WWROD: Which denominations do what well?

So, GetReligion readers, have you submitted a religion-rooted question yet to veteran scribe Richard Ostling, over at his new weblog? That would be the one called “Religion Q&A: The Ridgewood Religion Guy answers your questions” (click here for some background).

Anyway, this week’s Ostling offering here at GetReligion focuses on a question that is sure to raise hackles in a few corners of the world of organized religion.

The provocative question, from one Judy in Pennsylvania:

The various Christian denominations seemingly have particular strengths in the theology, practice, outreach, and church polity of their forms of Christian faith. How would you see these strengths being shared among individual churches and Christians across the USA and around the globe in an effort to strengthen the Christian faith?

This is the time of year, Ostling noted, when media folks are inclined to assemble lists of various kinds.

This particular list, however, is by its nature rooted in opinion and, thus, is a bit perilous. Nevertheless, based on his decades of experience on the religion beat, he offered some of his views. The list starts like this:

Salvation Army — Taking Jesus seriously, and not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas (“as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me.”)

Eastern Orthodox — Worship that conveys awe and mystery. Unwavering devotion to the faith that “was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Roman Catholics — Doctrinal clarity. Rich intellectual tradition. Parochial schools. Hospitals. Charities. And much, much else. But could benefit by learning from:

Presbyterian; Reformed churches — Skill with sermons (usually). Classic Protestant governance balancing regional oversight with local iniitiative, plus responsibility, voice, vote, and sense of vocation for lay members (concepts that helped create secular republics).

Lutherans — Choirs. Parish architecture and other visuals (often). Wise handling of schism to honor conscience and limit strife.

Anglicans; Episcopalians — Liturgy. Hymnody. But could learn much from the Lutherans on schism.

You get the idea.

Head on over to his site to read the rest and, by all means, leave a few questions that will force this religion-beat patriarch into hard-news terrain.

Just do it. Make our day.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Stephen

    We Anglicans are also killer interior decorators. Just sayin’.

  • cvg

    I thought the Southern Baptists/ Mormons tautology was funny. Would be great to see a few counter-cultists’ reactions on that one.

  • http://www.magdalenesegg.blogspot.com The Rev. Michael Church

    We Lutherans do coffee hour pretty well. Sometimes very well. Honestly, I’m prouder of our coffee hour achievements than of anything on Ostling’s list, but … well, you take the affirmation where you can get it, I guess.

  • FW Ken

    Methodists have great covered fish dippers, and yes, there is lots PhD chicken.

    Inbreeding construction of the list. Apparently only the catholics have something to learn from the others.

  • FW Ken

    Predictive, self-”correcting” text be hanged!

    Methodists may well have good fish dinners, but I meant dish. How
    “of” became “PhD” is certainly a mystery.

    And the list was of “interesting” construction, not inbred

    sigh…heavy sigh…

    • http://magdalenesegg.blogspot.com/ Michael Church

      I’m a little disappointed. I was going to call some Methodist seminary classmates and ask about this PhD chicken.

    • Fr. John W. Morris

      You have not been to a real covered dish supper until you have been to one at an Antiochian Orthodox Church. You get the best of American food, plus excellent examples of Lebanese and Syrian food. One thing that Orthodox Christians do well is eat.

    • Jill

      Your self-correction is making me laugh uncontrollably today. Thanks for that!

    • Richard

      best laugh I’ve had this holiday season. thank you!

  • Julia

    He neglected the 1,000 years plus treasury of Catholic music,which a few of us die-hards are trying to keep alive in church as well as in the secular concert hall.
    Yes, it is interesting that he only mentions the Catholics as needing to learn from others. Hmmmm

  • Chris

    Lutheran chorales and organ music from the 16th-18th century are great contributions to the Western Musical Tradition and much better musically and textually than the Anglican tradition. However, their architecture is atrocious. I don’t know how it is worldwide, but here in the states, the LCMS are quasi-Baptists and the ELCA are quasi-Methodists. And doctrine doesn’t seem to matter much to the ELCA or the Episcopalians–it’s kind of a make it up as you go along and discard things you don’t like by simple vote.

    The Byzantine Orthodox chanting tradition is rich and their iconography connects believers with the heavens.

  • Jon in the Nati

    Anything the Lutherans do well is outweighed by one thing: lutefisk.

    (I lived in Minnesota for years. I kid because I love.)

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  • Robb

    Jon
    I a non-Scandahovian, married to a Norweign born lady with many Norsk in-laws, really do like lutefisk. Most of the family does not. Go figure. Must be the lye.

  • Patricia

    Eastern (Byzantine) Catholics share with the Orthodox the “worship that conveys awe and mystery. Unwavering devotion to the faith that ‘was once for all delivered to the saints.’ ” Our chant & icnonography is heavenly!


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