Monday, August 4, 2008

Myth Alert! The Non-Denominational Church

If someone tells you that they belong to a non-denominational church, make sure to laugh at them good and loud.

Non-denominational churches do not exist. They cannot exist. There is real, fundamental disagreement in the church. You are either on one side of a given issue or another. The next time you find a non-denominational church, look at their statements of belief. If you read far enough you will reach an "ah-ha!" moment.

"Ah-ha!" This non-denominational church lied to me. They are covertly anabaptist. "Ah-ha!" This non-denominational church lied to me. They are covertly arminian/calvinist/methodist/emergent/etc, etc.

Alternatively, you find a place where no specific beliefs are stated. Everything is fair game. In this case, they are certainly non-denominational... but one could argue that a group without any truth is no longer the church.

Let's take this "non-denominational" church as an example.

Here is Article 7 - Baptism & the Lord's Supper:

"The Word of God enjoins... blah blah blah... pretty rhetoric... blah... baptism, is the outward sign of what God has already done in the individual's life... blah blah blah... Anabaptist jibberish... blah... Trinitarian Formula... Lord's Supper is a commemoration of the death of the Lord and is done in rememberance of Him... blah blah... Both institutions are restricted to those who are believers."

Now let's look at the SBC Faith & Message and see if it matches:

"Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper."

"The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming."

Ah-ah! I think we have found a winner. So much for non-denominational.

So this is what we have learned:

When a church is "non-denominational", this may be what they are saying:

1. "We are distancing ourselves from the historic view of our former denomination."

2. "We think that changing our name will better fit in with our community-based missional program."

3. "We are moving to generic American religionism."

4. "We don't want you to know our beliefs up front."

5. "We don't want to be judged on the basis of our profession."

6. "We care about our deeds (works) rather than our creeds (faith)."

7. "We are really X denomination, but we can't get that denomination to sign off on some of our beliefs and practices."


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Ack! You beat me to it, but this works. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that laughing at anyone "good and loud" is not what Christ wants us to do, regardless of our church denomination or lack thereof. Credibility erodes when this kind of language is used.

Mike Baker said...

I am sorry that I bruised your delicate sensibilites with my harsh language that encourages people to laugh at foolish sentiments.

And make no mistake, pretending that anyone can be non-denominational is completely foolish since one cannot remain neutral on matters of doctrine... and if he tries to remain neutral, he ends up believing in nothing.

That does not depend on my credibility... it is just a matter of common sense.

And thank you for the WWJD wake-up call. I am sure that 'touchy-feely' Jesus never aggresively defended the truth.

Wrong! This is the kind of stuff that caused Jesus to throw tables in the temple. He called the pharsees 'white-washed tombs'. I think once he told a luke warm church that he would "spit them out of His mouth". Come to think of it, Paul said that anyone who teaches a different gospel than the one he preached should be acursed.

...hmmm. How caustic! That's not very Christ-like behavior.

Maybe I should ignore the Scriptural evidence and just work on being non-judgemental and cuddly regardless of the truth.