I had a great time in D.C. I kidded the folks at National City Christian Church why they get to call their denomination “Churches of Christ” and “Disciples of Christ.” I mean, those seem like rather generic names that all of us who follow Jesus should be able to use.
With some pathos in their voices, several of the clergy members there told me that their denomination was never meant to be a denomination. It was part of the Restorationist movement to bring all Christians back together, to overthrow denominations. But, in 1968, they gave in and became a denomination. One guy even told me, “1968. Just as the rest of our culture was de-institutionalizing, we institutionalized.”
Others were a bit more edgy, telling me, in effect, that denominationalism is inevitable, and Emergentism is just around the corner. But what’s interesting, I think is that their move toward ecumenism was part-and-parcel with the lowest-common-denominator ecumenism of the 20th century. Instead of encouraging distinctiveness, they wanted everyone to lay aside their differences and come together. The emergent tack is just the opposite, embracing differance as the very element that makes us human.