Non-Denominational Christian Churches

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Many Christians seem to misunderstand the meaning of the term non-Denominational. Some seem to think that it means "less than a standard Church" in some way. Many think that some central Christian beliefs are left out or somehow that it is a somewhat hollow religious system! Others seem to think that it means somehow "against" standard Christian Churches.

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None of those are true. The term describes something that is actually very simple.

Every Denomination of Christian Churches was established with a specific set of beliefs and procedures. Some of those beliefs and procedures were based directly on clear wording in the Bible. But much more was established based on specific interpretations and understandings that the early Church leaders of that Church believed, which were NOT clearly spelled out in the Bible. Members of that Denomination are required to believe and follow ALL of those beliefs, the ones that were originally based solidly on the Bible and the ones where assumptions and interpretations were applied.

We might use an example that actually is not a basis for Denominational differences but which might be illuminating. Jesus walked and carried the Cross to the location of the Crucifixion. All Christians believe that. It actually likely that He carried just the crossbar, as virtually all crucified people had to do that, but still that was quite a burden. (The Roman soldiers had learned more than 50 years earlier that it was a lot of time and trouble to have to have slaves dig a new hole and mount a new upright for each crucified person, so for a long time they had left the upright permanently mounted in the ground, with a provision where the crossbar could then quickly be raised and put in place.)

Roman Catholics believe that while Jesus was carrying the Cross, He fell, and a woman named Veronica wiped His forehead with a rag. That incident is a central focus in every Catholic Church, even being displayed as one of the Stations of the Cross paintings. However, Veronica is NOT in the Bible! In fact, historical evidence seems to suggest that no one even mentioned her for hundreds of years after Jesus! Eventually, some documents written hundreds of years later, such as the "Report of Pilate the Procurator concerning our Lord Jesus Christ" described stories that referred to a Veronica (that particular one did not involve Jesus falling or wiping His brow.) Another version, called the Avenging of the Saviour was clearly written in around the eighth century.

In any case, Martin Luther established Protestant beliefs by insisting that ONLY the Bible be trusted for such things. Since Veronica is never actually mentioned anywhere in the Bible, therefore Protestants do not believe in the anecdotes attributed to her.

In a relatively similar way, Denominational Churches each established specific beliefs and procedures that are not clearly described in the Bible. In this case, though, it is a little different. The Bible DOES contain some Scripture that VAGUELY refers to the specific subject. No problem exists there. But such vaguenesses are not good bases of Church beliefs, so the early leaders of each Denomination made specific interpretations, based on specific assumptions, in order to generate clear guidelines for their Church.

Say that a Church wanted to have a policy regarding a subject such as tattoos, or jewelry, or hair length. It is possible to find very generalized references in the Bible to such concepts. Lev 19:28 has the only mention of the word tattoo, in English. However, when one examines the Original Hebrew word nathan (O5414 Strongs) that word has several dozen possible translations, NONE of which is tattoo! The men who made the English translation around 1610 generated that word in the text. The Bible contains some very vague references which also are considered to be related to the concept of tattoo, 1 Cor 6:15 and 1 Thess 5:23. Read your Bible to see what you think those Scriptures are talking about and try to see how they could possibly be talking about tattoos! It is really only with what would have to be called a stretch, where those Scriptures could be said to forbid tattoos. But many modern Churches forbid tattoos, don't they? You now know the basis for their belief on that subject!

Each Denomination has similarly established extremely specific beliefs and procedures regarding Baptism, Salvation, Sin, Atonement, the Trinity and many other subjects. In many of those cases, they felt the need to apply specific interpretations and to add their own assumptions, in order to generate the specific beliefs that they wanted their Church to have.

In itself, that might not be anything terrible. However, nearly all Churches do something additional that creates a complication! They each absolutely insist that what THEY believe is absolutely and perfectly correct, and they therefore also insist that all Churches that believe anything different are absolutely wrong!

As a result of this, Denominational Churches seem to spend a lot of their time in criticizing and attacking other Denominations of Protestant Christian Churches! Each seems dead set on trying to claim that they alone know the exact right answers to everything! The consequence is that they are therefore each all forever just throwing mud at other Christian Churches! In an insistence of establishing superiority over all other Churches, there seem few limits to what might be attacked! So Pentecostal Churches are severely criticized by many other Churches because of their insistence of speaking in Tongues. In exchange, Pentecostal Churches severely criticize all other Christian Churches as inferior for NOT insisting on Tongues!

Who is right in such arguments? No human can probably ever say, but both sides are forever screaming that they are right and the other side is absolutely wrong.

The point being made here is that Denominational Churches seem very intent on trying to find flaw in all other Christian Churches.

Non-Denominational Churches are not really any different regarding CORE beliefs, but they have eliminated the peripheral issues from any extended discussion which might cause criticism of other Christians. Therefore, core subjects such as the Crucifixion or Salvation or the Trinity are thoroughly discussed, but any discussions of divisive issues are minimized or avoided completely. The reasoning is that where the Bible is clear, we all already agree. Where the Bible seems vague, where personal assumptions and interpretations might be required, then such things must not actually belong in a "core&qupt; Christianity!


The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in December 2004.

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