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  #1  
Old May 1, '12, 6:38 am
wondrousgnat wondrousgnat is offline
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Default What is a denomination?

I have heard that there are 35,000 denominations in America. I doubt that I could name 20. But what is one? People I know say that they belong to a church but don't belong to a denomination. Even ministers say that. Not far from me is a megachurch with several satellite churches and they claim to be nondenominational. It's a group of churches?
I would think that a denomination has a certain set of beliefs, teachings and doctrines. What sort of church does not have that?

Can anyone explain that difference between a denominational and a nondenominational church? Or is it just a staement with no real meaning? I never understood that point.
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  #2  
Old May 1, '12, 7:49 am
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bmullins bmullins is offline
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Default Re: What is a denomination?

The only difference is the non-denominational church refuses to say we are "this". So a church can believe exactly what the 'Baptist' church across the street believes and teaches, but they refuse to just say "We are Baptist." It also usually means that you'll find people from various backgrounds in that church. You might find a couple of pentecostals, a couple holiness, a couple ex-methodists etc in the congregation.

It's supposed to be more welcoming, and supposed to avoid labeling the congregation, sometimes in fear that having a label means you aren't following Christ.
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Old May 1, '12, 8:11 am
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Joe 5859 Joe 5859 is offline
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Default Re: What is a denomination?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wondrousgnat View Post
I have heard that there are 35,000 denominations in America. I doubt that I could name 20. But what is one? People I know say that they belong to a church but don't belong to a denomination. Even ministers say that. Not far from me is a megachurch with several satellite churches and they claim to be nondenominational. It's a group of churches?
I would think that a denomination has a certain set of beliefs, teachings and doctrines. What sort of church does not have that?

Can anyone explain that difference between a denominational and a nondenominational church? Or is it just a staement with no real meaning? I never understood that point.
Actually, the figure is 33,000+ denominations in the world, not just America. And they count any given faith separately for each country (thus, they count a U.S. Roman Catholic Church, a Canadaian Roman Catholic Church, etc. as separate "denominations").

Phil Vaz (a CAF member) explains the whole figure rather well:

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm

The word denomination does get misused alot, I think. It's basically a useful word for indicating that a certain group's religious traditions are distinct from the next group's religious traditions.

Places call themselves "non-denominational" in order to disassociate themselves from any specific, historical Christian tradition. Ironically, they have sort of created their own Christian tradition by doing that. I think it basically gives them an excuse to avoid addressing any controversial matters of doctrine and also allows their members to retain their own "identity". At least, that's how it seems to work for the people I know who attend such churches. Roots often run deep, so it is important to some people that they are "Catholic" (or "Lutheran" or "Baptist" or whatever) even if they haven't darkened a door of their home church in many years. Going to a non-denominational church allows them to still consider themselves Catholic (or whatever) while attending a "service" they like better.
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Old May 1, '12, 8:18 am
ImmaculataFides ImmaculataFides is offline
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Default Re: What is a denomination?

"Denomination" is simply the non-Catholic definition of a Protestant group. As you said, there are over 33,000 of them now. Catholics would call them heretical sects.
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Old May 1, '12, 8:47 am
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Corki Corki is offline
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Default Re: What is a denomination?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wondrousgnat View Post
I have heard that there are 35,000 denominations in America. I doubt that I could name 20. But what is one? People I know say that they belong to a church but don't belong to a denomination. Even ministers say that. Not far from me is a megachurch with several satellite churches and they claim to be nondenominational. It's a group of churches?
I would think that a denomination has a certain set of beliefs, teachings and doctrines. What sort of church does not have that?

Can anyone explain that difference between a denominational and a nondenominational church? Or is it just a staement with no real meaning? I never understood that point.
"Nondenomination" is a denomination, it just isn't part of any other prior denomination. Denomination just indicates a separation from something that came before while recognizing a common source. All of the Christian denominations recognize a first common source - the Church of the early Christians. Many Christian denominations also recognize a later common source. For example, many denominations trace their traditions back to the separation of Martin Luther, even though they are not Luteran now.

A group that calls itself non-denominational still has, as you put it, a ertain set of beliefs, teachings and doctrines. They might even be exactly the same as a prior denomonination but the group has either cut or never had direct organizational ties to that prior denomination.

For example, we have a few non-denominational Baptist churches near where we live. (that's what it says on the signs) They are Baptist in their teaching and their liturgies but they are not affiliated with either of the formal Baptist conferences.

If you look into the history of the mega church in your example, you will probably find that the founders were originally Baptist or Lutheran or Methodist or something. They felt they would do a better job by building a church group that was unaffiliated so they call themselves non-denominational.
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  #6  
Old May 1, '12, 10:12 am
Randal796 Randal796 is offline
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Default Re: What is a denomination?

A denomination usually has a set of beliefs, rules and a hierarchy. If you call yourself a Southern Baptist, people will assume you hold to the creed, teaching and attitudes of the SBC. If you say you are non-denominational, you don't have any identity within a pre-existing group. You can do or say or teach as you please. Ironically, this is in fact, the Reformation taken to its' logical conclusion. All of the founders of the first protestant groups disagreed with the RCC. Did they go to the orthodox church? No, that would put them under the authority of someone else and that's no fun.

Martin Luther created OSAS because he could not figure out how to get around his feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Or so the story goes. How do you fix that? Easy, create your own theology. Once you do that, you now have your own Church and you set whatever rules you want.
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