Why are there so many Christian denominations?
A denomination, in the common sense of the word, is an identification of a religious body. Denominations are clearly misunderstood. Denominational name tags are solely the work of man and are not found anywhere in the Word of God. It is said that there are a few thousand different denominations, some of the major ones being Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist and Protestant, just to name few, many further divided into subdivisions and groups which hold different views of theology which in turn have caused their splitting off in different directions.
Religion has been around for about 2,000 years and at its beginning there was no denominations as such we have today. As people came together to worship God, differences between Church Denominations began to form, each with their own set of beliefs and teaching. This has grown and changed over the centuries, with some following to God's word and otheres have strayed dramatically away from the faith.
In the early days of the Christian church, people met mostly in each other's homes. As what is known now as the Bible began to be put into book form and the New Testament was finalized, we see the beginning of the Catholic Church taking shape. By about 1100 A.D., Christendom became a major force; and the Popes of these Churchs held great influence in society.
By about 1500 A.D. reform began to take shape when Martin Luther, a German priest, composed and published his 95 Theses. Luther was excommunicated in 1521, and those who followed his teachings were known as Lutherans and later, as Protestants. By 1547 King Edward VI of England became the first Protestant ruler in Europe.
Because of differences between Church Denominations, some view other denominations as being apostate or heretical, and not legitimate; while others have a tolerating view and think each one needs to accept the others with no or little concern of their views.
When comparing differences between Church Denominations of various churches, this must be approached very carefully. Assessing churches in denominational terms can be very complex. Becoming part of a denomination with unbiblical views can hinder you from becoming what God has in store.
There are many sitting in the pews of these "Churches" that will never here the gospel message or such a watered down message and as a result will never become a believer, or at least not from the teaching in these "Churches". These are the many that will be lulled with false hopes of ever seeing Heaven.
It is wise to consult the guidelines and theology of any church to see if their views align up with what God's word says. Anything that differs from the Bible in any of the major doctrines needs to be avoided.
Some denominations have large followings, lavish possessions and appear to be growing. This is not a way to assess what a particular denomination teaches. Many are being led astray because of these things that may appeal to man's senses but do not contain solid teaching of God's word and the Gospel message of Salvation that is so much needed today.
A denomination that teaches God Word as in the Bible should believe the following:
Believe in the Trinity: God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit are three Persons present in one God.
Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and is God, born of a virgin, crucified as punishment for the sins of mankind, resurrected on the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming back to rule and reign forever.
Believe that the only way to eternal salvation is through personal belief that the blood of Jesus is all-sufficient for the penalty of sin and an acceptance of him into your life as Lord and Saviour.
Believe in salvation by grace alone, and that salvation is immediate and eternal upon acceptance of Jesus as a one-time sacrifice for your sins, and not obtained through any works, sacraments, traditions or merits of our own.
Believe that ‘Water Baptism’ is not required for salvation; but we are commanded to be baptised after becoming saved as an outward sign to the world of what we truly believe on the inside. The order is always, hear the word, believe and then be baptized as outward proof of an inward change. Baptism will not save you, or will any other good work for that matter. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two symbolical ordinances of the New Testament. As in the Lord’s Supper the bread and wine used are symbols of the great work of Christ, so in water baptism the work of the Holy Spirit is seen in the act of immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Baptism signifies a confession of faith in Christ, a cleansing or washing of the soul from sin and a death to sin and a new life in righteousness.