Friday, November 6, 2009

#91-Thinking We're Not a Denomination

It's a Sunday night, and the preacher has gotten into that part of his sermon where he's off the platform, roaming the altar area, and starting to take tentative strides into the pew area. No matter what he's preaching, you know he's about to say it. In your head you start counting down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and . . .

"There are people out there, sitting in the pews of denominal churches who are lost because they don't know the truth! We ain't a denomination, a denomination's just part of the whole. We got the the whole truth! I thank God for the revelation of who He is! I thank God I received the infilling of the Holy Ghost at a Pentecostal altar --"

*record scratch* Okay, stop right there. Hol' up, preacher. You said we ain't a denomination, but a breath later you described the type of altar at which you got the Holy Ghost as a distinctly Pentecostal one. Since when did Pentecostal (or Apostolic, in staying with accordance to the title of this blog) become synonymous with "non-denominational"?

Let's face it. We don't hold to a nebulous cloud of nondescript beliefs. If we're proud to be one God Apostolic tongue talking holy rollin born again believers in the liberating power of Jesus' na-ame, then let's have the guts to admit we belong to a denomination. A distinct part of the "easy believism"-saturated whole of mainstream Christianity.

C'mon, we can't have it both ways. We can't sing "I'm a Pentecostal" while at the same time pretend that it's somehow unlike delineating oneself as Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or Episcopalian. We can't hold to Apostolic "distinction" and "identity" and "heritage" and then cover our ears while saying "la-la-la-la-la" (not an imitation of speaking in tongues, by the way) when it comes to the D word.

And speaking of words, and being a word nerd, I can't resist pointing out the homiletic misuse of the word "denominal." According to Merriam-Webster:

denominal adj. - Derived from a noun.

For example, Google is a proper noun. If one were then to say, "I googled the definition of denominal," the word 'googled' would be described as a denominal verb. In other words, a verb derived from a noun. Or in other words, nothing to do with denominations.


  1. And this is why postmodernist and modernist Apostolics will never get along...

    Modernist Apostolics want to believe they are at the center of the world.

    And postmodernist Apostolics want to believe that we are just a single piece to a much larger and complex puzzle...

    I really can't believe this post has been up for several hours and still no comments...

    I mean our newly outed Superintended, Kenneth Haney, was infamous for his stubbornness about refusing to call the UPC a denomination...

  2. Chantell, I love this simply for the last part. Long ago, I had a pastor whose favorite word was "denominal", and he used it in the context described. And as a child I didn't know what it meant so I checked with Mr. Miriam Webster.
    As you can imagine I was much more confused.
    It wasn't until years later the thought clicked "Oooooh! He means denominational, he just doesn't study! Now I get it!"
    As a rich, platinum blonde socialite would say with fake sincerity (through her nose):
    "Thank you soooooooo much!"

  3. Perhaps the correct word is nominal.

  4. I would just add that our use of 'denominal' (laughing because my spell check doesn't accept that word) and 'denominational' is used purely in a "we are better than them" context. However, we are put in a pickle when faced with the problem of those who claim to be "non-denominational". Most of the time we would rather just lump these folks with the rest of those who "don't have the truth". However, there is a tendency to place these 'non-denominational' folks even lower on the truth meter. I mean at least the denominational churches are willing to say they believe something (so we say). It gets really interesting when a rogue pastor or church in our non-denomination actually advertises his church to be "non-denominational". Immediately, the church and pastor is questioned and truth squads are sent to investigate. The irony is that this is exactly what we claim to be.

  5. So I am sitting here like, should I give my opinion or should I not? Should I or should I not?! LOL

  6. Doooooo it Mary! I promise to leave it up (just make sure you are arguing the issue and not attacking the writers...we are a very sensitive people).

  7. A. If anyone gets to be a non-denominal (I have never heard anyone use that term, but I really like saying it), it would appear to be the Orthodox, as they have NO twigs off their branch of this tree... apparently they are the TRUE Christians
    B. Was anyone else surprised to see that the Salvation Army got their own twig? I had no idea you could be a Salvation Armiest.

  8. LOL!!! HAHAHA!!! Okaaaaaay NO all I was gonna say is that I have NEVER actually heard my pastor or any preacher for that matter say that we are NOT a denomination, they always just say OTHER denominations....but heeeey Idk how they do things over yonder. But If anyone was NOT a denomination it was JESUS...cause he was IT!!! The way...NO ifs and or BUTs about it!!! Thats it!!!

  9. Very funny! lol One thing that I would like to correct (and I know it's not your personal graph, but I'm more showing off my mad knowledge skills than I am actually wanting to correct it):

    The Church of England is officially called Anglican. Anglicans came to America and dubbed themselves Episcopalian. (Same religion, different country). John Wesley, an Anglican/Episcopalian, wanted to spread the message to the average Joe, so he started preaching to those who weren't accepted in the Anglican/Episcopalian church. This caught on, and others started to do the same. However, because they all were doing the same thing, but independently, John Wesley decided to gather all of the people spreading the Good News and come up with a unified way of doing this. He lead his group to be so organized with his ideas and theories as to how to reach out to "laymen" that his group was dubbed "Methodists." Hence the birth of Methodists! However, the only place in the world that it really caught on was in the US, when Mr. Wesley was asked to journey over here and spread the good word.

    Now you all can sleep a bit better at nights.

  10. oh, and I wrote all that to say that there was a misplaced branch on your tree diagram. :)

  11. Autumn, i disagree. the diagram doesn't mention "anglican" or "episcopal" so when Methodist springs from the "Church of England" it is implying the names of the English and AMerican form both within the "Church of England" branch,.

  12. Well, that's embarrassing. I suppose maybe I should've commented a little more before I posted this incorrect-wealth-of-knowledge so that my first post didn't make me look like an idiot.

    Good tree diagram. Carry on, friend, carry on.