Religion Comparison - A Comparison of "Religions" Within the Christian Church
Arguably, the most divisive religion comparison occurring in the world today is within the Christian "religion" itself. Groups which self-identify as part of Christianity include (but are not limited to): African Independent Churches (AICs), the Aglipayan Church, Amish, Anglicans, Armenian Apostolic, Assemblies of God; Baptists, Calvary Chapel, Catholics, Christadelphians, Christian Science, the Community of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Coptic Christians, Eastern Orthodox churches, Ethiopian Orthodox, Evangelicals, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Local Church, Lutherans, Methodists, Nestorians, the New Apostolic Church, Pentecostals, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventists, Shakers, Stone-campbell churches (Disciples of Christ; Churches of Christ; the "Christian Church and Churches of Christ"; the International Church of Christ); Uniate churches, United Church of Christ/congregationalists, the Unity Church, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Vineyard churches and others. These groups exhibit varying degrees of doctrinal similarity and cooperation. However, there are often striking and divisively opposed arguments concerning particular doctrines of faith.
So, why are there so many different denominations, movements, groups and cults within the so-called Christian church, many of which claim to possess the "Fullness of the Faith" to the exclusion of the others? Actually, the "Body of Christ" includes every member of the human race who has established a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son. According to the Bible, that requires repentance of sin, acceptance of Christ as personal Savior, and a commitment to God through obedience to His will. Regardless of denomination or affiliation, these are the people that constitute the Body of Christ - the true Christian church. The various denominations, movements and groups that exist today are primarily the result of the Protestant Reformation. Other significant periods in world and U.S. history, such as slavery, Pentecostalism and the "Jesus movement", were marked by a resurgence of the Christian faith due to cultural issues and/or a movement of the Holy Spirit (called a revival). Some groups and cults simply rose up as a result of misguided teaching and/or corrupt intentions.
Religion Comparison - The Core of Christianity
Why is there so much "religion comparison" within the Christian church today? Does it grieve God that we have formed various denominations in His church? On the surface, "variety" within Christ's church shouldn't be a problem. God loves variety, and we are able to witness His love for it in nature as well as in our fellow man. He equally honors and blesses people of many denominations, even though their worship of Him may be liturgical, ceremonial or informal. The important issue is that we worship Jesus Christ when we congregate in His name. The core issue is whether our faith statements (creeds) are in agreement with the Bible's fundamental teachings. If the foundations of the Christian faith are consistent among the various denominations, all of the other "side" doctrines and ceremonies are not that important. Most importantly, our daily walk with Christ must be rooted in a relationship of faith and love for our Lord. Christianity is a process of spiritual growth and maturity, not a one-time event or weekly obligation tied to a physical location. True Christianity requires a daily surrendering of our will to the will of our Creator. The church we attend each week is somewhat insignificant compared to how we devote ourselves to God with each moment in our life.
Jesus Christ founded Christianity, but not as a "religion" or with the intention of making it an exclusive type of "organization". Rather, the Apostles were specifically instructed to spread the Gospel first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, and then to the outer most ends of the earth. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is not a denomination. Christianity is not a church building. Christianity is a relationship with God through the power and grace of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross for you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), not on what you can do for yourself (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity is not about religious traditions, ornate buildings, flamboyant preachers, rules, rituals or robes. Christianity is about truly receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Done.
Religion Comparison - The Timeless Message of Jesus Christ
Religion comparison is a waste of time for Christians. Christians should be comparing their hearts to the timeless message of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Simply, heaven is promised to all who have been "regenerated", or "born-again", and is one of the promises that God has given to us in His Word. If we have truly received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we are promised to be in the presence of God immediately upon our physical death. No single denomination or group has a "lock" on the perfect knowledge of God. In fact, the Bible tells us that some truths will not be revealed to us in this lifetime. The point must be made that the core beliefs of any Christian denomination must be rooted in the Gospel. Is Salvation a gift or something to be earned? It must be that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and not by any kind of works or deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).