Non-denominational

Sarah Pulliam Bailey (a regular reader of this blog) has written a good article for Christianity Today on Dinesh D’Souza, a Catholic, assuming the presidency of the King’s College, an evangelical school.  (She quotes me in the article.)  Her interviews shed light on the issue that we discussed yesterday:

“I’m quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I’m very comfortable with Reformation theology,” D’Souza told Christianity Today. “I’m comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I’m part of it.”

D’Souza’s wife, Dixie, is an evangelical, and the family has attended Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in San Diego, for the past 10 years. He has been invited to speak in several churches and colleges, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

“I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background. I’m an American citizen, but I wouldn’t reject the Indian label because it’s part of my heritage,” D’Souza said. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

via Dinesh D’Souza to Lead NYC’s King’s College | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Lots of Christians go to “nondenominational” churches.  But these are independent evangelical institutions that, even though they don’t belong to a larger denominational organization, do have an implicit theology, usually of the Baptist variety.  But Mr. D’Souza is taking non-denominationalism to a new level.  This version embraces Catholicism as well as Protestantism in all of its varieties.  To what extent is this possible?

Presumably, a nondenominational Christian would hold whatever theological position he pleases, and his nondenominational congregation will not insist on theological unity.   An outgrowth of the parachurch mindset, nondenominationalism separates being a “Christian” from involvement in any particular church.  I think it is intrinsically Protestant, since, for Catholics, being a part of a particular institutional church body is crucial.  But still, I can see many Christians approaching their faith in this sense, adhering to C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” and considering that enough.  Maybe it’s enough for a college.

Those of you in nondenominational churches, would you have room in your fellowship for the denomination known as Roman Catholic Church?  If not, wouldn’t the basis for that exclusion be that you hold to a particular theology and that you constitute a denomination after all?

At any rate, Mr. D’Souza sounds more like a former Catholic and an evangelical, after all, even if he hasn’t changed his church membership.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • sandi

    The final word in your comments “membership” is key. Calvary Chapel has no formal membership. If you come, you are considered a member. There is no formal declaration nor is there any required new members training. I think this kind of openness works until a need arises for any sort of church oversight, then things breakdown rather quickly. This also explains the rampant church hopping that plagues this generation.

  • sandi

    The final word in your comments “membership” is key. Calvary Chapel has no formal membership. If you come, you are considered a member. There is no formal declaration nor is there any required new members training. I think this kind of openness works until a need arises for any sort of church oversight, then things breakdown rather quickly. This also explains the rampant church hopping that plagues this generation.

  • Michael Z.

    Sandi
    I attend a Calvary Chapel, and there is a membership orientation. You are right that it is not required, unless you want to be active in the ministry of the church, say, children’s ministry, then it is a requirement. (I think that this setup is a result of the church-hopping problem, not the cause)

    Veith
    My non-denominational church in Leesburg, VA would probably not make some people who claim the title Roman Catholic feel comfortable, because a large percentage of the members are ex-catholics who left the Roman Catholic Church because of legalism and works based salvation. Consequently, the pastor addresses these two errors from the pulpit quite often.

  • Michael Z.

    Sandi
    I attend a Calvary Chapel, and there is a membership orientation. You are right that it is not required, unless you want to be active in the ministry of the church, say, children’s ministry, then it is a requirement. (I think that this setup is a result of the church-hopping problem, not the cause)

    Veith
    My non-denominational church in Leesburg, VA would probably not make some people who claim the title Roman Catholic feel comfortable, because a large percentage of the members are ex-catholics who left the Roman Catholic Church because of legalism and works based salvation. Consequently, the pastor addresses these two errors from the pulpit quite often.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    How is Calvary Chapel at all “non-denominational”? By what criteria does that label apply to a church body that is interconnected from Orange County California to Leesburg VA, and enjoys a greater unity of doctrine and practice than any other denomination in the United States honest enough to call itself a denomination? And why are they afraid to call themselves a denomination?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    How is Calvary Chapel at all “non-denominational”? By what criteria does that label apply to a church body that is interconnected from Orange County California to Leesburg VA, and enjoys a greater unity of doctrine and practice than any other denomination in the United States honest enough to call itself a denomination? And why are they afraid to call themselves a denomination?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It seems to me that D’souza isn’t Roman Catholic at all, but thoroughly evangelical seeing the name Roman Catholic as nothing more than a heritage marker.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It seems to me that D’souza isn’t Roman Catholic at all, but thoroughly evangelical seeing the name Roman Catholic as nothing more than a heritage marker.

  • Digital

    I grew up in a non-denom church. There was a formal membership there, but no written Doctrine to speak of. They simply reply that where the Bible speaks they speak, where the Bible is silent they are silent.
    It took me a LONG time of and many ‘discussions’ with pre-sem LCMS to get a grips on institutionalized Churches. What won out finally was marrying a good LCMS woman.
    Now in my home Church, a Catholic could become a member (dual citizenship?). Since we simply practiced Christianity as described above, doctrine being a baptist variant.
    I think with the previous post on Rice, and this subject, we have hit up on an interesting topic. Some people cannot distinguish between catholic and Catholic, or more broadly, between Church and Christian. How many times do we catch ourselves trying to convert someone from another Church to our own? How many people refuse to worship except at a LCMS Divine I service, staying home when one is not available? (not many I hope)
    While the following is a very un-Lutheran thing to say, I stand by it. I think interdenominational worship should be encouraged, as long as Doctrine is protected.

  • Digital

    I grew up in a non-denom church. There was a formal membership there, but no written Doctrine to speak of. They simply reply that where the Bible speaks they speak, where the Bible is silent they are silent.
    It took me a LONG time of and many ‘discussions’ with pre-sem LCMS to get a grips on institutionalized Churches. What won out finally was marrying a good LCMS woman.
    Now in my home Church, a Catholic could become a member (dual citizenship?). Since we simply practiced Christianity as described above, doctrine being a baptist variant.
    I think with the previous post on Rice, and this subject, we have hit up on an interesting topic. Some people cannot distinguish between catholic and Catholic, or more broadly, between Church and Christian. How many times do we catch ourselves trying to convert someone from another Church to our own? How many people refuse to worship except at a LCMS Divine I service, staying home when one is not available? (not many I hope)
    While the following is a very un-Lutheran thing to say, I stand by it. I think interdenominational worship should be encouraged, as long as Doctrine is protected.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Digital,
    I encourage members of all denominations to worship at my church on Sunday morning, which is about they only way I see doctrine being protected and having interdenominational worship.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Digital,
    I encourage members of all denominations to worship at my church on Sunday morning, which is about they only way I see doctrine being protected and having interdenominational worship.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror #3,
    In one sense, I guess you could call Calvary Chapel a denomination, they have a common name acceptance, local church governance style, and similar doctrine, as well as associating with other Calvary Chapels.

    I have heard that the Calvary Chapel churches claim that they are non-denominational because they do not have a common over-arching church government as opposed to defining denomination as solely having common doctrine. For example Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Southern Baptists, etc. all have denominational leadership, that is, the churches answer to a higher church authority. Calvary Chapels do not have this, (although there is a measure of accountability to each other).

    Under this definition, Independent baptists would be non-denominational as well. (a title which most would deny according to my wife who was raised Ind. Baptist)

  • Michael Z.

    Bror #3,
    In one sense, I guess you could call Calvary Chapel a denomination, they have a common name acceptance, local church governance style, and similar doctrine, as well as associating with other Calvary Chapels.

    I have heard that the Calvary Chapel churches claim that they are non-denominational because they do not have a common over-arching church government as opposed to defining denomination as solely having common doctrine. For example Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Southern Baptists, etc. all have denominational leadership, that is, the churches answer to a higher church authority. Calvary Chapels do not have this, (although there is a measure of accountability to each other).

    Under this definition, Independent baptists would be non-denominational as well. (a title which most would deny according to my wife who was raised Ind. Baptist)

  • kerner

    Bror @6:

    If any members of other denominations actually show up this Sunday at your church, and repent of their sins, will you further encourage them by giving them the Lord’s Supper?

  • kerner

    Bror @6:

    If any members of other denominations actually show up this Sunday at your church, and repent of their sins, will you further encourage them by giving them the Lord’s Supper?

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    No. I encourage them to take a class and learn what it means to be Lutheran and therefore also what is going on in the Sacrament, then declare their unity in faith, doctrine and practice of the Lutheran church before confessing it by receiving communion.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    No. I encourage them to take a class and learn what it means to be Lutheran and therefore also what is going on in the Sacrament, then declare their unity in faith, doctrine and practice of the Lutheran church before confessing it by receiving communion.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael Z.
    Exactly. They are a denomination by any definition but their own self serving one.
    So why are they so afraid to be called a denomination?

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael Z.
    Exactly. They are a denomination by any definition but their own self serving one.
    So why are they so afraid to be called a denomination?

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Digital,
    One can not protect doctrine and engage in interdenominational worship. For one, doctrine informs worship. There is a reason why you do not see altar calls in Lutheran Churches. We preach a bound will that could never dedicate itself to God. Holy Communion is a central part of our Divine Service and when we come together at the altar we are making a statement about what we believe, so if we are communing with a memorialist we are sacrificing our confession. We are publicly saying we actually believe the same thing when we in actuality we don’t. If I were to go to a baptist altar I would be saying I agree with your denial of the Lord’s promise and sacrificing good doctrine.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Digital,
    One can not protect doctrine and engage in interdenominational worship. For one, doctrine informs worship. There is a reason why you do not see altar calls in Lutheran Churches. We preach a bound will that could never dedicate itself to God. Holy Communion is a central part of our Divine Service and when we come together at the altar we are making a statement about what we believe, so if we are communing with a memorialist we are sacrificing our confession. We are publicly saying we actually believe the same thing when we in actuality we don’t. If I were to go to a baptist altar I would be saying I agree with your denial of the Lord’s promise and sacrificing good doctrine.

  • Digital

    Bror @10
    They aren’t afraid to be called a denomination, but rather should we come up with a new term for every one of the churches? Is someone going to go through all of them and question them to see what group they fall into? Non Denominational is the group they are in, and are happy to be called just that. Perhaps I am wrong here?

    Dr. Luther in 21st Century@21
    So where do we draw the line? Can I not pray with my parents who are non-denom? Should I not go to Church with them, or invite them to worship with me? maybe this is a holdover from my Non-Denom days, but I still have a hard time with communion being a confession to the rest of the church. I am communing with my fellow believers who I cannot see into the hearts of, nor is it my duty to do so. Too much Law there for my upbringing :) Maybe as I get a firmer grasp on worship as a whole I will change my mind, but as it is I do enjoy going to church with my parents, and I do explain to them the purpose of communion with our congregation. But I still am uncomfortable with the idea that you need to be LCMS to commune.
    So I refer to the LCMS website which says it well:

    The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has never understood or applied the historic practice of close[d] Communion in such a way as to mean that only LCMS members are permitted to commune at LCMS altars. The official position of the Synod is that not only are members of other Lutheran churches with whom we are in altar and pulpit fellowship invited to commune with us, but also that in certain extraordinary cases of pastoral care and in emergencies members of churches not in fellowship with us may be given Communion. The Synod stated, for example, in 1986 “that pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod continue to abide by the practice of close communion, which includes the necessity of exercising responsible pastoral care in extraordinary situations and circumstances” (1986 Res. 3-08 “To Maintain Practice of Close Communion”).

  • Digital

    Bror @10
    They aren’t afraid to be called a denomination, but rather should we come up with a new term for every one of the churches? Is someone going to go through all of them and question them to see what group they fall into? Non Denominational is the group they are in, and are happy to be called just that. Perhaps I am wrong here?

    Dr. Luther in 21st Century@21
    So where do we draw the line? Can I not pray with my parents who are non-denom? Should I not go to Church with them, or invite them to worship with me? maybe this is a holdover from my Non-Denom days, but I still have a hard time with communion being a confession to the rest of the church. I am communing with my fellow believers who I cannot see into the hearts of, nor is it my duty to do so. Too much Law there for my upbringing :) Maybe as I get a firmer grasp on worship as a whole I will change my mind, but as it is I do enjoy going to church with my parents, and I do explain to them the purpose of communion with our congregation. But I still am uncomfortable with the idea that you need to be LCMS to commune.
    So I refer to the LCMS website which says it well:

    The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has never understood or applied the historic practice of close[d] Communion in such a way as to mean that only LCMS members are permitted to commune at LCMS altars. The official position of the Synod is that not only are members of other Lutheran churches with whom we are in altar and pulpit fellowship invited to commune with us, but also that in certain extraordinary cases of pastoral care and in emergencies members of churches not in fellowship with us may be given Communion. The Synod stated, for example, in 1986 “that pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod continue to abide by the practice of close communion, which includes the necessity of exercising responsible pastoral care in extraordinary situations and circumstances” (1986 Res. 3-08 “To Maintain Practice of Close Communion”).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Digital

    Here is a thorough explanation of closed communion.

    http://www.ecrevolution.com/pdfs/0007SupperAdmin.pdf

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @Digital

    Here is a thorough explanation of closed communion.

    http://www.ecrevolution.com/pdfs/0007SupperAdmin.pdf

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Digital @ 12,
    Tell someone in the Calvary Chapel “group” they are a denomination sometime and see what there reaction is. They are afraid to be seen as a denomination, every bit as much as the “church of Christ” campbelites who now call themselves the “undenomination” in retaliation for having the Nondenominational label coopted from them.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Digital @ 12,
    Tell someone in the Calvary Chapel “group” they are a denomination sometime and see what there reaction is. They are afraid to be seen as a denomination, every bit as much as the “church of Christ” campbelites who now call themselves the “undenomination” in retaliation for having the Nondenominational label coopted from them.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 10&14,
    You are being very un-charitable to Calvary Chapels and the people who operate them.
    They are not a denomination because they lack the denominational structure. There is no denominational authority held over the other Calvary Chapels from the original Calvary Chapel. Therefore to call them a denomination would be to lose an important part of what a denomination is. I was raised in a denominational church, Calvary Chapels are not denominational, that is, they are not under any denominational governance structure. They are an affiliation of churches, yes, but just because churches are affiliated does not make them a denomination.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 10&14,
    You are being very un-charitable to Calvary Chapels and the people who operate them.
    They are not a denomination because they lack the denominational structure. There is no denominational authority held over the other Calvary Chapels from the original Calvary Chapel. Therefore to call them a denomination would be to lose an important part of what a denomination is. I was raised in a denominational church, Calvary Chapels are not denominational, that is, they are not under any denominational governance structure. They are an affiliation of churches, yes, but just because churches are affiliated does not make them a denomination.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    No Michael Z,
    I don’t think I am being uncharitable at all. They are confusing denomination with institutional structure. And they intentionally do so in order not to be called a denomination. Why? That is my question. Why are they so proud to not be a denomination? Their rhetoric makes it sound as if it is evil to be a denomination, or a member of one, or at least they are better because they are not a denomination. And I don’t see it. They are. They share more doctrinal unity than the Missouri Synod, and doctrinal unity, not the institutional structure, is supposed to be what unites us as a denomination. They have doctrinal unity for which I am a bit jealous even. Thought I think their doctrine is abhorrent.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    No Michael Z,
    I don’t think I am being uncharitable at all. They are confusing denomination with institutional structure. And they intentionally do so in order not to be called a denomination. Why? That is my question. Why are they so proud to not be a denomination? Their rhetoric makes it sound as if it is evil to be a denomination, or a member of one, or at least they are better because they are not a denomination. And I don’t see it. They are. They share more doctrinal unity than the Missouri Synod, and doctrinal unity, not the institutional structure, is supposed to be what unites us as a denomination. They have doctrinal unity for which I am a bit jealous even. Thought I think their doctrine is abhorrent.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 16,
    Well, ok, at least now I know what definition you are working from. Using your definition, doctrinal unity alone, I would definitely agree that Calvary Chapels are a denomination.

    I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel, so I can only theorize that they may be trying to avoid the stereotypes, conflicts, and politics that are associated with “denominations” in America and Europe.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 16,
    Well, ok, at least now I know what definition you are working from. Using your definition, doctrinal unity alone, I would definitely agree that Calvary Chapels are a denomination.

    I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel, so I can only theorize that they may be trying to avoid the stereotypes, conflicts, and politics that are associated with “denominations” in America and Europe.

  • Grace

    I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel Church. My father was a pastor, (now with the LORD) I was taught from my parents about Jesus Christ and His saving power, through faith in Him for Salvation. As I matured and grew, I like many other pastor’s children took another road. I was a young adult when it hit me like a brick as to the destruction I was facing IF I didn’t look to my Savior. I had been a Believer since the age of seven, but I had strayed. It was at that time I began to study which could only be defined as a fire drill, I being the vessel that needed help.

    I studied the Word of God, read almost every book Francis Schaeffer wrote. I also read most every book Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, to name just a few… the Bible was my life line, and my church with sound teaching (it was not a Calvary Chapel) I lived in the book stores in West LA near UCLA, spending most of my time ‘catching up’ My life changed radically.

    My husband and I have been affiliated with Calvary Chapel for nearly 15 years. It is not a perfect church, there isn’t one, however it is a church which reaches a large segment of people, … be it immigrants, those who are educated, and those who are highly educated – all types of people from every educational, socio economic backgrounds.

    We are non-denominational, but yet in another sense we are. Churches which stray from Biblical teaching are asked to leave Calvary Chapel Church, not using the name any longer.

    Calvary Chapel:

    http://calvarychapel.com/?show=Resources.Ebooks.calvinismarminianismandth

    What we Believe:

    http://beta.calvarychapel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=37

    Calvary Chapel Teaching

    http://calvarychapel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=54

  • Grace

    I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel Church. My father was a pastor, (now with the LORD) I was taught from my parents about Jesus Christ and His saving power, through faith in Him for Salvation. As I matured and grew, I like many other pastor’s children took another road. I was a young adult when it hit me like a brick as to the destruction I was facing IF I didn’t look to my Savior. I had been a Believer since the age of seven, but I had strayed. It was at that time I began to study which could only be defined as a fire drill, I being the vessel that needed help.

    I studied the Word of God, read almost every book Francis Schaeffer wrote. I also read most every book Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, to name just a few… the Bible was my life line, and my church with sound teaching (it was not a Calvary Chapel) I lived in the book stores in West LA near UCLA, spending most of my time ‘catching up’ My life changed radically.

    My husband and I have been affiliated with Calvary Chapel for nearly 15 years. It is not a perfect church, there isn’t one, however it is a church which reaches a large segment of people, … be it immigrants, those who are educated, and those who are highly educated – all types of people from every educational, socio economic backgrounds.

    We are non-denominational, but yet in another sense we are. Churches which stray from Biblical teaching are asked to leave Calvary Chapel Church, not using the name any longer.

    Calvary Chapel:

    http://calvarychapel.com/?show=Resources.Ebooks.calvinismarminianismandth

    What we Believe:

    http://beta.calvarychapel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22&Itemid=37

    Calvary Chapel Teaching

    http://calvarychapel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=54

  • Kirk

    “Their rhetoric makes it sound as if it is evil to be a denomination, or a member of one, or at least they are better because they are not a denomination. ”

    Bror, I’m generally with you (although not quite as vehement) on the issue of non-denominationalism, but coming from a Lutheran, the above statement is hysterical

  • Kirk

    “Their rhetoric makes it sound as if it is evil to be a denomination, or a member of one, or at least they are better because they are not a denomination. ”

    Bror, I’m generally with you (although not quite as vehement) on the issue of non-denominationalism, but coming from a Lutheran, the above statement is hysterical

  • Grace

    Michael Z – 17 – “I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel, so I can only theorize that they may be trying to avoid the stereotypes, conflicts, and politics that are associated with “denominations” in America and Europe.

    Your assessment is correct.

    I posted something above which should be #18 – it is awaiting moderation. I posted 3 links, that most likely is the problem.

  • Grace

    Michael Z – 17 – “I was not raised in a Calvary Chapel, so I can only theorize that they may be trying to avoid the stereotypes, conflicts, and politics that are associated with “denominations” in America and Europe.

    Your assessment is correct.

    I posted something above which should be #18 – it is awaiting moderation. I posted 3 links, that most likely is the problem.

  • Gregory

    I’m a practising Roman Catholic and I would say Mr D’Sousa does sound like a ‘former’ Catholic (we call them lapsed). Forgive my posting here if this is a protestants only forum. I have read some of Veith’s books and am a fan.

  • Gregory

    I’m a practising Roman Catholic and I would say Mr D’Sousa does sound like a ‘former’ Catholic (we call them lapsed). Forgive my posting here if this is a protestants only forum. I have read some of Veith’s books and am a fan.

  • Grace

    Yesterday from Dr. Veith’s blog (post 41) “Evangelical college picks Catholic President” I posted what is written below from the article mentioned here from, Christianity Today. I believe it merits being reposted:

    1. “I’m quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I’m very comfortable with Reformation theology,” D’Souza told Christianity Today. “I’m comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I’m part of it.”

    2. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

    3. “I would comfortably describe myself as a born-again Christian, but I don’t feel it is necessary to renounce anything. I am not doing Catholic apologetics, that’s for sure.”

    The above quotes taken from

    Christianity Today Magazine

    Dinesh D’Souza to Lead NYC’s King’s College
    Appointment of author and speaker prompts the questions: How Catholic is he? And how Protestant is the Campus Crusade-affiliated school?
    Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    D’Souza is willing to say he is “comfortable” or “comfortably” agreeable, but he doesn’t state that he believes it. As D’Souza states in the third quote “I don’t feel it is necessary to renounce anything.” – - I ask, “why not” – you either embrace, believe or you don’t, being “Comfortably or “comfortable” are not strong enough when it comes to believing in the Word of God. It’s a<b. slip of an answer, with little conviction.

  • Grace

    Yesterday from Dr. Veith’s blog (post 41) “Evangelical college picks Catholic President” I posted what is written below from the article mentioned here from, Christianity Today. I believe it merits being reposted:

    1. “I’m quite happy to acknowledge my Catholic background; at the same time, I’m very comfortable with Reformation theology,” D’Souza told Christianity Today. “I’m comfortable with the evangelical world. In a sense, I’m part of it.”

    2. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

    3. “I would comfortably describe myself as a born-again Christian, but I don’t feel it is necessary to renounce anything. I am not doing Catholic apologetics, that’s for sure.”

    The above quotes taken from

    Christianity Today Magazine

    Dinesh D’Souza to Lead NYC’s King’s College
    Appointment of author and speaker prompts the questions: How Catholic is he? And how Protestant is the Campus Crusade-affiliated school?
    Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    D’Souza is willing to say he is “comfortable” or “comfortably” agreeable, but he doesn’t state that he believes it. As D’Souza states in the third quote “I don’t feel it is necessary to renounce anything.” – - I ask, “why not” – you either embrace, believe or you don’t, being “Comfortably or “comfortable” are not strong enough when it comes to believing in the Word of God. It’s a<b. slip of an answer, with little conviction.

  • Digital

    Gregory@20
    Excuse me while I go get my pitchfork and torch :)
    While I am a new person here, I don’t think these forums are exclusionary due to the lack of a registration form.

  • Digital

    Gregory@20
    Excuse me while I go get my pitchfork and torch :)
    While I am a new person here, I don’t think these forums are exclusionary due to the lack of a registration form.

  • Gregory

    Digital believe me friend when I say: lack of registration form on a forum does not imply against exlcusion in the forum. I’ve visited a few forums “open to all Christians” which *ahem* have made it clear that I was not welcome because I am one of “those” people. So its best to make sure by announcing it first I find.

  • Gregory

    Digital believe me friend when I say: lack of registration form on a forum does not imply against exlcusion in the forum. I’ve visited a few forums “open to all Christians” which *ahem* have made it clear that I was not welcome because I am one of “those” people. So its best to make sure by announcing it first I find.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk @18
    I would at this time just ask you why that insight is hysterical coming from a Lutheran? When have we claimed not to be a denomination? When have we claimed to be better than anyone?

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kirk @18
    I would at this time just ask you why that insight is hysterical coming from a Lutheran? When have we claimed not to be a denomination? When have we claimed to be better than anyone?

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Gregory at 20,
    not exclusionary here that I know of. I think this is meant to be a forum for open dialogue.

  • http://www.utah-luthern.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Gregory at 20,
    not exclusionary here that I know of. I think this is meant to be a forum for open dialogue.

  • Digital

    Gregory @23
    Those forums sadden me. There is something about avoiding debate that just rubs me the wrong way. Flamers and Trolls I have no patience for but a conflicting opinion? Me being a Slashdot reader…bring it on ;)

  • Digital

    Gregory @23
    Those forums sadden me. There is something about avoiding debate that just rubs me the wrong way. Flamers and Trolls I have no patience for but a conflicting opinion? Me being a Slashdot reader…bring it on ;)

  • Gregory

    Anyway I agree with Grace : “comfortable” is vague in this context.
    I mean the only reason I would not personally use “born again” is because in North America that is seen as a distinctive protestant label. It means, in our culture, “I’m evangelical”. I know of Lutheran and Anglican friends who don’t use it just for that reason.
    But theologically ‘born again’ has been used by catholic writers and ‘born from above’ (closer to the Greek) by many Orthodox writers. Of course, D’Sousa means it in the evangelical sense.

  • Gregory

    Anyway I agree with Grace : “comfortable” is vague in this context.
    I mean the only reason I would not personally use “born again” is because in North America that is seen as a distinctive protestant label. It means, in our culture, “I’m evangelical”. I know of Lutheran and Anglican friends who don’t use it just for that reason.
    But theologically ‘born again’ has been used by catholic writers and ‘born from above’ (closer to the Greek) by many Orthodox writers. Of course, D’Sousa means it in the evangelical sense.

  • Gregory

    “in the evangelical sense” –I mean as a label of being an evangelical not in some sort of different theological understanding of regeneration.

  • Gregory

    “in the evangelical sense” –I mean as a label of being an evangelical not in some sort of different theological understanding of regeneration.

  • Grace

    Gregory – 28 “But theologically ‘born again’ has been used by catholic writers and ‘born from above’ (closer to the Greek) by many Orthodox writers. Of course, D’Sousa means it in the evangelical sense.”

    You’re right as you state above – however, I believe that the three passages of Scripture below are of such great importance, to DEMAND the Believer re-think why these “Born Again” Scriptures should become a most IMPORTANT part of our spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus put great emphasis on being Born Again.

    Jesus spent this time with Nicodemus to instruct him, being direct and straightforward – Should we not follow the teaching of Christ Jesus in the same way?

    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    John 3:3
    Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    John 3:7
    Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
    1 Peter 1:23

  • Grace

    Gregory – 28 “But theologically ‘born again’ has been used by catholic writers and ‘born from above’ (closer to the Greek) by many Orthodox writers. Of course, D’Sousa means it in the evangelical sense.”

    You’re right as you state above – however, I believe that the three passages of Scripture below are of such great importance, to DEMAND the Believer re-think why these “Born Again” Scriptures should become a most IMPORTANT part of our spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus put great emphasis on being Born Again.

    Jesus spent this time with Nicodemus to instruct him, being direct and straightforward – Should we not follow the teaching of Christ Jesus in the same way?

    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    John 3:3
    Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    John 3:7
    Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
    1 Peter 1:23

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael Z (@17), I’m surprised that you feel that this is merely Bror’s definition for what a “denomination” is. Try this thought experiment: think of a handful of Christian denominations. Now ask yourself, “What makes them them?” (e.g. “What makes Methodists Methodists?”, etc.) Do all your answers focus on polity, on institutional structures? Or do they focus on beliefs?

    I think Calvary Chapel’s “What we believe” page is instructive on their claim to be “non-denominational”, especially when it notes that “We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.”

    Which is also perhaps why that page tells you almost nothing about what they believe (though their front page tells you they’re “focused on the inerrancy of the Bible”). And though emphasis on “doctrinal differences” are bad, they say, they do note that “Further information can be found within the pages of the book ‘Calvary Chapel Distinctives’” (for $8.49, that is).

    Ironically, on the page where they are selling that book, the following text appears:

    If Calvary Chapel is exactly like the church across the street it would be better to simply merge the two. But, if there are qualities that make us different, then we have a unique and special place in the plan of God. Certainly there are churches that share many of our beliefs and practices. But God has done a wonderful work of balance in the Calvary Chapel movement that does make us different.

    So they are different from other churches, and they emphasize that. But this difference is good, because … it’s not based on doctrine?

    It doesn’t make much sense to me. They clearly are a denomination, but they won’t say so because they don’t think division on the basis of doctrine is a good thing, so they merely emphasize their unique non-doctrinal qualities. Meh.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael Z (@17), I’m surprised that you feel that this is merely Bror’s definition for what a “denomination” is. Try this thought experiment: think of a handful of Christian denominations. Now ask yourself, “What makes them them?” (e.g. “What makes Methodists Methodists?”, etc.) Do all your answers focus on polity, on institutional structures? Or do they focus on beliefs?

    I think Calvary Chapel’s “What we believe” page is instructive on their claim to be “non-denominational”, especially when it notes that “We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.”

    Which is also perhaps why that page tells you almost nothing about what they believe (though their front page tells you they’re “focused on the inerrancy of the Bible”). And though emphasis on “doctrinal differences” are bad, they say, they do note that “Further information can be found within the pages of the book ‘Calvary Chapel Distinctives’” (for $8.49, that is).

    Ironically, on the page where they are selling that book, the following text appears:

    If Calvary Chapel is exactly like the church across the street it would be better to simply merge the two. But, if there are qualities that make us different, then we have a unique and special place in the plan of God. Certainly there are churches that share many of our beliefs and practices. But God has done a wonderful work of balance in the Calvary Chapel movement that does make us different.

    So they are different from other churches, and they emphasize that. But this difference is good, because … it’s not based on doctrine?

    It doesn’t make much sense to me. They clearly are a denomination, but they won’t say so because they don’t think division on the basis of doctrine is a good thing, so they merely emphasize their unique non-doctrinal qualities. Meh.

  • Gregory

    Hi Grace. Yes Jesus put emphasis on born again by mentioning it to Nicodemus. Not all people call it that but yes I would agree that its the most important because only through the Second Adam can man start over again with a new heart.

  • Gregory

    Hi Grace. Yes Jesus put emphasis on born again by mentioning it to Nicodemus. Not all people call it that but yes I would agree that its the most important because only through the Second Adam can man start over again with a new heart.

  • Michael Z

    Todd 30
    Sorry, I meant to clarify myself earlier, but didn’t think that it would matter. I agree that the difference between denominations is doctrine. however, I think that in order to be considered a denomination you have to have three things. Common Name, Common Beliefs, Common Government. This definition of Denomination is not mine. In order to qualify as a denomination a group of churches must have these three. Otherwise they do not form a denomination. Calvary Chapels have the first two but not the third, consequently they are not a denomination per-se. Yes they have some of the trappings of a denomination, as I agreed with Bror earlier (17).

    The Calvary Chapel website will not tell you what all Calvary Chapels believe because it does not speak for all Calvary Chapels. That is what I have been saying. They do not have a denominational structure that speaks for all “Calvary Chaplans”
    You will have to go to each Calvary Chapel’s website to get that information.

  • Michael Z

    Todd 30
    Sorry, I meant to clarify myself earlier, but didn’t think that it would matter. I agree that the difference between denominations is doctrine. however, I think that in order to be considered a denomination you have to have three things. Common Name, Common Beliefs, Common Government. This definition of Denomination is not mine. In order to qualify as a denomination a group of churches must have these three. Otherwise they do not form a denomination. Calvary Chapels have the first two but not the third, consequently they are not a denomination per-se. Yes they have some of the trappings of a denomination, as I agreed with Bror earlier (17).

    The Calvary Chapel website will not tell you what all Calvary Chapels believe because it does not speak for all Calvary Chapels. That is what I have been saying. They do not have a denominational structure that speaks for all “Calvary Chaplans”
    You will have to go to each Calvary Chapel’s website to get that information.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace @ 29,
    Being Born again certainly must demand attention. It is quite an important topic.
    Yet the whole concept becomes so twisted from the textual context by those who tend to call themselve born again that it is but painful.
    Most assume being born again has to do with some sort of enthusiasm or mystical experience followed by praying the sinners prayer and a commitment to Christ that is all but self manufactured, and often short lived.
    Yet when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus he is talking of baptism. And the point of being born again is that it has very little to do with what you do, but what Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit does to you, like sanctifying you with water and the word.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace @ 29,
    Being Born again certainly must demand attention. It is quite an important topic.
    Yet the whole concept becomes so twisted from the textual context by those who tend to call themselve born again that it is but painful.
    Most assume being born again has to do with some sort of enthusiasm or mystical experience followed by praying the sinners prayer and a commitment to Christ that is all but self manufactured, and often short lived.
    Yet when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus he is talking of baptism. And the point of being born again is that it has very little to do with what you do, but what Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit does to you, like sanctifying you with water and the word.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, just on the “what is a denomination” question you write about, you start that out in a shaky way, assuming an either-or dichotomy for defining denominations.

    Denominations in practical terms are polities. Are WELS and LCMS the same denomination? No. Are their beliefs over 90% the same? Yes. However, those polities are formed around differences in belief. A denomination is formed by both differences in belief and differences in polity.

    There’s no way to say for sure, but I would be willing to lay very good odds that the similarities between WELS and LCMS churches are stronger than the similarities between the different Calvary Chapel churches. And yet, the WELS and LCMS churches are different denominations according to everyone here, at least as far as I can tell.

    Ignoring the polity portion when trying to say that Calvary Chapel is a single denomination because they all tend to have similar beliefs is ignoring a big part of what makes up a denomination. If one tries to say all Calvary Chapel churches really are part of a denomination just because they share a common-enough set of beliefs and practices, then one is also saying that the WELS and LCMS are one denomination.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, just on the “what is a denomination” question you write about, you start that out in a shaky way, assuming an either-or dichotomy for defining denominations.

    Denominations in practical terms are polities. Are WELS and LCMS the same denomination? No. Are their beliefs over 90% the same? Yes. However, those polities are formed around differences in belief. A denomination is formed by both differences in belief and differences in polity.

    There’s no way to say for sure, but I would be willing to lay very good odds that the similarities between WELS and LCMS churches are stronger than the similarities between the different Calvary Chapel churches. And yet, the WELS and LCMS churches are different denominations according to everyone here, at least as far as I can tell.

    Ignoring the polity portion when trying to say that Calvary Chapel is a single denomination because they all tend to have similar beliefs is ignoring a big part of what makes up a denomination. If one tries to say all Calvary Chapel churches really are part of a denomination just because they share a common-enough set of beliefs and practices, then one is also saying that the WELS and LCMS are one denomination.

  • Gregory

    @ Bror Erickson,33
    re: your entire post at 33:

    wow I wish I had said that. well said sir! If thats the effect of fresh Utah mountain air then I have to get out of the city and move down there myself.

  • Gregory

    @ Bror Erickson,33
    re: your entire post at 33:

    wow I wish I had said that. well said sir! If thats the effect of fresh Utah mountain air then I have to get out of the city and move down there myself.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Gregory,
    Thanks. I won’t blame it on the Utah air though, as most around me are even further off than the “born again” evangelicals….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Gregory,
    Thanks. I won’t blame it on the Utah air though, as most around me are even further off than the “born again” evangelicals….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    Decentralized polity, or congregationalism is still a polity. Just as Anarchism is still a political system.
    That said. You will find very few arguing that polity is what sets the WELS apart from the LCMS. At one time we were more or less agreed in doctrine and practice, and maybe still are to a great degree. But Lutherans have never seen polity as that which divides. and I think this is what ticks most evangelicals and protestants off. They have rightly figured out among themselves that their doctrinal differences do not amount to a hill of beans, and yet they maintain separate institutions. They are tempted to think it is only an institution that is dividing them from Lutherans and are shocked to find we have a distinct and different theology.
    But I am digressing.
    It is hard to see that there isn’t the semblence of an institution among the Calvary Chapels, it may not be as mature an institution as perhaps we now have in the LCMS, but there is an institution, and a shared polity. In fact it is a polity fairly similar to that which the LCMS started out with.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    Decentralized polity, or congregationalism is still a polity. Just as Anarchism is still a political system.
    That said. You will find very few arguing that polity is what sets the WELS apart from the LCMS. At one time we were more or less agreed in doctrine and practice, and maybe still are to a great degree. But Lutherans have never seen polity as that which divides. and I think this is what ticks most evangelicals and protestants off. They have rightly figured out among themselves that their doctrinal differences do not amount to a hill of beans, and yet they maintain separate institutions. They are tempted to think it is only an institution that is dividing them from Lutherans and are shocked to find we have a distinct and different theology.
    But I am digressing.
    It is hard to see that there isn’t the semblence of an institution among the Calvary Chapels, it may not be as mature an institution as perhaps we now have in the LCMS, but there is an institution, and a shared polity. In fact it is a polity fairly similar to that which the LCMS started out with.

  • Grace

    Bror – 34 – “Being Born again certainly must demand attention. It is quite an important topic.
    Yet the whole concept becomes so twisted from the textual context by those who tend to call themselve born again that it is but painful.
    Most assume being born again has to do with some sort of enthusiasm or mystical experience followed by praying the sinners prayer and a commitment to Christ that is all but self manufactured, and often short lived.

    I have never heard anyone define those who are Born Again the way you have expressed yourself above. The statements you made DIVIDE the body of Christ. They serve no purpose but to throw a rock at those who use the the words “Born Again” as Jesus did, to define who they are as in “Born Again Believer.” I often wonder WHY these words rub some Christians the wrong way.

  • Grace

    Bror – 34 – “Being Born again certainly must demand attention. It is quite an important topic.
    Yet the whole concept becomes so twisted from the textual context by those who tend to call themselve born again that it is but painful.
    Most assume being born again has to do with some sort of enthusiasm or mystical experience followed by praying the sinners prayer and a commitment to Christ that is all but self manufactured, and often short lived.

    I have never heard anyone define those who are Born Again the way you have expressed yourself above. The statements you made DIVIDE the body of Christ. They serve no purpose but to throw a rock at those who use the the words “Born Again” as Jesus did, to define who they are as in “Born Again Believer.” I often wonder WHY these words rub some Christians the wrong way.

  • Grace

    Bror 37 – “Thanks. I won’t blame it on the Utah air though, as most around me are even further off than the “born again” evangelicals….

    “Most around me” meaning who?

    Jesus used those words, they do offend many……. I wonder how Jesus views that attitude?

    I’m disappointed in your assessment of those who profess to be “Born Again” -

  • Grace

    Bror 37 – “Thanks. I won’t blame it on the Utah air though, as most around me are even further off than the “born again” evangelicals….

    “Most around me” meaning who?

    Jesus used those words, they do offend many……. I wonder how Jesus views that attitude?

    I’m disappointed in your assessment of those who profess to be “Born Again” -

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    I guess I’m just trying to figure from under which rock you have crawled out.
    After a life time of evangelicals questioning me and asking if I am born again, being thoroughly baffled when I answer that “yes, I was baptized the same day I was born.” and being told that was not enough but that I needed to feel the spirit etc. I will let my assessment stand, it seems to resonate with a few others here.
    And if you can’t figure out who I mean by “most around me” with a reference to Utah air, then I’m really not sure what to do for you. I’ll just say that I find the Mormons that surround me to be in many ways nothing but evangelicals on steroids, and often wonder if the two don’t imbibe the same spirit. They both rely heavily on feelings, and mystical experiences.
    But hey, if the shoe doesn’t fit, just don’t wear it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    I guess I’m just trying to figure from under which rock you have crawled out.
    After a life time of evangelicals questioning me and asking if I am born again, being thoroughly baffled when I answer that “yes, I was baptized the same day I was born.” and being told that was not enough but that I needed to feel the spirit etc. I will let my assessment stand, it seems to resonate with a few others here.
    And if you can’t figure out who I mean by “most around me” with a reference to Utah air, then I’m really not sure what to do for you. I’ll just say that I find the Mormons that surround me to be in many ways nothing but evangelicals on steroids, and often wonder if the two don’t imbibe the same spirit. They both rely heavily on feelings, and mystical experiences.
    But hey, if the shoe doesn’t fit, just don’t wear it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Again Grace,
    It isn’t the words, it is the co-opting of the words by those who could careless for which they are really talking about, that is what offends me.
    I don’t know, what is Jesus attitude to those who twist scripture? You tell me?
    I’m not thinking he is all that pleased by an attitude that insists the Bible is his inerrant word, and yet refuse to read it and understand what it is saying. Just a thought.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Again Grace,
    It isn’t the words, it is the co-opting of the words by those who could careless for which they are really talking about, that is what offends me.
    I don’t know, what is Jesus attitude to those who twist scripture? You tell me?
    I’m not thinking he is all that pleased by an attitude that insists the Bible is his inerrant word, and yet refuse to read it and understand what it is saying. Just a thought.

  • Grace

    “Grace, I guess I’m just trying to figure from under which rock you have crawled out.”

    You are a Lutheran pastor right? Is this the way you talk to people who disagree with you?

    Yes, I knew who you meant when I asked “who” – I didn’t want to assume something which you didn’t have in mind.

    To equate Evangelicals with Mormons as you did:

    “I’ll just say that I find the Mormons that surround me to be in many ways nothing but evangelicals on steroids”

    … says more about you than it does Evangelicals. Not a shinning example.

  • Grace

    “Grace, I guess I’m just trying to figure from under which rock you have crawled out.”

    You are a Lutheran pastor right? Is this the way you talk to people who disagree with you?

    Yes, I knew who you meant when I asked “who” – I didn’t want to assume something which you didn’t have in mind.

    To equate Evangelicals with Mormons as you did:

    “I’ll just say that I find the Mormons that surround me to be in many ways nothing but evangelicals on steroids”

    … says more about you than it does Evangelicals. Not a shinning example.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    It is the way I do react to people who are being disingenuous and would seek to speak down to others while trying to maintain that they are taking the high road. To those who assume it must be those who have a problem with my position that are wrong.
    If you want polite conversation, then be polite. But your questions up to now have been a bit sanctimonious, and taking on the air of a lecturing to others.
    And yes, I find the evangelicals to be quite mormonesque in their approach to life and doctrine. Or perhaps you could tell me why it is that around here they argue with Mormons about morals rather than Christ? And half the conversations degenerate into who really felt the Holy Spirit. Or who is more righteous according tot he flesh.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    It is the way I do react to people who are being disingenuous and would seek to speak down to others while trying to maintain that they are taking the high road. To those who assume it must be those who have a problem with my position that are wrong.
    If you want polite conversation, then be polite. But your questions up to now have been a bit sanctimonious, and taking on the air of a lecturing to others.
    And yes, I find the evangelicals to be quite mormonesque in their approach to life and doctrine. Or perhaps you could tell me why it is that around here they argue with Mormons about morals rather than Christ? And half the conversations degenerate into who really felt the Holy Spirit. Or who is more righteous according tot he flesh.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael Z. (@32), you said, “The Calvary Chapel website will not tell you what all Calvary Chapels believe because it does not speak for all Calvary Chapels.” But is that true? As I already noted, the front page of CalvaryChapel.com tells you that it is a “movement focused on the inerrancy of the Bible.” Okay, so Biblical “inerrancy” is something all churches in the “movement” believe in. And, though rather vague and empty, they nonetheless do have a “What we believe” section on the site for the movement itself which tells you, among other things, that “We believe that the only true basis of Christian fellowship is His (Agape) love”, “we give a great place to music in our worship”, and “we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have truly been worshiping Him”. There’s also a page on the main Calvary Chapel site that tells you “About heaven” and how to “enter God’s kingdom” — to which Calvary Church members does this page apply? All? None? If none, why is it on that site? Sounds like there are clearly bounds for what a Calvary Chapel church can believe.

    Indeed, if you go to the “Find a church” section of their Web site, you will also read that “all [Calvary Chapel churches] are connected by the fellowship and like-mindedness of the men who serve as their senior pastors.” Sure sounds like they’re saying all their senior pastors agree theologically!

    As to the claim that “they do not have a denominational structure,” exactly who is running CalvaryChapel.com? And who determines whether a church is a member of the Calvary Chapel “movement”, exactly? Is my (WELS) Lutheran church a member of the Calvary Chapel “movement”? Since there is no denominational structure to say yes or no, I guess the answer is: maybe?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael Z. (@32), you said, “The Calvary Chapel website will not tell you what all Calvary Chapels believe because it does not speak for all Calvary Chapels.” But is that true? As I already noted, the front page of CalvaryChapel.com tells you that it is a “movement focused on the inerrancy of the Bible.” Okay, so Biblical “inerrancy” is something all churches in the “movement” believe in. And, though rather vague and empty, they nonetheless do have a “What we believe” section on the site for the movement itself which tells you, among other things, that “We believe that the only true basis of Christian fellowship is His (Agape) love”, “we give a great place to music in our worship”, and “we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have truly been worshiping Him”. There’s also a page on the main Calvary Chapel site that tells you “About heaven” and how to “enter God’s kingdom” — to which Calvary Church members does this page apply? All? None? If none, why is it on that site? Sounds like there are clearly bounds for what a Calvary Chapel church can believe.

    Indeed, if you go to the “Find a church” section of their Web site, you will also read that “all [Calvary Chapel churches] are connected by the fellowship and like-mindedness of the men who serve as their senior pastors.” Sure sounds like they’re saying all their senior pastors agree theologically!

    As to the claim that “they do not have a denominational structure,” exactly who is running CalvaryChapel.com? And who determines whether a church is a member of the Calvary Chapel “movement”, exactly? Is my (WELS) Lutheran church a member of the Calvary Chapel “movement”? Since there is no denominational structure to say yes or no, I guess the answer is: maybe?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@34), I’m not the one grouping all those churches under an umbrella organization called “Calvary Chapel”. Those churches are doing that, voluntarily, themselves. They band together — explicitly over the “distinctives” that they themselves tout, and, to a less obvious degree, over at least some shared beliefs. Yes, they have similarity of beliefs. No, that alone does not define denominations. But your comment misses the entire point that they have banded together.

    Have the WELS and LCMS banded together? No. They hold each other at a distance, and they do so explicitly over the few disagreements they have. This is distinctly different from how the Calvary Chapel member churches treat each other.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@34), I’m not the one grouping all those churches under an umbrella organization called “Calvary Chapel”. Those churches are doing that, voluntarily, themselves. They band together — explicitly over the “distinctives” that they themselves tout, and, to a less obvious degree, over at least some shared beliefs. Yes, they have similarity of beliefs. No, that alone does not define denominations. But your comment misses the entire point that they have banded together.

    Have the WELS and LCMS banded together? No. They hold each other at a distance, and they do so explicitly over the few disagreements they have. This is distinctly different from how the Calvary Chapel member churches treat each other.

  • Grace

    For the most part, I believe this site covers the beliefs of Calvary Chapel. I hope it’s helpful to those of you who have wondered what they believe and how they govern their church body.

    I have posted just a small portion of what you will find, if you click on the LINK.

    Calvinism and Arminianism

    Calvary Chapel strives to “strik[e] a balance between extremes” when it comes to controversial theological issues such as Calvinism’s and Arminianism’s conflicting views on salvation. Calvary Chapels hold the following views on the five points of Calvinism:

    Calvary Chapel agrees with Calvinism’s view of all men as “sinners” but holds that — with God’s grace — salvation becomes possible.
    Calvinists believe that man’s election to salvation lies completely in the choice of God, while Arminians believe that man’s free will plays a role as well. Calvary Chapel has taken a middle ground approach by saying that “God clearly does choose, but man must also accept God’s invitation to salvation.”

    Calvary strongly sides with Arminianism, which contends that Jesus died “for the whole world”; this contrasts with the Calvinist view that Jesus’ death was intended and therefore efficient only for those who would believe. The Calvary Chapel view is that the “atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was clearly sufficient to save the entire human race”.

    On dealing with man’s ability to resist God, Calvary sides with Arminianism and believes that “God’s grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will”. Calvinists believe in irresistible grace.

    Calvary Chapels believe in the perseverance of the saints (true believers) but express deep concern about sinful lifestyles and rebellious hearts among those who call themselves Christians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvary_Chapel

  • Grace

    For the most part, I believe this site covers the beliefs of Calvary Chapel. I hope it’s helpful to those of you who have wondered what they believe and how they govern their church body.

    I have posted just a small portion of what you will find, if you click on the LINK.

    Calvinism and Arminianism

    Calvary Chapel strives to “strik[e] a balance between extremes” when it comes to controversial theological issues such as Calvinism’s and Arminianism’s conflicting views on salvation. Calvary Chapels hold the following views on the five points of Calvinism:

    Calvary Chapel agrees with Calvinism’s view of all men as “sinners” but holds that — with God’s grace — salvation becomes possible.
    Calvinists believe that man’s election to salvation lies completely in the choice of God, while Arminians believe that man’s free will plays a role as well. Calvary Chapel has taken a middle ground approach by saying that “God clearly does choose, but man must also accept God’s invitation to salvation.”

    Calvary strongly sides with Arminianism, which contends that Jesus died “for the whole world”; this contrasts with the Calvinist view that Jesus’ death was intended and therefore efficient only for those who would believe. The Calvary Chapel view is that the “atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ was clearly sufficient to save the entire human race”.

    On dealing with man’s ability to resist God, Calvary sides with Arminianism and believes that “God’s grace can either be resisted or received by the exercise of human free will”. Calvinists believe in irresistible grace.

    Calvary Chapels believe in the perseverance of the saints (true believers) but express deep concern about sinful lifestyles and rebellious hearts among those who call themselves Christians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvary_Chapel

  • Porcell

    Todd, you need to explain to the Calvary Chapel folk the virtue of ut unum sint, that they might be one with perhaps WELS or maybe LCMS, or, God forbid, the Congregational or Roman Catholic Church.

  • Porcell

    Todd, you need to explain to the Calvary Chapel folk the virtue of ut unum sint, that they might be one with perhaps WELS or maybe LCMS, or, God forbid, the Congregational or Roman Catholic Church.

  • Tom Hering

    All Christians could be one – but one what? Things get problematical at the point that question is asked. Especially if a clear answer is pressed for. (Something more than nice sentiments.)

  • Tom Hering

    All Christians could be one – but one what? Things get problematical at the point that question is asked. Especially if a clear answer is pressed for. (Something more than nice sentiments.)

  • WebMonk

    tODD, point being, much like Michael Z said – they use a common name and have many common beliefs, but lack the common polity. They self-declare they are not bound together in a denomination.

    Look at the WELS and LCMS. The use a mostly common name, have many common beliefs, but lack the common polity. They self-declare they are not bound together in a denomination.

    If you say the WELS and LCMS are not a single denomination, then the same standard applies to the Calvary Church bodies.

    The WELS and LCMS declare themselves to be separate over a couple points of belief differences. The Calvary Church churches declare themselves to be separate over belief differences, but declare themselves to be in unity in many ways. If it helps, you could consider them to be in a similar state as the LCMS was with the ALS years back – many similar beliefs, enough that they communed with each other, but yet maintained separate denominations. That sounds almost exactly what the CC churches are doing, only instead of maintaining separate denominations, they are maintaining separate church bodies.

    I don’t see any reason that the LCMS and ALS could work together so closely that they would share communion (which is a huge deal for Lutherans) and pastors back and forth, and yet still maintain distinct denominations, and yet CC churches can’t do something similar in using a common name (but no passing membership or pastors) and still maintain distinct church bodies without a common denomination.

  • WebMonk

    tODD, point being, much like Michael Z said – they use a common name and have many common beliefs, but lack the common polity. They self-declare they are not bound together in a denomination.

    Look at the WELS and LCMS. The use a mostly common name, have many common beliefs, but lack the common polity. They self-declare they are not bound together in a denomination.

    If you say the WELS and LCMS are not a single denomination, then the same standard applies to the Calvary Church bodies.

    The WELS and LCMS declare themselves to be separate over a couple points of belief differences. The Calvary Church churches declare themselves to be separate over belief differences, but declare themselves to be in unity in many ways. If it helps, you could consider them to be in a similar state as the LCMS was with the ALS years back – many similar beliefs, enough that they communed with each other, but yet maintained separate denominations. That sounds almost exactly what the CC churches are doing, only instead of maintaining separate denominations, they are maintaining separate church bodies.

    I don’t see any reason that the LCMS and ALS could work together so closely that they would share communion (which is a huge deal for Lutherans) and pastors back and forth, and yet still maintain distinct denominations, and yet CC churches can’t do something similar in using a common name (but no passing membership or pastors) and still maintain distinct church bodies without a common denomination.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grtace,
    If what you say at18 in the last paragraph is true, then judging by what you pasted in 47 there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.
    I would posit in other words that they are not nearly as biblical as they think they are.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grtace,
    If what you say at18 in the last paragraph is true, then judging by what you pasted in 47 there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.
    I would posit in other words that they are not nearly as biblical as they think they are.

  • Grace

    Boar: “If what you say at18 in the last paragraph is true, then judging by what you pasted in 47 there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.
    I would posit in other words that they are not nearly as biblical as they think they are.”

    The post I made in #18 was at August 25, 2010 at 1:38 “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” – keep that in mind as you post.

    What part of the last paragraph #18 in my post, do you see as meaning ” there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.” ?

  • Grace

    Boar: “If what you say at18 in the last paragraph is true, then judging by what you pasted in 47 there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.
    I would posit in other words that they are not nearly as biblical as they think they are.”

    The post I made in #18 was at August 25, 2010 at 1:38 “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” – keep that in mind as you post.

    What part of the last paragraph #18 in my post, do you see as meaning ” there shouldn’t be any Calvary Chapels left.” ?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@48), I’d be happy to explain to those from Calvary Chapel how they and I may be one. And I’ll do you one better! I’ll explain to them how we can be truly one, not just faking it for the sake of fighting some political enemy!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@48), I’d be happy to explain to those from Calvary Chapel how they and I may be one. And I’ll do you one better! I’ll explain to them how we can be truly one, not just faking it for the sake of fighting some political enemy!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    Really? you can’t figure out what I am implying at 52?
    In pragraph 18 you say that churches are asked to leave the Calvary Chapel church when they stray from Biblical teaching. In paragraph 47 you outline their beliefs, almost all of which stray from Biblical teaching. So why are there any Calvary Chapels left?
    I find it funny how they think they are taking middle ground. At best they have done nothing but becomes slightly nuanced Arminians. But then perhaps the more frustrating thing for a Lutheran is that they believe there are only two options, that of Arminian theology or that of Calvinist theology, both of which stray from Biblical teaching.
    Great play on my name there too. I’m sure you made Christ proud. Did me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Grace,
    Really? you can’t figure out what I am implying at 52?
    In pragraph 18 you say that churches are asked to leave the Calvary Chapel church when they stray from Biblical teaching. In paragraph 47 you outline their beliefs, almost all of which stray from Biblical teaching. So why are there any Calvary Chapels left?
    I find it funny how they think they are taking middle ground. At best they have done nothing but becomes slightly nuanced Arminians. But then perhaps the more frustrating thing for a Lutheran is that they believe there are only two options, that of Arminian theology or that of Calvinist theology, both of which stray from Biblical teaching.
    Great play on my name there too. I’m sure you made Christ proud. Did me.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 54,
    “But then perhaps the more frustrating thing for a Lutheran is that they believe there are only two options, that of Arminian theology or that of Calvinist theology”

    To quote a famous song: “We didn’t start the fire…”
    The commonly held belief that there are only two options is not original to Calvary Chapel, I would even say that CCs are defying this idea by pulling ideas from both views. So, in that way, I agree completely that both stray from Biblical teaching. :-)

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 54,
    “But then perhaps the more frustrating thing for a Lutheran is that they believe there are only two options, that of Arminian theology or that of Calvinist theology”

    To quote a famous song: “We didn’t start the fire…”
    The commonly held belief that there are only two options is not original to Calvary Chapel, I would even say that CCs are defying this idea by pulling ideas from both views. So, in that way, I agree completely that both stray from Biblical teaching. :-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    michael Z,
    Accept that they don’t really. And picking and choosing from 2 different unbiblical doctrines probably isn’t the best way to come up with biblical doctrine.
    There is a better way, read the Augsburg Confession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the Formula of Concord.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    michael Z,
    Accept that they don’t really. And picking and choosing from 2 different unbiblical doctrines probably isn’t the best way to come up with biblical doctrine.
    There is a better way, read the Augsburg Confession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the Formula of Concord.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 56,

    I’ve read the Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism, hadn’t heard of the Formula of Concord though. I’ll look at it too.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror 56,

    I’ve read the Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism, hadn’t heard of the Formula of Concord though. I’ll look at it too.

  • WebMonk

    Oh God, not another Arminian-Calvinism-Lutheran-mix debate! Please no!!!
    :-)

  • WebMonk

    Oh God, not another Arminian-Calvinism-Lutheran-mix debate! Please no!!!
    :-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I doubt it. Doesn’t seem to be anyone interested this time around.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Webmonk,
    I doubt it. Doesn’t seem to be anyone interested this time around.

  • WebMonk

    Thank God, and I mean that most sincerely, for small favors!!

  • WebMonk

    Thank God, and I mean that most sincerely, for small favors!!

  • Pingback: Mere Christianity Reviews | Shout Joyfully

  • Pingback: Mere Christianity Reviews | Shout Joyfully


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X