complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
— Philippians 2:2
In my Worldview Development course today,addressed the issue of one of the most anti-Biblical realities of modern Christianity — the denominational divide. Imagine showing or telling someone about the great hope of the Gospel of Christ, seeing the Holy Spirit soften the hearer to the point of acceptance, then having to pitch the idea of “now, choose from these churches where you want to grow.” Frankly, the very Gospel, greatly emphasizing unity in the Body (Phil. 2:2, Eph. 4), that is being preached by the various denominations is being preached against by the framework of our individualistic and inclusive denominational preferences. This division is hypocrisy, and it is well-recognized that we must find a solution.
This solution, however, is commonly sought out in the wrong of two general options. We can find diversity for the fruition of unity by indoctrinating all members in the way of the majority, lovingly accepting the people if they leave their differences at the door. Alternatively, we can learn how to stretch our worldview to accept and adapt principles that are not anti-Biblical (though often assumed to be) of those who are different from ourselves. Dr. Ham suggested the example of the method of Baptism. If we understand Baptism to be symbolic of the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the practice of complete submersion does make the most sense. However, if we view Baptism as being symbolic of our sins being washed clean, maybe the method of sprinkling is more appropriate (as far more showers are taken then baths by North American Christians). Neither is anti-Biblical, and there is no reason that within the confines of even one service, we could not practice both styles.
Dr. Jeff Cook made an excellent point a few weeks ago about cultural diversity in the Church that I believe can additionally be adapted towards seeking a solution to the denominational divide. If we are to embrace diversity truly within any single gathering of Christians, we must allow diversity to infiltrate to the core of the institution’s structure, style, and leadership. Moving a majority culture church towards diversity requires putting diverse people in leadership and implementing the styles and preferences of all members. In the same way, I would argue that we could not effectively plant a “non-denominational” community with a leadership team of all Baptists and by “doing” church in a way that is rooted in one denominational and cultural context.
I love to see this kind of discussion taking place among the black community as well. Lecrae and Trip Lee are two of my greatest role models because they are using a culturally relevant and cross-denominational tool, hip-hop, to target a generation of young males (and females) that has avoided the Church. Their audience has often been turned away by the disunity and hypocrisy they see amongst Christians. The Gospel is not an exclusive package that wipes a person clean of cultural and contextual baggage. We must accept the whole person, serve the whole person, and learn and adapt from the differences that the individual brings to the table. Heaven will be the embodiment of real unity. I cannot wait…