The Price of Disunity

The Price of Disunity 

My friend and I used to lament how much money was wasted by church splits. If only the different churches could agree there wouldn’t need to be so much duplication of services. In the past months I’ve realized that dream is fulfilled in the Catholic Church. Despite all the magnificent cathedrals in Catholicism, my guess is Protestants have spent more money per-capita over the last 500 years. Every split brings:

1) New building- at least requires rent, and often includes building a structure, snow removal, security system, parking lot, cleaning supplies, hymnals/projector, electricity, sound system.

2) Staff- secretary, pastor, custodian. Healthcare/retirement is likely included for at least one position.

3) Events/Teaching- Each VBS requires purchase of new curriculum, every simulcast event requires individual church purchase—an entire Christian media industry thrives on the duplication of services. Youth retreats, women’s outings, etc.

What’s the end result? The Protestants spend more money and the Catholics get nicer buildings.

Anyone know of any stats to refute/back this up? 

(Photo Source) 

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10 thoughts on “The Price of Disunity

  1. Good point. And I don’t know any stats, but’s no secret that unified faiths like Catholicism and Mormonism command huge, huge wealth.

  2. Unity is great (and may save money), and I’m all for it.

    Just never at the expense of the gospel. And someone’s point of view will ultimately have to prevail.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Steve!

      That’s exactly what I used to say ha-ha. I had a whole list of things of, “Well that would be fantastic, if it wasn’t a false gospel deceiving hundreds of millions of people.” Yes, because Protestantism affirms Sola Scriptura, it always comes down to someone’s point of view. Catholics have the doctrine of apostolic succession, so it’s divinely-ordained leadership calling the shots. I didn’t buy into this argument until I started looking into early church history and the councils. I started wondering, why were there not church splits before the Reformation, but thousands upon thousands after? (Eastern Orthodoxy still affirms apostolic succession). Devin Roses’ book “If Protestantism is True” does a great job of showing how the early church didn’t operate the way Protestants do in deciding doctrine. My newest post focuses on his book.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I remember visiting the National Cathedral in Washington, DC (Episcopal). They said that the cost of simply maintaining the building and artwork was thousands upon thousands of dollars every year. So that might be a strike against Catholicism with their numerical advantage of cathedrals. On average, protestant churches don’t have to take care of such spiritual and artistic treasures.

    • Yes, you might be right. I’m sure the upkeep of the Vatican costs a fortune, although I’ve read the improvements are paid for by donations. Still, I think we’d be surprised to find how quickly costs of resurfacing half-filled parking lots and repairing roofs after hail damage and purchasing health insurance for the pastor at every Protestant church in the U.S. adds up.

  4. Never thought of this before. Wouldn’t disagree that Protestants have spent more money, but I would argue that most of money has been spent in the past 100 years vs the past 500 years. I think most of the micro splitting in the Protestant world have occurred recently and with each split the items you describe above become a necessity. Interesting post.

    • Thanks! Yes I think it has gotten worse. But when I studied the most favorable biography of Martin Luther I could find I was amazed how quickly the splits took place. It’s simply inevitable when you affirm the perpiscuity of scripture and the Bible alone as the sole authority. Everyone gets to interpret for themselves and if you disagree, you split. I’d say perhaps they’ve taken place more in the last 300 years as church and state became less intertwined. Mormonism comes out of Joseph Smith’s despondency over the numerous denominations in the United States.

  5. I do not know any stats – however the catholic church has huge ornate buildings which is a disgrace globally in poor little towns.
    I do not agree with the church splits costing money as how can you be united if there are serious issues – more to the disagreement that splits are caused because of the sin of one kind or another.
    At the end of the day, it’s all about Jesus being the only way to God and He never preached riches in fact he preached give to the poor – so therefore gold or expensive churches have no place in tiny towns or cities; but that’s my humble opinion!

    • Hi Sharon,

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, I used to feel that way too. One thing to think about is the fact that the Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental charity in the world. No one takes care of the poor like the Catholic Church. Perhaps there are situations where the poor were neglected at the expense of the poor, but I’ve found situations where it’s the poor community who donates the money.

      The Old Testament tabernacle and temple are good things to study when thinking about the issue. God commanded his people (who were relatively poor) to build him beautiful and elaborate places of worship. Why? Why was he so specific about the details? It was His gift to the people, giving them ways of connecting with Him through beauty in their worship. Now Jesus has fulfilled the law and the place of the Eucharist is called “the taberancle,” but Catholics believe the same system of displaying beauty should be used.

      Church splits are inevitable in Protestantism. I don’t say this is a mean way–I think Protestants would agree. If you believe in Sola Scriptura, the Bible alone as the sole authority, then there’s no authoritative interpretation. It’s every man for himself. If one person believes one thing and the other doesn’t, then they’ll part ways.

      The thing that bothered me about the church splits is that’s not how the early Church worked. There were Church councils, and people accepted there findings as authoritative. Catholics believe in apostolic succession, so that’s why church splits don’t happen.

      • Church splits are awful I agree but inevitable with sin getting in the way or ego or not focusing on God’s word and seeking His will not our own like Henry viii inventing the C of E!
        However, for poor I think it’s awful when they struggle to feed themsleves and give to the Caholic church who does not help them or others; my elder brother is in Ecuador – seeing the evidence first-hand seeking to improve this.
        I love the First church and am so saddened that we cannot be like that – although my church non-conformist is great and we do share with those in need – sadly imperfections again route back to sin!

        Sharon

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