Saturday, September 10, 2016

Niebuhr: the sociology of denominations

Saturday, September 10, 2016
    I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
    —1 Timothy 5:21 (NIV)
    The denominations, churches, sects, are sociological groups whose principle of differentiation is to be sought in their conformity to the order of social classes and castes. It would not be true to affirm that the denominations are not religious groups with religious purposes; but it is true that they represent the accommodation of religion to the caste system. They are emblems, therefore, of the victory of the world over the church, of the secularization of Christianity, of the church’s sanction of that divisiveness which the church’s gospel condemns.
    ... H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962), The Social Sources of Denominationalism, Hamden, Conn.: Holt, 1929, reprint, Meridian Books, 1960, p. 25 (see the book)
    See also 1 Tim. 5:21; Matt. 23:8; John 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:11-13; Eph. 4:3
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, only You can unite Your people. We pray for the healing of divisions.
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