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Why are there so many religions and so many denominations in Christianity? Which is the right one?
Thank you so much for your question. It is one with which many people wrestle, and is so important for us to consider and get to grips with. Within your question there are a number of different areas that we will consider one by one.
1. Why are there so many different religions?
I believe the simple answer to this question is this: there is something deep in the heart of man that is an in-built knowledge that God is real. Ecclesiastes 3:11 contains this small phrase:
Also He has put eternity in their hearts.
As human beings we all know deep down that there is something more to life than just what we can see. Therefore when a person or group of people either reject, or have no knowledge of the God of the Bible then they will invent their own gods and their own religious system. The result is that there is such a variety of different religious teaching, and religious literature across the world.
It should also be mentioned here that the Bible is very clear that the God of the Bible who is the 'most high God' or the 'one true God' as Jesus himself says, is not the only spiritual power in the world. The devil and his army of fallen angels are active in the world and want nothing better than to turn people away from the true God - one of their tactics being to create new religions for men to be deceived by.
Obviously there is so much that can be said on this subject, and each religion could be looked at individually, but I hope this brief answer helps a little. Now onto the second area touched in your question:
2. Why are there so many denominations within Christianity?
There are a couple of important reasons to note for the existence of so many denominations within the Christian faith. Firstly, many were formed for often valid practical reasons. The Methodists exist because of the dramatic ministry of the Wesley brothers, and the way in which they organised their converts. The Baptists originate in a group of God's people who wanted to recover what they believed to be the important doctrine of baptism by immersion.
These people were doing what they believed to be right faced with the situations in front of them, and it would be a hard man who would say what they did was wrong. It is also doubtful that they wanted to create a denomination of the Christian church as we see it today.
However, your question probably is born out of a frustration at the fact that denominations can so easily become tribes, and groups of God's people can so easily write off those who disagree with them in their own 'pet doctrine' and so secondly we must say that denominationalism is heavily influenced by the sinfulness of man's heart. As human beings we naturally love to believe that we are right, and that because we are right we must be superior to those who aren't like us.
Sadly this attitude influences so much of how different groups of Christians relate to each other. We should never deny that there are difficult decisions for churches in deciding who we work with and alongside, and yet so often the lack of unity between genuine believers who belong to different denominations must grieve the heart of God.
You are right to ask the question about which religion and denomination are right, because if we turn to the wrong one, then we have wasted our time and are lost! This leads us on perfectly to the answer to your final question - how can we know who is right? You see, ultimately, though the church is called to be a representation of God in this world, we know that it is still flawed and doesn’t always reflect God in the way that it should do.
The question we need to ask then is, should this put us off Christianity? Sadly I’m sure it does for some, but it really shouldn’t - Jesus never claimed He would create a perfect group of people in this world - changed, yes, but not perfect. If you want to really know whether you can trust Christianity, you don’t just look at the followers, you look at the Head - the uniqueness of Jesus Christ is ultimately the greatest evidence that you can trust the God of the Bible.
Consider these few things:
The Bible - the record of both Jesus' life, and of all that God wanted to communicate to us about Him is an incredible book. It is actually made up of 66 separate books, written by over 40 different writers, in 3 different languages, and spanning a time period of over 1500 years. This being the case, you might expect errors, changes and differences would creep into the millions of copies in print today, and yet as you study the historical reliability, and the internal consistency of the Bible, you find that it all matches up - suffice to say, the book recording for us the teaching of Jesus Christ is absolutely unique.
Also, Jesus' life, recorded for us in the Gospels is absolutely unique. Who else performed the miracles and signs that Jesus did? Who else taught with such authority, with teaching so profound that the most educated stood back in amazement? Who else came to this earth, not with a message like other religions, telling us to make ourselves better so that we could attain heaven, but rather that He had come down from heaven to make us better? By dying in our place, Jesus made it possible that our sins could be forgiven, and that we could be made good enough to go to heaven if we would only come to Him.
Lastly, consider this - who else in the history of the world died, was buried, rose from death, and ascended back into heaven where He still is to this day? Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was...
Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
The answer is no-one else has ever done this, and so when Jesus walked out of that tomb on the third day, when He was carried back into heaven in full view of His disciples, this was the declaration of heaven - this is the One you can trust. God the Father was speaking to the world in His Son - believe in Him, and you may have life.
This truth leads us to our conclusion. You can study the authenticity of the Bible all you want (and I’d encourage you to do so), you can read the Gospels, and all that the Bible has to teach us about the Lord Jesus Christ, but even if all of this appeared to convince you of the truth of Christianity, it would only take you so far. To truly receive the gift of life that God is offering you, you must reach out to Him by faith - you must personally trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to take your sin away and to bring you into a relationship with God.
I am convinced today that Jesus is able to prove Himself to you, not just because I see the Bible is reliable, or because the life of Jesus was unique, but because I’ve experienced the love of God in Christ for myself, and I know that I have the new life that He offers to all those who put their trust in Him. I pray that you today would cry out to God, that you too would know the joy that comes from knowing God for yourself. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our website: Watch the video
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
- Romans 1:4
I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church
Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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