Why Talking About Denominational Differences Matters

Why Talking About Denominational Differences Matters

With thousands of different Christian denominations to choose from, it’s pretty clear that “being a Christian” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone who would take that label.


Some Christians believe in the real presence of the Body and Blood in the the Eucharist, while others believe communion is just a symbol. Some believe that the Bible is our only authority on Earth, while others believe the Church is our authority here on Earth. Some Christians believe that faith is all we need, while others believe that faith alone is not enough.


There are a few things we pretty much all agree on, however: That there is only one God, and that He exists in the three persons of the Trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That we are all sinners and this sin separates us from God. That Jesus, being both fully God and man, came down to Earth. That he was born of the virgin Mary, and then suffered, died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. That we all have the potential to go to Heaven to be with Him someday if certain conditions are met… Honestly, I bet most of us agree far, far more than we disagree. 


So… why even talk about denominational differences at all? Why not just focus on the things we have in common and leave it at that? Why bother doing a whole entire series on Protestant and Catholic beliefs for people who are already believers and already probably going to Heaven anyways?


Because talking about our denominational differences matters. Here’s five reasons why.


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1. It Gives Us a Better Understanding of What the “Other Side” Believes


All too often, we become so set in and accustomed to our own beliefs that, when we hear other, contradictory beliefs, our initial reaction is to assume that the “other side” is wrong, ignorant or dangerous. Their ideas seem so strange to us and so we think they must have pulled them out of thin air, that they created them for no good reason or that they were “brainwashed.”


Yet, for the vast majority of denominations, they didn’t pull their beliefs out of thin air. Most actually have very logical, well-thought out reasons for what they believe (even if they are wrong). Talking about our beliefs helps us understand WHY the other side believes the things they do so we can better understand them and their beliefs without making faulty assumptions or jumping to conclusions.


(I say “the other side” and “them” as if it’s an “us” vs “them” debate — it’s not really that way and it shouldn’t be. But all too often it becomes that way when we don’t really understand.)


2. It Helps Us Better Understand What We Believe


When you grow up hearing the same beliefs being taught every single week and everyone else around you all believes them too, it can be really easy to take them for granted. In fact, I bet that before the recent series I did on Protestant and Catholic beliefs, many of us never really thought about many of the things we believed or why. We just believed them without question. (I know I always did.)


But as we take the time to talk to other Christians with differing beliefs, it gives us an opportunity to better define and understand exactly what we believe. How does the whole faith/works thing actually work? What happens after we die? Can we have assurance of our salvation? These are questions we don’t often think about until we are called to take and defend a position.


3. It Helps Us Evaluate Our Beliefs to Make Sure They are Accurate


It’s really easy to believe things when everyone around you believes the same thing. But what happens when someone with different beliefs starts giving you really solid arguments for a different position? That’s when things get tricky. And that’s exactly what happened to me.


I grew up believing that communion was only a symbol… until I heard some very convincing proofs about the Eucharist that made me change my mind. I grew up believing in Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide and Believer’s Baptism… until I started researching them for myself.


If I hadn’t had conversations with people who thought differently than me, I never would have thought to even research these issues for myself. I would have just continued to accept them as truth because it was all I’d ever been taught. But once I did look them up, I realized that I had been wrong all along. My beliefs were based on what I had been wrongly taught–not what the Bible actually says.


4. It Forces Us to Dig Deeper and Learn More


I don’t know about you, but I learned a TON while researching and writing all of the posts in my Protestant and Catholic Beliefs series! While I didn’t come to the conclusion that everyone was hoping for, I definitely know I am a stronger Christian because of all of the researching, writing, learning and discussing that I did.


5. It Allows Us to Help Others On Their Journey


Okay, so say you’re completely set in your beliefs and have no want or desire to change. (Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on why and how you arrived those beliefs!) What happens when you meet someone who believes something different than you?


Do you just say “Okay, that’s good for you; this is good for me.” Or do you talk to them to help make sure they are on the right path too?


The biggest reason I never believed in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Because no one could ever give me a convincing reason. The ONLY argument I’d ever heard was “Well, that’s just what the text means.” Well, I think it means something different… so that’s not really an argument. It was only once I read Rome Sweet Home (*affiliate link) and several other sources and actually started uncovering several logical proofs and explanations that I was able to understand.


If you don’t know WHY you believe what you believe, you’re never going to be able to help others believe it as well. 


So yes, we could just focus on our similarities and stick to our own little churches with all of the other Christians who think and act just like us–but is that really what is best for us? or them? Not in my opinion it isn’t.


So let’s chat! No matter what you believe, I’d love to hear your thoughts below! Do you enjoy discussing denominational differences? Why or why not?

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  1. I am not a fan of denominational differences but, your post brings up some good reasons to engage in the conversations. Just like a family everyone’s church experiences are different. Fortunately the bible and Jesus remain the same!

  2. It’s also important that these conversations be had in the correct spirit. When two passionate apologists are more concerned about winning the argument than winning the soul it increases our divisions rather than our love for each other.

    We should pray for unity among Christians – but we also need to speak and act toward each other in ways that that would promote that unity, rather than tear it down.

    1. Yes! Absolutely. That was one point I didn’t address in this article, most likely because of the amazing conversations we’ve all been having here for the last 3 months as we’ve been talking about our differences. It’s been truly awesome to be able to talk through and logically and politely discuss so many important points with little to no discord at all. I have the best readers 🙂

  3. I think we should be like the Bereans. I’ve changed my views on things often, but I always seek out scripture to make sure it’s lining up. The more and more I do that, the simpler things become. I think it’s important to talk about but only in the spirit of love and understanding.

    1. Absolutely. But talking through things is often one of the best ways to see if our views really do line up with Scripture or not–since we come up with so many different interpretations when we try to do it on our own. But yes, always with love and understanding.

  4. It’s great to get to know and have a some understanding of other denominations. I also believe that some may focus on the little details that separate us and loose focus of serving our Lord and Savior. Great post!

    1. Yes, many do. I’m only advocating for open, honest and friendly dialogue between people who see things slightly differently–what we’ve had a lot of on the blog lately. It’s been awesome!

  5. I tend to not put much value on denominations. I just see us (Christians) as one in Christ. Our time on earth is just a blink of the eye in light of eternity. If we are worshipping, loving, and following Him to the best of our flawed, human ability, the rest is just extra. Congratulations on finishing your series! It seemed really popular. Yay!

    1. I don’t either in the sense that I don’t take a label at all–I’m just Christian. But even though I know my beliefs are always going to be somewhat flawed, I want them to be as close to the truth as possible, and talking with other Christians who believe a little differently than I do is a great way to sort through the issues and find out where the real truth lies.

      1. You are right. I believe every God seeking Christian wants that, the truth. Hopefully. I guess it also allows you to also have a closer fellowship with believers of other denominations, to know what they believe and why. I have to admit I haven’t thought about it much.

      2. lol, I don’t think a lot of Christians do. But other than my pregnancy, these differences have been the hugest thing on my mind for the last three months as I’ve researched, written and discussed this series I just finished!! So many things to discuss, and I’ve seen so much good come out of it, thankfully.

  6. This is a great post! Embracing other people’s beliefs is a great way to strengthen our own convictions. I am Christian (not of Catholic or Protestant descent) and I enjoy talking with people about their beliefs. I have never questioned mine because of that, but I love hearing how people are dedicated to our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have done my research through scripture study and prayer and feel that I am living my life according to what is best for me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see and hear people live according to what they feel is best for them. I don’t try to push my beliefs on people, but will gladly engage in conversation about it. I am careful, however, not to share too much. I find that some people are just out to prove me wrong. If they have a true desire to learn about it they can research and pray about it for themselves. I will be happy to support them in their efforts, but religion and beliefs are personal. They need to be sought by the individual.

    1. I’m glad you are so firm in your beliefs. One thing that does bother me about what you wrote however, is that you talk about Christianity in terms of “what feels right.” This would imply that the reason you believe is because of how it feels, not because of whether or not it is true. Plenty of things feel right–but that doesn’t make them right. Just some food for thought! (And if you are interested, I really encourage you to check back Wednesday–I’m starting a whole series exactly on this topic! It’s gonna be really good!)

      1. I guess I didn’t clarify very well. =) The feelings I receive when I pray that come from the spirit is what I was referring to. I don’t go through life doing what feels good by any means. I follow the guidance of the spirit to lead my life. The problem I find with “finding truth” in religion is the same reason science doesn’t work to prove that God exists. You have to have faith and rely on the spirit to guide you to the truth through prayer. Thanks for dedicating your site to helping women grow closer to God.

      2. I completely agree–you can’t use science to 100% prove that God exists, BUT you don’t just have to go on faith and feelings either. There is actually a ton of real, fact-based information you can use to help you grow in faith as well!

        (Speaking of which, the series I’m doing on this very topic launches today! Hope you’ll check it out! Christianity: Fact or Fiction? Examining the Evidence You Need to Know) Thanks! 🙂

  7. We have a duty to minister to the lukewarm Christians. This is why denomination differences matter. There are a lot of misguided Christians who believe many sins are not sinful at all. So, yes, differences matter.

  8. Are we ( Christian) not expecting the birth of new denomination in future.. Who can say it.. In the long run thses difference would matter because ideological differences is the basis of all divisions and conflicts. The possibility of giving birth to new belief to new doctrine within the Christianity is happening right now. But at the end everyone will get confused.

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