Question: Are all churches & denominations part of the same body of Christ?
Well, this could be a loaded question. Let’s start with scripture and build from there. 1 Corinthians 3:4-7 (NASB) says, “For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
In these passages Paul was addressing the idea of what would be known as sectarianism which is essentially separating things into different sects according to teaching. Paul and Apollos were both ministers of the gospel but maybe they taught differently. Have you ever noticed this? One minister may be a preacher who gets up and spits and sputters, speaking loudly and directly. Another may be a teacher who is calm and monotone, giving a thousand different definitions and expounding on scripture for hours. Each has their place and each person has preferences.
To give further example of this I want to talk about my experience. Growing up in the faith, God placed me with a teacher. He was a studier and he taught, line upon line, precept upon precept. It was very methodical and I dare say anyone with the ability to speak publicly could take his notes and teach people accordingly. There was another pastor I loved in our circles. He would preach, it was fun. If I had had my preference, I would have been in his church. Not that I did not like my pastor, just that I preferred the other’s methods of ministering. Later on, as I grew in the faith, I realized just why the Lord had put me where He did. I would not have gotten to where I was going if I had been in the wrong place.
Now, you asked about denominations and I haven’t forgot, but I used all these as examples. Most widely accepted Christian denominations hold very similar beliefs in the things that matter for salvation. There is one God, manifested in three Persons, and Jesus the Son came to earth as a Man, lived and died without sin, and was raised to life again becoming the first resurrection to eternal life. The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind, is completely true and without error, and Jesus Christ is the only way to God. If that is the basis for a church’s belief system, then yes they are all part of the same Body.
To understand why there are so many denominations we have to understand where they come from. People have a tendency after a while of growing stale, even good hearted believers. Over the centuries, God has moved on people to revive their spirit man when they are in this state. Each time He does, mankind has the habit of forming it into a “religion” and this is basically where denominations are born. They do it over the teaching of a person (like with Paul and Apollos) or they do it with a movement (which is often based on a man’s revelation). This isn’t entirely bad, but I do believe it should be recognized.
Our church is what is often referred to as nondenominational. The funny thing is, over the years, even nondenominational churches have become a denomination. In our desire to reject conformity to man, we have conformed to a nonconformist conformity formed, you guessed it, by man! It does not make us bad, maybe just confusing sometimes! There may be certain doctrines specifically that people think are important, however all Christian churches agree on the basics. The fundamental truths of Christians for salvation and access to God are the same in all true Christian churches. The other stuff typically has to do with how we walk that all out here on earth.
Although each denomination undoubtedly believes their way is best, we can recognize that there is need for all. The reason for this is because the Bible tells us clearly how to have salvation, but not how to have church, the type of building, or even specific rituals. The rest we go with based on our convictions of the Word, and try and respect another’s need to be led by the Holy Spirit for themselves. I fully believe that God will do things differently (yet within the bounds of scripture) for different people. Some people may be focused on one thing while another something else. This is acceptable to God because beyond salvation, every town, state, nation and persons have different needs.
To sum this up, if what a church or denomination or a person believes is foundational Christianity, then absolutely, they are one Body just different parts of it. If however they reject the fundamental things that make one a Christian (a follower of Christ), they are not one even if they sort of resemble it.