As Belloc pointed out, heresies are simplifications. Simplify the Church and adopt Sola Scitptura which contorts the history of a Church once made (the New Testament) to a bizzare set of do-it-yourself blue prints where one person’s interpetation is as good as another’s. Before coming home to Rome a couple of years I attended what was, in truth, a non-denominatioal church. The Sunday school class was heresy bingo. Everyone’s opinion was as good as anyone else’s. Baptize infants, fine. Wait for people to be older to baptize them, fine. Don’t baptize them at all, fine. Just come back next Sunday.
And sure, the personal relationship with Jesus thing is great, but it has to be informed. Otherwise it looks an aweful lot like some one’s imaginary friend, who always loves them just the way they are.
And sure, being part of a church–being put down on the list of members–by itself won’t save one; but it does not follow then that being part of a church is not an essential part of it. That is the classic protestant insistence on turning such questions in a false dialectec either-or, instead of being open to and-also. Protestantisim has a tendancy to try to find the One Thing that is most important in any area or topic, and everything but that has to be obliterated lest it detract from it.
At what point does one stop simplifying? The end game, which is already in play, is that every person belives what they want and their behavior and actions are limited only to what they can rationalize. It isn’t so much Sola Scriptura, as Sola Self. Instead of recognizing this a theological nihilisim or relatavisim, it is celebrated as the end of denominations, as though they are “above all that now.” It seems likely that people don’t know enough about the Bible or religion these days to even have a good argument about it (is it not odd that people have the kind of arguments about politics these days that they used to have about religion?) It isn’t saved through this and that and that, or just this or just that, it is just Saved! I remember hearing that in the non-denominational, and I thought “fine, I can just stay home Sunday’s from now on, no point in this church thing anymore.” To keep the people coming back there has to be activities for everyone, youth groups, mommie groups, soft ball teams, an entertaining “up-with-people” style praise service with electric guitars, a motivational speech/sermon, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but if those things were not there, how many weeks would it be before the church went bankrupt?
They are not non-denominational, they are uni-denominational. They are their own unique denomination to conform to a particular socio-economic regional demographic. Being their own denomintion is fitting as a good number of Protestants, and more and more of them, are a themselves a denomination unto themself. It is their interpretation, their beliefs, their everything. Who needs Augustine, Clement, Aquinas, Irenaeus, or even Ratzinger to provide insight when wonderful, amazing, I can scan the New Testament and spout off on everything. The praryer in the garden was that they all may be one. The way some Protestants define what being one is, it would be impossible to be anything else. Did Jesus sweat blood praying a silly tautology? Well, they are one now, everyone of them is one, a whole lot of ones all by themselves.