In thinking today about Christian division, I recalled this thought from James Fenimore Cooper’s book, The American Democrat:
In America the taint of sectarianism lies broad upon the land. Not content with acknowledging the supremacy of the Deity . . . the pride and vanity of human reason enter into and pollute our worship, and the houses that should be of God and for God, alone, where he is to be honored with submissive faith, are too often merely schools of metaphysical and useless distinctions. The nation is sectarian, rather than Christian.
He penned those words in 1838.
When Cooper was a still a child there were only about 500 active Christian denominations. Today that number is over 40,000, and Wired magazine cofounder Kevin Kelly says the current growth curve will take that number closer to 260,000 separate denominations by 2100.
It’s probably worth thinking more deeply about Cooper’s words today than when they were first published.