United in Christ

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How can young professionals support a unified church vs. one filled with division?

An interesting trend of the last 40 years has been the rise of the “nondenominational” church in America. As of 2020, nondenominational churches officially surpassed churches of the mainline tradition and became the most popular protestant denomination in the country. This should leave Adventists with much to think about. Surely this news is not shocking to us who are interacting often with people outside of the bubble; people seem to be tired of labels and weary of absolutes in this time of skepticism. And with so much disagreement at hand in the church, being able to claim yourself outside of that has a certain allure.

This begs the question, could Christianity one day mature past an age of denominational church fighting to one of unity through movements like American non-denominationalism. With regard to the desired end goal, the Bible says yes, but it won’t be through basic non-denominationalism. While the Bible in Titus 3:9 calls us to, “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law”, it also–at the appropriate time–calls us to “Preach the word”, being “prepared in season and out of season”, in order to “correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4:2. And in doing so, the Bible admonishes us to “correctly handle the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15. In essence, the Bible calls us to be faithful to the word as we prayerfully understand it, and be prepared to deal with fellow members of the church who will believe differently from us. Thus non-denominationalism, when rooted in attempts to flee from unpopular doctrinal beliefs, is not a method of unification, but rather debilitation. A Christian that is unable to follow the word wherever it goes is hardly a Christian.

So then, is unification unattainable? No, the Bible tells us that one day soon, His church will be united as they are compelled to decide to live for or against the Lamb. Adventists will join together, Catholics will join together, Pentecostals will join together, and yes, nondenominational congregants will join, all together, to keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. This can only be done–unification can only be achieved–through faithful adherence to the Word of God. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. Unification cannot be bargained. Let God teach the saints. Let God sift the saints. Let God convict the saints.

In order to humbly exchange ideas about what the Bible has said to us as striving Christians, AYP has resources like the “Life’s Big Questions” group for discussions about the difficult and important topics of our day. All are invited without regard to denomination.

1 Comment United in Christ

  • I love the challenge, Xander! It seems that as Christian denominations we have focused more on who we are not than on the one we claim to follow. People will go to a place where they find meaning and value, and Jesus and scriptures are the best place to discover all that. We as a society also resist anyone telling us what to do. So our challenge is how do we re-create faith environments where I and my friends can discover the value of following Jesus, the insightfulness of his words, and the transformational power of living a life led by his spirit vs. being discipled into a church denominational label. What many non-denominational churches have attempted to do is move back from church traditions to a gospel-centered life, words, and actions, which was in the heart of the early church and was the philosophy behind the Protestant movement our churches came out of.

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