I wonder why the break-up in the churchof God. I mean Catholic, Anglican,
Baptist, International Church of Christ etc…. Sometimes I imagine why
most group claim to be the only Christians among the Christian circle.
What caused the break up? How did it happen? What could be done? The
Catholic Church has been existing since the 1st century, don’t you think
every other church could be a counterfeit?
The question of the origin of Christian denominations is pretty
complicated. I suggest you read the outline at the web site on the
history of Christianity. You will find that most splits happened as the
result of disagreements over either theology or practice. Issues such as
how the church leadership ought to be organized, the form Christian
worship ought to take, the doctrine of salvation, grace vs works salvation
and theology (definition of God) have been the chief causes of Christian
division. Another factor is personal animosity.
Whether or not the Roman Catholic church is the “true” church and others
are imposters does not depend on its history, but rather on its
faithfulness to the gospel message, as found in the Bible. It is true
that the Catholic Church can trace its roots all the way back to the
beginning. Very few can make that claim. The Coptics, Nestorians and the
Orthodox also can trace their history to the original church. Does that
make them the only church as well? What about the fact that these groups
If you look at the history of the Catholic Church you will find a couple
of things which prove it has long ago lost its right to claim to be the
one and only true church.
1. The doctrine and theology of the Catholic Church is radically different
from what it was in the first two centuries. The doctrines of the
Immaculate Conception, purgatory, celibacy of the priesthood, works
salvation, ordination, transubstantiation, and many more are all
innovations which came since the church was established. If the first
century church was right, then the Catholic Church is wrong.
2. The abysmal moral record of the Roman Church, especially during the
Middle Ages most certainly disqualifies it for its claim to be the only
true church. During this time (and at other times as well) the church was
involved in wars, genocide, military intrigue and violence of every kind.
The church tortured people in the most hideous of ways. Popes were guilty
of homosexuality, adultery and every sort of heinous sinful act, yet they
were considered infallible.
No, the Catholic Church is not the “true” church and all others
God hates division in his church. That is the subject of John 17. God
hates the divisions and all the denominations. What can we do about this?
We can be absolutely careful to chart a course according to the only
standard for truth, which is the Bible. We can be gracious, not
condemning of other groups. We can seek to be involved in a group which
as closely as possible follows the New Testament pattern, both in practice
and spirit (1 Tim 4:15-16). I do not believe that any of us will be able
alone to solve the problem of Christian division, but we can do our best
to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
It is true that almost every group has at one time viewed itself as the
only true church. Not all false doctrines are OK. We cannot simply
announce that all groups are Christian. We need to hold to correct
doctrine. Nevertheless, it is divisive and arrogant for any one group to
claim to have a monopoly on truth. Such arrogance is not in the spirit of
Jesus. We need to love truth, but not to love arguing about it.
I hope this is somewhat of a help to answering your question.