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As a Protestant and Catholic household, we are aware of the differences between our two Denominations, but as Christians we are also well aware that we are bonded by a common belief that Jesus death and resurrection is the source of our salvation. We also believe that we will be together in Heaven.

For my part I feel that the God I love and serve would not turn her away at the Gates of Heaven simply because we chose to worship him in differing ceremonial settings, and I am sure she feels the same. We both serve the same YHWH Elohim.

To my feeble mind if an all knowing God were concerned with this and if it had Eternal consequence, Jesus and God would have made that crystal clear in the Bible.

In my study the only Scripture in the King James version I find which even remotely addresses this is:

1st Corinthians 3:5 through 13 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

AS I read these Scriptures Paul is not saying, that any of these are wrong, as long as they are based upon the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. Please correct me if I have drawn an erroneous conclusion.

As far as the teachings of Jesus himself go, all I find is:

John 4:21 through 24 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Again as I understand the Scriptures Jesus is not telling them that their worship is incorrect, but what is incorrect is that they need to worship God in their spirit and in truth. Again, if I have drawn an erroneous conclusion. Please let me know.

If my conclusions are correct God does not care about, which church house you worship him in, only that you worship him in spirit and in truth.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jayarathina Madharasan, Daи, Caleb May 12 at 21:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
It shouldn't be an issue as long as it doesn't divide the Christians in your family. Mark 3:25 - And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. –  jaredad7 May 9 at 15:05
    
"We both serve the same YHWH Elohim." A related set of questions: Does God care about the change over from Jehovah to Yahweh? Or does he prefer we just say LORD like the NT which just says Kurios? –  david brainerd May 10 at 3:41
    
Jehovah is just a bad transliteration of YHWH. Most scholars now think Yahweh is closer to how it would've been pronounced. –  curiousdannii May 10 at 5:04
    
Obviously the leaders of each denomination think God does care, otherwise they would form a union recognising that there share the fundamemtals required fro salvation. Evangelicals are such a union as they span multiple denominations. Your concept of a core unity spanning denominations is Evangelical making you not a Catholic. For the fundamental differences between Catholic and Protestant in terms of essential salvation, I just provided a very long one here christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/28011/… –  Mike May 10 at 6:29

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

What saves a person is God's salvation that He has procured for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the faith that trusts in this grace of God (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10). That is, we have faith that God, in His mercy, has saved us through Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and the life (cf. John 11:25-27). The "Church" is the body of believers which is therefore united in this faith in Christ.

However, we obviously see in this world that the Church is not visibly united; i.e. there are denominations and differences among these denominations.

I think the Reformation distinction between the "visible" and "invisible" church is helpful here (see http://bookofconcord.org/defense_6_church.php ). There is one, holy, universal Church spread throughout the whole world and time; this Church is united in Christ, having been redeemed by his blood and brought to faith in him for her salvation. Since we can not "see" a person's faith, however, this Church is "invisible." God knows who are His, though.

This "invisible" Church is also an article of faith, because we don't see unity in the Church on earth. Instead, what we see on earth is the "visible" Church that is often divided, has non-believers in it, and possessed of various faults. Denominations are an unfortunate result of the fact that we are fallen creatures and remain sinners, even though we have been redeemed and saved by Christ from this sin.

Thus, we of the Church are both saints and sinners at the same time (the Reformation phrase is "simul justus et peccattor"). We are members of the "one holy catholic and apostolic Church" that we confess we believe in through the Nicene creed. Yet, at the same time, sin still intrudes into our relationships with each other in the Church, creating divisions.

When Christ returns, though, all these differences and separations will be undone and we will be truly united. Adam and Eve's original sin introduced separation between humanity and God, among humanity, and between humanity and creation. When Christ returns all these fallen relationships will be completely restored, even as they are now partially restored in the Church. We will then have perfect communion with God, each other, and all creation (cf. Revelation 21:1-5).

So, the question naturally arises: "Why belong to a denomination at all?" I would answer that if we believe that we are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ, then we tend to congregate with other Christians who we feel best proclaim and teach this Gospel. This is another reason why there are denominations: we have differences of opinion as to how to best do this. We all seek to be "orthodox" (i.e. proclaim a "right praise" of God), yet we are not perfect in this life. So, I am a Lutheran of the LCMS (www.lcms.org), yet I am still united in Christ with Catholics, Methodists, ELCA Lutherans, Baptists, Greek Orthodox, etc... But, when Christ returns we will all perfectly sing his praises together (cf. Rev. 19:6-8).


A short article about how Martin Luther and John Calvin's thoughts on the "visible" and "invisible" Church derive from St. Augustine's thinking is at: http://www.augnet.org/?ipageid=2196

A great hymn that speaks to the unity we have in Christ and touches on the "visible" and "invisible" Church is "The Church's One Foundation" (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/LSB2006/644 )

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Your answer parallels my understanding of what the church really is. Our Lord never used the Church in the plural form while on Earth and only seemed to use it that in the Revelation to designate a particular ideology or group for the purpose of identification. In my concept of the Church there are no denominations, only believers. –  Bye May 10 at 13:53

I believe Jesus said it best himself

Mark 12:29-31

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I see nothing in there that would lead me to consider denominational differences a factor.

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To steal a quote from an old TV show, "Thanks I needed that" –  Bye May 9 at 14:54

God cares a lot about truth. Trinitarian Christian groups are united by the truths that are expressed in the early creeds. But, those creeds are necessary, not sufficient. They state true things about God and the gospel, but there are still many wrong ideas out there.

For example, indulgences is one Catholic concept which Protestants completely reject. Protestants believe the very idea offends and grieves God. God definitely cares about differences of belief, even though they may not put you outside the gospel. Like all sin, our wrong beliefs were dealt with on the cross.

There are some wrong beliefs that do put you outside the gospel. It is a constant debate about how works feature in Catholic doctrine, so I can't make any firm statement about what any individual believes, but if anyone did believe that they could through their actions earn the forgiveness of God, that would be a denial of our gospel of grace, and that person would not be saved.

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good job tackling a tough question with as few words as possible –  Mike May 10 at 6:30

We are not saved by denomination, we are saved by being born of the water and of the Spirit; John3;5.

Galatians 3;28 KJV

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

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Brother, pause to thank God for putting this question in your heart! And not only that, for leading you to passages that directly address the question. In the old testament, the Jews fragmented into several groups, one of which was the Samaritans. The doctrinal differences between the Samaritans and the Jews were relatively small, yet the Samaritans were despised by the Jews as being outside the covenant. Christ used this ungodly attitude on the part of the Jews to humble them with his stories of good Samaritans, showing that God recognized the good deeds of those who were outside the covenant.

NEVERTHELESS, Christ proceeds to tell Photini (the name of the Samaritan woman at the well is, by oral tradition, Photini or Photina, the name given to her at baptism by the Apostles) that the Samaritans are in error! He does so very lovingly, obviously, but his admonition is clear: salvation is of the Jews.

The body of Christ is not 30,000. It is one. So, why do we have so many groups claiming to be the body of Christ? The direct answer is heresy. This is a word Christians do not like to confront, mainly because of its association with the Inquisition. But it is not only not a word we should fear, but one we should study. Heresy means literally, "choice." Heretic means, "chooser." Those who espouse heresy are, then, those who choose to believe something other than what has been handed down--something other than the gospel "once delivered unto the saints."

Heresy was clearly of great importance to both Christ and the Apostles. St. Paul includes heresy as one of the works of the flesh in the list he gives in his letter to the Galatians: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Today, we avoid the topic of heresy altogether, but the Apostle places it in a list filled with sins that would make us all blush!

St. Paul also gives us a reason for why heresy is allowed by God to attack the church: "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." Heresy helps refine our expression of what we believe. But we never change what we believe. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." And in Malachi, a similar sentiment is expressed by God: "I am the Lord your God...I do not change."

Christ himself says that not one jot or tittle will be ignored by God. The word he actually uses is "iota", which refers to a tiny, seemingly insignificant subscript in the Greek language.

Furthermore, Christ has this to say regarding his church: "And on this rock [petra--not Petros] I will build my Church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." That is to say, Christ will build his church on confession of faith, such as that made by the Apostle Peter, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.

Most churches today are, for all their good intentions, founded on the principle of restoration. The grand claim is that the church erred at some point, or fell away from the true faith, and that there was nobody left to continue the faith. Therefore, it must be restored. It's hard to blame anyone for this falsehood, since the Prophet Elijah himself fell into it. But God answered him, "I have preserved 7,000 in Israel that have not bowed the knee to Baal." We see in the scriptures something that contradicts the idea that the church falters completely. We see first of all the continuity to which God refers. We are reminded that the church is the Body of Christ. While some may fall away from the church or even mislead others in the church, the church itself does not falter. To say that it falters is to say that Christ himself falters, or that he lied to us regarding the triumph of his church. It would be to admit that the gates of hades had indeed somehow prevailed against God.

I realize that my answer is not one that Christians would like to hear. For many, it is enough to confess the name of Jesus Christ. You can see this yourself from the answers you have already received. But we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that those who tried to cast out demons in the name of Christ without reception into his church were unsuccessful. As hard a saying as this is, the jots and the tittles clearly do matter. These are not my words, brother: they are written in the Gospel. They may not be verses that are often marked with highlighter, but they are there.

At the outset, it also appears divisive. It's as if in the claim that, by the scriptures, there can be only one, true church, there is an attack made on those of all other groups. But isn't it strange? These groups splintered over time from the church itself or from another splinter. Is it not these groups that are the divisive ones? Still, an appeal to unity--to the idea that the church must be one, was always one, still is one, and will always be one--is very often met with scorn or derision.

But this nevertheless brings us to a very important question: if such a church exists, where is this group, this remnant that God has preserved throughout history? On this forum, I will not presume to answer this question for you. God is clearly leading you to seek out this answer, and I believe he will continue to lead you to the answer. But make no mistake: there is only one Body of Christ.

It reminds me very much of the scene in the third Indiana Jones movie (oh, I hate to appeal to a movie, but the scene illustrates it so well). Indiana Jones must choose the correct holy grail in a room full of grails. Which one is it? Rather than being lured by the splendor and beauty of the golden chalices in the room, he thinks carefully: "Jesus was a carpenter." After some searching, he quickly locates a modest wooden goblet, and of course, he is correct.

I hope you will take a similar historical approach. I hope you will start with those churches that can demonstrate a clear lineage (and by clear lineage, I mean they have the names, dates, and documents to back up their claims) to apostolic succession (there are less than ten, so this will narrow your search quite quickly). I hope too that you will include your wife in this search. This will not be so easy an answer to find as Indiana Jones, but I know you must want to do it. You would not have asked the question otherwise, and you would have been satisfied already by the answers you have been given. But it seems by your replies that you are not quite satisfied--at least not yet.

Brother! In some ways, I envy you, because the journey you are about to begin--the deep, historical search you will undertake--is a great, enriching experience. Christianity will mean so much more to you, more than it ever has. May God send his grace to enlighten and lead you.

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