Handbook of Denominations in the United States, Frank S. Mead & Samuel S. Hill
The number of religious bodies outside of the body of Christ is staggering. This book details 200 different denominations in the United States during the 1990s. Denominationalism is a direct contradiction to the prayer for unity made by Jesus. There was no denomination until hundreds of years after the establishment of the one true church during the first century. A fundamental question we must always ask our misled friends in denominations--“Is the name of your denomination in the New Testament?” Indeed there is something in a name!
A member of the church of Christ did not publish this book; however, there is a wealth of information about denominational bodies in the United States. The writers group some denominations under broad categories (which further illustrated the divisive nature of denominationalism) including: Adventist, Baptist, Brethren, The Christian Church (The Stone-Campbell Movement), Church of God, Episcopal/Anglican, Friends (Quakers), Judaism, Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Old Catholic, Orthodox (Eastern), Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, and a host of other religious groups that do not fall into these categories. A brief article is written about the founding of the denomination, its headquarters, population estimates, sponsored institutions, and peculiar teachings.
In the Appendix there is a wealth of valuable information including a listing of headquarter addresses for Denominations and schools associated with the organization. There is also a very informative glossary of terms in the Appendix as well.
Let me emphatically state that I do NOT believe the church of Christ is a denomination. A denomination is part of a whole of religions established by men, but the church of Christ is the whole body of Christ, not a part. With this in mind, it is interesting to read the information the writers provided about Churches of Christ. The text reads as follows:
A distinctive plea for unity—a unity that is Bible-based—lies at the heart of Churches of Christ. It is believed that the Bible is “the beginning place,” in and through which God-fearing people can achieve spiritual oneness—to “speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent” in all matter pertaining to faith and morals. Consequently, members recognize no other written creed or confession of faith. In all religious matters, there must be a “thus said the Lord.”
The book goes on to describe churches of Christ as follows:
Stressing strict adherence to the New Testament pattern of worship and church organization, they refused to join any intercongregational organization such as a missionary society. Worship was simple, and they opposed the addition of instrumental music on the grounds that the New Testament did not authorize it and the early church did not use it.
Is it not amazing how accurate the plea of churches of Christ is stated in this book? It is tragic that some read this book and do not see the confusion of denominations versus the simplicity of the New Testament pattern! This reference book is a valuable tool to learn about various religious groups from a denominational source. It illustrates how denominations are like the grains of sand of an unstable foundation while the church of Christ is found upon the rock of Jesus Christ!
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 11, No. 8, August 2004, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.