QUESTION: “If there’s only one God and only one Bible, then why are there so many different churches or denominations?”
Excellent question! And certainly a question which those who have been ‘soured’ on religion in general have every right to ask. In fact, it’s a question that makes perfect sense – no matter how you slice it or why one asks it. “If there’s only one God and only one Bible, then why are there so many different churches or denominations anyway?”
This is a question very deserving of a common sense, scriptural answer, because certainly we know from even a peripheral reading of the New Testament that that’s not the way God intended for it to be, nor is it the way things were in the first century, between 33 A.D. when Christ established His church (Matt. 16:18-19) on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47), and the writing of Revelation by John, somewhere near the end of the 1st century. During that time the Scripture unequivocally shows us that there was but one church in existence. That church was (and still is) the body of Christ, and there was (and still is) only one (Eph. 1:22-23, 4:4-6).
During that same first century, all the ‘churches’ (that is to say, local congregations of the same, one, exclusive, New Testament church over which Jesus alone was Head – Eph. 1:22-23) all taught the same things (1 Cor. 4:17, 7:17, 11:16, 16:1). It wasn’t like it is today with a different “church” on every corner, all with their conflicting and contradictory doctrines and dilemmas. Instead, if there was a church meeting in a town, it was a church of Christ; if there were several meeting, they were all churches of Christ (Romans 16:16)! And any question a sincere seeker asked was bound to receive the same answer because all the congregations of the one N.T. church/body/kingdom of Christ, were expressly, exclusively, and unequivocally committed to the apostles’ doctrine only (Acts 2:42), as they recognized that the apostles alone both had and delivered by divine authority, the very commandments of God Himself (1 Cor. 14:33-38; 1 Thess. 2:13, 4:1-8; 2 Tim. 1:13).
Divisions (or denominations) of loyalty down into groups following certain men and their doctrines, instead of only Christ and His, were boldly and thoroughly condemned (1 Cor. 1:10-13). Conversely, unity was achieved by simply standing together as one, faithfully and exclusively following the absolute truth of God’s Word alone just as Jesus had prayed for (John 17:6-23; Phil. 1:27-2:2). For 200 years or so thereafter there was but the one church Jesus had built as seen established, evidenced, and in existence in the N.T. Scriptures.
Emperor Constantine later (313-337) began instituting and implementing departures from the apostle’s doctrine that soon led to the faulty foundation of the Catholic Church being laid, and it wasn’t until 1517 that the first major protestant denominations began to be built by mere mortal men (Matt. 15:7-9), based on their own faulty and biblically-contradictory doctrines which they had developed in the dark recesses of their own hearts and minds – a practice which was certainly nothing new, and which God never had, or ever will approve of (See 1 Kings 12:25-13:10 with 2 Kings 17:20-23; Jeremiah chapters 5-7, 23, and etc) These new-fangled denominations and their doctrines did not even resemble the church of Christ as seen in Scripture in many cases. But many are those Biblically ignorant and uninformed today who have fallen prey to these countless counterfeits. People today are actually stunned to learn, that in fact none of the modern-day Protestant denominations (i.e. divisions) are more than 500 years old!
Bottom Line? There is one God, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, and one body/church, according to God (Eph. 4:4-6). Want to learn more about the Lord’s one N.T. church as established and experienced in Scripture; the same one the apostles worked and worshipped both with and in? Come and see and check us out. Ask for a study. Ask questions. We’re easy to find, both in town and in The Book (Acts 2, Rom. 16:16).