Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is Denominationalism Just a Friendly Word for Isolationism?

Today I want to talk about isolationism. 

Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, foreign trade, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by avoiding foreign entanglements and responsibilities.

Simply replace "country" and "nations" with "denominations" and "churches."

For much of my upbringing I participated in a church who held certain denominational beliefs, doctrines, and methodologies closely at its core.  It only participated with other churches of the same denomination, studied from similar denominational curriculum(s), participated in missional efforts only sanctioned by the larger denomination, etc.

Isn't this a form of isolationism?

The fear I have today of denominationalism is that it puts up blinders to anything different.  It assumes that YOUR world is THE world.  It sees things in rather black and white terms. 

But isn't the world a diverse and incredibly grey?

As a Christian, I feel as though to assume that Baptists or Lutherans, Presbyterians or Methodists, Catholics or Pentecostals, have "it" figured out, I build unnecessary boxes that limit my ability to see the massiveness of what God is doing in, and throughout the world.

Today the fastest growing movement of Christianity is in the global South.  The global South doesn't represent many of the similarities of the Western church.  They are much more mystical, pentecostal, embracing of miracles, etc.  Suppose that the Western church writes off this movement by isolating itself into our preferred denominations, we will certainly miss out on the massive Christian movement going on throughout humanity.

I hope that as you peruse your studies, literature, curriculum, and missional work, you will work to never become isolated to your preferred denomination.  Conversely, may we be diligent in always assuming God is bigger than Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.  May we be diligent in the fact that there is a beautiful mosaic of denominations which each shed light on varying aspects of Truth.


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