Sorry for the purposely shocking title. You can decide for yourself whether it’s accurate.
I’m always surprised that no one ever talks about the fact that Galatians 5:19-21 says that those who "practice" denominations will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I’m assuming that the huge majority of Christians don’t know that. You’d think, however, that the few that do would bring it up and at least ask whether we ought to talk about it.
Hairesis and Denominations
One of the "deeds of the flesh" listed in Galatians 5 is translated by the KJV as "heresies," but I think most modern translations use "factions." I’ve heard people say that a good translation is "a party spirit."
Here’s what they’re translating.
The Greek word hairesis is used 9 times in the New Testament. 6 of those occurrences are in Acts:
- Acts 5:17: The high priest and others were part of the hairesis of the Sadducees.
- Acts 15:5: Some members of the hairesis of the Pharisees argued for circumcision at the council in Jerusalem.
- Acts 24:5: Paul was a member of the hairesis of the Nazarenes (i.e., a Christian).
- Acts 24:14: Paul says he worships according to "the Way," which Jews call a hairesis.
- Acts 26:5: Paul calls the Pharisees the strictest hairesis of Judaism.
- Acts 28:22: Jews tell Paul they have heard of this hairesis (i.e., Christianity).
I don’t think you have to be a Greek scholar to conclude that this word hairesis could accurately be translated "denomination." The KJV translates it "sect" 5 of those times in Acts. As I said, modern translations tend to use "factions" in Galatians 5:20, where it’s plural.
Will Denominations Keep Us Out of the Kingdom of Heaven?
So here we are. Most Protestant denominations claim to be following the Bible. Many say that it is divinely inspired down to every word.
Yet, the Bible says that those who practice haireseis—which, as you can see, is probably best translated "denominations"—will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
So, now you know. I’ll let you decide what to do about it.
It seems like it would be a good thing for your hairesis to talk about. Don’t you?