The "Right" Denomination
Question: I am a former Catholic and I have this question to ask you. With so many Protestant denominations, how does one know the right one?
Answer: Previously we used to think that the Roman Church is the one and only church of Jesus Christ, and so, by definition, we considered all other churches and denominations as false. The modern Catholic teaching carries on this sectarian mentality: The Church of Christ "continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church" while the evangelical churches are called "ecclesial communities" and are "not Churches in the proper sense" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus).
The Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to recognize our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ beyond the fences of our denomination. All churches and denominations that uphold the fundamental truths of the Faith and that do not destroy their profession by damnable heresies or scandalous behaviour, are genuine and true churches of Jesus Christ.
We readily admit that there are differences and that there are also errors in these churches/ denominations. Nobody is claiming that they are "right" in the absolute sense. Individually and collectively we are imperfect in our understanding, moral and spiritual life. Yet, by God's grace, we belong to Him and He calls us His children.
There are of course better churches than others, both in doctrine and church discipline. It is sad to observe that some churches have become little more than social clubs. The reverence and fear of God has given way to a man-centered and user-friendly approach, calculated to improve self-esteem and never to offend human pride. The joy of the Lord is substituted by an artificial excitement and emotion whipped up by loud rhythmic music, clapping and dance. Other abusive churches strangle Christian liberty: godliness is defined in terms of dress and drink; tithing is emphasized more than the Trinity, the independence of the local church more sacrosanct than the universality of the church, the body of Christ. Christians would be wise to avoid these kind of churches.
There are also churches who are Christian in name only because they have departed from the truth of the Gospel. It would have been very convenient if Christ told us to join a church with a particular name. He didnít. Rather He warned us that there are many false teachers and wolves in sheep's clothing, and that some churches have degenerated into "synagogues of Satan" (Revelations 2; 3; 18:2). We have are warned.
Notwithstanding, Christís will for His children is that they should meet together in local congregations for the mutual benefit of all members and the public worship of God. "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23).
Do not wait until you find a perfect church. It does not exist on earth. Even if there was such a church, it will be spoiled as soon as you join in. Churches are schools; Christians are students and we are studying holiness. We haven't graduated yet. Our imperfections and weaknesses become an excellent opportunity to learn vital lessons in patience, kindness, humility and forgiveness.
© Dr Joseph Mizzi