Before Denominations by Donald R. Fox
Many of us remember the funny and clean TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island," running from September 1964 to September 1967, with the Skipper and Gilligan as the crew of the charter boat S.S. Minnow and the five passengers. It was supposed to be a three-hour tour, but a storm shipwrecked all of them on an uncharted uninhabited island. They were lost somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.The above reminds me of an illustration I heard years ago that helped me understand pre-denominational Christianity. I bet many of you that will read the below may chuckle and remember also.Let’s say that several or more are shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. All survived the terrible storm. The type people marooned are just average type folks. They had one thing in common. They had absolutely no interested in religion up to this point in their lives. They were totally ignorant, completely unaware of all religions of this world.As they recovered items from the wrecked ship, they found a Bible. No other literature, radio or the like was on the ship. As the days, weeks and months passed they started to read the Bible as a group. The Word of God was totally new to them. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They could grasp that this world, and all creation did not come from a huge big-bang explosion. Their common sense understood that from nothing comes nothing. Disorder never creates order.The time passed and they studied the only book they had, the Bible. All of the survivors believed what they read, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:37)The Word of God became their hope and their rock of stability. Belief in the God of the Bible was now a reality to them. For the first time in their lives, they understood that there were fixed standards of right and wrong. Reading and re-reading the Acts of the Apostles they became and were believers (Acts 15:7; Mark 16:15, 16). They repented of their sins, and they desired to be obedient to God Almighty (Acts 3:19). Recalling the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, they exclaimed one and all, “See, here is water: what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Verse 36) They all believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? (Acts 8:37). The group went to the ocean side, and they all were immersed, baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38).Further, they also understood that they, as new babes in Christ must live faithfully. “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) “…as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…” (1 Peter 2:2)Now the question: Upon this obedience in accordance with what the Bible taught, what were they? The Answer: They were Christians, no more and no less. To what denomination did they belong? None, they had no conception nor understanding of denominationalism. It can’t get any simpler or clearer than this illustration.