This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and I am going to be slightly controversial (or at least buck a trend). Let me start off my saying that I thing the different churches should work closely together, as a divided church is not only a hindrance in how the contemporary church is seen but is also against the teaching of the Bible. But I think that having different denominations has its advantages.
Last night I was at the United Service for Churches in Aber, and the message was obviously one of unity. But then I came home and read the news and saw an article on the ‘defection’ of three top Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12197985) This cause of this move is the age old issue of the place of women in the Church. (I’m going to be very careful how I phrase the rest of this, as I don’t want to offend feminist/Anglicans/Catholics or be seen as sexist.) This is a major issue in the Anglican Church at the moment, and one that won’t be answered soon. And while I believe that women have the as much right to deliver God’s word as men, and have a number of female friends who preach (including my girlfriend), I can understand that there are some people to which it is a massive issue. An argument I have heard is that due to 1 Corinthians 14v34 (Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, (NIV)) some people may feel that a female preacher would be a stumbling block in their faith. There is a lot I could say on this argument, but that’s not the point of this post. However, it does raise a point about different denominations.
If you have this ‘stumbling block’, then there is an option for you, namely the Roman Catholic Church (and I’m sure there are others). If however, you feel that you get the most from women preachers, then you have the option of other denominations. I guess what I’m saying is that denominations offer different places for different people, and help to make God’s word available to anyone and everyone. Whether it be women preachers, the importance of saints, the types of prayers said, there is a church out there for everyone.
So to sum up a bit… The Church should be working in unity, and denominational spats are very disruptive. But I would be sad to see a single Church, as we would lose a lot of choice and could dangerously limit who is attracted to the church.