Why are there so many religious groups today? What do sects, denominations, cults mean?
According to the dictionary, “Sect is a descending religious body, especially one regarded as heretical in the eyes of other members within the same communion.”
The word sect comes from the word ‘dissect’ which means to separate, or separated or removed. So, a sect is a group who went their own way from another religion, and is considered wrong in their belief by the latter.
The first Christians in their beginnings were called a sect because they came out from Judaism, as accounted in Acts 24:14. This is where Christianity supposedly started, and we can see that there is truth in this because the early Christian writings were also part of Judaic writings. Therefore, there is both a good and bad connotation of the word sect in the Bible. If the sect departed from that which is good, then the sect is bad. But if the sect came out from that which is bad, then the sect is good.
Denomination, by definition, is a “group or community of believers called by the same name. “It is a group of people who recognize and acknowledge themselves as part of a certain community. Nowadays, we may notice many Protestant denominations, all professing to be part of the Protestant movement yet possessing different names.
A cult, according to the Webster dictionary is “a religious group regarded as spurious or unorthodox.” A cult is a group in a community which claims authenticity despite public recognition as fraudulent.
Now, why is there so much variety and difference in Christian beliefs despite the fact that there is only one Bible? The usual argument is that there are indeed many different interpretations and understanding of the truth. In the Holy Scriptures, we find that the reason for such diversity is because a person unauthorized by God usurped to preach and teach the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16)
The Bible specifically states the only people who should preach and proclaim the words of God.
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent?…” -Romans 10:15
It is clear that those entrusted to preach the words of God are the sent ones of God. The great commission was not left with just any of the believers but with God’s sent ones only.
“Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:” -Luke 11:49
Evangelism and the teaching of God’s words are entrusted only and exclusively to the sent ones of God. God’s sent ones in the old testament are prophets; in the new testament, apostles.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” -2 Cor. 5:20