Do you see value in denominations?
C.S. Lewis wrote in the preface to Mere Christianity that we should be careful with the word “Christian.” Lewis believed the term should be used strictly in the definitive sense, to describe those that follow “the teaching of the apostles” and not as a term of value or morality. After all, there are good and bad people who are Christians, and there are good and bad people who are not Christians.
It’s perfectly fine for our label to simply be a word that describes our commitment to following Jesus’ teachings, and not a term describing our worth.
The same is true of the word “denomination” and the labels associated with them. To many of us, these structures can seem divisive, separating some Christians from other Christians. Ever since the Reformation in the 1500s, denominations have incited violence and conflict between Christians and non-Christians alike. But denominations have also given structure, purpose, support and a voice to billions of people throughout history.
Denominations are, at their core, structures that help support and enable a diversity of Christians. They are not Christianity; they merely make space for different varieties of faith to flourish. If we can understand denominational labels as descriptors, rather than terms of value—who is right and who is wrong—perhaps we can see beyond the walls that separate us, and begin to see the beautiful diversity there is among Christians. This may not be easy, but here are some reasons it’s worth trying: