Denominations hide theological and spiritual issues

Posted by Angel Ruiz in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

Stephen Prothero is a professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books on religion in the United States.

He has commented on Christianity on dozens of National Public Radio shows and television shows on CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, MSNBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. He is a regular contributor to USA Today, has also written for the New York Times, for Slate, Salon. com, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal.

Prothero argues in favor of required Bible courses in public schools (to battle the decadence of Christianity that promotes a satisfactory “current moralism”), along with mandatory courses on world religions.

Theologian Dr. Stephen Prothero of Boston University argues that groups that identify themselves as “non/post-denominational” hide the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that led Christianity to split into denominations behind a false appearance of “Christian-Unity”.

He argues that “non/post-denominationalism” fosters a decadence of Christianity and, in fact, promotes a satisfactory “current moralism” rather than an approach to dealing with the complexities of devotees, culture and spirituality.

Prothero further argues that it also comforts the ignorance of the Scriptures, which in turn reduces the knowledge of Christianity in general, and at the same time increases the possibilities of misunderstandings and conflicts between Christian groups.

Prothero says, “I am not a fan of non/post-denominational churches, in fact they can be downright dangerous.” The argument of the non/post-denominational church is that “believers will be free from the margins of a denomination and the hierarchy of leaders who tell them what to do.”

He mentions 5 objections:

1) Members of non/post-denominational churches, in general, are not familiar with the details of what their dogma or creed is. They do not know what are the beliefs that bind the other members of the church. While members may all believe in Christ as their Savior, other important theological areas are never discussed.

For example, “What is your churches doctrine about how to understand and interpret the Bible?” What is your churches doctrine about the sacraments, (ie, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Foot Washing) What is your doctrine … about how to raise children? What is your doctrine … about why people suffer? What is your… doctrine about prayer? If a person Cannot answer these questions, or offer a private interpretation, then a red flag should rise. ”

2) Churches without denomination may not be closely associated with a larger (classical) historical church. However, churches must agree with the basic doctrines, for example the Nicene Creed, which declared the beliefs of Christianity in the third century. While several Evangelical Protestant churches do not recite a creed in the church, they will often have a “Statement of Faith” or a doctrinal manual, and many of their principles will align with the elements of a historical creed. (That does not mean that in minor essentials all denominations will agree, that will not happen, uniformity and unity are two different things; but at least they should agree on the important matters described in the historical creeds.)

3) Churches without denomination are not accountable. If a church is not part of a larger governing body, what happens if a pastor or church departs from biblical truth? Who will take that person or that church to account? Who will serve as a guide or ecclesiastical guide for the pastor or the church? “No one”.

4) Churches without denomination promote a spirit of consumer in the believers. Instead of staying with a church that may be experiencing difficulties, people often change their church in search of a church that is “more comfortable.” This is not to say that there is never a reason to leave a church. However, that consumer spirit is a product of the American mentality of the “capitalist economy”, not of a spiritual truth.

5) Churches without denomination encourage a selfish spirit of comfort. These churches often offer a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging the members to a liberal style of worship style. The idea is to make it look and feel more like the world every day, which will make it easy for people to come and attend services. Personal comfort is a high priority. While recognizing clothes do not make the place holy or profane, my argument is that if the church looks and acts the same as the world, it ceases to be the church. The church is not a place for me to feel satisfied; It is a place for God to be worshiped. It’s not about whether they’re feeding me spiritually or whether I like the music. The question is, is the church is teaching me how to worship God properly?

Ultimately I understand that Christ is the one who unites his church, no matter what type of denomination they belong to.

38 Comments

  • Reply March 26, 2017

    Link Hudson

    Non denominational churches can have boundaries and be against new age, and entire denominations can fall into error.

  • Reply March 26, 2017

    Troy Day

  • Troy Day
    Reply December 30, 2018

    Troy Day

    res16 is our prime example here Terry Wiles

    • Terry Wiles
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Terry Wiles

      I certainly agree with his major points.

      1) Members of non/post-denominational churches, in general, are not familiar with the details of what their dogma or creed is.

      2) Churches without denomination may not be closely associated with a larger (classical) historical church. However, churches must agree with the basic doctrines…

      3) Churches without denomination are not accountable.

      4) Churches without denomination promote a spirit of consumer in the believers.

      5) Churches without denomination encourage a selfish spirit of comfort.

    • Troy Day
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Troy Day

      Terry Wiles THIS ===↓

    • Terry Wiles
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Terry Wiles

      Yes, I saw THIS ===
      There is nothing hidden in Res16

    • Troy Day
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Troy Day

      Sure – why nobody else believes that for a min 🙂

  • Troy Day
    Reply December 30, 2018

    Troy Day

    Theologian Dr. Stephen Prothero of Boston University argues that groups that identify themselves as “non/post-denominational” hide the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that led Christianity to split into denominations behind a false appearance of “Christian-Unity”.

    He argues that “non/post-denominationalism” fosters a decadence of Christianity and, in fact, promotes a satisfactory “current moralism” rather than an approach to dealing with the complexities of devotees, culture and spirituality.

    Terry Wiles Link Hudson I have come to think about something in these last days WHO pays for theological research? WHO secures and gives the grants? The grant giving organization naturally advances its own research – how could it be anything else, since they too report to a board – the very board that establishes the agenda

    If you are part of a think tank sponsored by a denomination it is very probably that the denomination has picked you and paying you to create research that works for the current agenda – just like resolution 16 worked for the AG

    If you produce research contrary to the given agenda you will not be part of the next think tank – I can guarantee you that much. If your church is big enough to secure your financial independence you will probably leave the denomination in due time – just think about it

    which brings us to the question
    What is to be expected from independent theological research AS most theologians I know are ARE indeed in research, book writing, sabbatical sponsored by an organization with FUNDS which sponsors ONLY research that advances its own agenda – now argue THAT

    • Terry Wiles
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Terry Wiles

      Troy Day Your assumptions are not only insulting but they are wrong and boarder on slanderous. Perhaps the only reason you have 30k responses is because of your argumentative position you take on every response and your constant tagging of people so they will respond.

      Just think about it…

    • Troy Day
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Troy Day

      not just my assumptions but Theologian Dr. Stephen Prothero of Boston University too 🙂

    • Terry Wiles
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Terry Wiles

      These are YOUR assumptions I am responding to.

      Terry Wiles Link Hudson I have come to think about something in these last days WHO pays for theological research? WHO secures and gives the grants? The grant giving organization naturally advances its own research – how could it be anything else, since they too report to a board – the very board that establishes the agenda

      If you are part of a think tank sponsored by a denomination it is very probably that the denomination has picked you and paying you to create research that works for the current agenda – just like resolution 16 worked for the AG

      If you produce research contrary to the given agenda you will not be part of the next think tank – I can guarantee you that much. If your church is big enough to secure your financial independence you will probably leave the denomination in due time – just think about it

      which brings us to the question
      What is to be expected from independent theological research AS most theologians I know are ARE indeed in research, book writing, sabbatical sponsored by an organization with FUNDS which sponsors ONLY research that advances its own agenda – now argue THAT

    • Troy Day
      Reply December 30, 2018

      Troy Day

      Terry Wiles not assumption but a conclusion that I have arrived after many years of ministry, teaching and considering the research of a great calling – can you give me an example of 1 organization even secular that will pay for research that is against its agenda? Thank you As for the rest

      Churches without denomination encourage a selfish spirit of comfort. These churches often offer a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging the members to a liberal style of worship style. The idea is to make it look and feel more like the world every day, which will make it easy for people to come and attend services. Personal comfort is a high priority. While recognizing clothes do not make the place holy or profane, my argument is that if the church looks and acts the same as the world, it ceases to be the church. The church is not a place for me to feel satisfied; It is a place for God to be worshiped. It’s not about whether they’re feeding me spiritually or whether I like the music. The question is, is the church is teaching me how to worship God properly?

  • Isara Mo
    Reply December 31, 2018

    Isara Mo

    They not only hide but STIFLE THEM

  • Isara Mo
    Reply December 31, 2018

    Isara Mo

    Who killed Jesus while he was on earthly ministry?
    The religious leaders of the time…
    Who kills the truth of Jesus in today’s world?
    Same old religious system veiled now as denominations..

  • Troy Day
    Reply December 31, 2018

    Troy Day

    Again I ask of a SINGLE example of organization which sponsors studies and research that is critical toward the organization itself – go find one. I have not been able to. Theological research today is funded by organizations that are interested ONLY in theology that advances their cause, agenda and influence – it is only natural

    • Isara Mo
      Reply December 31, 2018

      Isara Mo

      Troy Day It is all man.made…no Jesus there or possibly and probably ANOTHER JESUS..

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 1, 2019

      Troy Day

      what is man made? there is no other Jesus

    • Isara Mo
      Reply January 1, 2019

      Isara Mo

      Denominations are man made..
      The Bible says if a person comes and preaches another gospel, ….another Jesus…

    • Terry Wiles
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Terry Wiles

      The lily foundation works through Grants with Hartford Theological Seminary to sponsor studies and research. I personally witnessed critical data information come in concerning studies being done for denominations. The information was reported to the denominations. One changed their practice based on the information. Another stopped the survey process with no comment.

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lilly foundation is NOT denominational I’ve myself have done some research for them years ago. Even if they provide critical date it gets softened by the time it gets to the denomination – filtered if you will BUT I have no doubt in your words – if so can you post some critical information for review Thanks

  • Link Hudson
    Reply December 31, 2018

    Link Hudson

    Experientially, I. can see his points. But Biblucally, I do not see support for denominations. His comments seem more directed at the seeker sensitive movement. And they seem to xome from the perspective of someone who emphasizes creeds. My guess is most people raised Pentecostal who are not from a creedal church background or have not spent a lot of time in a creedal church visiting relatives, etc. Do not know what the Nicene Creed is and may nit know what the apostle’s creed is.

    • Isara Mo
      Reply December 31, 2018

      Isara Mo

      Link Hudson I have read of the Nicene creed but didnt know there was an ” apostles creed”
      Plse enlighten me on this..

    • Troy Day
      Reply December 31, 2018

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson how can you see it Experientially when you have never had his experience? The guy is from Boston College lab ? In your case I have found it to be profoundly true that

      Members of non/post-denominational churches, in general, are not familiar with the details of what their dogma or creed is. They do not know what are the beliefs that bind the other members of the church. While members may all believe in Christ as their Savior, other important theological areas are never discussed.

      Lots of church hoppers got no clue of the details of what their dogma or creed is For this Terry Wiles is right and I can see Res16 as a credible educational tool for mid-level membership BUT they way is not to shut down the Spirit

    • Link Hudson
      Reply December 31, 2018

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day i was referring to my own experience in international churches.

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 1, 2019

      Troy Day

      I still dont understand – I did not see experience mentioned in the article. Maybe you mean something else

    • Link Hudson
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Link Hudson

      I have seen some aspects of this in some nondenominational churches.

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Troy Day

      I would be interested in learning more about that

  • Paul L. King
    Reply January 2, 2019

    Paul L. King

    I pastored 3 non-denominational churches and I have found that while there are some good things in non-denominational churches, they are a denomination of their own. They have a certain denominational church polity of being independent. I once heard James Robison, a Baptist, say, “if you say Independent Baptist, you have said Independent twice!.” A few non-denom. churches do have accountability, but in my 48 years of ministerial experience, most do not. No denomination is perfect and no non-denominational church is perfect. But I have found both greater support and greater accountability in being a part of a denomination. The Bible does not oppose the idea of “denominations” per se, but it opposes denominationalism or sectarianism. The Bible equivalent of denominations was the 12 tribes of Israel. Even in the earliest church there were 2 denominations–the Jewish Jews and the Hellenistic Jews. Then there was a 3rd–the Gentile Jews. Then each apostle and major leader had their own tribes–Paul, Peter, Apollos, Peter, Thomas, Matthew, James, etc. What Paul opposed was the strife or factionalism, not the different tribes (I Cor chapters 1 and 3)

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Troy Day

      are you aware of some denominational research that is critical toward the denomination and if so can you post it for review Thanks

    • Link Hudson
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Link Hudson

      I went to a nondenominational church that had plural eldership, so there was accountability within the congregation. There are many advantages to this. But decision making was a slow process, partly due to the terrible traffic.

    • Daniel J Hesse
      Reply January 2, 2019

      Daniel J Hesse

      Reach out to Warren Bird at ECFA here http://www.ecfa.org He can advise.

    • Paul L. King
      Reply January 3, 2019

      Paul L. King

      Link Hudson When I was a professor at Oral Roberts University, not a pastor, I attended a non-denominational church much like you describe with a plural eldership but no senior pastor. Yes, it was great for accountability, and mature, but as you say, very slowwwww in decision making. As a result it was a good solid stable church, but little growth. Even though it was “non-denominational,” it really was denominational too (even though they would deny it vigorously) because it was a part of (and leaders in) a “New Testament” church association advocating the plural elder concept–again a denominational polity.

    • Paul L. King
      Reply January 3, 2019

      Paul L. King

      Daniel J Hesse Yes, Warren would know. He has done that kind of research.

    • Troy Day
      Reply January 3, 2019

      Troy Day

      there goes Link again going to YET another church; I’ve count at least 13-15 he has attended in the last 30 years Next, he will be attending pope mass @ the new Jerusalem temple

    • Link Hudson
      Reply January 3, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day I have moved around a lot to different states and I have lived in three countries. I think I went to about 9 schools up through high school, too.

  • Troy Day
    Reply January 3, 2019

    Troy Day

    Paul L. King could denominations be demonized i.e. demon infested – especially their main people in office?

  • Troy Day
    Reply January 3, 2019

    Troy Day

    Terry Wiles I have found most denominations that answer for all denominations barely have answers for their own denomination

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