Is there a Biblical basis for the division caused by various theologies?

Let us take James into account:

James 1:26-27
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

As well as Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:10
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

In reading these, I'm sure we can all agree that we are, in fact, not doing either of these at all. We have Catholics, Lutherans, Mormons, JWs, and many many more - all doing and saying and teaching different things. This becomes problematic for some people who are trying to learn the Truth (emphasis on that capital T), and many people incredibly devoted to what is (or appears to be, rather) wrong will quote such verses as 1 Corinthians 14:33 - however you will find someone do this, then immediately go and contradict Scripture itself.

There are many, many denominations out there - and I'm sure an equal or greater amount of theologies. And if my usage of the term theology appears off, that's because theology today does not do what it was supposed to. Instead of studying God, much of it (from personal observation) is finding out "what the book means to you". God did not inspire the Bible to appeal to each individual, but to His people.

So, is there a Biblical basis for the division it is causing?

  • 7
    Theology just means the study of God. It's kinda unclear what you're asking here. And you could probably find most of your answers here: What Biblical justifications are used for having separate denominations
    – LCIII
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:09
  • 4
    theology, which to my understanding is really just piling a lot of non-biblical ideas into what we can learn from Scripture -- Your understanding is grossly inaccurate. Theology is, simply, the study of God.
    – Flimzy
    Jul 9, 2014 at 16:50
  • 1
    @Jesse: That's an interesting question, and one likely worth discussing. But it would need to be better framed to fit into the Q&A format of this site.
    – Flimzy
    Jul 9, 2014 at 16:55
  • 1
    @Jesse when we consider whether questions should be marked as duplicates I think it's usually best to consider the questions alone and not the answers. The existing answers may be poor, but new ones can and probably will be added in the future. (I've actually been meaning to add one to that question myself.)
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:43
  • 1
    Mod notice: <off topic comments removed> Please don't use the comment function to discuss the theological issues raised by posts. The feature should be reserved for issues related to the post, not tho post's subject matter. If you have a suggestion for improving the question or want to explain the way the site works or things like that then go ahead. Comments not doing that and going off into theological discussion will be removed. Thanks for understanding.
    – Caleb
    Jul 10, 2014 at 6:14

1 Answer 1



Your specific question is not overly clear, but it seems you are essentially asking if there is any doctrine worth dividing over, and you mention the many denominations that exist as problematic.

I'm reminded of the satirical quote by Steve Turner:

We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was.     
They all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, 
heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

In short, yes, there are doctrinal differences worth dividing over, and there is, indeed, a biblical basis for this. Yet, there are also doctrinal differences that are not worth dividing over as well.

An old axiom is instructive at this point:

In Essentials Unity, 
In Non-Essentials Liberty, 
In All Things Charity.

So, we have to determine what are the essentials and what are the non-essentials. People will differ on this, but the essentials should probably include 1) the nature of God and 2) the doctrine of salvation at the very least.


Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to specifically correct heretical doctrine, and he uses some pretty strong language to do so.

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7 NASB

Paul continues with strong words against those that had perverted the purity of the gospel:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:8-9 NASB

Thus, the purity of the gospel of grace is, indeed, worth dividing over. Paul preached salvation by grace and not of works and was willing to divide with those who preached a salvation based on law.


Non-essential issues include many things, including church order, musical preference, the use of certain spiritual gifts and other things. Here in America, we have the luxury of going to the particular church that best aligns with all of our individual idiosyncrasies and personal preferences, yet in many other parts of the world, much more unity is displayed, particularly in places where Christianity is under persecution. Still, most mature Christians maintain healthy fellowship and unity with those with whom they differ in non-essentials.


So, yes, if someone distorts the nature of God or the doctrine of salvation, we should follow the example of Paul and divide over that. Draw the line in the sand and do not compromise.

Yet, for many other things, we in the West can choose to gather in different buildings and segregate based on peculiar non-essential issues, but we should certainly maintain unity in the faith with all our brothers with whom we can unite in the essentials.

  • Good answer, and a +1 for it. I tried to ask my question with as much detail as I could muster, but in short it became - "is there a biblical basis for theology" which has done nothing but distort the Truth and cause division. You answered very well though, and will indulge myself with this further. This will more than likely be chosen as my answer.
    – Jesse
    Jul 9, 2014 at 15:48
  • 1
    I think you should also note Matthew 18, where there is even prescriptive advice for attacking sin in the Body, which wrong and heretical belief might be labeled as such.
    – user3961
    Jul 9, 2014 at 16:13
  • There's an important difference; other religions versus other denominations. We know nothing after death except Jesus's Christ's words that we cannot know except believe (... no coming back to convince others). To say there is hope other than Jesus's Christ's words is something very new whether denominationally or religiously... I honestly don't care if it's the latter. Jul 9, 2014 at 16:23
  • @fredsbend +1 for that. A reread of Matthew 18 was refreshing.
    – Jesse
    Jul 9, 2014 at 16:28
  • I ended up choosing this answer because, despite my efforts to word it properly, it ended up answering probably a more important question to me, as a Christian. Thank you Narnian.
    – Jesse
    Jul 9, 2014 at 16:58

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .