This morning, I read the second sermon in volume one, "THE SECT EVERYWHERE SPOKEN AGAINST" by Elijah Goodwin. It's a very reasonably laid out argument for New Testament Christianity and against denominationalism. (I found a biography of the author HERE and mention of a book of sermons he wrote in 1856 called "The Family Companion". Another book to add to my growing search list.)
One point in his sermon that struck me as particularly interesting, was the connection between the words "sect" and "heresy" in the New Testament. Both words are translated from the same greek word αἵρεσις (hairesis). Which according to my Vines Greek Expository means a division, especially one caused by a choice or preference, usually used to denote the act of choosing to follow a selfish choice instead of truth. According to Goodwin, this word occurs nine times in the New Testament, and is
translated "heresy" four times, and "sect" five times. (I tried to look-up each instance but ran out of time. I'm not sure which version was used to make this statement, but if I had to guess, probably a KJV or ASV.)
Paul uses this word when he lists "works of the flesh" that would prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God in Gal. 5:20:
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication,
uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies [hairesis], envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like."
What are denominations if not sects broken off from the New Testament church? In light of the harsh treatment of this word, I don't see how any denomination could argue that we have authority in the NT to form our own sects. This being the case, the only true church would be recognizable because it would be the only one still following NT teachings without deviating from the pattern given. In other words, not a sect.