Which Is The True Denomination?

(Opinion)

           There are several hundred different denominations in the United States alone, each one feeling that it has the truth, and each one feeling that its beliefs are scripturally correct.  Since no two of the sects agree on all points, no more than one of these groups can be correct.  We ask, “Which one of these faiths is the only true one as given by the Father?  Which of these are the products of manmade dogma?”

       We first note that it is useless to ask a human authority this question.  If the authority is an intelligent and devout Protestant, his answer can be guessed beforehand.  If the scholar is a Mormon, he will of course reply that the Mormon faith is the correct one.  Church of Christ theologians conclude that their church is in fact the one established by Christ.  Naturally, the Catholic Church feels that Christ established them as the true dispensers of the faith by Apostolic succession from Peter, and that all other faiths are in error.  Indeed, many of the different faiths go so far as to teach that members of other faiths are necessarily bound for eternal punishment as a result of false beliefs.  (It is worth noting here that even those churches who claim that only their members will be in Heaven, cannot produce Scriptural proof that our beliefs regarding the details of God’s salvation have any bearing whatever on our state of salvation.)

       To whom, then, do we turn?  How will God deal with those who were unable to discern the truth from among the volumes of manmade theological errors?                                        

 Let us first look at some teachings of one who went against the face of established religion, and see if God’s stamp of approval is on him.  If so, then perhaps we will have found a teacher.  The Teacher referred to is Christ.  Consider the following aspects of Christ’s career on earth:

He was viciously attacked by the established religions and by the clergy and scholars of those days.

According to the learned men of the time, He violated the Scriptures, reinterpreted them to suit His own purposes, and contradicted God’s word on occasion.  (Note that this same age-old charge is even today leveled at those who disagree with certain authorities on matters of doctrine.)

Broke many commandments believed to be from God (such as forbidding frivolous divorce, working on the Sabbath, associating with prostitutes and criminals, and so on.)

Accused of being in league with Satan.

Accused of being mentally unsound.  Even His own family at one time said He had lost His mind (Mark 3:21).

Deserted by most of His followers, and eventually by His closest disciples.

Claimed that He was not speaking and healing under His own authority, but with the help of God and God’s angels.

Did no miracles until after having passed through severe testing (forty days in the wilderness)

 

Considering all of these events, it is easy to see how a sincere, intelligent, thinking Jew of those days could reject Christ’s claim that He was the Messiah.  After all, He clearly did not fulfill, or even agree with, their scriptures as they had come understand them.  Can we be sure that we would have recognized Jesus for who He was if we had been alive in those days?

       Yet, the most important point is this: Jesus told the people that even if they could not bring themselves to believe His words; they surely must be able to believe Him because of the works He did.  He thus reemphasized that the signs and miracles done through Him were God’s ways of showing to the multitudes that this Jesus was indeed the Christ.

       John 5:36, “But the witness which I have is greater than that of John (the Baptist); for the works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me.”  John 10:25, “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you and you do not believe, the works that I do in My Father’s name these bear witness to me’.”

       Thus we see that the miracles and signs were claimed as God’s stamp of authenticity on Jesus.  Let us now look at the lives of three men of modern times, and see whether their lives and works showed God’s endorsement.

 

Jean Baptiste Maria Viany (The Curate of Ars, 1786-1840), a Catholic priest.

Spent much time in prayer and meditation.

Witnessed demonic activity, as well as activity later on by holy spirits (angels).

Received gift of clairvoyance, then became able to read thoughts.

Miraculous replenishment of food.

Miraculous healings.

Experienced demonic attacks on himself.

Outpouring of repentance in his church.

Slandered and ridiculed by his fellow clergymen.

Accused of being mentally unsound.

Despite the hardships endured by this man, he continued to serve God as best he understood how, and continued to teach the tenets of his church from the pulpit.  We might conclude, then, that the faith he taught as truth must be the true faith.  But let us first look at some events in the life of another man of God.

 

Johann Christoph Blumhardt  (a protestant clergyman, 1805-1889)

Spent much time in prayer and meditation.

Witnessed demonic activity, as well as activity later on by holy spirits (angels).

Received gift of clairvoyance, later was able to read thoughts.

Miraculous replenishment of food.

Miraculous healings.

Experienced demonic attacks on himself.

Outpouring of repentance in his church.

Slandered and ridiculed by his fellow clergymen.

Accused of being mentally unsound.

 

Despite the hardships endured by this man, he continued to serve God as best he understood how, and continued to teach the tenets of his church from the pulpit.  We might conclude, then, that the faith he taught as truth must be the true faith.  But let us next look at some events in the life of another man of God.

 

Johannes Greber (originally a Catholic priest, later separated from that church and became an independent clergyman.  1885-1944)

Spent much time in prayer and meditation.

Shipped 14,000 children out of Germany during WWI to prevent them from starving.

While a clergyman, went back to college to take an agriculture degree in order to help the starving peasants learn to grow food.

Became an independent clergyman after, according to his reports, spirits of God spoke aloud on numerous occasions through mediums in the presence of witnesses, and explained the Bible and the plan of salvation.  (as reported in Communication with the Spirit World of God, by Johannes Greber.)

Was verbally attacked and slandered by other clergymen.

Received the gifts of casting out of demons and healing.

Some persons born crippled or blind were healed at his independent services.

 

We thus see that these men, Vianey, Blumhardt, and Greber, all had the stamps of approval from God that Christ himself said bore witness to Him.  Yet they taught creeds differing radically from each other.  Their beliefs had little in common, but it is that common thread that we seek.   In all three cases, the great gifts from God were given only after the men had proven their worth and devotion to God by having passed severe tests of faith in God and love for other people.  In each case, each man was roundly condemned, slandered, and attacked by his fellow clergymen, although he scrupulously upheld the doctrines of his church (Greber excepted, after the revelations given to him.)  Each man owned few worldly possessions and had little if any acclaim from the world.

       The basic fundamental thread tying together the histories of these men with that of Christ Himself was their unshakable faith and trust in God.  Their lives were filled with loving deeds of service as their works showed their willingness to do whatever was necessary to follow Christ’s commands.  Despite great differences in their beliefs, each man followed God as he thought him to be, and each man received God’s stamp of approval.

       Note that we have not said that all denominations are true in all of their teachings.  Some of them are clearly closer to the meaning of the Scriptures than others.  But we suggest that it is when we get entangled in dogma, manmade deductions from poorly understood Scriptures, that we make the search for the truth harder for ourselves by “departing from the simplicity that is Christ’s teachings”.  Thus we conclude that specific doctrinal beliefs are of little or no concern.  The overriding requirement is simply this:  “Love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all of your mind.  And love your fellow man as yourself.”  (Matt 22:37-40).  This is the true faith.

       As our final evidence, let us look at what the Lord actually did to people who believed and acted wrongly.

  1. The thief on the cross joined the other thief in cursing and ridiculing Jesus, but changed his mind at the last moment.  Jesus responded to him, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”   
  2.  Jesus taught that whosoever denies Him on earth, that person would be denied by Him before the Father.  Then Peter denied three times that he had ever met Jesus.  Jesus, knowing of Peter’s remorse, forgave him, simply reminding Peter to do better, by His thrice repeated question, “Peter, do you love Me?” 
  3. Paul had zealously persecuted early Christians.  When Jesus appeared to Paul, He didn’t even scold him.  Jesus simply asked, “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
  4. The woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus for condemnation was not condemned by Him. She was not scolded.  She was forgiven and sent on her way with the instructions to sin no more.
  5. As a final example, consider Jesus’ attitude toward His tormentors while He was undergoing the crucifixion.  It was neither vengeance nor hate.  It was love.  He said, “Father forgive them,” and added a reason, “for they know not what they do.”

 

To sum up, we see that there is absolutely no reason for an honest seeker of the truth to be afraid of new teachings, though they might be different from his own beliefs.  This fear is simply a lack of trust in God’s love.  This conclusion is important, because new ideas, different from the tradition followed by an individual, might need to be considered as possibly true.  We cannot do so if shackled by fear.  II Tim 1:7, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” 





© TTWS