The writer suggests an excellent way to settle an Important question.
Many young Christians are perplexed by the question, “Which church shall I join?” Often the deciding factor is a practical one, but it may be useful to review some of the considerations which might well,influence anyone who believes that sufficient counsel in this matter is to be gleaned from the New Testament.
A first approach to the subject challenges the individual to seek reasons for preferring one denomination to another. The purpose of this article is to gain a sympathetic hearing for the view that the very idea of “denominations” is foreign to the letter and the spirit of Scripture. An immediate reaction may be that whilst the divisions among Christians are to be deplored, the fact that they exist must be accepted, and a choice must be made. An alternative response is reluctance to associate with any community of Christians as a recognized member, resulting in free-lance occasional fellowship.
(1) Let us first consider these alternatives, viz.: (a) Selection of a particular denomination, (b) Abstention from any church membership.
(2) Following the criticisms of these alternatives comes the question, “Is it possible in practice to be a member of a church fellowship without belonging to a denomination?” Before attempting to answer this, it is important to try to understand what constitutes a denomination and to see in what respects such a conception is alien to the New Testament. In a short article no more than a brief introduction can be suggested, but it should be helpful to consider six topics upon which there is clear teaching in Scripture and which correspond to actual characteristics of every local church.
It must be emphasized that if the conception of “denominationalism” is treated here in a hard and fast manner it is for the sake of clarity and brevity. The purpose is to show in somewhat bold relief the results or tendencies of any departure from the ideal of a local community of Christians as depicted and exemplified in the New Testament.
Since the purpose of this’ introduction is to direct attention to the general guidance of Scripture on the important subject of the constitution of a local church, specific references to texts have been omitted. The matter is of such great importance that it is not too much to ask anyone faced with the problem of finding a “spiritual home” to read through the whole of the New Testament, bearing the suggested topics in mind and seeking the enlightenment of the Divine Interpreter.
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