I had this e-mail conversation with a friend the other day, and thought I'd post it. It's a big pet peeve of mine within so many different denominations of brothers and sisters in Christ...
I flipped the e-mail around so it doesn't have to be read from the bottom upwards.
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:27 AM
why are there so many different churches? cause everybody has to believe or interpret different? why can't there just be one?
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:31 AM
Before I answer this, what exactly are you referring to by churches? different religion type churches, or Christian churches...
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:40 AM
baptist/churches of Christ/methodist/etc.
Ok. The only real differences in those types of churches, is the way they worship. There are other small differences within each church-type, but mainly it is how each denomination chooses to worship and within their more technical doctrine (predestination, the end times...) I don't really know all of the subtleties, of each. I find it all fascinating, but in Chicago, it's more Catholicism vs. Christianity. What I do know, is that the basis for each of the churches that you mentioned. The core. Which is the most important part. Jesus Christ died on the cross was crucified and rose again three days later, which was prophesied in the old testament scriptures multiple hundreds of years prior to Jesus being born.
The little things:
Priests vs.. pastors (but Priests can get married outside of the catholic church, it's more a title)
Women serving as pastors/ministers
Baptism ~ (infants, adults... whether it saves you, or you do it because you're saved)
Communion ~ whether it is a symbol, or actually Christ's body and blood. Wine vs. Grape juice. How often is it to be done...
Sacraments (marriage, communion...) ~ these are mostly present within Catholicism and some Anglican/Episcopal churches
The view of Spiritual gifts ~ speaking in tongues (is it still a gift or not), prophecy (how it is used) etc...
Alcohol ~ permissible in small doses or not
Tobacco ~ similar to alcohol... generally if a denomination says no to one, it says no to both.
Homosexuality ~ not all churches agree on their stance of people who choose this lifestyle.
Worship ~ I know there is at least one denomination that doesn't believe in music being played in a sanctuary of a church.
Even within the same denomination, things are different. That's why there are even smaller branches within the larger heading. Baptist, for example, has Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Missionary Baptist, and probably tons of other different ones that I don't even know. And within each of these different Baptist church branches, each church may choose to do communion differently. The problem is, is that these different branches of Christianity have allowed it to become the reason for strife within the church. Satan has used humanity's need for superiority over other people to make people think that their branch of faith is better than someone else's; Which in turn, allows there to be strife with someone who is in actuality your brother or sister in Christ. People don't seem to remember that is not how you worship that's important, it's WHO you worship. The little technicalities aren't what's important... they're just that. Little. Technical.
Now I'm not saying everyone is the same peace love and happiness... I'm not a crazy hippie cult type girl who feels that every religion is correct. They're not. What I am saying, is that if you believe the Bible is true, it is fact; then there are very specific things that are of true importance. They are 1. Jesus Christ was alive. He was born and was God and man in one. He was perfect, the only person ever to live and breathe and walk the earth in perfection with no sin. 2. He was abused and rejected. He was ridiculed and tortured. People hated him for telling truth. 3. He was hung on a cross where He died taking away the sins of the world. 4. He rose again three days later. We worship a risen God!! and 5. He ascended into Heaven to live with His father for eternity to prepare a place for us to live forever with Him.
What I'm trying to say, is that while the little stuff is there, it's not the most important part of your faith. People lose sight on what it's really about. How does the saying go? They can't see the forest for the trees? I'm not trying to say that you should ignore the little things. They're not worthless. People should have opinions. But they should base those opinions on what they think. Not their denominations opinions. People wouldn't be people without the ability to reason and think through things on their own. So they should. Think. Reason. Decide what you believe, and know why. Be able to think out the little things for yourself. Homosexuality, communion, baptism, the sacraments. Make your decisions. It's very important to use the Bible to figure it out, but figure it out. Be able to back up what you say. Tobacco, Alcohol... same thing...
They're not unimportant little things, the how we worship, they're just not as important as the WHO we worship...
Just something I felt like sharing...