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Feb '05

Denominational Honesty

“I belong to the [insert Denomination here] but no one knows it.”

“Sure our church is [insert denomination here], but I bet there are some of our board members that don’t even know it.”

I hear remarks like this all the time. I used to think this was a great attitude. Lately, however, I have been thinking about the honesty represented in these kinds of statements. It seems that to many of my peers belonging to a denomination is a must. It also seems that keeping that on the down-low is also a must. For many of them they would never say it but that is how their churches are set up and how they talk to visitors. One church I know well even claims to be a “Non-denominational church affiliated with [insert denomination here]. What a load of crap. You either are a part of a denomination (or movement as some would prefer to be called), or you are not. I am a little confused as to why it is so necessary to belong to a denomination but so necessary to keep that a secret from congregants. I recently posed this question to someone I respect a great deal who has left one denomination for another. He is a nationally known speaker and someone I admire a great deal. He said that he understood my desire for intellectual integrity but felt it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

I wonder at what point you cease to be honest about your organizational affiliation. I mean if you were giving money to an organization that you found out had just slight ties to Neo-Nazis would you feel like they had decieved you? I would. If you joined a club or organization and found out months later that the leader was a member of a cult would you continue to be involved? Even if the organization, church, or club had no obvious ties to that cult or their ideologies, most people would not stay involved much past finding these things out.

One last example. Imagine you had been attending a church for several years. You really love the pastor and the people have become like family. If you were to find out that the pastor was a member of a group of terrorist sympathizers would you continue to go there? While I would never equate any denomination I am aware of with terrorist sympathizers I do think that many in our world would see the lack of communication about affiliations as a form of dishonesty.

If I were a leader in a denomination and I had members that were trying to down-play their affiliation I would kick them out. If you recieve all of the benefits of a denomination shouldn’t you be proud of that denomination? If you do not see any benefits or are not proud of belonging to that denomination then I have to ask why you are still a member! I suspect it is out of fear. Fear of leaving what you are comfortable with. Fear of letting others down. Fear of how it will look to your peers. Fear of being alone with God and no human “covering.”

But I could be wrong.

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