When I tell to peple from the Word of God, especially to those that don’t attend the church, I am asked this question for many times, or some even say: “You would better make peace and understanding between you, between the churches, and then come and tell us about God.” This is an excuse for some not to come to God, and those who want to know Him and to establish a relation with the Almighty One, will establish it by faith in Jesus Christ at any time, according to those related in the Holy Scriptures. Let us be back to the subject of our discussion – why are there so many churches, denominations and sects?
The return to the purity of the teaching of God’s Word was the reason of the separation of the Christian Church from Judaism and then, during centuries, this was a frequent reason that gave birth to different churches and denominations. We don’t have time to analyse here how much each of those trials had success, but it is clear this was the motivation for many times. The Lord Jesus came to bring the news about the salvation of the Jewish people, who were called to live according to the Word of God written on the pages of the Old Testament. Meanwhile, these people had departed very much from the Word of God. Thus, the party of the Pharisees, who had claimed to fulfill the Law of the Old Testament very severely, were those who deviated from the truth of the Word of God the mostly. Here is what the Atlas of Bible History writes about them:
The Pharisees (“the separated”) had many followers. They believed that the exile of the Jews in Babilon had been caused by the inobservance of the Law and Its observance was both an individual and a national duty. They summed up the Law to 613 commandments, of which 248 positive and 365 negative. This was a “fence” around the Law, so that no one may infrige any of those laws by a mistake or by ignorance. They were forming the party of the synagogue and there were the only party that survived the destruction of the Temple from Jerusalem in 70 a.C, becoming the spiritual ancestors of the modern Judaism. (Atlas of Bible History, Paul Lawrence, p.126)
These people showed too much zeal, having the wish to return to God’s commandments and as the Epistle to Romans says:
…for not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:3–4)(NASB)
The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees severely in regards to their trial to “return to the origins”, at the price of adding other human laws and customs. He says to them:
“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (the Gospel of Mark 7:6–13)(NASB)
After the Lord Jesus’ ascension to heavens, the disciples, i.e the first Christians, there were related to as heretics and sectarians by the Jews. And this, because those that pretended to be great experts in the Word of God were blinded by self-importance, by laws and human customs and they didn’t recognize the Messiah, promised by all prophets of the Old Testament.
Gentiles were not making any distinction between Judaism and Christianity at that time. This thing was seen very well in the case that took place while apostle Paul was in Corint, that is to say:
But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters.” (Acts 18:12–15)(NASB)
Deviation from the Word of God is another reason, that is related severely to the first one. When in the Middle Age the Catholic Church accepted to practice indulgence in order to gather money for the building of the new cathedrals, that crowned all people’s anger. The fact that Martin Luther, a Catholic monk, studied Latin and was able to study the Holy Scriptures, made him understand the difference between the teachings of the Scriptures and the practices that he saw in the church. There is no doubt that there were very many who saw those differences, but few were those who were ready to stay firmly for the truth of God and to tell it to the people. Martin Luther was considered a true Catholic always.
Maintaining the official position at the price of overlooking the teaching of God’s Word is another reason why there are so many churches and denominations. When some people get to high positions in a church, they allow themselves to break the good teaching of God and to bring in their own laws, that are promoted as the teaching of God.
The desire for human (vain) glory is another reason why there are so many misunderstandings in Christianity. There were leaders that didn’t want to submit to authorities and separated from them even in the times of the apostles. Here is what apostle John wrote about Diotref, one of these leaders:
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 9–10)(NASB)
The desire for a sordid gain is also a reason why some leaders separate and give birth to some sects. That’s why Paul wrote to the Christians from Philippi:
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (the Epistle of Paul to Philippians 3:17–19)(NASB)
These are some reasons that have led and continue to lead to the appearance of different churches, denominations, sects in Christianity. The greatest reason is the deviation from the Word of God and the inobservance of the Scriptures. That’s why, it is important to begin to study the Bible today. This will help you to understand and to make correct decisions. It is not necesarry and you will not have time to study the teachings of all denominations and sects. Study the Word of God and in this way, it will be easier for you to distinguish the truth from the lie. I have heard about such a special expert who knew to make distinction between the true and the counterfeit money. When he was asked how he managed that and how much time he had spent to study the counterfeit money, he said that he had never studied the counterfeit money, but he had spent and continued to spend much time on studying and observing the true money. This helped him to distingush immediately between truth and adulteration. Let us begin this way too. Let us study the Holy Scriptures to be able to distinguish between truth and lie. The Lord Jesus said:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. (the Gospel of John 5:39)(NASB)
Translated by Djugostran Felicia