No Denominations?


#1

There's a concept I've been thinking about, called post-denominational Christianity. First, some definitions:

Denominational Christianity: Here I mean any Christian communion that has a history, a creed and a defining character (it is in some way exclusive). Even groups that may not be denominations under the standard definition, such as Orthodox or Catholics, qualify as part of denominational Christianity under this definition.

Non-denominational Christianity: This was an effort to break away from any denominations and to found a Christian community that did not have any defining character or creed. Very quickly it developed a character and creed. After a couple decades, it also developed a unique history, and therefore itself became a denomination.

Post-denominational Christianity: This is a meta-group within Christianity. Different denominational Christians can be post-denominational. Post-denominational Christianity will not become a denomination, because it will be open to all denominational forms of Christianity, and indeed all groups that identify as Christian. Any worship or doctrinal choice will be a matter of taste, or even a matter of believing that one form of worship or element of doctrine is true or right, while remaining open to the possibility of being wrong. To keep from having a centralised character, post- denominational Christians will worship within multiple denominations; it may be helpful for its diversity that post-denominational Christians attend a different denomination each time they move, or that they go to multiple different churches on Sunday or through the week. The only denominational element post-denominational Christianity will come to have is a historical character.

I am a post-denominational Christian. I worship during the week with a group at my university (non-denominational), p ray the morning prayer at a Scottish Episcopalian Church, and attend contemporary Presbyterian worship on Sundays (while twice a month going to Catholic Mass on Saturday evening). I have made meaningful connections within these communities, and am starting to build bridges.

What do you think of this sort of movement? Does anyone here identify with post-denominational Christianity? What problems do you see with it? What would you think about a post-denominational Christian attending Mass?

A more provocative question... what do you think about opening communion to post-denominational Christians?


#2

since you asked chaotic, a total sham.
not me.
not one bit of unity, totally against what St.Paul writes about being of one mind.1Corinithians1;10
Hopefully they will be open to recognizing unity.

Not provocative at all since there is no unity how can one be in communion?
To paratake of the Eucharist with your view would be self deceptive.


#3

you know you’ve just outlined the defining characters and the creed of this entity(denomination) which you call post-denominational Christianity. To be honest it reminds me of an essay in satire by Mgr Ronald Knox called “reunion all round” but I know that wasn’t your intent. Worship and Doctrine as a matter of taste doesn’t sit with historical Christianity properly understood and as such I don’t see how you could properly ground such a movement in Christianity.

Communion, in the Catholic understanding, requires adherence to certain defined Dogmas and beliefs and to the corporate structure of the Church founded on Peter and as such Communion would simply not exist between your denomination and Catholicism, and so admission to communion would be impossible as it wouldn’t reflect reality.


#4

I don’t receive Catholic or Orthodox communion (except at the liberal Catholic churches, of course). I understand the doctrine of transubstantiation (as much as it can be understood), and I respect it. I also respect closed communion. I go to mass, but I don’t receive.

Thanks for your response.


#5

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]

What do you think of this sort of movement?

[/quote]

There are no new heresies. Only old ones that people think they have thought up as original

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]

A more provocative question... what do you think about opening communion to post-denominational Christians?

[/quote]

This is not possible.

I suggest the papal document Ut Unum Sint, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and Dominus Iesus for further study on the matter.


#6

How do you figure? First, how do you define ‘creed’? Second, how do you think that I have one? What do you think it is?

To be honest it reminds me of an essay in satire by Mgr Ronald Knox called “reunion all round” but I know that wasn’t your intent.

I don’t know about this essay, but I’ll look for it. It may be that we would agree.

Worship and Doctrine as a matter of taste doesn’t sit with historical Christianity properly understood and as such I don’t see how you could properly ground such a movement in Christianity.

As a matter of taste, or as a matter of what you really think is true, but still as a matter where there is some uncertainty (and when, given new evidence, you’d change your mind).

I think Joseph is Jesus’s biological father. But I’m open to the possibility that I am wrong, and would change my mind about this in light of new evidence or a strong and convincing argument.

Communion, in the Catholic understanding, requires adherence to certain defined Dogmas and beliefs and to the corporate structure of the Church founded on Peter and as such Communion would simply not exist between your denomination and Catholicism, and so admission to communion would be impossible as it wouldn’t reflect reality.

I admit that Catholics could be right. It’s possible that a post-denominational Christian would be Catholic, would believe everything Catholics believe, but would be open to the possibility that he or she may be wrong, and therefore would be open at least to worshipping in other Christian communities (even if communion would not be open, per se). This person could receive communion in good conscience, right? Or no?


#7

[quote="1ke, post:5, topic:283025"]
There are no new heresies. Only old ones that people think they have thought up as original

[/quote]

I don't think it is a heresy. I don't know if it is new, but I've not run across it before. What is the origin of this methodology?


#8

What is a liberal Catholic church as oppose to a regular Catholic Church?


#9

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
There's a concept I've been thinking about, called post-denominational Christianity. First, some definitions:

Denominational Christianity: Here I mean any Christian communion that has a history, a creed and a defining character (it is in some way exclusive). Even groups that may not be denominations under the standard definition, such as Orthodox or Catholics, qualify as part of denominational Christianity under this definition.

Non-denominational Christianity: This was an effort to break away from any denominations and to found a Christian community that did not have any defining character or creed. Very quickly it developed a character and creed. After a couple decades, it also developed a unique history, and therefore itself became a denomination.

Post-denominational Christianity: This is a meta-group within Christianity. Different denominational Christians can be post-denominational. Post-denominational Christianity will not become a denomination, because it will be open to all denominational forms of Christianity, and indeed all groups that identify as Christian. Any worship or doctrinal choice will be a matter of taste, or even a matter of believing that one form of worship or element of doctrine is true or right, while remaining open to the possibility of being wrong. To keep from having a centralised character, post- denominational Christians will worship within multiple denominations; it may be helpful for its diversity that post-denominational Christians attend a different denomination each time they move, or that they go to multiple different churches on Sunday or through the week. The only denominational element post-denominational Christianity will come to have is a historical character.

I am a post-denominational Christian. I worship during the week with a group at my university (non-denominational), p ray the morning prayer at a Scottish Episcopalian Church, and attend contemporary Presbyterian worship on Sundays (while twice a month going to Catholic Mass on Saturday evening). I have made meaningful connections within these communities, and am starting to build bridges.

What do you think of this sort of movement? Does anyone here identify with post-denominational Christianity? What problems do you see with it? What would you think about a post-denominational Christian attending Mass?

A more provocative question... what do you think about opening communion to post-denominational Christians?

[/quote]

iow, you're a very liberal Protestant.

The problems I see
[LIST]
*]I hope you're not receiving the Eucharist when you attend mass.
*]this is the problem with, the (t)raditions of men, theologically and ecclesiastically speaking.
*]This kind of free wheel thinking and disobedience of the faith, has always led to divisions that as you know is condemned in scripture, and the ECF's wrote against also.
[/LIST]


#10

Opening communion to those not in communion is a logical contradiction. Opening communion to those who don’t hold the Catholic faith of the Sacraments is blasphemy; opening communion to those who hold the Catholic faith of the Sacraments is what is already done; communing those who hold the Catholic faith of the Sacraments or claim to but commune at other congregations as well is communing the excommunicated, again, a contradiction in terms.

From the rest of your post, you describe nothing more than what’s been called “post-modernism” for the last century of the modern era. It hasn’t gone anywhere yet, and, no matter how much the theorists may like it to, it is too fundamentally irreconcilable with human nature, just as communism was - it may look good as a relativistic utopia on paper, but it can never work - because even the staunchest proponents of relativism still act as if there were absolutes. Worldview thinking 101.

Someone who denies the Virgin Birth, as far as I understand it, is not a Christian, as it necessarily entails denial of the truth of the Bible reporting on matters of faith, and denies the salvific work of Christ (which could not have been completed if Christ was born in iniquity: “for I was brought forth in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me”, etc.), and it implies very strongly a complete denial of the supra-natural (again, which necessarily entails denials of every single doctrine of Christianity) or a Deistic view, as there is no historical evidence that Jesus was born of Joseph; all of the scant evidence we have is that Jesus was born of a virgin. The only reason to deny it, can not be based in the historical record, but can only be based in philosophical naturalism. That makes such a believer a Unitarian Universalist with Christian leanings.


#11

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
There's a concept I've been thinking about, called post-denominational Christianity. First, some definitions:

Denominational Christianity: Here I mean any Christian communion that has a history, a creed and a defining character (it is in some way exclusive). Even groups that may not be denominations under the standard definition, such as Orthodox or Catholics, qualify as part of denominational Christianity under this definition.

Non-denominational Christianity: This was an effort to break away from any denominations and to found a Christian community that did not have any defining character or creed. Very quickly it developed a character and creed. After a couple decades, it also developed a unique history, and therefore itself became a denomination.

Post-denominational Christianity: This is a meta-group within Christianity. Different denominational Christians can be post-denominational. Post-denominational Christianity will not become a denomination, because it will be open to all denominational forms of Christianity, and indeed all groups that identify as Christian. Any worship or doctrinal choice will be a matter of taste, or even a matter of believing that one form of worship or element of doctrine is true or right, while remaining open to the possibility of being wrong. To keep from having a centralised character, post- denominational Christians will worship within multiple denominations; it may be helpful for its diversity that post-denominational Christians attend a different denomination each time they move, or that they go to multiple different churches on Sunday or through the week. The only denominational element post-denominational Christianity will come to have is a historical character.

I am a post-denominational Christian. I worship during the week with a group at my university (non-denominational), p ray the morning prayer at a Scottish Episcopalian Church, and attend contemporary Presbyterian worship on Sundays (while twice a month going to Catholic Mass on Saturday evening). I have made meaningful connections within these communities, and am starting to build bridges.

What do you think of this sort of movement? Does anyone here identify with post-denominational Christianity? What problems do you see with it? What would you think about a post-denominational Christian attending Mass?

A more provocative question... what do you think about opening communion to post-denominational Christians?

[/quote]

Interesting idea. I once had a Jesuit theology professor who thought that Christianity could be organized more by what he thought of as "spritiualities" rather than denominations. Rather than seeing difference as some sort of threat to Christianity, such an approach would respect the particular gifts that each group offers to the whole. The challenge would be that each individual group must give up their totalizing efforts and realize that they don't necessarily have all the answers—and that someone very different from them might have something valuable to offer.

As for your question about Mass, I know of a fair number of Catholic churches in this area that encourage open communion—some encourage it tacitly while others are more open about it. Obviously this practice doesn't jibe with the official rules, but for whatever reason this doesn't seem to bother these particular churches. I have no real feel for what the average Catholic might think about this.

So do you feel like you have a base or a "home" community? Do you think that's important?


#12

Weclome to CAF, Brandon! :wave:

I think you raise some interesting things to think about theologically and sociologically. I do think Theophorus brings up an interesting point, though, that you have, in a sense, just outline the post-denominational creed. ;)

I think that theologically, it is simply impossible for Christians to avoid coming up with creeds and still maintaining a Christian identity. Even Christian forums I have seen that are totally on the fringe, with people who do not even go to Church on Sunday because no Christian group completely lines up with their beliefs -- even those groups will proudly display their "Statement of Faith" on their website. Christians are hard-wired for creed. And human beings are hard-wired to organize and categorize. IMO, trying to avoid "denominationalism" is an exercise in futility.

That said, I think your outline does paint a picture of what is happening sociologically in many places. I keep coming across more and more people who go to whatever church service suits their fancy without necessarily self-identifying with that group's denominational label. I know someone who still self-identifies as Catholic, but never goes to Mass anymore and only goes to another Christian Sunday service (and got married there). She even strongly encouraged her new step kids give up stuff for this past Lent because she still considers herself Catholic.

For me, it's difficult not to see that sort of thing as cognitive dissonance. These various Christian groups teach specific (and sometimes mutually exclusive) doctrines. They cannot all be correct. And I would personally feel a little dishonest worshippinng in another Christian community when I know I do not agree with everything they teach. (Ecumenical prayer meetings are a different story because everyone recognizes that there are doctrinal differences, but the focus is on what we share.)

I'd be interested to hear your perspective on how you reconcile attending worship services at places that you don't agree with 100%. I ask this in all sincerity; I'm not trying to bait you. :o


#13

Brandon,

How would you distinguish between "post-denominational" Christians, and ones who are "serially denominational" -- that is, who go from one denomination to another, as you've outlined (i.e., "when they move")?

Also, since post-denominational Christians are, in essence, squatters at denominational congregations, wouldn't this be somewhat rude if a particular congregation intends its members to be operating from the denominational point of view?

Blessings,

G.


#14

I think you would have to turn off your brain to adopt such a faith: each of these denominations have contradictory teachings that can't all be true.

Secondly, it's a false unity, which is not the kind of unity that Holy Communion symbolizes. True unity means being one body, holding one faith, under one head; your proposition lacks all of those things.

Third, this sounds about as unbiblical as it could be. Some of St. Paul's most important themes are on keeping fast to the traditions handed down by the Apostles and renouncing false teachers. He also tell people that by not discerning the state of their souls before receiving Holy Communion they are profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord. That's exactly what open communion does, when it let Christians of all beliefs receive Our Lord, when many treat him like a thing and not the Creator of all things.

I suggest you read the early Church Fathers to see why this idea is so wrong.


#15

I will address some specific elements of your concept below. But first, I just want to say that I appreciate and admire the spirit with which you attempt to work out a new paradigm in which to bring about greater Christian unity. :slight_smile:

The short answer is that I think this proposal of yours is, despite the enthusiasm and careful thought you have admirably put into it, ineffective at best, and problematic at worst. As such I do not identify with the concept of post-denominational Christianity as you have outlined it. More below…

I will address them point-by-point, from your description.

Anyone is welcome to attend the Holy Mass, especially Christians such as yourself. :slight_smile:

Receiving Holy Communion is another matter, but you’ve wisely made that a separate question, which I think is best left for the end of my reply…

Indeed. Recognition of this is key.

Okay; I understand by this that you mean post-denominational Christianity to be something that spans different denominations rather than something that exists as an alternative to them. So it’s sort of like an inter-denominational assembly of Christians who meet and pray solely according to what unites us rather than what divides us.

This is where your concept becomes problematic: there are lots of Christian groups out there who think that certain elements of worship or doctrine do matter, and that their group is definitely not wrong.

For instance, let’s say there’s a Protestant group who believes that the idea of the Sacrifice of the Mass is in violation of the teachings of the New Testament’s Letter to the Hebrews, or who believes that infant baptism is definitively wrong. Or other denominations - including the Catholic Church - who insist on the uncompromisable importance of the Sacramental economy, including baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence, etc.

Some groups - again, like the Catholic and Orthodox churches - recognize as central to public Christian worship the existence of an ordained priesthood distinct from the priesthood of all believers; others find the very concept of this ordained priesthood to be unacceptable.

What will happen, Brandon Rimmer, is this: this assembly of post-denominational Christians will therefore be compatible only with denominations that share your willingness to regard as validly flexible certain points of doctrine and worship.

As such, because so many don’t have this approach - and I must stress that the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches (both the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian variety), and many Protestant churches do not - this movement of yours would end up occupying a conspicuously small corner of the Christian world. Its openness to doctrinal and liturgical flexibility would inevitably become a key tenet of these assemblies, and in time, the distinctness of this position would become distinctly visible to such an extent that the very movement itself would in time coalesce into something resembling a denomination.

That, I think, is the key flaw in this scheme of yours: rendering doctrinal and liturgical disputes and differences unimportant enough to tolerate flexibility in the same assembly cannot truly result in Christian unity. It will become a characteristic not shared by most denominations and will thus distinguish these communities of post-denominational Christians enough that they will inevitably coalesce into a distinct group, or denomination, of their own, despite their ecumenical activities.


#16

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
To keep from having a centralised character, post- denominational Christians will worship within multiple denominations; it may be helpful for its diversity that post-denominational Christians attend a different denomination each time they move, or that they go to multiple different churches on Sunday or through the week.

[/quote]

Fellowship and having a good Christian community for one's spiritual home are an important part of the Christian life. This way of living the faith would give its followers only a superficial membership in all of the Christian bodies it frequents. Real integration into a Christian community simply requires more permanence than that.

In addition, there are plenty of churches - like the Catholic and Orthodox ones - who would not ultimately consider such "post-denominational" visitors to be true members of their church. Again, this sort of situation would basically result in homeless Christians, so to speak.

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
The only denominational element post-denominational Christianity will come to have is a historical character.

[/quote]

Because of the distinctness and rareness of the doctrinal and liturgical openness you advocate, this movement would in time - as I explained above - ultimately coalesce into a kind of denomination of its own. One cannot solve the matters that divide us by ignoring them.

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
I am a post-denominational Christian. I worship during the week with a group at my university (non-denominational), pray the morning prayer at a Scottish Episcopalian Church, and attend contemporary Presbyterian worship on Sundays (while twice a month going to Catholic Mass on Saturday evening). I have made meaningful connections within these communities, and am starting to build bridges.

[/quote]

And yet, despite the fact that you are a Christian, this way of living out your faith means that at least in the Catholic church you frequent, and probably others too, you will only ever be a visitor, not a member of the body...

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
A more provocative question... what do you think about opening communion to post-denominational Christians?

[/quote]

No, the Catholic Church is never going to get rid of our practice of having closed Communion. Our ecclesiastical unity - including unity on doctrinal matters concerning which your "post-denominational Christians" would not have a definitive teaching - simply matters too much to do so.

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:6, topic:283025"]
It's possible that a post-denominational Christian would be Catholic, would believe everything Catholics believe, but would be open to the possibility that he or she may be wrong

[/quote]

No, I don't think so. Let's say, for instance, a full member of the Catholic Church is "open to the possibility" that the Lord Jesus Christ is not truly bodily present in the Eucharist. That would be a problem. Catholics who are truly living our faith believe and teach this dogma, and we cannot compromise it into something that is negotiable.

And many churches and denominations have similar standards for many of their teachings: devout Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, some non-denominational Christians, some Baptists, etc. would all take issue with precisely the openness that your concept requires. As a result, that very openness would become a denominational characteristic of such a group of "post-denominational Christians."


#17

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:1, topic:283025"]
There's a concept I've been thinking about, called post-denominational Christianity.

[/quote]

Make sure not to miss the first part of my reply. It's on the bottom of page one; the forum split both my replies onto separate pages...


#18

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:6, topic:283025"]

I think Joseph is Jesus's biological father. But I'm open to the possibility that I am wrong, and would change my mind about this in light of new evidence or a strong and convincing argument.

[/quote]

As been pointed out holding this view alienates you from christianity. We have what is written in scripture that tells us otherwise. This is the only agruement that can be used. If you do not accept scripture as valid then there is no 'proof' that can be cited against your view.

I admit that Catholics could be right. It's possible that a post-denominational Christian would be Catholic, would believe everything Catholics believe, but would be open to the possibility that he or she may be wrong, and therefore would be open at least to worshipping in other Christian communities (even if communion would not be open, per se). This person could receive communion in good conscience, right? Or no?

No one couldn't recieve in good conscience because their conscience isn't good to start with.


#19

Your Post-denominationalism is just Relativism by another name. Old heresites never die; they just get recycled. No sale.


#20

[quote="Brandon_Rimmer, post:7, topic:283025"]
I don't think it is a heresy. I don't know if it is new, but I've not run across it before. What is the origin of this methodology?

[/quote]

Relativism
Modernism
Unitarian Universalist
New Age


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