Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 24, 1949
NUMBER 29, PAGE 2,3b

The Disgrace Of Christendom


Not long ago I heard a speech by Dr. E. Stanley Jones, a denominational preacher who had spent thirty years in India in mission work. He was making a plea, not for the unity of the Spirit which the Bible enjoins, but for union or federation among the churches. His plea was based upon the need for a united front in foreign lands; that native peoples whom the missionaries sought to convert simply could not understand why there should be divisions among the various teachers and missionaries. He said that frequently natives come to the missionaries and ask, "Why do you not all preach the same Christ? Some of you preach a Catholic Christ, some a Baptist Christ, some a Methodist Christ, and some a Presbyterian Christ. Yet we know there are not many Christ's; but one. Why do not all of you preach that one Christ?" Dr. Jones said that what we need both in this country and in foreign fields is "one church of Christ."

That sounded fine, but he ruined it in the next sentence. He went on, "Of course it will be all right for us here at home to maintain our separate branches of that church." What he was really advocating was not unity at all, but a sort of subterfuge in the shape of a federation or union that would appear united outwardly, and so would not be so confusing to the natives. At the same time this federation would go right along maintaining all the old divisions, and holding up before the world a divided Christ here at home.

In contrast to that, what the world really needs is a unity that will hold up before all mankind a united Christ, not a divided Christ, whether at home or abroad. All denominational and party lines need to be removed and forever forgotten. All who love the Lord must endeavor to preserve and promote such a unity and such a spirit of peace as will bring a true fulfillment of the prayer that Jesus uttered in that memorable night of his betrayal (John 17.)

The Carnal Mind

Not only did Paul condemn and argue against division, but he pronounced a severe judgment upon it. There is no stronger passage in all the New Testament against denominationalism than that uttered by Paul, when he said, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ." They were carnal, fleshly, worldly-minded in their divisions. Their partyism, their following after men rather than after Christ was the proof of it. Such an attitude is an evidence of a lack of spirituality; it is an evidence that they were walking after the flesh. They were exalting men, and following men, rather than Christ. Paul said, "I fed you with milk, not with meat, for ye were not able to bear it; nay, not even now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal" Rather than becoming spiritual, they had remained carnal; and were evidencing that carnality, that fleshly mind, by creating and maintaining among themselves factional divisions and drawing party lines.

To wear human names and to follow after human leaders, and to be members of human organizations, and to teach human doctrines, and to engage in human innovations in the worship mark a man clearly in God's sight as a carnal man. It is walking after the flesh and not after the spirit. "For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not men? What then is Apollos, or what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed, and each as the Lord gave to him. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." It is God who saves; and it is God's will that must be done. Do not follow after men, for men are nothing. Such was Paul's plea. Do not follow after Paul, for Paul does not amount to anything; do not become followers of Apollos, for he is not able to save. You will be but blind followers after the blind if you follow men. Rather, follow after God, and do the will of God.

Modern Carnality

Suppose we take the names of religious leaders in the world that are prominent, and put their names in this e passage instead of the names of Apollos and Paul. Paul stated that he had simply used Apollos and himself as an illustration, "that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things that are written." (I Cor. 46.) Let us omit the names of Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, and in their stead put the names of Luther, Wesley, or Campbell. Let us grant for the moment that they were great men; let us grant that all of us owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they have done. The question is, What then is Luther, or Wesley, or Campbell, or even John the Baptist? Who are they but men? Shall we be carnal, walking after men? or shall we be spiritual, walking after the Lord? When men begin to call themselves by human names, dividing themselves into factions and parties, the condemnation that Paul pronounced upon the church at Corinth applies with all the force it carried in that early division.

God's Temple

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroy the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye." (I Cor. 4:16.) In these words Paul goes still further in the development of his argument against division. Here is the argument: the church, composed of men and women, Christians, is the temple of God. If any man defile, or destroy, or disrupt the house or temple of God, God will destroy that man. To divide the temple or house is to destroy it. Jesus said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." To divide the house of God is to destroy it, in the sense that Paul used the term here. And to destroy the house of God is to stand condemned before God.

There can be no doubt or uncertainty in the minds of those who believe the word of God: denominationalism is wrong. There is simply nothing to be said in its defense. It is carnal, not spiritual. God condemns it as sinful in his sight.

—Roy E. Cogdill