Denominations always focus upon the doctrine or doctrines which set them apart from the rest of professing Christians. My observation of the phenomena is that if there is a doctrine that isolates your group from "the rest of the herd," there is high possibility that you are either looking for something that will "set you apart" from "the less enlightened," or you have failed to understand that the Body of Christ is made up of individual members, all differing, and yet all necessary "organs" to keep the whole alive. It is as thought the "stomachs" want everyone to be hungry for the Word; the "legs" want everyone to be missionaries; the "hands" want everyone to feed the poor; the "mouths" want everyone to listen to them; etc. My question is, since each group claims to be the authority when it comes to teaching the truth, how is it that every single one of them has failed to apply 1 Corinthians Chapter Twelve? How is it that Christ's prayer to His Father for the unity of the Body of Christ has been ignored in the effort to maintain "theological purity?"
Previously, I mentioned that some denominations focus upon their unique interpretation of the Scriptures. I suggested that figurative language, when taken literally, at face value, may be a source of misunderstanding. For instance, the Roman Catholics insist on the doctrine of the Transubstantiation, which they say teaches that when their priests pray over the bread and the wine, the elements literally becomes the flesh and the blood of Jesus.
Another error causing division within the Body of Christ is simply the result of misunderstanding the Word of God. This usually occurs when a verse is somehow taken out of context. For example, some believe that Jesus told His disciples to purposely "take up" snakes as evidence of being a child of God. They site Mark 16:18 which says, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The previous verse says, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues" (v. 17). Notice that these verses do not indicate a saved person will do all of these things, or Mark would not have said "if" when referring to drinking something poisonous. There is only one reference to someone being bitten by a poisonous snake in the New Testament, and those around Paul, seeing he did not die, accepted his preaching as being from God; in fact, they actually though he was a god (Acts 28:3-6).
Perhaps the most common error made by those who see themselves as "protectors of the truth," is their failure to rightly divide the Word of God. With these, the problem is not that they fail to preach the whole truth, it is that they preach it as though it is all applicable to them. They literally believe the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, presents God's will for them. Don't get me wrong; all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for each of us (2 Tim. 3:16). But notice that the verse does not say we are to obey all of it; it says we are to learn from it. The same author also wrote, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I hope to show how failure to rightly divide the Word of God has contributed to the splintering of the Body of Christ.