I remember when I was first starting to preach abroad. I spoke at churches of different denominations. I experienced something that confused me at the time. I figured out a way to “understand the truth of the situation”. Now that I am no longer a believer it makes so much more sense to me.
I preached in certain Baptist Churches where I heard it was taught that Pentecostals were going to hell! The reason was simple. The Baptists believed that the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecy were no longer used. God did not give those gifts any more. They also believed that the holy spirit’s functions were to be the communication from god directly to people’s spirits, and he was to draw the unsaved people to god. Well, if god did not give those spiritual gifts to the Pentecostals then they were doing those things of their own flesh. If they were performing such things out of their own flesh then they were not doing it “in the spirit”. So, Pentecostals were not saved, because the holy spirit would not allow them to falsely perform those “miraculous” signs. They did not truly have the holy spirit. Everyone that had truly been saved did have the holy spirit.
I also preached in a few Pentecostal churches. I was quite surprised to find out that some taught the Baptists were going to hell! The reason was simple. God gave spiritual gifts. Baptists never spoke in tongues or prophesied. God gave those gifts to every church. He manifested them through his holy spirit. If the Baptists didn’t exhibit those signs it is because they did not have the holy spirit, and therefore, they were not saved.
What really made this tough for me was I saw non-church people attend both churches, hear their messages, and accept Jesus into their hearts. Both churches were fervent in their desire to bring people into god’s flock. Both churches prayed for sinners, both evangelized, both saw many people convert to become christians. BOTH CHURCHES!
It made no sense to me. How could they both bring people to god and both still be convinced the other church members were basically all going to hell? I struggled with it for some time. I prayed about it. I read the Bible searching for answers. I read others opinions, and spoke with people about it. I finally found my answer.
I convinced myself that god used different denominations to reach different people. Some people needed the energetic style of worship of the Pentecostals. God gave those people those gifts because they needed the emotional connection with him. God made them that way and provided a church just for them. Likewise, others felt uncomfortable with that style of worship and did not need to see the “miraculous” signs and wonders provided through those gifts of the spirit. So, god gave them a church where they would feel comfortable. He reached out to them as well. God reached out and made many, many denominations to meet the need of all his children as he created them.It was apparent he really cared for everyone. He created such a wide variety of people, with many different needs. He then provided tons of denominations and styles of churched to reach everyone.
I see now there is no real god. People find places to worship that fits their own style. They find a church that fits their needs. Some follow a charismatic preacher, others go with friends, others find a place that make them feel comfortable, and some even find a place that is completely out of their normal social interaction as a place to experience something new.
Within any church there are as many different versions of religion as there are people. No two people seem to believe exactly the same about god. Consider the Bible says god requires us to come to him. (It also says no man comes to god unless he is drawn by god himself.) The American version of Christianity preaches there is one way to heaven. It also say god is immutable. If there was only one god, he was perfect, and didn’t change there should be one religion, one denomination, and one set of easy of rules to live by that everyone could understand. A perfect god could communicate his perfect message much more clearly. If people were really communicating with god through his perfect spirit they could all perfectly understand who god was and could understand his one plan.
The state of religion today, as well as the history of religion throughout recorded time makes complete sense when you consider that every concept of god that has been proposed is not real. God is made out to be whatever people think of god. Everyone has a different concept of god because every person has their own life experiences, and everyone thinks independently of others. The world and especially religion just make more sense when you see god is a concept and not real.