why do some Christians reply to the question "What denomination are you?" with...

“I’m Christian, I don’t believe in a label, I’m Christian and believe in Jesus.”, sometimes they seem defensive. :shrug:

It comes from the 60s and the :shrug:ging off of authority. It has taken a few years since then but the “Christian” “non-denominational” has become the fastest growing (dare I say it) denomination in western culture. They gain most of their converts from other denominations, rather than genuine converts. That is at least the statistics of religion from my country.

Simply because many people have a negative association with larger organized entities (such as the Catholic Church). Especially in the modern day, the idea that being a Christian is to follow Christ without the church is a popular one. To have obedience to some higher earthly authority and to be disciplined to follow a Church faithfully is something that is not on people’s radars anymore. It’s similar to the separation of “religion” from “Jesus,” that religious institutions are negative and against Christ. However, we all know that is not true.

I think of it to be a mechanism of avoiding commitment and responsibility looked upon by an established authority. Worse enough is that even these groups claiming to be free of “denominational bond” as one, are gaining the very face as they need their organizing personnel, who can obviously not work without precepts. They forget that neglecting together, coming together and forming precepts together, does the very thing done for centuries since the 16th c.

Therefore those who just joined these ideologies will one day find that that which the sought misses and so move again and again and again. What is important is that their claims are out of fear of loyalty which is rooted in disobedience.

The non-denominational denomination? There is no shame in submitting oneself to organized authority. :nope: In order to be free, one must first be controlled.

Many Protestants who love Jesus have dissociated themselves from the mainline denominations (the older Protestant denominations: Lutheran, Reformed, Episcopal/Anglican, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Congregationalist, Methodist, etc.) because many of these denominations have allowed pro-abortion clauses and pro-homosexuality clauses to be included into their Statements of Faith.

They may still love aspects of their mainline denomination, especially the liturgy and the music. But they despise the condoning of sin and the “inclusiveness” of these denominations.

So don’t be surprised when Protestant Christians seem defensive about denominations. They don’t want you to think that they support abortion and homosexuality.

And then there are the Evangelical Protestant Christians. I was Evangelical Protestant for the first 47 years of my life.

You have to understand that Evangelical Protestant Christians do not believe in an earthly “Church” that has an organization, structure, and a human-run leadership. They believe in the “universal” or “catholic” (small “c”) church that includes ALL believers who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They believe that within this universal church are many churches/fellowships, and that JESUS Himself is the Head of the universal church of all believers.

So of course they will not profess loyalty to any one denomination. They don’t believe in it. They might tell you that they currently attend a Baptist or Evangelical Free or Assemblies of God “church,” or as another poster has mentioned, a “non-denominational fellowship” that is “Christian.” But they will also tell you that they trust the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth as they study the Bible, and that if their church/denomination starts teaching something contrary to the Bible, they will be out of there and looking for another church.

One more reason why people don’t profess loyalty to a denomination is because of split families due to an economy that has forced people to be mobile and move away from their hometowns and families, and due to less emphasis on ethnic heritage among white Americans.

I grew up in a Conference Baptist church where many families were 3rd and even 4th or 5th generation families. They all attended that church because its roots were Swedish (it was originally called the Swedish Baptist Conference), and most of the families in the church were of Swedish heritage. There was even a Swedish worship service. Back then, people didn’t mix much outside of their own group. Many families never saw black people, or Asian people, or Jews, or even Catholics. We all stuck with “our own kind.” (Frankly, I’m GLAD that this is no longer true!)

And everybody used to stay close to home after they graduated from high school (and college if they were wealthier). They got jobs and settled in their hometowns and cities, and stayed close to their parents and extended families, and all went to the same church. But this has all changed. Nowadays, so many people leave their hometown and families and see each other only a few times a year. So big family dynasties in Protestant churches have declined.

And although many of us fondly admit that we are “German” or “Irish” or whatever, and sometimes we even join societies that promote our ethnic heritage, most of us who are white really don’t care. :shrug: , and we DEFINITELY value diversity of friendships and associations and prefer to mix with a wide variety of ethnic groups. So we no longer are tied to a certain denomination due to our ethnic heritage.

So in conclusion, there aren’t really a lot of physical reasons to be committed to a denomination. Please don’t read all kinds of sinister motives into a Protestant’s unwillingness to commit to a denomination. A lot of it is because of changes in our U.S. society.

And think about it. Several decades ago, Catholics attended their parish and didn’t even dream of commuting to another parish. But nowadays, it’s actually Catholic Church policy here in the U.S. that people can attend any Catholic parish that they wish. So even Catholics don’t have loyalty to any one “church” anymore. :slight_smile:

I was going to say ‘it’s an American thing as well’, but since you’re from New Zealand, I’ll clarify that as ‘it’s Western world thing’. :smiley:

Its quite possible and extremely common for a Christian to have dropped out of their church. (You drop your church, technically, if you haven’t attended in a year). Many Catholics and Protestants do so in reaction to dogma and judgment that does not include Christ and the spirit. (That’s right - we do that to each other). But also, active church members answering may realize that the question divides them from other Christians and their answer recognizes this. If they don’t belong to a church, they realize they could join any of them and follow Christ. They believe (and so should we) that they follow Christ whether belonging to a church or not. It isn’t at all about defying authority. I find that kind of understanding about the question a typical response from Catholics, especially cradle Catholics who were taught they were the only Christians. May Catholics simply can’t accept that there are full fledged believers out there they will see in paradise one day despite the fact these others don’t profess Catholicism. We are not to judge that. If they profess the cross, we accept that. There are people who attend mass every week who actually don’t believe. We don’t judge that either. However, when I myself have asked someone what their denomination is, I notice the answer, if seeming defiant, is actually defiant about me asking them – they react in some way because I may be categorizing them for no right reason.

Kind of works both ways, these Christians really believe they are the “one true church” as understood from scripture at Pentecost, thus the great falling away. But there was no Bible only the liturgy. So its not about defying authority, or really believing in God, its a variation on authority which rejects the Tradition. The thing is, if you have another tradition and understanding of the continuity of scripture, thus creation, incarnation, Cross, liturgy-eucharist, in essence you can arrive at Jesus Christ, and on the surface this appears as Jesus Christ, but this may also indicate a very different Christ since all the beliefs are reduced to scripture which is part of the Church, not a separate entity of itself. Its the perpetual issue in the Church which has led to all heresy in relation to Christ. For example, look at the LDS with a different Biblical understanding of Christ. This is extreme but its indicative of the continued theory of Bible only.

Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translated as “the law of praying [is] the law of believing”) refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for developing the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters based on the prayer texts of the Church, that is, the Church’s liturgy. In the Early Church there was liturgical tradition before there was a common creed and before there was an officially sanctioned biblical canon. These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon.Wiki-pedia

I’m sure they are sincere when they say something like that, but it does come off as a little smug, doesn’t it?

It reminds me of the Christian rapper who did that “I hate religion, but love Jesus” thing to which I always think is like saying “I hate aerodynamics, but love airplanes.”

Right, belief isn’t in question, its a matter of understanding what you believe and why you believe it. Also a good deal of individuals follow by blind faith and don’t know but what they are taught through learned behavior. Add the polemics and monetary value and we see the bigger picture which lacks admission to historic facts. But your quote indicates this very well. :slight_smile:

I’ve known a few who identify at first only as Christian.

Then if I said something about a certain church in our town, where they attend services, than they’ve said, “Well, I have gone to that church . . . .”

It seems to me the ones who identify that way are the Christians who believe in the personal relationship with Jesus Christ/salvation through faith as they see that as more important than official membership in a church. But, in addition to that, they may go to a church for fellowship with believers.

that’s because they want to find a church that fits their personal belief system. the church of ‘me’.

and when they find that that church of me doesn’t exist…it gives them a “pass” and an excuse not to go to any church at all. Which is really, IMHO, the point of the comment.
“I don’t go, but I don’t want you to think less of me for it, so I’ll just say I’m a Christian because you can’t attack me for that.”
Sort of nice and tidy. :rolleyes:

Right thats another unfounded claim which seems rather narrow minded in a attempt to tame the Holy Spirit by personal opinion. People who believe in Christ all believe in a personal relationship or they simply don’t really believe. Prayer is communication with the Lord, and its personal as is the Eucharist, scripture, Church etc. If you do this then its impossible to claim you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ. Its a drawn conclusion about religious practice from individuals in Churches based on the individual belief and perhaps a specific group in a specific church which claims “everyone else” outside of themselves do not have a personal relationship with the Savior. In the final outlook, no one is saved till they stand before the Lord on judgement day.

It doesn’t really come from the 1960s, and it isn’t about rejecting authority. There are Christian groups that refused to identify themselves by any other name but Christian or Christ going back years. One example is the Stone-Campbell Movement that gave birth to at least two denominational groups, the Churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The founders of these movements left established churches like the Presbyterian and Baptist churches because they wanted to be known only as Christians.

I don’t see why it has anything to do with bucking authority.
Some Christians just think Jesus’ followers don’t need to be separated into groups and labels…that it defeats the purpose, that some people use such labels to separate people rather than bring them together.

Not sure why gaining a “convert” from other denominations would not be seen as genuine to you.
If a Christian who is Southern Baptist converted to Catholicism…would you not consider that “genuine”? That is also gaining a convert from a Christian denomination.


You hit the nail on the head.

The answers here and others like it make me shake my head in wonder.

I don’t understand why the consensus here seems to be so certain that someone who is non-denominational has commitment, responsibility, authority, fear, and obedience issues.
Do all the people who say this know people who call themselves non-denom and see that they have these general “obedience” problems in other areas in their life and in their personality?
None of the people I know who are non-Denom have these issues at all.

Of course, to get the real answer, you have to hear from these people themselves. I don’t think many on the thread so far understand the thinking and feeling of these non-denominational Christians.

But why doesn’t it occur anyone who believes the above that these Christians:

  1. sincerely listen to what all the different denominations say, and don’t agree with just one of them, so they don’t “pick” one.


  1. they do not want to see divisive groups among Christians, they think it’s detrimental.
    Isn’t that what Catholics hope for, too? To have one Christian faith that everyone follows and not have everyone split up in a zillion different groups?

So many seem to just jump to a negative conclusion, when the reasons for these people may be quite honorable.

There are many reasons–including tolerance and diversity-- why people are choosing to be non-denominational, and it has nothing to do with being disobedient.

here are two of many articles I found on a one-second Google search where sociologists and the like weigh in:




why don’t they just ‘pick’ the church that Jesus started, and be done with it? if they love Him, don’t they want to obey Him?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.