Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Post-denom, uh, What?

I know the term "post-denominationalism" has been out there for a while, but I've ignored it until some recent time when it began to pique my curiosity. It sounds so catchy, it must be true. What does it mean?

My guess is that "denominationalism" would be the concoction of 1) Christians feeling at liberty to start their own church branch without 2) conceding that they and other denominations are (invisibly) separated from each other as the Christian Church.

Then I would guess that "pre-denominationalism", if I can use the term, would be the period before denominationalism came into being. That is, it was the time in the Christian Church when people believed either that they were not possessed of the liberty to start their own church, or if they thought they were, that their new church would not be even invisibly united with other 'branches' of Christianity (hence, that the others were not proper 'branches' of Christianity).

Before I look further, let me simply guess what "post-denominationalism" is. Assuming that it is not a period where Christians have stopped feeling free to start their own church or be in a 'branch', it seems that it would be the period in the Church where Christians have abandoned branch affiliations entirely; where each Christian is his own denomination in the old-speak sense (a few billion points of light in lieu of "a thousand points of light" -- what could be better?). Were this to be possible, if I'm not off-track already, there could be no affiliation, no confession, no doctrinal requirements left in Christianity. "This above all: to thine own self be true" (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3) on every point of theology that one chooses to ponder. Taken to its conclusion, as I've guessed post-denominationalism to mean, it would then be up to each individual who self-identifies as Christian to decide what that means, and how to be "saved" (if he chooses to believe in salvation). Belief in the Bible alone as infallible, the Bible alone, or the Bible at all would be a formulated doctrine larger than the individual, so could not be a required belief on anyone (or else those expecting conformity to this doctrine would be members of an invisible denomination, hence, not post-denominational).

Now, let me see if I can validate or refute my guess at the meaning of this term.

One helpful article from one David Parker (which I note has -coincidentally- a very similar title to that of this post) describes post-denominationalism. He tells us, "This word was defined by the Queensland Baptist General Superintendent, Dr David Loder, at the 2001 Convention as a "mindset" that focuses on "exploration, extending the barriers, and experimentation"[.] This results in people changing church allegiance regularly, or even going to various "churches on rotation rather than sticking with one". In short, he said, it seems that "the 'old rules' are out the window and 'new rules' are being formulated.""

Others describe post-denominationalism similarly as a period of free spirituality over conformity to religious institutions, as a time of freedom to pick and choose between church styles and forms, as the absence of loyalty to the denomination of one's youth, etc. I was humored by the Wiki entry on postdenominationalism, which gives us ten "common doctrinal point" of the post-denominational. That sounds, uh, a bit like an invisible denomination to me (otherwise known as "non-denominational"). If I don't believe that "The true Church is the Body of Christ on Earth", am I out of the post-denominational movement? Where does that leave me? I think the only 'post' left would be post-Christian.

Very well, then, people don't seem pumped up to parade post-denominationalism in my semi-nihilistic terms. I still think it's where we're headed: a few billion points of light.


Anonymous said...

"I still think it's where we're headed..."

I think it is inevitable. Every day inches us closer to the Second Coming.

I once read a discussion between a self-avowed satanist and a priest. The discussion revealed something that I had already come to believe: a real satanist doesn't worship the devil in the same way that a Christian [ideally] worships God. A satanist worships the devil only in so much as they "receive" something in return. There is worship, but it is a traitorous worship. They admire and venerate the devil for his rebellion against God, but they look to him more as a greater "equal" of sorts.

In other words, true satanism, in its purest form, is worship of self... Narcissism (Ayn Rand, and those "philosophers" she followed that sprung from Renaissance and Revolutionary mindset are composers of the Anti-Gospel).

The so-called "post-denominationalism" movement is the setting for the Anti-Church from which will probably spring the Anti-Christ. It is this DYI Gospel that has its Genesis in the Garden of Eden... man grasping at godhood. Under the guise of worshipping Christ, it is actually worship of self. It is satanism in its pure form.

I wonder if I'm being too harsh or if I'm accurately calling a spade a spade?

Kim said...

Yeeks! Let's hope it causes people to seek the roots of their faith instead. That's what happened to me.

George Weis said...


I believe there is just a total deconstruction happening in our world. Some in seeking to flee the grip of systems (in this case denoms), which they feel they received an undesirable branding of sorts, are hopping all around the place. For some it is a quest centered on SELF. "Where do I want to be?" "Who do I want to be?" and usually it seems the answer is "Anywhere, and anyone but where I came from, and who they TOLD me I am". Unfortunately, by either becoming completely independent, they cause a micro-denomination... a CHURCH OF ONE so to speak.

On the other hand, you have those who are simply asking all the questions they can, to either affirm or reject what they have always taken for granted. For some, this quest leads into deep theological and historical questions... that is where you are, and me following behind. Many on this quest find themselves in a much older church, and you know that already.

I cannot condemn the entirety of this movement. I feel that to some degree if no questions were asked, the world would stagnate. The result of this will be a decline for the most part, but possibly an incline for some. Some will become increasingly more devoted through the process.

All in all our culture is SELF FOCUSED. That is 100% worldly, and opposed to the desire Christ has for those who are called by His name. We should ask questions, but hopefully there will be an increase of those who ask with hearts that desire the whole truth, rather than hearts that want to shake off old labels only to replace them with new ones, which will only eventually shackle them and future generations.(whoa... long sentence).

Amidst all of this, the Lord is holding His flock. He knows His own (wait, I know there will be a majorly Catholic response to this) and He will be with them until the end. I pray we don't forget that amidst our own journeys. Sometimes our digging for truth can become an idol of sorts, and we need to regain focus on the One who has called us from darkness to His glorious light.


Gil Garza said...

It is true that laity are less likely to be loyal to a particular denomination because of a lack of fundamental catechesis or because of an increased consumerist and cafeteria mentality.

It is also true that denominations have dramatically shifted their truth propositions in the past 35 years. This shift makes it very difficult for the informed lay person to distinguish brand identity from one denomination to another. This also explains the independent (so-called nondenom) movement. Independent Christian brands are insulated from the external tektonic shifts of the national brands. Brand stability is a highly valued commodity in the market of Christian ideas.

If Coke tasted more and more like Pepsi which tasted more and more like RC Cola which tasted more like Dr. Pepper which tasted more like Barqs folks would naturally be less loyal to brand names than to flavor.

When denominations change their truth propositions in such a dramatic and frequent manner, post-denominationalism is just another way of describing truth seeking.

Rene'e said...

Just Another Denomination?

To all who have contemplated entering the Catholic Church:

You must either be crazy, or led by the Holy Spirit.

Who in their right mind, would want to belong to a Church, that is hated by so many?
Including their own family and friends.
Who would want to belong to a Church, which requires repentance and commitment from their members, both before entering and reentering?

A Church that requires we return insult with Charity, and forgive our enemies.
A Church who gave us, the Word of God (Bible)
A Church that is hated or severely disliked by most of the world and other Christian denominations.
A Church that is spit upon by some.
A Church that is persecuted.
A Church that has been betrayed by those within her own following.
A Church that is crucified by all, because of claiming Authority, and thereby being declared blasphemous to God.

Sound familiar?

A Church that has overcome these things to still have life within her.

But most of all a Church which no one can give an exact name & date from any history book, of the person who started her.

Yes, you must be crazy.

God Bless you always,

Principium unitatis said...


Postdenominationalism is, in my opinion, the continued outworking of individualism, shedding the institutional vestiges of Catholicism that were carried into Protestantism in the 16th century. We don't remember this anymore, but in our grandparents' generation, people used to claim that their denomination was the one true Church. That was very common. But individualism by its very nature tends toward fragmentation and disunity. The only alternative to individualism is, in my opinion, apostolic succession, as I discussed here last year.

I agree with commenter "anonymous" above about where things are headed, and self-worship. There is an inevitable conflict between the self-worshippers and the God-worshippers, just as there was in heaven when one third of the angels rebelled. Of course, now, many self-worshipers can be and are being "snatched from the flames", by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That is part of our task. But that task is made more difficult by the divisions between Christians, because it is difficult for people to sort through all the competing Christian claims.

I think we are on the eve of (or already into) a very significant social shift, brought about in part by the new media. We're simply bypassing the World Council of Churches, and reconciling Christians of various traditions at the grass-roots level. And this has a multiplier effect; we'll see it spread as we each continue to pass on the truth to our friends and relatives and neighbors (geographical or electronic).

But there is a kind of unity on the other side as well; it is a parasitic unity. It is united against the Church; that is what unifies it. Hence it is rightly designated "Anti-Church", for that is its essence, i.e. opposition to the Church. There are signs of this opposition coalescing in many places. And the greater this opposition, the more apparent it will be to Christians of various traditions that finding and achieving unity is essential.

"A house divided against itself will not stand." (Matthew 12:25)

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Good points by everyone on an interesting post. Yes, I take major offense at people who change their denomination as often as they change their underwear.

The Christian faith in principle, is a monolithic faith that was established as a visible community on Earth in the first century A.D. by a band of fearful Jews who only came to life and "turned the world upside down" after the ressurection and appearence of their once-dead Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a short clip of this historical faith,


(Scroll down to the bottom left video entitled "Epic").

R.E. Aguirre