When a group of people simply go back to the New Testament pattern, and practice Christianity as it was practiced originally, they do not begin a new denomination. They are practicing what might be thought of as non-denominational Christianity. They are imitating the church about which anyone can read in their own Bible. They are not hyphenated Christians. They are simply Christians, no more and no less. The church of which they are a member is not a hyphenated church, nor a denominational church. It is the church of Christ.
For 2000 years, people have discovered that they can do this. It has dawned upon them, through a study of God’s word, that this is exactly what God would have them do. He laid out a pattern, and he expects us to follow it without addition, without subtraction, without modification of any kind. He expects us to practice simple, primitive, nondenominational, New Testament Christianity.
In doing this, people recognize that they must give up their traditions, and the manmade religions of their fathers. They must give up their creeds, their manuals, disciplines and denominational rulebooks. It is a revolutionary concept to many, refreshingly simple yet profound. It involves adopting a mindset which Jeremiah described as follows: “Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls,” (Jer. 6:16). It includes giving up the arrogant belief that newer is always better, that man can invent a way superior to God’s. It involves recognizing that sometimes going back is going forward, restoring is better than reforming or reinventing.
Grasping or understanding the possibility of simple New Testament Christianity has been made difficult by the many and varied denominations which have sprung up all around us. The existence of these numerous religions, with their many adherents, gives people the impression that it really doesn’t matter what we believe. One way is as good as another. No opinion is superior to any other, or so it seems. And, no one wants to be called judgmental or “holier than thou,” so it is better to “live and let live.” In this way, God’s original design, is cast aside.
This is precisely why denominationalism itself is so wicked and pernicious. It leads people to believe that they can live in and practice error, and still be pleasing to God and be saved. It closes peoples’ eyes to the reality that it makes a difference to God how we live our lives.
When Peter confessed the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, our Lord announced that “upon this rock I will build my church,” (Mt. 16:18). But that statement has been twisted and perverted to say that there are many rocks and many churches. Upon what was the church built? Some have built an entire institution around the false assertion that the church was built upon Peter. Yet the Bible plainly says, “Other foundation can no man lay that that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” (1 Cor. 3:11). There is but one foundation, and it is the fact that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God. When man gets off of that foundation and starts building things upon people, upon peculiar doctrines, or upon his own preferences, we see denominationalism at its finest.
Unlike the churches of men, nondenominational Christianity does not cater to other people, or peculiar doctrines, or personal preferences. It simply follows the pattern outlined in the New Testament. It stays closely with the foundation laid by Jesus himself.
Its members echo the sentiment, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!”
Nondenominational Christianity does not change with the latest fad. It maintains a reverent consistency through the years and through the ages. Having come to understand and appreciate it, one can feel quite at home in an assembly of the Lord’s church, whether it be this year or 100 years ago, or 2,000 years ago. While cultural customs and inconsequential matters may vary, the essential nature of the Lord’s church endures, and is easily recognized and identified. Nondenominational Christianity is what was practiced by the church in Jerusalem, Rome, Ephesus, etc., less any of the excesses of those congregations pointed out in the New Testament. Take any of the first century congregations, make the changes prescribed by the inspired Bible writers, and you have God’s ideal. You have a pattern and practice worthy of our imitation. In combination, you have a complete picture of the church of Christ, so that we can imitate it, work, worship and live accordingly. In short, you have the revealed will of God which He wants us follow.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.