9 May, 2017 § Leave a comment
Why are there so many religions?
Why are there so many denominations within Christianity?
Proponents of Christianity have fielded these sorts of questions for some time, to varying degrees of intelligibility, and, to an extent, I will answer these questions and offer the biblical citations of my thought process but ultimately I want to deal with the problem of functional apostasy within the Church.
Functional Apostasy is essentially the answer to the above questions and all of their delineations, but before we define what functional apostasy is, we need to understand what the Bible says about the Church.
The Church, literally, the assembly, is a fluid gathering of people who have believed in The Way; the teachings of Jesus on how to be reconciled to the Father through belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, resulting in repentance for their rebellion against the Father and baptism to signify being put to death with Christ and raised with Him to newness in life; identifying as adopted by the Father, in servitude to the Son, their King, and sent by the Holy Spirit. (For more information start here).
In short, we are people;nothing more, nothing less. People who have been saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the power of sin and will be saved from the presence of sin–a whole bunch of us. Now, where that is true, a gathering of people being saved from the power of sin will be errant from time to time and in need of correction both individually and corporately. This is where functional apostasy enters the scene. Unlike your run of the mill apostasy where someone has denied some core doctrine of the faith or is living in open sin which results in Matthew 18 intervention, functional apostasy is systemic in nature.
Now, let’s define functional apostasy.
Functional Apostasy is the belief that the Church is anything other than you and me on our journey to the Father with the Holy Spirit as our guide and the Bible as our road map. It is the belief that the internal structure of the gathering can be built on anything other the foundation that Jesus is the Christ as Jesus lays out in Matthew 16:16 or that the feast of communion is anything less than about declaring that as much as it depends on us, we are one with God and man as Jesus prayed for in John 17:21 or that our one function is anything more or less than to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything Jesus has commanded us just as Jesus spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Acts 1:8. It is any deviation from that path set before us.
If you want to know why we need the New Testament it is so that we can read books like Galatians where they were instantly caught in a cycle of functional-church-wide-apostasy. What was the deviation? They believed that there was another way to tell who was really a believer other than to get into their lives and find out. It was the belief that you have to do something other than obey Jesus to signify that you are a believer in the Way–and that my friends is functional apostasy; the belief that we need more than the Bible, and more than the Spirit of God and His ministry of reminding us of what Jesus has said to live the Christian life.
Why are there so many denominations within Christianity? Because at some point somebody decided that the church is more than you and me on our journey, as I’ve said; that the church exists despite its members and is the ultimate authority for truth, which usually comes down to meaning that what they teach is the result of another fallen man or woman who did the hard work of working out their own salvation with fear and trembling but still fell short of the glory of God. What has resulted then is a whole following of that believer in an “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos,” fashion that is essentially building believers up into their figure who is a pale comparison to Christ and as a result their disciples fall in the same ways that they personally fell and find it difficult to believe the same things about God that they struggled with personally. These distinctives were then codified and one by one history marks the start of another fracture in the body of Christ because of their functional apostasy.
Why are there so many religions? Because, eventually, the end result of functional apostasy is faith in someone who is not God. Romans 1:18-25
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
It starts as a deviation and then gradually, over time, your denomination becomes the gateway for your children or your grandchildren or their children to go hell because of the entropy of the full knowledge of God and the continued acceptance of anything other than what the Bible teaches as profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction or for training in righteousness.