Updated: Apr 10
The departure from the faith predicted by Christ and the apostles was characterized by six major departures.
(1) A change in church government.
(2) A change in the designation and descriptors of the church.
(3) A change in the subject of baptism. Infants as well as believers were baptized.
(4) A change in the form of baptism. Sprinkling was substituted for immersion.
(5) A change in the creed of the church. Human creeds were introduced.
(6) A change in the form of worship. Instrumental music was added to worship.
It must be pointed out that the leaders of the Reformation in Europe had no intention of forming denominational churches. Luther told his followers to call themselves "Christians," not Lutherans. Unfortunately, the followers of these men did not respect their sentiments and they formed fellowships centered around the teachings of Luther, Wesley, Calvin, etc. This was the beginning of denominationalism. Rather than answer Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17:20-21), this only added fuel to the fires of division.
There were several men who were not content with this and advocated a return to the ancient order. The close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century were characterized by a number of simultaneous movements, which had as their aim the restoration of the New Testament church. Often these men worked independently of and unaware of the other’s activity.
The New Testament church was founded in 33 AD. Let's consider the years that different denominations or movements were founded:
The “Judaizers”: 40s
John Wycliffe and the Lollards, Jan Hus and the Hussites: 1400s
Anabaptism (Swiss Brethren/Pietism): 1525 became the Mennonites
Anglicanism (Church of England): 1537
Wesleyanism: 1730s, many became the Church of the Nazarene
Plymouth Brethren: 1827
The Restoration Movement: In the 1820s there were simultaneous movements by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone., and many others to get back to the basic teaching of the New Testament. Those who restored New Testament worship and teaching remained as the Churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), but some have split to become the Disciples of Christ (instrumental), the Christian Church, independent Christian Churches, and various non-denominational churches.
Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS): 1830
Community of Christ (The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or RLDS): 1850s
Seventh-Day Adventism (Adventists): 1844
Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist): 1860s
The Salvation Army: 1865
Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1872
Pentecostalism/The Charismatic Movement: 1901, have split into the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the Assemblies of God, Holiness, Church of God, etc.
United Pentecostal Church: 1914
Vineyard Association of Churches, Calvary Chapel, and a host of other denominational movements took place int the 1950s and 1960s
International Church of Christ (Boston Movement/Portland Movement): 1979, some refer to themselves as International Christian Church.
Each of these denominations have a founder, a creed, and a start date (which is not rooted in Acts 2). Wouldn't it be easier to just return to the Bible? That is what we will seek to do over the next few weeks in this blog space.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
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