047. Why Do We Have to Label our Beliefs? Why do we have Denominations?

31 May, 2012

One thing I hear a lot of Christians saying is that they don’t want to label themselves as a particular denomination – like Baptist, Pentacostal or Republican.

The thinking goes, “why do we need to divide Christianity, we should just all believe the Bible.” Well that would be fine …if we all had the same interpretation of the Bible.

The problem is that we all don’t agree on what the Bible says.  Just because someone calls themselves a Christian, doesn’t mean they agree with what you consider a Christian. Some people who call themselves ‘Christians’ believe that people who don’t believe that Christ is God can still get into heaven.  Or believe it’s okay to murder in the name of Christ.  Or that you can root for the New York Yankees and still get saved.

The problem with understanding the Bible is that we’re not God, and we’re sinful, which means we can’t fully understand the Bible.  Which means we have differing interpretations of the Bible.

Do you believe… That we need to go to a priest for confession? That God predestined us for salvation? That the rapture comes before the tribulation? That one can lose their salvation? That secular music is a sin? That Christ is the only way to God? That abortion is always a sin? In infant baptism? In speaking in tongues? In Prophecy?

Even though you might not align yourself with a particular denomination, you still have some interpretation of the Bible that differs from someone else’s interpretation. …And you might as well call your belief “Conrad-ism”, “Billy-ism”, or “Derek Jeter-ism”, or whatever your name is.

So really you have a label.  You just haven’t given it a name. Tell someone else what you believe and they’ll be able to categorize your beliefs.  Yeah, maybe you won’t fall squarely under Presbyterian or Brethren, but you fall under a broader category like liberal, legalistic, reformed, catholic, fundamentalist or wacko.

So what do we do?

The main thing to understand is that we have these different interpretations because we are fallen creatures whose sin prevents us from fully understanding the Word of God.

…And knowing our sinfulness should lead to humility, This should affect our relationship with others – with people we disagree with. We are as fallen as they.  And neither of us can completely understand God – which means our theology is wrong somewhere.  And just because someone disagrees with us on a theological topic doesn’t mean we love God more than them. This should also affect our relationship with God.  

In our humility we need to understand that our understanding of God prevents us from completely fulfilling our callings…

…which should lead us to constantly trying to understand God better…

…which should lead us to being devoted to the study of his Word – such as through devotions, study, discussion, church, teaching and preaching. Yeah, I know the answer seems a bit generic… be devoted to God’s Word, but just because the answer is simple doesn’t mean its execution is. So be humble and dig into His Word.  Try to understand God better. 

And in doing so, you’ll be to test and approve what God’s will for your life is.  Which definitely isn’t rooting for the Yankees.

Romans 12[2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Take Time to Pray: Ask God for the humility needed to understand how much you still have to understand and the desire to understand Him more.