One of the questions that I get asked all the time as a church planter is “which denomination are you.” Baptist? Presbyterian? Methodist? Episcopalian? Non-denominational? I like the attitutde of the 18th century revival preacher George Whitefield, who said,
“Father Abraham, whom have you in heaven? Any Episcopalians? No! Any Presbyterians? No! Any Independents or Methodists? No, no, no! Then whom have you there? We don’t know those names here. All who are here are Christians… Oh, is this the case? Then God help us to forget party names and to become Christians in deed and truth.”
Now, I recognize the necessity of and even the value of denominations (especially for theological accountability), including my own (for which I am deeply grateful). However, I don’t care whether someone is baptist, presybyterian, pentecostal, methodist, etc. In fact, I hope no one IS any of those, since IS is a word of identity. For the Christian, identity is not a matter of denominational affiliation, but of Jesus affiliation. I suppose we could say that I have an association of necessity with my denomination, but an association of identity with Jesus. As helpful and nurturing as my denomination has been to me, only Jesus is my righteousness. He is the one who died, rose, lives and reigns.
This is why I prefer to spell denominations with lower case letters (like “small p” presbyterian, “small b” baptist, etc.), and reserve the caps for JESUS, PROPITIAION, CROSS, GOSPEL and words like that. Naive? Maybe. But as Os Guinness says in The Call, “In the New Testament, it is not so much that there are different churches in different places as that there is one church in many places.”
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