Does Non-Denominational mean No Name and No Definition?


#1

Once a year for the past 15 years I have met with a group of Protestant friends for vacation, and the 16th meeting is coming up. They belong to what they refer to as a non-denominational church. We are all very polite about religion, maybe too polite. The very term non-denominational just turns me off! Reminds me of the nonsense of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince–which then became his name, instead of just Prince. Makes me feel that asking for definition would be impolite since their definition is that which has no definition? Maybe since I can’t anticipate where they are coming from, I am silent. Can anybody tell me what I can expect to be their “doctrine”? I expect Sola Scriptura for sure. What else?


#2

I go to a non-denom. We have a name;) and by-laws that our church has to follow. We have statement of faith and a constitution. Non-denom simply means they dont adhere to any group of protestants–such as southern baptist, methodist, episcopalian. etc.

If you are afraid to ask just ask them for a copy of their churches constitution and that should give you all the answers you are looking for.:thumbsup: Then you dont have to ask anyone anything.:thumbsup:

I hesitate to tell you what they believe because it may not be totally the same as we believe.
Ill tell you the basics of our belief:

  1. Bible as sole authority for teaching faith and morals
  2. Faith alone saves
  3. The trinity
  4. Death, ressurection and ascention of Christ for our sins
  5. Virgin Birth
    6.Heaven and Hell are real–Satan is real
  6. Believe in angels
  7. I cant think of anything else off the top of my head.

Hope that helps a little.:o


#3

I grew up in a non-denominational environment. It’s just a fancy way of saying “independent”. These churches vary by group, so ask your friend, in a tactful way, what the church is like. Maybe ask what the pros and cons of that church are. Expect a contemporary style. Sometimes, it feels like a lot of singing broken up by a bible-study. I know that it is nothing like Mass, spiritually speaking.

Please be deep in prayer during this, and have a solid grasp of your beliefs. We don’t need another angry ex-Catholic.


#4

Are Non-denominational churches all alike, that is, is it really a denomination? Is an offshoot of Baptists, do they consider themselves a new beginning, is it more Calvinist? Is it considered by members as a kind of Mere Christianity?


#5

It means that I define who and what I am, I determine what I believe. Each individual person may have a different set of beliefs and practices.


#6

Which basically means that they have established their own Magisterium or teaching authority and everyone is their own Pope.

Perhaps a bit simplistic, but is this not how it really functions in practice?

:yup:


#7

Ah…the good old “sermon sandwich” service.


#8

Yes, isn’t that how it functions for any individual protestant or group of Protestants? I mean, the first assumption is that you are your own pope (you have his ability to infallibly discern scripture). What follows from that is that everybody who doesn’t have the same discernment as you is not only wrong, but also abandoned by the Holy Spirit, (which means they are led by the devil). You must, in conscience, have your own church which will be the true church?

But in the practical realm, surely there is some connection linking all the non-denoms? I guess I was thinking that all the non-denominational churches were really all ascribing to the same set of beliefs, and all rejecting the same set, and that therefore one day they would pick a name :wink: to describe the entire set of non-denominationals.

Do you mean to tell me that every non-denominational church is likely to have its own unique description of what it is to be Christian? And to disagree on that with the non-denom church down the street? Is this what I am learning? If so, would a non-denominational church say that their body was right about being Christian and say, the Baptists, were wrong? Or is it their position to be silent on all the disagreements (except the disagreement with the Catholic Church)? (since from ALLFORHIM I see they do disagree with the Catholic belief)…


#9

All non-denoms are different. Some have joined together in loose associations so that they can gain the practical benefits–sharing youth group leaders or pastors or holding bigger conferences together, etc.

But that doesn’t mean they have the same beliefs.

You need to be really careful with non-denoms. The Jim Jones cult started in a non-denominational church. Because there is no denomination, there is no “board” or “council” or “consistory” OUTSIDE of the church, so there is no accountability other than INSIDE the church. And depending on the pastor and his/her strength, the INSIDE of the church may not be powerful enough to discipline the pastor. (E.g., Jim Jones was more “powerful” than his church members.)

Someone above advised you to obtain a written “Statement of Faith” from any non-denom that you are in contact with. I absolutely agree. I’ve never seen a church yet that didn’t have a written statement of faith. Sometimes it’s on the church website. Often it’s in the church bulletin.

Please be careful. On another forum (Protestant) I have been following the discussion between the forum members and a man who is “a church of one.” He believes that ALL other denominations are preaching a false gospel and that he is the only one who has the correct Gospel. Some non-denoms are like that. So be wise.


#10

Non-denominational churches sometimes pick a name - usually by joining an established denomination. However, because they were not previously part of a denomination, they don’t ALL do so, usually just one church at a time. One question that would help illuminate the issue would be which churches do non-denoms usually split off from, or join, most often? I’ll let someone better versed in the subject try to answer that.

[quote=toaslan]Do you mean to tell me that every non-denominational church is likely to have its own unique description of what it is to be Christian? And to disagree on that with the non-denom church down the street? If so, would a non-denominational church say that their body was right about being Christian and say, the Baptists, were wrong?
[/quote]

Just as every individual Catholic has a unique collection of beliefs, and every parish priest likewise, so too do non-denominational Christians, and likewise each non-denominational church. The question is which of those beliefs the church decides to make dogma.

Probably most non-denominational churches and members would say that yes, they are right about what it takes to be Christian, and other Christians such as Baptists are in error on some issues. I doubt many of the non-denominational churches would argue that the erroneous churches are not really Christian - very few denominations argue that, and I’d be surprised if the feeling ran higher among non-denominationals.


#11

Guys! you are sweet to be concerned for my soul, but really, I am more Catholic than any other trait in my being! It’s actually my first descriptive. I’m the answerman on Catholic Doctrine in my circles; apologetics is my weak point. Thank you for the cautions anyway. My problem is how to preserve the really great and enduring friendship I enjoy with my protestant friends, while opening some fruitful avenue to discussion of our differences in religion.

I remember at our annual vacation a couple of years ago when one of the little kids told me how she dreamed of being baptized, how she saw herself going out into the lake and receiving baptism; I was kind of angry. This God-loving kid was not baptized? I told her mom about the conversation the moment we were back at the cabin, how I was surprised at her child not being baptized, that we had to be baptized to enter heaven, and that in any case this little one was expressing the desire. She was silent, and I think I noticed her later going to the library for the bible. I doubt I did any good at all. See–I didn’t have a clue…

Really, I am in no danger myself! I just want to get more real with them while not hurting them; also without getting dogpiled. I want to approach this effectively. That means, knowing what I’m doing as I proceed, right? Another danger for me is to avoid emoting scorn or impatience or superiority or aggression or whatever–all a bad witness. I can be balanced and maybe offer responses which will open new ideas for them, right? If I can figure this out…

Thanks for the example re Jim Jones. Would another non-denominational agree that his church is an example of a non-denominational church? This might help me.


#12

toaslan, Jim Jones started his cult in a Christian church.

My husband and I attended a Christian church while we were in college.

The small case “church” is intentional. The Christian churches are emphatic that they are NOT a denomination.

There are Christian church colleges (e.g., Lincoln Christian College in Illinois) where the pastors receive their education.

There is a loose association of Christian churches, and they hold meetings and have seminars.

Each Christian church is totally autonomous from all other Christian churches. The government is congregational. The pastor is not considered the head of the church, he is just another elder, but he receives a salary.

My husband and I really like the Christian church that we attended in college, and consider it the closest church to Catholicism of any of the Protestant evangelical churches that we ever were members of. The Christian church is committed to the “Restoration Movement”, which means that they try to practice New Testament Christianity exactly the way the first Christians did. This means that they offer Communion at every meeting (they even offered Communion at business meetings when my husband and I were there).

The reason Jim Jones was able to get his cult started is that his church, a Christian church, was autonomous and no one from a higher level of authority checked up on him to make sure that he was teaching orthodox Christianity.

Please don’t get the idea that I am criticizing autonomous churches. In another thread, I pointed out the advantages and disadvantages. There are quite a few advantages to being an autonomous church. The local church can decide on what curricula to use, sermons, hymnals, etc., instead of having a far-away “council” or “convention” tell them what to use. Also, an autonomous church is in charge of all their own money instead of having to give away a percentage to a far-away denominational headquarters. They can keep all the money for a local project, give a large percentage to support a missionary (probably one of the non-denominational missionaries like a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member). They can spend the whole thing on a new building or a bigger salary for the pastor! They can invest it all in better youth programs or a Christian school or prettier landscaping or helping the poor–it’s THEIR choice, not a denomination’s dictate.

So there are advantages to going non-denom.


#13

are so call christian church falls in the same group? my sister was catholic now she is attending disciples of christ but they announce themselve as a christian church, is this is a common trend now. one thing about this sect they have a lot in common with baptist. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be Adored, Glorified, Loved & Preserved throughout the world, now & forever. Sacred Heart of Jesus, please pray for me. Saint Jude, Worker of Miracles, please pray for me. Saint Jude, Helper of the Hopeless, please pray for me. Amen.":slight_smile:


#14

Originally Posted by smithmikeg
I grew up in a non-denominational environment. It’s just a fancy way of saying “independent”. These churches vary by group, so ask your friend, in a tactful way, what the church is like. Maybe ask what the pros and cons of that church are. Expect a contemporary style. Sometimes, it feels like a lot of singing broken up by a bible-study. I know that it is nothing like Mass, spiritually speaking.

Please be deep in prayer during this, and have a solid grasp of your beliefs. We don’t need another angry ex-Catholic.

Hi All
What’s really funny her is that whenever a noncatholic post’s a smart-aleck comment like these yahoos, we get repremanded for it.
Where’s the love?


#15

I’ve been told non-denominational Christians are just stealth Baptists :wink:


#16

#17

Mayra H,

Can you get your sister to register here and start posting as soon as possible?
She left the Church?:crying:


#18

You are referring to the Campellites, also known as the “Disiples of Christ: Christians.”

This is a denominational group with a particular set of fundamental beliefs. Some distinctives include weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, believers’ baptism, and strong emphasis on education and works of mercy. They take a somewhat literal view of the Scriptures, but they don’t cherry-pick verses - they do actually read it in chapters or thematically, rather than verse by verse. They do not believe in “once saved, always saved,” and you can talk to them about Christian tradition without getting into a fight. They believe in the primacy of Scripture, but they are open to the idea that some essentials are not found in Scripture.


#19

Cat, thanks for that nice discursive answer. To recap, protestants would **not **agree that Jim Jones’ cult started as a non-denominational church. Instead it started as what its members term a “Christian church,” which is not a non-denominational church… More qs:

A Christian church is not a denomination? Well, maybe I don’t know what denomination means. Could you please give me the protestant use?

Let me ask now—when you say that you

“attended a Christian church…The Christian churches are emphatic…There are Christian church colleges…”

— you are not using the word “Christian” as an adjective, but as part of the proper name of the institutions?

What are “The Christian churches”? sorry if I am being dense. I mean, is that phrase equally well put (better for my understanding) , “The Christian Churches”?

(we consider) the Christian church that we attended in college…the closest church to Catholicism of any of the Protestant evangelical churches that we ever were members of.

So, that Christian church was evangelical?

Regarding the *Christian church *dedication to trying to practice Christianity the way the early Church practiced it, is this point important also to non-denominationals? Important to all Christian churches? (I’m using italics to try to give what seems to be an entity a proper name.)

The reason Jim Jones was able to get his cult started is that his church, a Christian church, was autonomous and no one from a higher level of authority checked up on him to make sure that he was teaching orthodox Christianity.

What higher level of authority does the individual Christian church accept? Is it authority over doctrine? Is it authority over discipline? Who has that authority? Who ought Jim Jones to have submitted to?

So there are advantages to going non-denom.

Thanks for explaining that. It’s always important to understand what folks are getting in exchange for what they give up…


#20

I am wondering with mayra the same question:

[quote=mayra hart ]she is attending disciples of christ but they announce themselve as a christian church,** is this a common trend now.** one thing about this sect they have a lot in common with baptist
[/quote]

[quote=genesis]I’ve been told non-denominational Christians are just stealth Baptists
[/quote]

Can we say they are more Baptist than anything else?

[quote=Digitonomy]…there’s a little more crossover between Disciples of Christ and non-denominational churches than we find with some other denominations
[/quote]

or not?

Sounds like that last group could get into some good discussions with Catholics.

This is all getting me in the picture, like finding my “range”…

Thanks, everybody, for this much so far!


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