Why are there different denominations?

by Jamy VanSyckle and Brian McGovern

Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopals, Catholics… Why is the body of Christ so divided? Which denomination is the right one? Are any of them the right one?

Before we answer these questions, we have to talk about what many people refer to as “open-handed” issues and “closed-handed” issues.

Closed-handed issues are the so-called “essentials” of biblical Christianity: things like the Trinity, Jesus being God-in-the-flesh, Him raising from the dead. The very essence of salvation. That type of thing.

Open-handed issues are the things we don’t necessarily agree on, but which are considered non-essentials. These can be practically anything not specifically mentioned in, or settled by, Scripture. Our thoughts on predestination, the clothes we wear, the beverages we consume, the language(s) we speak in church. The statues, banners, or windows that adorn our worship spaces.

Having different denominations within Christianity is not a bad thing. It shows a diversity of thought and ideas around the things that are open-handed issues.

Different people groups worship differently and it is okay that individuals in those groups would find common purpose around that.

Where we go awry is when we say, “My denomination is the only right one, and everyone else is wrong,” or if we split because of the color of carpet that’s being purchased for the church.

Demanding that we all agree on all things is lunacy.

Unity is not sameness, but oneness. Husbands and wives are not the same as each other, but they are considered one. The fact that there are a variety of churches should be considered a beautiful thing.