world who,
like themselves, had obeyed the gospel of Christ and were trying
to be nothing more or less than the New Testament leads people
Question: Of what denomination were
those people members? It is obvious they were members of no
denomination at all. But were they members of any church? Oh,
yes! They were members of the church one reads about in the
New Testament. They did not join that church; they did not
have to. They were added to it by the Lord the moment they did
what the New Testament teaches one to do in order to be saved.
THE SEED PRINCIPLE.
In explaining the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said, "Now
the parable is this: The seed is the word of God" (Luke
We understand that seed produces after its own kind.
1:11-12, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,
the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after
his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was
so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed
after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in
itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good."
Example: Watermelon seed.
In the first century, when the seed of the kingdom was
sown, that is, when the Word of God was preached and people
became obedient thereto, they became Christians, members of the
church Jesus built.
The seed did not produce one kind of fruit in
Jerusalem and still another kind in Rome.
That seed did not produce a Baptist Church in one city, a
Methodist Church in another, a Lutheran Church in another, and a
Presbyterian Church in still another city.
Wherever that seed was planted, if it produced anything
at all, it produced churches that belonged to Christ, and which
A church different than that found in the New Testament
was produced by something other than the word of God.
It is sometimes suggested that, since it cannot be shown
that pure New Testament Christianity has been passed down to us
from generation to generation, then it is not possible for the
church Jesus built to exist in this century.
But this idea overlooks the seed principle.
If the seed is the Word of God, and it is (Luke 8:11),
then the only thing necessary for the existence of the church
Jesus built is for the seed to be planted in the fertile soil
of honest hearts.
What it produces in the 21st Century will be
the same as that which it produced in the 1st
Century. That was not a denomination; it was the church of
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which
shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be
one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also
may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast
sent me" (John 17:20-21).
in churches of Christ is that all forsake the human names and
human doctrines that divide the religious world and which stand
in opposition to the prayer of our Lord, and instead follow the
New Testament. In doing so, all will be led into the church
built by Jesus. That church is not a denomination.