Why So Many Versions of Christianity?

This post is more or less a follow up of the previous post discussing the differences between Christian sects. I have been thinking lately about why there are so many versions of God and in particular Jesus’ Church. The more I study theology the more versions of Jesus I seem to come across. There are more than 35,000 different Christian sects out there now and each one thinks their version of Jesus is the “real” one and all the others have it to varying degrees wrong. I think that almost everyone wants a version of Jesus that they feel the most comfortable with. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Jesus did not come to the earth to make us comfortable. He said as much when he told us that we must all bear our crosses. I don’t know how to discern who the real Jesus is? Everyone says their Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible but they can’t all be right. How can we tell if our version of God is the real one? -We really can’t for sure. Some say “study the Bible” but that is what they all say they do? I believe almost all versions of God are man made and it has become too difficult for the average person to discern which one is real. I am currently perplexed by this issue.  

Here are some tabbed thoughts on how I think we might pick our personal version of God:

  • We migrate to the version of God that we need to validate our individual worldview.
    • If we are humble we migrate to a god that appreciates humility.
    • If we are prone to arrogance we migrate to a all powerful god who chooses us over many others.
    • If we feel guilty about how we live our lives we migrate to a god who will forgive us no matter what we have done.
    • If we are poor we migrate to a god who will make us rich in the next life.
    • If we have deep compassion for others we migrate to a god who tells us to serve others.
    • If we are greedy we latch onto a god who minimizes giving to others and maximizes individual accountability.
    • If we change our worldview due to personal experiences we look for another version of god to validate our new worldview. 
  • We migrate to a version of God who we need to mentor us in this life. Some say they need no mentors; some need very strong mentors.
  • We migrate to a version of God given to us by our ancestry. We don’t often change our version of God except when our current worldview is seriously disrupted. 
  • There are some people who need to have a close friendship with their God and there are others who want a God that is less details and more of a high level God. 
  • We seem to constantly re-invent our God to fit our changing worldview. 

This problem of different versions of God exploded exponentially after Luther and the Reformation. But maybe I have also fallen into this trap with my belief that we should all seek to know God on a personal level. Maybe I am inventing a God to fit my own worldview? Sometimes I think we should just go back to the original version and forget the rest. They had disagreements in the early church, for instance the Corinth church, but they worked them out instead of splitting. But then again, who is the original version of the church?

One thought on “Why So Many Versions of Christianity?

  1. If there’s one text in Scripture which is reasonably immune to all these denominational squabbles, which doesn’t contain some arcane “prooftext” which generates all these different versions of God, surely it is the most commonly quoted New Testament passage, namely the prayer of our Lord in Matthew 6. I don’t waste time asking, “What’s the right denomination?” I simply ask, “Who’s teaching that we have a Father in heaven whose primary will is to give to us and through us basic physical necessities, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from temptation and all other temporal and spiritual evils?”

    Now go through Scripture and ask, “Where else are the themes of the Lord’s Prayer taught?” The answer is, “Everywhere.” Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Lazarus, Paul — they all believed in a heavenly Father to deliver them. That’s where it must start. Not who are the right bishops in the right succession, how much water must be used in a baptism, or when will the rapture occur. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” That’s where I want to be.

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