Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Recently it has been brought to my attention that my understanding of the term "nondenomenational" and other understandings of this word may not be synonemous. I plead ignorance and lack of proper research; therefore, improper usage of the term. All my life, nondenomenational was affiliated with the description of an institution or grouping that is not affiliated with a particular denomenation of the Christian faith. This would include such groupings as the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of Christ, Church of God, Pentecostal, Bible Church, Baptist, Methodist, etc. Where my etc. ends the previous list, other understandings see it as just a beginning. I was informed that nondenomenational is a term used to describe ALL RELIGIONS. My statement to the person making this claim was, "oh, you mean like Unitarian." She then, states, "no, because Unitarian is a Christian faith." I decided not to debate this issue with her at the moment because we were pressed for time. I need your feedback. Is nondenomenational a description of all institutions who believe in God as the ultimate Creator and believe Christ to be essential to salvation, yet maintain different approaches to worship, government, and practice? Or is nondenomenational referring to all religious institutions that organize for group worship?


Jeremy said...

A denomination is a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy. Therefore, technically, any "non-denominational" church would be a church (of any faith. It could be the church of scientology, or the church of Satan)that does not have some sort of legal hierarchy or administration. For instance. Southern Baptist Churches are denominational, because we have the Southern Baptist Convention (and state and local conventions, not to mention associations.) But Jerry Seville's church down the road would be considered non-denominational because they are completely autonomous and have no association directly with any other church, or any union of churches which act as a governing body. Does this answer your question?

Jason said...

I had always taken "denomination" to refer to a sub-set of a religion. Christianity is a religion; Hinduism is religion. Within those religions are groups of like-minded believers called "denominations" or "sects" (Uh...huh-huh! I just said "sects"!).

The only way it makes sense to have a "nondenominational" church is if the church is for people who share a common religion. If "nondenominational" means "for anybody from any religion" then a nondenominational church would serve Christians, who believe Christ is the source of salvation; Jews, who don't; and Scientologists, who believe that lizard men travel through time on flying waffles. If one church reaches across all those groups, then religion ceases to have any meaning.