Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
Why Are There So Many Churches Teaching Differently?
-by Tony Warren
a Good Question. But the answer is not as complicated as some people would
have us believe. First of all, ownership of historic Christianity is not by
any particular group or denomination. No religious group can lay exclusive
rights upon Christ (as some attempted to do). Christ may be found of those
who have never even been inside a Church. Christianity itself is not the
reason we have so many Churches teaching so many different things. Simply
put, the reason we have so many professing Christians who hold to so many
different views of scripture, is primarily because everyone who says that
they are a Christian, are not Christians. That's the simple truth of the
matter. It is not because God hasn't provided us with everything we need
to know in order to make a just decision on what is right, or because
scripture cannot honorably be understood by us, it is because many simply
choose not to receive what scripture says.
2nd Timothy 3:15-17
So it's not that we aren't furnished thoroughly enough to make a correct
determination of what is true and correct what doctrines we hold that are
in error, the divisions are because of the will of man in making personal
or private interpretations. Mind you, I'm not saying that true Christians
never disagree. They most certainly do. But the word Christian today is
used in such a far-reaching manner that it includes everyone from Homosexuals
to the KKK. And that is the main reason for this perceived great gulf of
divisions. i.e., anyone can argue that they are Christian, and thus make
Christianity divided. But is it really?
- "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which
are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ
- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
- That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all
Simply taking the name of Christ does not make one a Christian. Throughout
history we have had professed Christians who burned people at the stake, or
tortured them mercilessly. But does that mean that they actually were true
Christians? I think not. A Christian is prescribed by their wearing of the
spiritual cloth, and faith consists of more than an individual merely
saying he is Christian. It is a way of life which is pervasive and
defined by the Word of God, not simply a label that one takes hold of.
A true Christian eats the bread which is the Word of God (matt. 4:4), not
their own bread, they wear the cloth which is the righteousness of Christ
(Isa. 61:10), not their own apparel. And simply being called by Christ's
name will not take away the reproach of anyone, they must be born from
above a new creation. And this is how many professing Christians in our
day have deceive themselves. For they have not considered wisely the most
fundamental of Biblical principles. "By their works you shall know them."
- "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We
will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by
thy name, to take away our reproach".
Today doctrines can vary widely from Church to Church in the very same
denomination, so it's not necessarily a denominational problem. It's more
of an exegetical problem which is exasperated by an unwillingness to submit
completely to the "authority of scripture." Let's face facts. Man is vain
and full of self-esteem by nature. Therefore his will is to do everything
he can that his ideas be perceived as correct, and his beliefs not be proven
wrong. It is this conviction to have his will (rather than a desire to do
the will of God) that is at the root of holding erroneous doctrines. In
other words, Church tradition, what we have been taught, ego, pride, and
vanity, all play a major role in people rejecting just correction and
instruction in righteousness. And let us not discount simple wickedness
where man just willfully refuses to "receive" what is written.
- "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not
gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
- A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that
which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart
bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his
- And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
In a perfect world, all true Christians, after a period of time discussing
and comparing scriptures with scripture, would sooner or later have to
come to the truth of it. Because they (presumably) all accept every verse
of scripture as true and authoritative and none to be ignored. And so comparing
and harmonizing scripture, they would soon reconcile all of them to come to
the proper understanding. But in reality, this is not a perfect world, and
man still dwells in the body of this flesh. Therefore do men's own bias work
against them in their consideration of scripture. It is God alone who can
intervene and direct our steps righteousness that we walk the correct paths.
Unfortunately, some Christians (and those who simply call themselves
Christians) aren't really as interested in coming to truth as they are
in attempting to find a verse that might appear to support a view that they
already hold. And so in finding same, they will merely present it declaring,
"..See, you are wrong". This makes them feel buoyed and justified in
themselves. Thus they will proceed to ignore any verse you present as a
retort, relegating it to being insignificant to the discussion. This is a
demonstration of the ego and pride of man, not the humbleness/meekness
of surrender to scripture that Christ spoke of. We all have this pride to
some degree, but wisdom is in recognizing it and bringing it into
submission. For the Spirit is willing, yet the flesh is weak.
- "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."
Let me give you a practical example. There are verses in scripture which
"seem" to indicate that we are saved by works. And there are Theologians
who read those verses, come to this conclusion, and then cling to it like
it was their security blanket. No verse that you present to them which
qualifies the verse in question will change their mind. Because they have
become indoctrinated. So when you say, "what about this verse, or that
verse," they will completely ignore or trample under foot the verse
you request they read, and instead retort saying something like, "you've
misinterpreted the verse" (even though you quoted it word for word),
or they'll redirect the subject, saying, "No, what about this other
verse?" In other words, they won't reconcile all the verses honestly to
come to truth, they'll completely ignore or dismiss the ones which show their
doctrine in error, and will present another which they think supports their
view. It then becomes a battle of futility or a test of "who can give most
verses without really answering the questions," contest. It has deteriorated
into a contest of theological egos, not a search for the truth.
In debating circles, this tactic is often called, presenting "dueling
scriptures." But truth is, scriptures do not duel with each other. Men do!
Therefore these men are really at war with themselves.
A sound hermeneutic is founded upon the second basic principle. "No scripture
passage can contradict another." All scriptures must first be recognized as
authoritative and completely true, and then reconciled with all others. We
understand that in situations where there are seeming contradictions, one
scripture must qualify another. We can go to the example of when Satan
tried Christ in the desert:
The scripture Satan presented was true (all scripture is). But he deceitfully
used it "as if" it was an island which stood alone. Many Theologians use that
exact same tactic today. Satan was taking that scripture out of context and
without considering that other scriptures "qualified" the scripture which
said His angels would bear Him up. And what was Christ's response? It wasn't
to say, "You're right my scripture contradicts yours so we don't know what
is true." His response was to show how scripture was authoritative, but must
be in harmony with the 'whole' of the Bible.
- "And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot
against a stone."
In other words, there is more to it than that verse Satan referenced. Jesus
says, look also at this other scripture which says that we are not to tempt
the Lord our God. i.e., One scripture qualifies or limits another. They both
are true, but must be harmonized in the light of the 'whole' Bible in order
to understand what is really being said. The unfaithful of the Churches will
seldom do this if it means correction because they don't want to change their
Church tradition. Therefore are there many different views held among
- "...It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
On the Other hand, the faithful steward or caretaker of scripture, when
presented with God's witness which does not support his view, will not
simply ignore it, but will receive it as truth (after all, it too is God's
Word), will surrender to it's authority and harmonize it with the other
scripture. This is because we starts out with the most basic of fundamental
biblical principles. We agree all scriptures are true and authoritative and we
study them to see what is being said. For example, in the case of the apparent
contradiction of Salvation by works we would agree:
You see the difference between the faithful steward of God that earnestly
desires to do the will of God and so with all readiness of mind receives
all scriptures, and the unfaithful who in his own will rejects verses which
contradict what he wants to believe? One agrees both scriptures are true,
and reconciles them together with scripture following. The other simply
ignores or wrests (twists) the passage given (as if it is insignificant or
can be manipulated), and submits another verse "as if" that negates the
verse you gave. That's not a search for truth, that is a search for self
justification. That's an example of the lack of nobility or integrity to
consider all scriptures "honestly." God gives us the perfect example of
this Christian nobility in His testimony of the Bereans.
YES, the Bible says, he that does not keep the Word of God will not be
Saved. That's true. But it also says that by the works of the
law shall no flesh be justified. So then, we know that it cannot mean that
we can keep the law in working for our Salvation, rather careful
consideration of all relevant scriptures indicates that our works are the
evidence of your Salvation. So that anyone without this evidence, cannot
be Saved. Then we would present testimony to 'the whole' commentary of
scriptures which proves that.
This is the integrity or nobleness of true Christianity. An honesty where
when they heard these teachings which were different, they didn't dig up
scriptures to try and make Paul's witness to God's Word, a lie. Rather, they
(with an open mind) searched the scriptures that Paul bore witness to,
because they wanted to see if what He said was true. Not many professed
Christians today would do this. They would not be this noble or honest,
they would be more inclined to handle the scriptures fraudulently. The
Holy Spirit of God works within us against this lack of integrity.
- "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they
received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures
daily, whether those things were so.
- Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were
Greeks, and of men, not a few".
2nd Corinthians 4:2
The hidden things of dishonesty. The exact opposite of the bereans who were
noble (honest) in their integrity to handle the Word of God not deceitfully
in blindly following the Jewish traditions, but honestly. This is what is
sorely lacking in the Churches today. Honesty in dealing with scriptures
that our Church traditions or doctrines don't cloud our mind or blind our
eyes. The Bereans knew something which the Churches today have forgotten.
That all scriptures must be received with all readiness of mind (an open
mind to them), taken in context, and harmonized with all other scriptures
that speak on the subject. The faithful Church does this and that is how
they know that what is being taught is the truth, or is error. Therefore,
they are assured that the bible says all these things and they cannot be
deceived into false gospels by false prophets. He tries the spirits by the
Word of God. So in theory, all faithful Christians should
"in time" come to the truth of scripture, but in reality we still dwell
in the sinful fallen flesh, that we sin in thought as well as deed.
- "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in
craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation
of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of
But by the Spirit of God dwelling in us we 'should' be continually growing
in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord that we become more and more
accurate in our understanding. To the Glory of God, many of us do recognize
our sins in holding to erroneous doctrines and turn away from our beliefs
to follow what is actually written in scriptures. But we must not be high
minded in our knowledge, and realize that even this is by the Grace of
God, and we can take no credit for it. Thus we have compassion on those who
have not yet come to this knowledge of truth, and witness to them patiently.
- "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
- O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
- I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself
serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
Sadly, many today have grown comfortable in their error and consider anyone
bringing scriptures which contradict their teachings to be "attacking them"
or their Church. They are uncomfortable with scriptures which prove their
doctrines wrong, and that is often manifested in them striking out in anger.
For all their speaking about the gross errors of the Catholic Church
concerning tradition, many Protestants are clinging to that exact same form
of tradition in holding to their group or denominational teachings over the
Biblical mandates. Nevertheless, the Spirit works mightily in many to
overcome this error.
We can be sure of one thing, God informs us in scripture that the Lord
resists the proud, but gives Grace to the humble. The ability to ignore
scriptures in order to hold onto Church doctrine is rooted in pride. It's
not our job to condemn them. In love and with patience we pray that many
will turn from false teachings and receive the truth of the Word. We can
but witness to that truth, and ask that the Lord would reveal it to them.
God uses our prayers as a means of His working for good.
Our prayers are carried to God as a sweet savor (odor) because Christ is
the burnt offering which carries it. In truth He is the righteous man who
takes our prayers before God perfectly. So again, let us not be puffed up
or proud in our understanding, knowing full well that it is only by the
Grace of God that any of us know what we do about the scriptures.
- "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much."
But we also know full well that the Church is responsible, and it both can
and must discern truth in doctrines. It's obligated to do so. There is no
grey area, there is no lukewarm. There is only black and white and hot and
cold. Scripture does not compromise, and neither should the Church
capitulate to the pressures of the world around it.
Our job is to bear faithful witness to the truth, and God will show the
increase. Judge not, but do not shy away from correcting with scripture,
that others may come to know the truth of what is written. God's word
is not our enemy, unless we fight against it. Unfortunately many do, and
that is the primary reason we have so many different doctrines. They
stand against the Christ of the Bible, and want a Christ of their own
making. they are offended by the Lord's Christ.
- "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
Many in the congregations are offended by God's Word and they fight against
it with a vengeance. Denominations are not the end all in salvation, and
simply taking the name of Christ doesn't give one salvation. Salvation is
a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When we truly have
it, we will not walk in the dark, we will be guided into the truth of the
Word (John 14:17; 16:13). But as 2nd Timothy 2:15 says, we must study to
show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed. Which of
course means that those who don't, may very well have need to be ashamed.
For though the Holy Spirit teaches, it is through the scriptures that
- "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be
1st John 2:27-28
We 'can know' and must abide in these teachings. We do that by careful
study of Word, without which we will hold to any doctrine and can be
deceived by any smooth talker. Precious and few there are who travel the
narrow way, and many there be that travel the wide road. As in Israel
there was a remnant, so there is a remnant in the Church today. A faithful
remnant out of the larger whole. In this time of falling from the faith,
we shouldn't be surprised that there are so many different teachings, so
much running to and fro, so much deceitful handling of the Word of God
by individual Churches or professing Christians. Even within relatively
faithful denominations Churches are falling away in droves now. But the
true Church is not a denomination. It is a chosen people "called out" of
many nations unto service to the Lord. To be sure, God knows who are His.
- "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you,
and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth
you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught
you, ye shall abide in him.
- And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear,
we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
So, why are there so many denominations? First because all who call themselves
Christian are not Christians. Second, it is a biblical fact that the body
of Christ cannot be divided (Matthew 12:25-29; Mark 3:24-26; 1st Corinthians
1:13). Just because one denomination or group believes that it's best to
immerse to baptize Christians, and another group believes that it's best
to sprinkle water to baptize doesn't mean that the Church is divided or
has no unity. People who point to the proliferation of denominations as
proof of some flaw in Christianity don't really understand Christianity.
Their arguments that it would be one group united as Jesus desired if it
was true does not stand the test of scripture. Jesus Himself told the Church
there would be different groups, and that still they were all of the same
Clearly, and without ambiguity all Christians do not have to follow one
group to be Christians. They merely have to follow Christ. And so this idea
that because there is more than one denomination means Christianity is
fractured or fragmented into competing sects is without merit. In fact,
historic Christianity is the common denominator that brings all true
believers in unity. The love of God, the earnest desire to do His will,
these qualities of true Christianity may be found in any biblical Church of
any organization. That there are many denominations doesn't mean no one has
the truth, it means the truth is not subject to denominations. Is Christ
divided? No, and neither is His Church. Those are the key words. His
Church. There are many Churches today, but few are His Church.
- "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils
in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
- And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against
us is for us."
Copyright ©1998 Tony Warren
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