How do Catholics view non-denominational Christians?
Charitably, by the grace of God.
Short answer: With love. As a Catholic, I am called to see the face of Jesus in everyone.
Now, I have a question for you. What does a “non-denominational Christian” mean? Does that mean a believer in Christ who does not attend or adhere to an established church, such as Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or one of the many Protestant denominations?
If they are a follower of Jesus and living by His teachings, I would see them as a brother or sister in Christ, who has not yet found the fullness of faith. And I would love them. Given the opportunity, I would share with them the great secrets of the Eucharist and the True Presence.
The OP may have his own definition for “non-denominational Christians.”
However, usually when people talk about “non-denominational Christians” they refer to members of congregations that are autonomous and independent of any larger body. The church governs itself and does not answer to any higher authority, whether that be a bishop, synod, or any other kind of authority structure.
Most non-denominational churches tend to be Protestant and Evangelical in doctrine (i.e. “born-again” types,believers in Biblical inerrancy, altar calls, Billy Graham types, no infant baptism and baptism is by full immersion) and many mega-churches are often Evangelical, non-denominational.
They´re the non-denominational denomination. When I was a Marine Recruiter, I used to tell applicants that I wasn´t a Marine Salesman. That was a lie. God bless:thumbsup:
This question is actually a bit more complex question than it might seem on the surface.
The actual question - how do we view (those who claim the title) “non-denominational Christians” has been well answered…
We view them with Love - as separated Brethren.
The deeper matter that is kind of hidden in these sorts of very simple questions is how do we view what ndC’s believe? That is the teachings of the NDC type churches?
This is where we need to be careful - for two reasons.
- Because in viewing the ndC with love we should not shrink from correction in areas where we see error in their beliefs. In short, while we accept them as brothers and sisters…we should still be willing to evangelize to and with them.
- Related to this is the fact that the ndC, by it’s very nature, can and likely does encompass a variety of beliefs…So when discussing matters of faith we need to not make assumptions.
Now - in this area - the Catholic Church would see the ndC groups as (in many cases) Great Lovers of Christ - but that they hold to some pretty fundamental errors.
Just some thoughts
They are great people with a lot of love and respect for Others, and for Jesus, the problem is… OK don’t call it a problem, but they seems to know more than anyone in the past of our church, I have a conversation with a pastor and he states that they are not, anti-anything they are Pro-Bible, so they think they have the authority to read the Bible and correct what they think is not In the Bible doctrine, for example he told me they invite people to read the Bible and review the teachings of their church, catholic, J Wt, Mormons Etc… so for them first is God, Jesus, the Bible and then the Church, which we Know is wrong, they will be no Bible if is not thanks to the Catholic Church. But again We have to love them and Pray, Pray and Pray, also I’m nobody to judge, I’m also i hope I’m wrong, but many also abuse of this for make money.
“Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis, describes a group of people who have come to belief in Christ - they have now entered the building, but still in the hallway, so to speak - but have not yet decided which specific Christian tradition or communion to join. His advice is to be patient with them. But he also says it is only in the rooms (e. g. Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc) - not in the hallway - that they eventually find the fullness and challenges of Christian life.
If someone is, for now, “non-denominational” because they are still sorting out the different Christian traditions to find the right one, we should still be patient, pray for them. They are on the right path. But since C. S. Lewis’ time there has arisen a permanent group of people that wants the comforts of Christianity, but none of the moral or doctrinal responsibilities.
For them, true doctrine is whatever coincides with their opinions. Morality is whatever I am already doing. There really is no call to conversion of mind or actions, as you would find in a Catholic or Baptist church. Non-denominational preachers go on TV for a half hour telling people how to be content as you are; they refer to Jesus briefly, not by way of calling people to change, but because referring to Jesus comforts people. In the future, I think non-denominational churches will drop the reference to Jesus, and refer in a general way to divinity, or, better, “spirituality”.
So my attitude depends on which kind of non-denominational someone is.
That’s one of the reasons that drew me to the Catholic Church.
I think someone who truly wants to follow God would find the teachings of virtuous living, and the practical ways to achieve that by the lives of saints, beneficial through the Catholic Church.
IMHO, many Protestant churches lack the rigorous teachings of the standard of Godly living. Yes, love, patience, kindness, etc are essential…but how do we practice that? How do we commit to them? At least in my experience in Protestant churches, there is less emphasis on humility, charity, patience, etc in real life. They are taught, but insufficiently, IMHO.
But I believe many faithful non-Catholics have at least the desire for good intentions in our hearts.
May God lead us to the fullness of truth and the One Church of Christ.
In short, they are Protestant and usually not affiliated formally with other Churches as in a denomination like Methodist or Anglican. As other posters correctly pointed out there is such a great variance from Baptist/Fundamentalist to Pentacostal/Charismatic. They are non-denominational because there is no overseeing Church type organization beyond their individual Church.
Your question is rather vague and it’s hard to answer simply because there are several angles to this.
Your post is beautiful!
I remember that when I attended “non-denominational” Charismatic Churches before becoming Catholic, I use the hear Pastors that lead these types of churches say that they are not Protestant or Catholic but non-denominational. This sounds nice but is rather erroneous in that non-denominational Churches ARE Protestant even if they think they are not. The basic underlining theology is Sola Scriptura from Martin Luther. They are not with the Catholic because they are not under the authority of a Catholic Bishop with valid sacraments. A majority of them do honestly feel they are following the original Church as described in Acts but the Church in Act was under the authority of the Apostles with Peter as the head. There are many sincere and devote Christians that attend these Churches. The biggest issue I ran into with Non-denominational Churches is that without a overlying Church structure or oversight anything can and does blow in in terms of teaching and novel ideas. People were very influenced by “teaching” ministries and most took their ideas from them such as name it/claim it wealth/health. Every wind of doctrine blows in an out. One of the attractions of the Catholic church was the authority and stability.
Lots of beautiful responses here, all with the resonance of truth.
The right answer, of course, is “with love” – as others have pointed out so well.
One more thought, if I may: the specifics of our interaction with self-described “non-denominational” Christians may also be influenced by whether they are part of the MANY former Catholics who comprise a meaningful segment of membership in these churches. The numbers vary depending on who you’re reading, but I don’t believe there’s any real doubt that many of our former Catholic brothers and sisters have made a home in these churches. We must pray for them and reach out to them with love and understanding, without undermining our own stability in the faith.
My husband and I are doing exactly this within our own families. Sadly, most of our family members have fallen away from the Church. Some have become engaged members of “non-denominational” congregations, in part because in those churches, they aren’t having to face the consequences of poor choices (like hasty non-sacramental marriages that end in divorce or lifestyles that are not consistent with Catholic teaching). Our feeling is that we rejoice that they’re still seeking God, and our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will lead them back to their roots in the Church.
Peace from this brand-new member of the “Forums Family.”
thanks for your response. When I attended Non-den. Churches, there were a lot of ex-denominational Protestants. The one in particular, everyone was an ex- something. Like myself ex-Methodist etc. If someone was an ex-Catholic, they had already left the Church before hand anyway. Most people are very desirous of returning to the early Church of Acts and were disenchanted with the current affiliation. In the one church I attended, it was in the late 70’s and the Charismatic movement was beginning and very controversial and the majority actually tried to stay within their current denominational Church but were either kicked out (the left foot of fellowship) or left for sometime deemed for “spiritual” or “authentic”. The attraction of a more seemingly vibrant church with a more devote group of Christians is a very powerful draw even for Catholics that have become unhappy for one reason or another with the Catholic Church.
Welcome, looking forward to your future insights.
It seems to me Catholics, and “denominational” Protestants, may be attracted to non-denom churches either because:
- They are running away from doctrinal/moral standards in their Catholic or Prot church;
or 2. They are finding something that was lacking in their former parish, such as enthusiasm, youth ministry, community, opportunity for ministry, etc.
If the reason is #1, we should not water our beliefs down to try to attract people. If the reason is #2, shame on us, we need to do things better.
One by one, like anyone else.
I think the later of your two listed is the bigger reason many people leave either the Catholic Church or denominational Protestantism. While many may discount it on CAF, emotional reasons are why many Catholics leave. They have become disconnected some how from their faith or it’s understanding. Sense of community, belonging, feeling like you have something to give are powerful motivators. Rarely do people leave for theological reasons.
Robwar and Commenter, I think you’re both right. My husband and I have served in a ministry for returning Catholics and, while the format was a little too Oprah-esque for us, we learned a lot about the pain, disappointment, guilt, and so on that a lot of former Catholics carry around. Not all of it is truly directed at the Church. As folks began sharing their stories, it became apparent that for some people, the Church had become a convenient whipping post for anger with other people and/or with God Himself (as in the case, hypothetically speaking, of a woman who had remarried, civilly, after her first husband left her after 25+ years of marriage). One problem with a “reflective” emphasis and group format for this kind of ministry is that it really needs a strong leader (which we did not have). Without that, the conversation tends to deteriorate into Church-bashing … and that does no one any good.
Several of these folks had fond feelings toward various Protestant and non-denominational Christian churches they had attended, which goes back to the relevant points you all have made: that the appeal of those experiences seemed to be a combination of a more lenient theology and a more emotionally engaging environment. It’s heartening, however, that the Holy Spirit had kept after them, nudging them back toward their Catholic roots. I am watching my sister, who was raised Catholic but has been a zealous evangelical Christian for over 20 years, inch her way back toward the Church. In her case, and in others I have known, her issue is not with her non-denominational faith; rather, she’s gradually acknowledging all that she’s missing by not reconciling herself to the Church.
Speaking for my own parish (which is not all that different from others I have attended in years past), we do indeed need to work on our enthusiasm, hospitality, and zeal. Our current pastor is trying very hard to lead the parish in that direction. Pray for us. The harvest is so large and the workers so few. We are in a very anti-Catholic region of the U.S.
Sorry to be so windy and hope I haven’t strayed too far off topic. If so, maybe we can chalk it up to my learning curve.
Thanks for making me feel so welcome. I keep telling my husband he needs to get active in these forums. We’ve been reading them for some time and have learned a LOT in the process.
Personally I don’t think that “non-denominational” churches even exist. In have the feeling that "non-denominational’ Christians think they are the only Christians to exist.
I was dunked and raised in a denomination that calls it’self ‘un-denomtional’ churches of Christ. And they make it very clear they think they are the only Christians. You can hear it in their rhetoric. They call themselves “Christians” and all others are “members of denominational churches”.
All the things that have been pointed out as “non-denominational” doctrines are in fact the teachings of denominational bodies.
Gettin’ saved, baptism of adult ‘belivers’ by submersion only. Symbolic baptism and Lord’s supper are all specifically denominational teachings.
Where is the love from these people who don’t even believe that we are Christians at all since we don’t ‘get saved’?
Well, they could be said to be non-denominational in the sense that individual churches of Christ don’t answer to an official, authoritative “denominational” body. They only answer to the local congregation.