[quote=Contarini]There’s always a lot of confusion on this board about what a “denomination” is. A “denomination” usually refers to an organized group of local churches that have some kind of centralized structure. Baptists tend to fight shy of that kind of thing. So many Baptists can honestly claim to be “non-denominational”–indeed in a sense this kind of “non-denominationalism” is central to Baptist tradition, and many Baptists claim that the Southern Baptist leadership has betrayed its own heritage by trying to establish a more centralized structure.
But I admit that there is more to “non-denominationalism” than this. It usually involves the idea that one can somehow free oneself from tradition and go straight to the Bible (an idea that many of you mistakenly think is central to historic Protestantism). And for many, that means that they don’t even want to call themselves “Baptists,” because that implies that they are tied to some particular tradition rather than simply to the Bible.
Furthermore, as bauerice noted, a substantial number of non-denominational churches are Pentecostal or charismatic. *Not *“Assemblies of God in disguise”–Assemblies of God are a particular Pentecostal denomination. And you can find “non-denominational” churches with all sorts of beliefs. The majority look a lot like Baptists, because non-denominationalism springs from the same cultural and theological roots that have caused Baptists to flourish in the U.S. But it’s unsafe to generalize. Certainly there’s no “disguise” about it–there’s a very sincere (though delusive and deluding) belief that calling oneself by the name of any particular tradition is limiting and somehow makes one less than “just Christian.”
I liked what you said, Edwin.
I can understand why “non-denominational” denominations like to disassociate themselves from a particular Christian faith tradition - to make their churches appear open to anyone no matter what their own faith background brings to the church - just as long as they come to follow Christ.
But what it comes down to, the nitty-gritty, is that they don’t have a solid dogma of beliefs - I just get the sense that “anything goes” with them. And a lot of it comes from the Baptist/Pentacostal tradition - try as they might to reject it. There seems to be no denying of that (my girlfriend literally spelled it out for me), and THAT to me is deceptive.
That’s just how I see it.