Churches & Division
By Buff Scott
As most of you know, I have affirmed in previous columns that Jesus and His apostles did not found a church—religious party.
King James in particular would disagree with that claim inasmuch as he distorted the Greek ekklesia by instructing his scholars to translate the term “church.” Since then a multitude of sects revolving around “church” has been created.
Congregations of the redeemed were scattered all over the Roman Empire, but not one of the churches that exist today. Modern-day “churchianity” was unknown until decades later. Under the Old Covenant, Moses headed and led the community or congregation of Israel. Under the New Covenant, Jesus heads and leads a new community or congregation, consisting of all of those who have yielded themselves to Him as Messiah.
The introduction of churches—religious parties or sects—suppressed the Christian movement and divided it into schisms too numerous to count. As the late W. Carl Ketcherside once said, “We could not be divided more if the Lord had commanded it.” Jesus prayed for unity among His followers (John 17), but just the opposite has occurred.
The early believers were called Christians, saints, believers, brothers, disciples, servants, and fellow workers. It is interesting that none of them were called Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Church of Christers, Mormons, Pentecostals, or any of the other partisan names in the rainbow of partisan colors.
Two-thousand years ago there was only one body of believers (Eph. 4:4). Today, that one body has been splintered into hundreds of factions. We have become a spectacle and an eyesore to the world. The world of unbelievers—and disbelievers—see us as a fragmented mishmash of divisive entities and are not influenced by our mixed-up messages.
Wherever partisan religion exists, our Lord weeps, for He says “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” In my name! We disgrace the Lord’s name when we meet as Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Church of Christers, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or under any other sectarian banner. Instead, we ought to meet under the banner of Jesus the Messiah! Nothing else is acceptable.