The most frequent criticism leveled against me (apart from not being “loving” enough) is that I am an unabashed promoter of sectarianism and denominationalism by being such a strong partisan for the Pharisee denomination. I am sure that just like me, you fail to see what is wrong with being a “partisan” for the Pharisee denomination. To paraphrase a quote of that great American patriot, Barry Goldwater, “extremism in the defense of doctrine is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of Truth is no virtue.” Aside from that, these clueless critics of contemporary compromise act like unity and a big interdenominational group hug are what Christianity is all about. They seem to think that my unwillingness to give up a commitment to Truth is some sort of impediment to being supportive of Christianity. What balderdash.
Just because I was born into a Pharisee family, raised in a Pharisee church, attended a Pharisee Bible college, and now pastor a Pharisee church, is no reason to assume that I am a “denominational hack” as some assert. I am a Pharisee by conviction, not by enculturation. I am a diligent seeker of the Truth and it is crystal clear to me that the Pharisee denomination that holds to the full council of God (and not every church with the Pharisee name on the sign is truly a Pharisee church in practice). When my critics say, “Pastor Gamaliel, you should fall in love with Jesus, not your denomination,” I reply by stating that they should fall in love with the Truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life…” (Emphasis mine) indicating that anyone who loves the Truth, by extension loves Jesus. My critics don’t seem to think that one can love doctrinal truth and Jesus at the same time.
I have been told that denominational boundaries are nothing but man-made distinctions that unnecessarily and sinfully divide the Body of Christ. They try to tell me that the biblical thing to do is to abandon these artificial appellations and all just go by the name of “Christian” as if this will solve the problem of sectarianism. That way we can practice an open minded acceptance of all true believer regardless of their faith tradition. What hogwash!
First of all, the notion that there could possibly be true believers outside the confines of the Pharisee denomination is their first blunder. Every good Pharisee knows that if one is TRULY a believer, they will eventually come to see the truth of Pharisee doctrine. If they don’t, then clearly they are only pretenders to the cause of Christ and are false professors of Christianity. But the main reason for maintaining denominational distinctives is because failing to do so ignores the apostasy that is so much a part of all the non-Pharisee denominations.
Beyond that, breaking down denominational walls means that we are ignoring the importance of Bible doctrine. The primary focus of the Bible and the New Testament in particular is to highly exalt doctrine. Since most of the real differences between denominations is doctrinal in nature, abandoning denominational segregation is merely a ploy to get true Pharisee churches to relinquish their hold on the Truth and embrace the syncretism that has infected all of the other liberal denominations today.
All denominations, with the exception of my own Pharisee denomination, are infected with varying degrees of doctrinal error. When someone is making mud pies, it does nothing to their final product to add more mud to the mix, but if you are making apple pies, no amount of mud is tolerable. If false denominations and churches filled with doctrinal error like the belief that there is nothing wrong with reading modern translations of the Bible or it is okay for Christians to listen to so-called Christian rock music, want to associate with one another free from the constraints of denominational distinction, then that is fine with me. They can all make mud pies together. But the Pharisee denomination contains the pure, unadulterated water of God’s word, plus nothing and minus nothing. Any mixture with the corrupting mud of false denominations is too much to tolerate.
“But what about uniting with them in good causes? Surely you can join with them in opposing abortion and promoting the Republican agenda, can’t you?” they ask. While I agree that abortion is wrong and that all True Christians support the Republican Party, that is no excuse for budging the least bit from the firm foundation of Truth upon which we stand. The believer is instructed in the book of Jude to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" There is no hint here or anywhere else in Scripture that some part of the Christian faith is of such little importance that it is to be disregarded for the sake of a broader unity. Biblical admonitions to “come out from among them and be ye separate” cannot be ignored in such lesser pursuits as poverty relief, famine relief or providing medical aid for HIV victims.
Despite the fact that there is no mention of denominationalism in scripture, the ecumenical push to break down denominational walls is unscriptural and must be resisted. Those who have the most to lose from the ecumenical call to dissolve denominational walls are those faithful Pharisee churches like ours whose doctrine is based upon the Word of God. None of the other error-ridden churches has anything to lose since mixing error with error does nothing to corrupt their already apostate condition any more, but as the only denomination which preaches and practices the WHOLE council or God, it is incumbent on us to remain staunch in our refusal to join with them for any reason, no matter how high-sounding the cause may be.
This stand does not come without a cost, however. I do truly regret that we cannot in good conscience support the Gideons because of their compromising ways in taking money from non-Pharisee churches. However, we draw consolation from the fact that there are plenty of other churches out there willing to sell-out to popular acclaim and support them. If the Gideons would take money only from good, sound Pharisee churches, then we would possibly consider supporting them financially, but alas, I doubt that day will ever come.
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