Protestant/Other Christians

How Many Denominations are Too Many?

by Steve Ray on March 29, 2015

I am rushing to get packed — my wife and I leave next Monday for Portugal (Fatima), Spain (Avila) and France (Lourdes) with a group of 65 excited pilgrims. You will be able to join us by video for a Virtual Pilgrimage right here on this blog. Each night, Lord willing, I will upload video clips from the day.

WorldChristianEncyclopedia.jpgIn the meantime, this morning I post my discussion on the number of denominations in the world today and how sola Scriptura has been a huge factor in causing, or at least, facilitating this scandalous situation. I’ve been accused of “spinning,” the issue of denominationalism and schisms and factions. But there ARE such things and too many as you will see. 

(World Christian Encyclopedia from which Protestant and other groups outside the Catholic Church are listed and numbered in excess of 33,000 denominations. In the attached article I provide links to the pages and numbers in question.)

SheepFlock.jpg Some don’t want to admit that sola Scriptura is an unbiblical and destructive doctrine. Some ignore the fact that Jesus wants Christians to be one, with a visible unity so the world can see it and proclaim, “Ah, see the Christians? Their unity demonstrates visibly that the Father has certainly sent the Son” (John 17:22-23). The opposite then must also be true. If there are divisions and schisms the world has the right to conclude that the Father did not send the Son.

The great number of denominations and factions has done great damage to the reputation and credibility of Christianity. Whether it is 33,000 or whatever large number, it is grossly wrong. Christians ought to fix it by rallying around the shepherd Jesus appointed on the Sea of Galilee after his resurrection (at the exact point where we will visit on the shore this May, September, November and December) (Jn 21:15-17; Matt 16:18-19).

“Do you love Me? Shepherd My sheep, tend My lambs.” If there is a command that the Shepherd lead, there is an implicit command for the sheep to follow and obey.

How many denominations equals more than one. Jesus wants ONE flock (John 10:16). How many does it take to cause Jesus pain?

Sheep scatter easily, I know because I have rented flocks of sheep twice in Bethlehem. And because sheep scatter easily Jesus appointed shepherds and, through apostolic succession they are still pastoring the sheep today with a flock that is larger than all other Christian schisms, sects and factions combined. It is not by chance nor accident. It is by design.

But sheep are still quite willing at times to wander away and gather in little groups outside the fold — to their own detriment. And it is no surprise why many wandering sheep have come back to the fold and many others like me — born outside the true sheepfold of the Catholic Church — have entered the fold with great joy once we discovered it.

Now, one question that comes up. Aren’t there 242 “Catholic denominations” mentioned in the Oxford Dictionary you quote? I am not sure of the actual number, but there are a good number of Catholic schisms that have broke with Rome and set up their own “popes” and continue to call themselves Catholics. So, yes, you can say there are a lot of Catholic schisms, or if you prefer, denominations, along with Orthodox, Copts and others. It is a shame on all counts. 

There are also many rites loyal to Rome which may be considered different “denominations” even though in their case it would be questionable as to whether it would be correct to label them as such. There are groups like the Maronites, Melkites, Greek Catholics, etc. who have separate names but are all Catholic and in union with Rome.

I write this blog and article to encourage the faithful and to defend the faith of the “one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church” and those who love the faith.

FastFoodResaurants.jpgMy paper begins: “The other day I drove through town and on one side of the street there was McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Macaroni Grill, Arby’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Big Boy’s and Taco Bell. 

“On the other side of the street I saw church buildings: Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Methodist, Reformed Baptist, Free Will Baptist, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Progressive Missionary Baptist and . . . 

“We live in a consumer society and unhappily too many people choose a “church” along Main Street the same way their appetites and tastes dictate which fast food joint they go to. And just like people jump from one restaurant to another, many Christians jump from one church to another. It is often called “church hopping” from the pews, or “sheep stealing” from the pulpit.” . . .

Click here for the rest of the story :-) 

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Cover of the "mythical" booklet "Trail of Blood"

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

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I was organizing the 5,000 books in my Logos Bible Software program on my laptop and noticed this quote about the so-called “Rapture” as taught by many Evangelical Protestants. The Rapture is a new Protestant doctrine that was invented in the mid-1800′s in Scotland. The new novelty is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The following is a note taken from the popular Evangelical Protestant commentary – New International Biblical Commentary:

“When our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones: One scenario of the end time embraced by many Christians today sees a twofold return of Jesus: the first in secret to gather up the church, the second openly, following the tribulation (which, on this theory, only the world will endure) to judge the world.

The first return is called the Rapture, the second the Revelation. The Greek word from whose Latin equivalent (rapere) our word “rapture” is derived, is actually used by Paul in 4:17, “we … will be caught up” (but not, we believe in the sense of the modern theory; see discussion on 4:17 and 2 Thess. 2:1). The theory rests largely on a conclusion drawn from the verse before us. If Jesus is to come with his saints, it is argued, as this verse says he will, he must first have come for them. A number of other passages are enlisted to corroborate this scenario (e.g., Mark 13:27; Rev. 11:11f.), but none of them, and least of all 1 Thessalonians 3:13, can bear the weight of this interpretation.

“Some would even doubt that the holy ones refers to his saints; but allowing that it does (see the discussion), what more is Paul saying here than he says, for example, in 4:14? Paul wants to assure the Thessalonians that their dead will not be disadvantaged. They will be raised, the living will be transformed, and together, the living and the dead will “meet the Lord” and be “with the Lord forever” (4:16f.). The “all” of 3:13 is important. In anticipation of his fuller treatment in chapter 4, Paul casually indicates that all will be involved in the Parousia, but he says nothing more than that.

Besides reading too much into a passage dealing with other matters, the whole idea of the Rapture founders (1) on the fact that the church’s hope—based, we may believe, on Jesus’ own teaching—has from the outset been fixed upon his visible return (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13); and (2) on the language of 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul speaks of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” Paul used two nouns governed by the one definite article, which shows beyond question that he thought of the “coming” and the “gathering” as two facets of the one event.

In short, Christ’s Revelation [the 2nd Coming as taught by Scripture and the Catholic Church] is at one and the same time our Rapture.

(Williams, D. J. (1992). New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (68). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.)

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“Sunday Mornings in Ancient Times” or “Why I Teared up Last Sunday”

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Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean. Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from [...]

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Catholics Can Learn a Good Deal From Them But Big Differences Remain By Father Dwight Longenecker ROME, February 28, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Last week Evangelical Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer spoke to a gathering of Pentecostal Christian leaders in America and showed them a personal video greeting from Pope Francis. Bishop Palmer became friends with Pope [...]

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