Protestant Denominationalism

This title needs some explanation.  The word protestant comes from the Latin protestari, which basically means to protest.  The Latin word testari means to bear witness. The word protestant was used by the Christian church to describe those who protested the theology of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century.  It became known as the Protestant Reformation.  Denominationalism relative to the Christian church describes a world view that designates names to various groups that are divided over biblical doctrine and theology.  If the blog title describes the content of this article, then it must be a protest against a divided church.  If the division is over biblical doctrine or theology, listen to the Word of God.  “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and  that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).  A reality check is necessary at this point.  The sin nature will continue to denominate the militant church on earth.

Dr. Benard Ramm, a Baptist theologian, wrote an article nearly forty five years ago published in Christianity Today entitled “The Continental Divide in Contemporary Theology.”  He identified “three strands in contemporary theology” which were 1) the orthodox theology, which included all Protestant churches, 2) the modern theology, which included neo-orthodoxy, and 3) liberal theology.  His final comment is worthy of attention.  “Those who really know the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith can differentiate the kind of theology which falls on the right side of this continental divide from that which falls on the wrong side.”

Cardinal doctrines are the fundamental or basic doctrines of the Christian religion.   The Devil is the great deceiver and along with the sin nature it is certain that the militant church on earth will not be un-denominated.  However, every denomination of the Christian religion ought to have mutual agreement on the basics.  The question is what defines the basics?  I believe The Apostles’ Creed is one of the best definitions of the cardinal doctrines.  The traditional version used by the Western Church begins with “I believe.”  I prefer to use the collective version often used in the Eastern Church that begins with “we believe.”  The collective view is based on the fundamental teaching of Scripture.  For instance, when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He taught them to say our Father, not my Father and give us and forgive us.  Every denomination of Christians ought to be able to profess that,  “we believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried;  He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   We believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of the saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting (The Apostles’ Creed).

A careful study of The Essence of Christian Doctrine sub-titled A Brief Study of the Apostles’ Creed and Basic Christian Doctrine will be an aid to help un-denominate the church on earth.   My purpose for writing that book was to capture the cardinal doctrines of Christianity.  My prayer is that God will use it to bring about a New Reformation.  My hope remains that the orthodox basic doctrine of Scripture will be recovered so the visible church on earth may pursue the inspired apostle’s challenge to be of “one mind.

 

 

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