Why is Undenominational Christianity so hard?
Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019
By Norm Fields
Let me clarify the title somewhat. I’m not saying that the practice of undenominational Christianity is difficult. To the contrary, there is nothing difficult at all about practicing true New Testament Christianity. It is the pomp and pageantry of man-made doctrines that are much more difficult to maintain. When the focus is put on our own desires for fulfillment, it is increasingly more difficult to satisfy those desires. So, the shows get bigger and more spectacular – and more detached from true Christianity. But when the focus is kept on God and His word, and our fulfillment comes from knowing we’re serving Him, then it’s easy to just do what He said.
So, my question isn’t about the practice of Undenominational Christianity. It’s about the undenominational concept in general. People have become so accustomed to the denominational landscape that they can’t seem to conceive of it being any different. That’s why when we talk about the undenominational church of the New Testament, people just don’t seem to get what we’re saying.
For a long time, we used the term “non-denominational.” But that term falls short of the truth of the matter. Not to mention that most so-called “non-denominational” churches are just denominations that have dropped the denominational name.
Those non-denominational community churches are still teaching denominational doctrines of one stripe or another, just without the specific name attached to it.
It’s not just that Undenominational Christianity is “non-denominational.” It is, more specifically, pre-denominational. That is, true New Testament Christianity existed long before Catholicism and long, long before Protestant Denominationalism.
Undenominational Christianity is also anti-denominational. The whole principle of New Testament Christianity is that it follows only the New Testament. How can one possibly claim to be a New Testament Christian without actually following what the New Testament says? How many times does God have to say not to add to or take away from His word before we get the point? Both the Old and New Testament make this charge numerous times (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Josh. 1:7; Prov. 30:6; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Rev. 22:18, 19).
When a person just follows God’s word – without addition or subtraction – then they are practicing New Testament Christianity! Nothing more, nothing less. When the seed is planted (Luke 8:11), it grows Christians and only Christians. Both Catholicism and Protestant Denominationalism add and take away a great deal from God’s word. There are only two possible sources for where a doctrine originates. It is either biblical doctrine or it is the doctrine of men (cf. Matt. 15:9). If it is biblical doctrine, then it will originate from the Bible. If it doesn’t originate in the Bible then, by necessity, it is the doctrine of men. If it is the doctrine of men, then it is a forbidden addition to God’s word!
So, true New Testament Christianity is “pre-denominational,” and “anti-denominational.” It’s not simply “non-denominational,” but “undenominational.” But, despite the clear and simple principle being described, people just don’t seem to get it.
To the claim that “the church of Christ is not a denomination,” they reply, “yes, it is!” Look at this comment on a YouTube video by that very title, i.e. “Why the Church of Christ Is Not A Denomination.” “Alexander Campbell started the CoC denomination!! Read your history! Arrogant Pharisees!” Another viewer responded with an excellent question, “So what was the church that Christ built?”
Why is it so hard for people to comprehend the restoration principle? It is recorded over and over again in the Old Testament.
We’re just doing the same thing that men like Samuel, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, and others did. When you call people back to God’s word, you’re not establishing something new, but restoring something to its original order.