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Old 06-07-2011, 09:39 AM   #1
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default The Non-Denominational Trap

"Trap" - I know; that's a harsh word. I don't like to use it, because I worry that I may offend good Christians brothers and sisters here who certainly mean well... but I feel it's the word I must use. Please let me explain why:

Have you ever read CS Lewis' book "Mere Christianity"? It is a book transcribed from a series of radio messages he was asked to deliver to the people of Britain at the tail end of WWII. CS Lewis was asked to present his Christian faith, to evangelize the people and give them cause for hope. CS Lewis knew that we are to "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for the reason of the hope that is in you", and so, Praise the Lord, he testified - and I encourage all to listen to what this brother shared: http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/apologetics/mere- christianity/cs-lewis-mere-christianity-toc.php

From his chapter "Two Notes"
Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body-different from one another and each contributing what no other could. When you find yourself wanting to turn your children, or pupils, or even your neighbours, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that. You and they are different organs, intended to do different things. On the other hand, when you are tempted not to bother about someone else's troubles because they are "no business of yours," remember that though he is different from you he is part of the same organism as you. If you forget that he belongs to the same organism as yourself you will become an Individualist. If you forget that he is a different organ from you, if you want to suppress differences and make people all alike, you will become a Totalitarian. But a Christian must not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist.

I feel a strong desire to tell you-and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me-which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs-pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.


I believe CS Lewis saw something here that many of us miss - and that is this principle of how Satan operates against the Church.

We have grown to have a great dislike for 'religion' (which I think for clarities sake I should define here as: 'an organized set of rulesfor worship, with a hierarchy, a set of traditions, customs and ceremonies used to reach God in place of each man's personal relationship with God'). Religion, defined this way, I think we ought to dislike. But we are not the first people or generation to rally against religion. Did you know that?

I referred in an earlier post here to the Plymouth Brethren, a group from whom Watchman Nee borrowed much of his theology. Do you know who they were, and how they were established? Do you know by what principles they met and fellowshipped? Do you know what became of them?

For those who don't know, the Plymouth Brethren were Christians who, at least at first, felt they ought take no name. They stood against denominationalism, and met with ALL who called Christ Lord - no matter from which 'church' they came. They recognized that Christ doesn't require either membership or lack of membership in a 'local group' - He requires a personal relationship with Him, one that leads to a living relationship - a genuine sacrifice of the believer on behalf of his Lord. God used the Plymouth Brethren, and they exemplified beautifully the Church of Philadelphia; the Church of Brotherly Love.

...Soon though, far too soon, there arose from their spirit of non-denominationalism, a spirit of anti-denominationalism. Sound the same? It isn't. There's a difference. One implies 'no membership required', and the other 'no membership desired'. What was originally a group of free-fellows in Christ became a group that proudly called itself "the Exclusive Brethren". They said, "if you want to meet with us, you better get the heck out of that apostate denom your in and submit to our teachings and rulings, because only - ONLY we, have the high truths." Does that sound familiar to your ears? It should. And let me say that it is as true in our faith today as it was 2000 years ago: "All roads lead to Rome". That's right; what the Brethren wound up saying was the exact same thing the Catholics had been saying for more than a thousand years: that they alone were God's unique expression, the Only instrument of His move on the Earth today... that His authority was given uniquely to them. What a sad sad story saints, to see the same errors occur again and again and again and again, like a scratched record on an endless loop. True Believers, moved by the Spirit to give themselves to Christ attract followers. Followers start new movements in the name of such men, and while these movements might be born in genuine Christian faith, and may demonstrate selfless love for Christ and His Body, they soon turned back inward (often within a single generation or less) to yet another new system made to enslave men to an idea, an ideology, or an organization... and all for personal power and profit.

"Religion", as we've defined it here, is not unique to one branch or group of Christianity or another. It's not something that's taught either - it's something that is actually inherant in man; it's a part of our Adamic nature. That's why religion isn't just found in 'Christendom' - it's world-wide! That's why there's a Shintoism, a Buddhism, a whole lot of Paganism's... Islam, even Atheism - they're all mens' ways of dealing with an environment he can't control - explaining it away and rejecting the truth which is right before ALL OF US.

Do you agree with the definition of Religion I've given here? If so, then do you not see how religious LSM really is? Are there not set customs in place from which you would be branded aberrant if you did not follow them? How have you been taught to pray? Certainly not as Christ taught:

Matthew 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

How have you been taught to meet? Would you dare to sit in a row rather than a circle? Does it make a difference to Him?

When have you been taught to stand? Would you stand and tell an elder he was wrong, if you felt convicted that he was, or would you sit meekly by and quench the Spirit?

What have you been taught to share? Would you dare to share from a brother or sisters work if it disagree with LSM theology? Have you read - really read - the works of those saints that do disagree with LSM theology? I don't mean differ on the fundamentals of the Faith, I mean differ on the points of interpretations - the interpretations that always come to define any particular group.

What have you been told to read? You are told that Nee stood "on the shoulders of all the saints that came before him, and Lee stood on Nee" - but have you read the works of these others upon whom Lee claimed to stand? If you have, you will see that these others do not, in fact, agree completely with Lee's theology... and some differ radically. I believe Nee himself differed radically from Lee (although others disagree, I invite you to read "The Normal Christian Church Life" and hear Nee's side of that story yourself). Lee may have taken an idea here or an idea there, but he did not simply take everything saints who came before him said and 'boil it down' or 'crystallize' it; he took what he liked and left the rest... constructing his own theology in order to set up his own unique ministry, and gather to himself his own little flock.

How have you been told to sing? Do you know that the 'denominations' do not sing the songs of their 'founders' exclusively? They do not take treasured hymns penned by ancient saints and bend and twist them into the words of their own founder's ministry. No, they cherish what the Spirit spoke through these ones, and would never turn an "Amazing Grace" into a "Tree of Life". They still sing to His Glory, and not to the glory they believe has been promised to them.

With whom have you been told to gather? Are you told to drive umpteen miles to a meeting hall halfway across town because only there is the real expression of the church in your city? How religious! Unless you are living in Mecca, you had better believe that there are many genuine Saints all around you - at different stages of growth, yes, but genuine children of God undoubtedly. Do NOT forsake gathering together with them.

What have you been told to wear? What did Christ and His disciples wear? Were they not reviled as itinerants who wandered without a place to lay their heads and with little more than the clothes on their backs? Did Christ believe this effected their testimony? That they could not bear adequate witness for Him if they looked like "slobs"? If you find that in Scripture, let me know - I have not seen it.

Where have you been told to celebrate the Lord's Table, Supper, or communion? Would you dare to do it in your home with fellow believers, in order to fulfill that which Christ Himself commanded ("This do in rememberance of Me?" - Luke 22:19 Or do you believe that you first must be 'recognized' by Anaheim as an official locality before you can partake of that particular sacriment?

Brothers and Sisters, there is no field of wheat amidst whom tares have not also been sown. Oh, the harvest isn't yet, so you may have a lot of trouble telling where those tares are; and don't try to root them out or you may do damage to good wheat - but you'd better believe they're there. You should also know that in every flock of sheep there are a few wolves in costume. Christ said it was so, and I can testify it is what I've seen myself.

We have said, as other groups have, "We - Christians all - are the Body of Christ"; but do we believe that in our hearts, if we counsel every Christian we meet to drop his fellowship with those with whom the Lord has placed him in favour of fellowship with us, or only those like us?

1 Corinthians 12:17-20 "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body."

Whatever you do, brothers and sisters, don't think that because you've purged a denomination from your fellowship that you've purged religion from you. In fact, by rejecting fellowship with others based on affiliation, and not based on genuine Christian faith, you've expressed religiousness. As Watchman Nee once said "When you say 'You are in a denomination, you are sectarian, we are not in a denomination, and therefore we cannot meet with you' You yourself have become sectarian."

Now; as for those tares: Use discernment - and you will find they are very evident. For one, they will display no fruit of the spirit... Galatians 5:22-26 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Contending with such as these is fruitless. They offer strife and opinion but nothing else; and they clap their hands over their ears to keep from hearing more. Pray for them, by all means, for their hard-heartedness can only be softened by God's gentle mercy.

Titus 3:10-11 "Reject a fractious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned."

At the same, remember the balance that is required - that not all those who disagree with you are fractious; they may well be genuine saved Believers in Christ who have seen something we have not, or who have not yet seen something we already have. Can we be certain we are correctly identifying the speck in their eye if our own is not clear?

I was ever touched by Mark 9:38-40
"John said, 'Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we forbad him, because he has not been following us.' Jesus replied, 'Do not forbid him, for no one doing a miracle in my name can quickly speak evil of me. He who is not against us is for us'"

To say that "I speak for the Lord because I follow this ministry, and you do not" is exactly what the Lord rebuked John for. You need to understand, just as John did, that He who is not against us is for us.

We are keen to avoid the error of organized, insitutionalized religion. Let's not now go and make that our new institution. And let's also not prejudge every Christian by his affiliation with any such institution. Let's discern the tree by it's fruit.

In Christ,

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Old 06-07-2011, 04:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Non-Denominational Trap

I'd just like to make a few comments the Lewis quotes, Individualism v Institutionalism or something along that theme.

Currently I'm not having any face to face interaction with Christians. But I do appreciate forums like this...not all the time... it helps in the re-integration of one's psyche.

I'm definitely an atheist with respect to Witness Lee's God - that god is dead to me. The God he presents is emotionally disturbed, 'the son is the father' plus 'Christ, the son wants to marry His Bride' = An incestuous god. Right now, I'm not interested in believing any self-existing gods - 'cos they're liars - they do require your support for Their existence. If there is God, I'm taking some time out from relating to him, because in Lee's scam, I lost sense of who I am. Who am I? is just as important as "who are you, lord?" Let God believe in Himself for a change.

Sorry I've already gone off course, I can't resist the urge to Leebash now and again. Where was I...

Ind v Ins. one of dem olive oil luving philosophers said that we are at odds with that with which we constantly associate.

Anyway better leave it there, 'cos I don'ts want to become a target for zealous fundimentals, seeing that I has bin atheist-tized. That's all we need right? another red under the bed. And you uncle samites thought you won da cold war?

Well this past year I bin baptising myself liberally with that lefty liberal spirit of new atheist literature ( I know, I know y'all think he come hear to propagandize us). Well it ain't so.

Lately I've wearying myself silly with anxious concern that I may be trying too hard to be an atheist - read books to purge myself of LC garlic. Scrupulosity, that's it, an almost psychotic concern with having the right beliefs in order for me to fit in, I lie, in order for me to be a gaping A-hole like McNulty, a character from The Wire.

I'm always trying to have the right reasonable beliefs in order that I may be super righteous. but I always end up 'killing the the thing I love' and persecuting dem hypocrits - if only my bull**** detector wasn't so sensitive, god if I could have one that didn't work, i'd be able to drink rivers of stinking BS and not drown. Alas I ain't no BB.

I didn't mean to ramble.

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Old 06-08-2011, 07:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Non-Denominational Trap

NFL

First, this is a little much to deal with. A lot of thoughts that are not entirely interconnected. But all valid and worth considering.

Two things stuck out to me. And they come from the beginning.

First, Lewis characterizes so much of the division of Christian from Christian in terms of pairs — opposites. An “us and them” mentality. And everyone expects “them” to beat a path to “our” door because we are simply right and they, collectively, are simply wrong. At some level, that is I Corinthians 1 through 4 in a nutshell. They were fighting over which teacher to follow. Now the fight is over a whole host of things from Calvinism v Arminianism to women’s roles in the church, to whether and how to count “apostolic succession.” And right in the middle of this are (well, were) Nee and Lee with their new alternative “this is it.” You can argue that Nee wasn’t so dogmatic, and you would be right. But he believed that everyone should come to him. He just didn’t condemn those who did not. He left that for God to sort out.

The other is the use of the term “religion.” You may or may not have seen one of my rants on this topic, but here is an extremely shortened version. The definition of religion that you supply is one of many definitions. And, as you say, it is worthy of at least some derision. But the problem is that once you (not you personally) start attacking “religion,” it seems that all uses of the word are swept in and legitimate religion is attacked, or redefined as fitting into that poor definition. The LRC’s attack is one of the more extreme versions. They went so far with it that since the term is used positively by James in his letter, then James must not be according to God’s New Testament economy and therefore simply an example of what not to do. (That was not his only sin. He also mentioned “works” in a positive way. As did Jesus. Many times.)

Every assembly, whether a stand-alone or associated with others, has traditions, patterns, ways. They all have their form of liturgy. (Just not always of the kind that we call liturgy.) Some willfully try to change the atmosphere, or liturgy, as often as possible. And the result is a different kind of tradition — one of the unexpected.

The goal is not to “do it right” but to “just do it.” The familiarity of a well-worn path is, for many, the signal to clear out the distractions and turn the focus to Christ. This is true whether you are talking about a church meeting or your quiet time. Yet the same well-worn path can be a way to clear out everything and sleep through as you “do the motions.” But the constant shake-up of a willfully-changing pattern is often a distraction from its purpose, becoming the focus rather than what is behind the pattern — Christ. The problem is not how “religion” is done — Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, independent, free-group — but how the participants relate to Christ in the process. There are Lutherans doing their solemn, reverent liturgy that are relating to Christ better than some in their charismatic, arms-in-the-air worship. Yet for others, it is the other way around. Some forms help some and hinder others. And those hindered by one form are helped by another. We can correctly argue that a more focused person could properly “experience” Christ in any of them. And yet do we do any favors by dictating that we all be so good at it that we must all be one way or suffer the consequences?

That is how the LRC would have it. And too many of the others, just not in as adamant a way.

Now I admit that I do not meet with the closest group. When virtually all transportation for many was by foot, that would have been the norm. And that closest meeting probably took on some of the characteristics of it participants. But that is not the case today. I do not despise those that I pass by on the way — First Baptist Coppell, Coppell Church of Christ (actually only two along a four-mile journey to Irving Bible Church, a little odd for the Bible belt). And yes, I do not meet in the same city as where I now live. But I did live in Irving for almost 18 years and continue my association with the only post-LRC place I have ever called “home.” It is not perfect. But it is more open to all Christians and one with them than the LRC ever was. And it is not alone.

Religion, at its best, is alive and well. And serving Christ to Christians at a rate faster than McDonalds is serving burgers.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Non-Denominational Trap

Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
First, this is a little much to deal with. A lot of thoughts that are not entirely interconnected. But all valid and worth considering.


Agreed brother, I should take more time to draw the lines and make the connections - I allow myself to be more hurried than I ought to be when I feel moved to post, and consequently could honestly do with an editor! ...But thank you for reading and considering as you have.

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Lewis characterizes so much of the division of Christian from Christian in terms of pairs — opposites. An “us and them” mentality.


Not so brother, Lewis does not at all espouse one 'flavour' of Christianity (if that is a proper word for it) over another - an "us" and "them" - on the contrary, his list of opposites are not opposites of Christians, but opposites of errors... We walk a narrow path, not a broad way, and the Christian life is a life of balance (and I could provide many examples but I would rather take the time to do so in a separate post if time allows). Regardless: In the Preface to his book "Mere Christianity", C.S. Lewis states:

" The reader should be warned that I offer no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian "denominations." You will not learn from me whether you ought to become an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic.

This omission is intentional (even in the list I have just given the order is alphabetical). There is no mystery about my own position. I am a very ordinary layman of the Church of England, not especially "high," nor especially "low," nor especially anything else. But in this book I am not trying to convert anyone to my own position. Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times. I had more than one reason for thinking this. In the first place, the questions which divide Christians from one another often involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts.

I should have been out of my depth in such waters: more in need of help myself than able to help others. And secondly, I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold. So long as we write and talk about them we are much more likely to deter him from entering any Christian communion than to draw him into our own. Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son. Finally, I got the impression that far more, and more talented, authors were already engaged in such controversial matters than in the defence of what Baxter calls "mere" Christianity. That part of the line where I thought I could serve best was also the part that seemed to be thinnest. And to it I naturally went."

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The definition of religion that you supply is one of many definitions.


That is exactly true, and it is precisely why I supplied my own definition to the term "religion", and then asked if we were agreed upon the definition I provided. By so doing, my hope was that no one could think I was saying any more or any less than I actually was about the matter.

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do we do any favors by dictating that we all be so good at it that we must all be one way or suffer the consequences?


Again, agreed brother: We do not. The Lord has placed each member where they belong for what they need and for what they need to do: If we try to force others to conform to what we believe is the "proper way", we become Totalitarian. If we reject them or ignore them because we don't feel that in their differences we can relate to them, then we become "Individualists". This was C.S. Lewis' point too.

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Now I admit that I do not meet with the closest group.
Ah, I think I understand where your consternation above comes from: I did not at all mean to suggest that we ought, as Christians, to simply meet with whatever group we were geographically closest too - rather, I was calling attention to the fact that many whom I have know in LSM will travel upwards of 60 miles every Sunday to meet in the Anaheim approved LSM locality, RATHER than meet with Christians in their "neck of the woods" - which does, of course, make them a sect (and not at all about locality, as it were).

There are practical considerations to meeting with Christians close by home. My family and I moved to Three Hills, Alberta last month. Praise the Lord, it is where we've been fellowshipping for the past four months, and a way was opened to come down. An hour and a half drive on the highway every Sunday was too much. Living here affords us the opportunity to meet outside of Sundays, and practically serve and build relationships in the community. That said, we didn't just 'choose' Three Hills, and we tried meeting at a number of different 'churches' in Innisfail prior to following the Lord's leading for us here... and I'm not putting in a plug for others to come up here and join us - the Lord has a place for each of us, and let us celebrate that wherever it may be!


Your brother in Christ,

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Old 06-09-2011, 06:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Non-Denominational Trap

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Not so brother, Lewis does not at all espouse one 'flavour' of Christianity (if that is a proper word for it) over another - an "us" and "them" - on the contrary, his list of opposites are not opposites of Christians, but opposites of errors... We walk a narrow path, not a broad way, and the Christian life is a life of balance (and I could provide many examples but I would rather take the time to do so in a separate post if time allows).
And I was not trying to say that Lewis said what I said. It was to me, within the LRC context, a reasonable extension of his remarks.

While we do walk a narrow path, much of what is being discussed — particulars about what aspect of belief is predominant, minimal, or in some balance — is undertaken in the arguments between Christians in such a manner that they won't agree to be one as they continue their discussions. There is definitely error involved. But it is not as much whether there is or is not truth (even at some level) in their position but rather the error is in how the debate has been undertaken. And it has been undertaken from the position that true Christians think like me and nominal, or even false ones do not.
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That is exactly true, and it is precisely why I supplied my own definition to the term "religion", and then asked if we were agreed upon the definition I provided. By so doing, my hope was that no one could think I was saying any more or any less than I actually was about the matter.
And if you note, I did not suggest that you were doing what I was talking about.

But the problem is a little like talking about cults. There are many flavors and varieties of cults. At some level (the lowest level) simply being Christian is to be in a cult. But when we throw out the word, the least that people can think of are the Moonies, and most go straight to Jim Jones or David Koresh.

The thing is that we are talking about one of many definitions of religion. So rather than just say "religion," it is better to specify what it is that is being talked about. And you did that by supplying your definition. But once we are three posts beyond your definition, "religion" in all its possible definitions becomes the bogeyman in many people's minds because the particular definition becomes remote. So rather than use a word that is rich in positive meaning, and even used in scripture in that manner, find one that is more pointed to the errors or conditions that we seek to actually discuss. Words like dogma or phrases like empty ritual might be better. But even "empty ritual" begins to presume that ritual is simply empty when that is not the case.

I guess what I am trying to say is that besides pointing out the precise errors, generalizing too often creates the kind of polar thinking that Lewis refers to as error. It would be much better if we sought to understand our differences. To find what is right about both reverence in stillness and in exuberance in which neither negates the other, but is rather appreciated as the many ways that man stops to worship, contemplate, praise, and revere God.
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Ah, I think I understand where your consternation above comes from: I did not at all mean to suggest that we ought, as Christians, to simply meet with whatever group we were geographically closest too - rather, I was calling attention to the fact that many whom I have know in LSM will travel upwards of 60 miles every Sunday to meet in the Anaheim approved LSM locality, RATHER than meet with Christians in their "neck of the woods" - which does, of course, make them a sect (and not at all about locality, as it were).
And I was throwing out my drive past a couple of other assemblies as a point that was both counter to the LRC thing of disrespecting the many that they pass by and counter to any suggestion that we should merely attend the closest.

But in keeping with my brief mention of the variety of ways to worship, above, it would also be better if we could come to a place where we were able to worship with those of a different preference without trying to "discern" them. I have a friend who moved to a small town (population about 500) in a valley between mountain ranges in Colorado. After being raised Baptist and leading worship in a growing (and now large) nondenominational assembly, he is now the volunteer worship leader in the Lutheran church in town.

And the real point of this discussion is in relationship to the LRC. While it may be that even a lot of the rest of Christianity has problems in these areas, they are zingers for the LRC. We all need to rethink our positions such that we come down more on the side of liberality when it comes to those that don't believe exactly as we do. I'm not talking about whether Jesus was God or some other nearly heresy. We need to understand true tolerance in which we hold to what we hold to without forcing others to follow suit or face our wrath — or disdain.
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Old 06-14-2011, 05:06 AM   #6
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Default Non-denominational Christianity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-den...l_Christianity

Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero argues that non-denominationalism hides the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that drove the division of Christianity into denominations in the first place behind a veneer of "Christian unity." He argues that non-denominationalism encourages a descent of Christianity—and indeed, all religions—into comfortable "general moralism" rather than being a focus for facing the complexities of churchgoers' culture and spirituality.

My (cynical) take:

Non-denominational fringe groups make mainstream christianity look respectable. As long as the fringes provide a steady stream of folks into the mainstream, the mainstream will, on the one hand (secretly?) be glad that they exist as a source of potential members, on the other hand, people like Hank Hanegraff, will pay lip service to concern for cults whilst their eyes stay focussed on the $.

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Old 06-14-2011, 06:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: Non-denominational Christianity

Like so many generalizations, Mr. Prothero's comments cast dispersions that may fit a few onto a whole that is neither studied not acknowledged. In both non-denominationalism, and in fundamentalism in general, you will find groups that are an embarrassment to most of those within the categories you name. But for every group retreating to the mountains of Montana, or the open expanses of Texas, there are myriads for whom that kind of rhetoric does not fit. For every group like that wacko Baptist bunch from Kansas protesting at soldier's funerals, there are thousands wishing they decided to pick something besides the Bible to use to support their hate and prejudice.

Non-denominationalism is too broad a spectrum to lay any particular evil upon.

But to say that non-denominationalism is just giving lip service to Christian unity is generally a false statement. It is in the umbrella of a group that has particular beliefs, but does not exclude those who hold other beliefs that Christian unity begins, at least on a small scale. From this, the unity that is displayed within such groups becomes their approach to unity with other groups. It does not require others to agree on everything. Instead they agree on the mission of the church and leave the doctrines aside.

I think that outsiders like to find fault with the church and look for examples to prop up as if the poster-child for their opinion. And for those of us who were within one of the aberrant groups that does not really believe in unity outside of theirs own walls, we still have a little of that knee-jerk reaction — even if our current leanings are far different, even to atheism. The Christian life and community is not an "us v them" world. It only appears that way when you were deep within one of those groups. Or if you are some kind of outsider looking to throw stones at all Christians by finding fault in one.

We surely all have faults. But this kind of generalization colors everyone with the faults of a few.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:38 AM   #8
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Default Re: Non-denominational Christianity

I am a strong proponent of the idea that you control what you can control and leave the rest to the Lord. I am responsible for how I received other believers and for where I choose to meet. I am unable to tell others how they should meet, I am unable to change history, I am unable to change a lot of things. So, instead I see that the Catholic Church is something of the Lord that I can learn from, likewise the denominations, and the free groups, etc.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by 11of101 View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-den...l_Christianity

Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero argues that non-denominationalism hides the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that drove the division of Christianity into denominations in the first place behind a veneer of "Christian unity." He argues that non-denominationalism encourages a descent of Christianity—and indeed, all religions—into comfortable "general moralism" rather than being a focus for facing the complexities of churchgoers' culture and spirituality.
Eeeeh. Methinks Prothero doth protest too much. General moralism is not that bad a thing to begin with. If the non-denominational movement was questioning the person and work of Christ, and diluting the message of salvation that would be an issue. But except on some fringes I don't see that as a threat. In fact, it is in the community church movement where the truth of the gospel is being proclaimed most vigorously.

Like it or not, the community church movement is largely driven by people who formerly called themselves Baptists and who aren't ashamed of the label, they just choose not to use it. Baptists historically have upheld the truth of the gospel as good as any brand of Christianity.

It sounds like non-denominational Christianity is not doctrinaire enough for Prothero. As to it encouraging ignorance of scripture (a point he further made in Wikipedia), I wonder if he ever considered that division over doctrine (i.g. rank denominationalism) is evidence of ignorance of Scripture. That is, given the choice of the errors of rank denominationalism and rank non-denominationalism, I'll take the latter any day.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Non-Denominational Trap

Well i guess my time of cruisin' the neon-lit streets of non-denominational christianity has come to an end. Maybe, if I gets the urge, I can always nuzzle my weary soul deep in the ample bosom of the Great Whore of Babylon, from whence my journey of faith began.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:40 PM   #11
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I can always nuzzle my weary soul deep in the ample bosom of the Great Whore of Babylon, from whence my journey of faith began.
"In that which each was called; in this let him remain" 1 Cor. ch. 7
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: No Trap Unless You Make It One

Now something about the title of aron's last post is irksome to my sado-masochistised soul that was wiped 40 times less one in the Lord's Re-hijab. It enough to make to unleash the spirit of McNulty on you. So I'm giving you a chance to re-word it b4 old McNulty raises up a storm.
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:30 PM   #13
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Now something about the title of aron's last post is irksome ... I'm giving you a chance to re-word it b4 old McNulty raises up a storm.
The title of an old Jefferson Starship album serves nicely, no?
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