A: The fact that there are such a large number of denominations is a very unfortunate problem. There are several factors into the cause, but here is the main reason there are so many denominations.
Christians were heavily persecuted during the early years of the church from the apostles' time to about 315 AD. About that time, the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity, and a few years later, another Roman Emperor made Christianity mandatory throughout the Roman Empire. Some people might expect this to have been a positive development for the cause of Christianity, but actually it was disastrous. Any knowledgeable Christian is well aware that no one can make anyone else become a Christian. It is impossible to force anyone to believe something in their heart. Only God can open hearts. So instead of making Christians out of everyone in the Roman Empire, the decree from the emperor simply resulted in all of the religions in the empire mixing together as one and calling themselves "Christian". Those who followed Christianity, those who followed Judaism, and those who followed any one of the many different Pagan religions were now suddenly all in the same assembly. Even though the church was said to be "Christian", (only a minority of the members actually were Christians). Most of the church members were of some other religion the day before, but were now calling themselves "Christians". The doctrines of these many religions were combined, resulting in a "church" whose doctrine was part Christian, part Jewish, and part Pagan. This was the origin of the Catholic Church.
As one might expect, a church that is a blend of multiple religions would not have doctrine consistent with the Bible, despite having a state mandated Christian label. Those who looked to the Bible for guidance quickly found that the church was not in line with the scriptures. To fix this problem, the clergy declared that only they could interpret the scriptures and that the church members should stop reading the Bible. The Bible became contraband and during the dark ages from about 500 AD to about 1500 AD, the public was not permitted to have access to the Bible. Only the clergy could look upon the Word of God. They then dispensed only tiny morsels to the masses, often twisting the meaning for their own financial or political gain. By the time the reformation began, virtually all Biblical truth had been lost or distorted. Finally around 1500-1600 AD, the reformers began to get Bibles back into the hands of the common man. Right away, people began to protest against some of the Catholic doctrines and tried to reconstruct the proper church doctrines which had been lost more than one thousand years before. Of course this was very difficult because they had been steeped in all manner of heresies for centuries. Different groups had varying degrees of success, correcting some areas of doctrine while failing to correct others. Some false doctrines were changed into new, different false doctrines. Despite all the doctrinal corrections that the many denominations made, not one of the hundreds of denominations or sects ever made it back to the pure doctrine of the early church. Perhaps I should not use the word "pure", since we can see from Galatians 3 and 1 Corinthians 5, that errant doctrine was creeping into some local churches even at that early date. There is a quote that I have heard many times, and I am not sure who first said it: "The only problem with the protestants is that they did not protest enough." Therefore, we must be diligent in studying God's Word to know His true will, rather than relying upon any denomination to tell us.
The Body of Christ has mostly come (out of) what the world sees as (churches and denominations) that for the most part keep creeds, codes, laws, traditions of men that usually leads away from truth from Scripture to many false doctrines they feel must be kept to earn their way to heaven. Most, even today, feel that there are many roads or religions that lead to heaven, but Christ says there is no other door to heaven but by Him. There are those who worship in denominations that teach for the most part, false doctrine, but if they believe the true Gospel that Christ alone paid their sin debt in full , once and for all, on the cross, and that He lived and died for our sins and was resurrected they will be saved. The Body of Christ is made up of human beings who believe Christ's Gospel and are now new, born again creations in Christ, individual building blocks in His spiritual temple. The Church of God is not some grand building or religious denomination that (they) have joined. It is invisible to the world and can be seen by others only in the fruits of the Spirit of God we exhibit. A church group and works do not save us or make us Christian. It is by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH, and this is not your OWN DOING; it is the GIFT of God...... not the result of works, so that no one may boast. EPH. 2:8-9
Many false denominations preach a different Gospel then that of Christ's. This causes division between True Christians and Counterfeit Christian denominations and cults.
GOSPEL CAUSES DIVISION
"And I will put a division between my people and thy people (Exodus 8:23)." Even from the very early pages of the Bible we find that there is a division between the people of God and the unsaved.
Abraham, who trusted in the Lord as his Saviour, was asked to separate himself from his family and nation (Genesis 12:1-3). Believers, by virtue of the fact that they are saved and are going to heaven, are separated from those unbelievers who are lost and going to hell. Also, believers, in their Christian walk and life style, are to separate themselves from the unsaved. II Corinthians 6:17 says, "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate."
Amazing as it may sound, Jesus tells us in the Bible that the message that He brought to the earth would cause division. We should not be surprised, therefore, because the Lord Jesus Christ has told us so. Let us look at what Jesus said in Luke 12:51-52, "Suppose you that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (Luke 12:51-53)."
Wherever Jesus went, his message caused division and persecution. In John 7:40-43 we read, "Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him." Also we read in John 9:16, "And there was a division among them." And again in John 10:19 we read, "There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?"
Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven as He plainly stated in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
The message of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Paul tells us in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The gospel is like a two-edged sword. For those who believe the gospel, they will be saved. For those who reject the gospel, they will be lost. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." For those who believe, they will have everlasting life. For those who reject Christ, they will perish. So as we have seen the message divides. It divides between the saved and the lost; those that are going to heaven, from those that are going to hell; those who have life, from those who do not have life.
I John 5:12 says, "He that hath the Son hath life, and He that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
Jesus told His disciples, "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! (Luke 6:26)." We should not be surprised at the mixed reactions to the message of life and death. The Apostle Paul says, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things (II Corinthians 2:15-16)?
The Gospel message not only separates the lost from the saved, but also, sometimes, the saved from the unsaved:
1) The gospel divides the world into two groups: the saved and the lost.
2) The gospel also divides the Christians into two groups: those who will be faithful in the command to evangelize and those who oppose evangelization.
As believers, we are told that we "shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the Word of Life (Philippians 2:15-16)."
After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, a picture of the redemption or salvation of the nation, Moses had to ask this redeemed nation, "Who is on the LORD'S side? Let him come unto me (Exodus 32:36)." I believe the question still must be asked today of those who know the Lord as their Saviour. Jesus Christ has commanded us to carry His message to a lost and dying world. The Great Commission is "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)." Many believers want the benefits of the cross, but not the offence of the cross.
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God (Philippians 1:27-28)."
There is a division between those that preach the true gospel and those that preach a perverted or distorted gospel. The subtlety in this is that it often times sounds like the true gospel but is not. The test of the true gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace or mingles works with grace as the means either of justification or sanctification, it is "another" gospel, and the preacher of it is under the anathema (curse) of God. The Scriptures clearly say in Galatians 1:8-9, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I again. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Therefore, the message that is perverted or distorted is accursed of God, and the one preaching that message is accursed of God. Usually, those who have been taught a false gospel will persecute those that teach the pure gospel. The Apostle Paul explained this in Galatians 5:11, "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased." Paul says that the true message of the gospel of salvation apart from human works will bring about persecution, but to mingle works with the true gospel takes away the offense of the cross. Therefore, we are urged in Scripture to stand on the Lord's side and separate ourselves from those that distort His word and change His message.
Are you a believer? If not, then trust Christ as your Saviour now, and He will give you eternal life. As a believer, are you on the Lord's side? If not, then align yourself with the precious message of the Lord Jesus Christ. God will bless you for it.
For A Moment of Inspiration
Concentrate on the four dots in the middle of the picture for about 30 seconds
Then close your eyes and tilt your head back - keep them closed
You will see a circle of light, continue looking at the circle. What do you See?
May you never lose this vision in your heart, soul, and mind until we see Him face to face