I would like to share some thoughts with you about how one person views denominations and see what conclusions we can draw from them if we follow them to their logical conclusions. First, let's take a look at the game of baseball.
Let's start out with some "Fundamental Rules" of the game.
An infield with bases
Now that we have defined the "Fundamental Rules" of the game, everything else must be "Coaching Principles", right? Let's see...
So what happens if we just introduce a few changes? After all, hitting a pitched baseball can be hard and people feel bad when they strike out.
OK, we recognize that those changes were too radical and they stopped the game from being baseball. Let's try some less drastic changes.
Let's keep the pitching. After all, most people feel that pitching is really part of the game. But hitting that pitched baseball is still difficult and can cause hard feelings. Let's change a rule and add a rule to our original game.
That isn't acceptable either. The "Ball Purists" just insist that we leave the ball alone. They argue that you can't have baseball without a baseball. Let's try again.
OK, we agreed that we have to keep the original ball size to satisfy the "Ball Purists". But hitting a pitched baseball is still too difficult for most people to get the most out of the game. Let's just change one rule to make it easier.
The "Ball Purists" have no leg to stand on, but even with just one change, we turn baseball into something else.
Why can't I change any of those "Minor Points" of the game and still have baseball? After all, I didn't change any of the "Fundamental Rules" of the game that we started with!
I can't change those rules because I am not the baseball commissioner and I don't have the authority to make any changes.
That's why it says "official" on a baseball. There is a standard that must be adhered to. If any of the rules are changed, it's no longer baseball, it's another game entirely. The new game may be a very nice game and people may enjoy it and get a lot out of it, but it is not baseball.
My real problem was that I did not dig deep enough to define the full rules of the game.
So how do the lessons we learned about baseball apply to Christianity?
First, there is an Official Rule Book. God writes the rules because it's His Church that He purchased with the blood of His Son.
Here some beginning things, written in that book, that we need to do:
When we do these things, God will add us to His Church. (Acts 2:47) Notice that we don't join the Church, God adds us when we meet his conditions.
God has given us these instructions. He has shown us examples and applications. Just read the book of Acts for a starter. And just like I have no authority to change the rules of baseball, I also have no authority to change the rules of Christianity. In fact, Revelation 22:18-19 specifically warns me not to.
As changing the rules in baseball makes it a different game, changing the "rules" of Christianity makes it a different religion. The new religion may be a very nice religion and people may enjoy it and get a lot out of it, but it is not Christianity and it does not have Jesus as it's saving power.
We must dig deep enough in God's Word to find and correctly understand the full rules that He has given us and expects us to follow.
-- Zachary Van Tassel, 2001 --