“Nones” are fine with denominations

Contrary to the common assumption, “Nones”–people with no religious preference–have positive feelings about most Christian denominations and denominations in general, according to a LifeWay study.

The most favorable impressions among non-believers are Baptists and Catholics.  Baptists scored 61% favorable, 19% unfavorable, and 20% not familiar enough to have an opinion.  Catholics scored 57% favorable, 23% unfavorable, and 20% not familiar enough.

Lutherans (46% favorable, 22% unfavorable, 33% not familiar enough) were down on the list, third from the bottom, with Pentecostals (38% favorable, 27% unfavorable, 35% not familiar enough) coming in with the lowest numbers.

See details after the jump and go to the link for another interesting category:  “not for me.” [Read more...]

Theological flowers

Calvinists sum up their theology, as well as their Dutch connections, with the acronym TULIP.  That stands for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints.

Southern Baptists are currently in the midst of a controversy between their Calvinist members and their more Arminian brethren.  So to compete with the TULIP faction, as Bill Leonard reports, the non-Calvinist Baptists have come up with a flower of their own:  POINSETTIA.  That stands for “Pursuit unconditional, Own guilt, Inclusive atonement, Natural responsibility, Spontaneous regeneration, Election available, Temperate foreknowledge, True freedom, Indestructible security, Almighty gospel.”

Your task:  Come up with a flower for other theological traditions (Catholics?  Orthodox?  Pentecostal?  Methodist?  Non-Denominational?), turning it into an acronym or a symbol for its distinct teachings and practices.  After the jump, the flower of Lutheranism. [Read more...]

Church government by the pastor

Continuing our earlier discussion about denominations and non-denominations, we need to consider another factor:  church government.  Some denominations define themselves not by their theology but by the way they are governed.    Presbyterians have a system of elders (presbyters, in the Greek).  Episcopalians have bishops.  Congregationalists have voters.  Other denominations have some variation or combination of these three basic structures.  But non-denominational congregations tend to have a different approach to church government that I think is unique in church history. [Read more...]

Churches, sects, denominations, and non-denominations

Sociologist of religion Peter Berger (an ELCA Lutheran) discusses the phenomenon of the Sunday Assembly, which we blogged about yesterday.  He said the fact that atheists too are gathering together following the pattern of religious activities demonstrates the almost universal human need to worship (or the equivalent) and to join together with others who hold common religious or philosophical convictions.

In the course of his discussion, he draws on older sociologists who distinguish between different kinds of religious institutions:  a church (which a person is born into) and a sect (which a person chooses to join).  Such a distinction, it seems to me, grows out of the European state church.  American religion, according to Dr. Berger, has added the concept of the denomination, which a person may be born into or choose freely to join.  Dr. Berger further says that denominations of one sort or another–in the sense of “a community of value, religious or otherwise,” have become inevitable in America, extending even to atheists.

After the jump, read his argument and some questions I have about “non-denominational” churches.  [Read more...]

The largest Protestant denominations

New statistics have been released giving the largest Protestant denominations.  We Missouri Synod Lutherans are #11 with 2.3 million members.  That’s more than the Episcopalians (#12 with 2 milllion), though they get all the attention.  If you add up the two biggest Lutheran groups (the ELCA being #5 with 4.5 million), we’d come in at #3.  That’s lots more than explicitly Calvinist groups, though they have seem to have the most influence.  Then again, the denomination of not having a denomination has some 12.2 million members, which would make it #2.

See the list of the top 15 after the jump.  What can we conclude from this list, if anything? [Read more...]

Religious retention rates

A study of religious retention rates–that is, what percentage of people raised in a particular church or religion stay with it when they are grown–is quite interesting.  Lutherans are in second place among Protestants (58%),  just after the Baptists (60%).  The group with the worst performance in transmitting their beliefs to their young people is atheists (30%).

 

Did you know that Atheists have the lowest retention rate of any “religious” group? Some interesting Data from CARA | Archdiocese of Washington.

 

HT:  Joe Carter


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