Nondenominational Christianity

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Nondenominational Christianity (or non-denominational Christianity) consists of churches which typically distance themselves from the confessionalism or creedalism of other Christian communities [1] by not formally aligning with a specific Christian denomination. Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations, but typically adhere to evangelical Protestantism, and are a type of Protestantism. [2] [3] [4]

Simple church Place

The simple church is an Evangelical Christian movement that reinterprets the nature and practice of church.

Confessionalism, in a religious sense, is a belief in the importance of full and unambiguous assent to the whole of a religious teaching. Confessionalists believe that differing interpretations or understandings, especially those in direct opposition to a held teaching, cannot be accommodated within a church communion.

Creed Statement of belief

A creed is a statement of the shared beliefs of community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.

Contents

History

Worship service at Lakewood Church, a nondenominational church, in 2013, in Houston, United States Lakewood worship.jpg
Worship service at Lakewood Church, a nondenominational church, in 2013, in Houston, United States

The first non-denominational churches appeared in the United States in the course of the 20th century, in the form of independent churches. [5] They have experienced significant and continuous growth in the 21st century, particularly in the United States, where they represented the third largest Christian denomination in 2010. [6] [7] [8] In Asia, especially in Singapore and Malaysia, these churches are also more numerous, since the 1990s. [9]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. With an estimated population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in Southeast Asia. The country is situated one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%.

Malaysia Federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, home to large numbers of endemic species.

Characteristics

Worship service at Christ's Commission Fellowship Pasig, a nondenominational church, in 2014, in Pasig, Philippines CCFPasayjf1270 37.JPG
Worship service at Christ's Commission Fellowship Pasig, a nondenominational church, in 2014, in Pasig, Philippines

The first characteristic is that non-denominational churches are not affiliated with a denominational stream of evangelical movements, either by choice from their foundation or because they have detached themselves from their Protestant denomination of origin in their history. [10] However, this doesn't prevent them from working with other churches on specific matters, even those with denominational affiliations; in fact it is quite common.

Nondenominational churches are recognizable from the evangelical movement, even though they are autonomous and have no other formal labels. [11] [12] [13]

The movement is particularly visible in the megachurches. [14] [15]

Megachurch very big church within some Protestant Christianity; specifically, one having 2000 or more people in average weekend attendance

A megachurch is a church with an unusually large membership, especially one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity and also offering a variety of educational and social activities. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research defines a megachurch as any Protestant Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance.

The neo-charismatic churches often use the term nondenominational to define themselves. [16]

The Neo-charismaticmovement is a movement within evangelical protestant Christianity. The Neo-charismatic movement is considered to be the "third wave" of the charismatic Christian tradition which began with Pentecostalism, and was furthered by the evangelical charismatic movement. Neo-charismatics are now believed to be more numerous than the first and second wave categories, combined, as a result of the growth of postdenominational and independent charismatic groups. As of 2002, there were estimated to be approximately 295 million adherents or participants in the neo-charismatic movement.

Churches with a focus on seekers are more likely to identify themselves as non-denominational. [17]

Criticism

Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero argues that nondenominationalism hides the fundamental theological and spiritual issues that initially drove the division of Christianity into denominations behind a veneer of "Christian unity". He argues that nondenominationalism 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. Prothero further argues that it also encourages ignorance of the Scriptures, lowering the overall religious literacy while increasing the potential for inter-religious misunderstandings and conflict. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a Protestant Christian movement that emphasises direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Charismatic Christianity is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles as an everyday part of a believer's life. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or Renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement and Neo-charismatic movement. According to the Pew Research Center, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 584 million or a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians in 2011.

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, meaning the large majority, all self-describe as churches, whereas many Protestant denominations self-describe as congregations or fellowships. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Charismatic movement trend of historically mainstream congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostalism.

The charismatic movement is the international trend of historically mainstream Christian congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostalism. Fundamental to the movement is the use of spiritual gifts (charismata). Among mainline Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.

Mainline Protestant Older, more establishment Protestant denominations

The mainline Protestant churches are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contrast in history and practice with evangelical, fundamentalist, and charismatic Protestant denominations. Some make a distinction between "mainline" and "oldline", with the former referring only to denominational ties and the latter referring to church lineage, prestige and influence. However, this distinction has largely been lost to history and the terms are now nearly synonymous. These terms are also increasingly used in other countries for the same purpose of distinguishing between the so-called oldline and neo-Protestants.

Protestantism in the Philippines

Protestants makes up nearly 11% of the Filipino population. It arrived in the Philippines during the late 19th and the early 20th century when American missionaries began to arrive in the country in the advent of the American rule. They include a wide variety of Pentecostal, Evangelical and independent churches. Some denominations were founded locally by indigenous people.

Hartford Seminary

Hartford Seminary is a non-denominational theological college in Hartford, Connecticut.

Protestantism Division within Christianity, originating with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church

Protestantism is the second-largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Protestantism in Mexico

Protestants and Evangelicals are two of the most numerous religious associations in Mexico after the Roman Catholic majority. In Mexico, there are many denominations from virtually all doctrinal backgrounds, the largest of which are: Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostals and a group of unaffiliated non-denominational charismatic congregations. In the census, some of these congregations and their followers are grouped as "Neo-Charismatic", others are grouped as "Evangelicals".

Protestantism is the largest grouping of Christians in the United States with its combined denominations collectively accounting for about half the country's population or 150 million people. Simultaneously, this corresponds to around 20% of the world's total Protestant population. America has the largest number of Protestants of any country in the world. Baptists account for about one third of American Protestants. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest single Protestant denomination in the United States with one-tenth of American Protestants.

Pentecostalism in Australia

Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. It emerged from 19th century precursors between 1870 and 1910, taking denominational form from c. 1927. From the early 1930s, pentecostal denominations multiplied, and there are now several dozen, the largest of which relate to one another through conferences and organizations such as the Australian Pentecostal Ministers Fellowship. The Australian Christian Churches, formerly known as the Australian Assemblies of God, is the oldest and longest lasting Pentecostal organization in Australia. The AOG/ACC is also the largest Pentecostal organization in Australia with over 300,000 members in 2018. Until 2018, Hillsong Church was one of 10 megachurches in Australia associated with the ACC that have at least 2,000 members weekly. According to the church, over 100,000 people attend services each week at the church or one of its 80 affiliated churches located worldwide.

Pentecostalism in Ethiopia is the practice of various Pentecostal forms of Christianity—often included within the evangelical category of P'ent'ay—in Ethiopia, with a constituency of about 5 million members. Ethiopia's former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn is a member of the Apostolic Church of Ethiopia, a Oneness Pentecostal organization. Despite persecution by the government and the dominant Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Pentecostalism relies on youth and technology to spread its practices throughout the country. Pentecostalism has been found to contribute to the prosperity of people in Ethiopia. The message of Pentecostalism includes prosperity and beliefs around expectations for a better life. After gaining religious freedom in 1991, churches began preaching prosperity and growth outside the government and to discuss fighting corruption. Some Pentecostal worshipers state that the style of worship offers them tangible help for worldy problems. Worship services include the practices speaking in tongues, divine healing, exorcism, prophecy, and powerful prayer.

The Evangelical charismatic movement represents the evangelical churches that have an emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit. Started in the United States in the 1960s, the "second wave" has influenced churches of all Christian denominations and contributed to the creation of many independent evangelical churches. The movement is distinguished from Pentecostalism by not making the speaking in tongues (glossolalia) a necessary evidence of Spirit baptism and giving prominence to the diversity of spiritual gifts. According to figures from Pew Research Center in 2011, the movement identifies 305 million believers.

References

  1. Confessionalism is a term employed by historians to refer to "the creation of fixed identities and systems of beliefs for separate churches which had previously been more fluid in their self-understanding, and which had not begun by seeking separate identities for themselves—they had wanted to be truly Catholic and reformed." (MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History, p. xxiv.)
  2. Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2013, p. 157
  3. "Appendix B: Classification of Protestants Denominations". Pew Research Center - Religion & Public Life / America's Changing Religious Landscape. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  4. Nondenominational Congregations Research at Hartford Institute for Religion Research website. Hirr.hartsem.edu. Retrieved on 2010-11-03.
  5. Roger E. Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2016, p. 43
  6. Hartford Seminary, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Nondenominational & Independent Congregations, hirr.hartsem.edu, USA, accessed December 14, 2018
  7. Michael De Groote, The rise of the nons: Why nondenominational churches are winning over mainline churches, deseretnews.com, USA, February 25, 2011
  8. Vincent Jackson, How non-denominational churches are attracting millennials, pressofatlanticcity.com, USA, February 2, 2017
  9. Peter C. Phan, Christianities in Asia, John Wiley & Sons, USA, 2011, p. 90-91
  10. Gabriel Monet, L'Église émergente : être et faire Église en postchrétienté, LIT Verlag Münster, Switzerland, 2013, p. 135-136
  11. Pew Research Center, AMERICA'S CHANGING RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE, pewforum.org, USA, May 12, 2015
  12. Ed Stetzer, The rise of evangelical 'nones', cnn.com, USA, June 12, 2015
  13. Peter C. Phan, Christianities in Asia, John Wiley & Sons, USA, 2011, p. 90
  14. Sébastien Fath, Dieu XXL, la révolution des mégachurches, Édition Autrement, France, 2008, p. 25, 42
  15. Bryan S. Turner, Oscar Salemink, Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia, Routledge, UK, 2014, p. 407
  16. Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2013, p. 66
  17. Kimon Howland Sargeant, Seeker Churches: Promoting Traditional Religion in a Nontraditional Way, Rutgers University Press, USA, 2000, p. 28
  18. Prothero, Stephen (2007). Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know - and Doesn't. New York: HarperOne. ISBN   0-06-084670-4.