The Nones and the Nons: Surprising Similarities?

Third, there is great value placed on the freedom — a form of sovereignty — of individual persons and individual churches in matters of religious faith. Absent any identification with a specific tradition or denomination, churches are free, for example, to craft everything from their doctrinal statements and worship services to their missions and ministry practices however they see fit. A la carte, if they wish.

Acknowledging that this is far from a complete description of "independent," nondenominational Christianity in America, it is enough, I trust, to suggest why it could be interesting and illuminating to comparatively following the way forward in the coming years for nondenominational evangelicals and "Nones." Particularly when considered in light of American culture in particular, there are seemingly powerful similarities between the two. Both value immediacy in religion, both are suspicious — if not cynical — about religious institutions, and both place great value in individual freedom.

What's more, in listening to both nondenominational Christians and "Nones," I can't help but get the sense that these characteristics reflect not simply preferences but convictions. This is the way Christianity or religion ought to be, "must" be.

Nondenominational evangelical Christianity is sometimes regarded as powerfully reflecting distinctively American characteristics, such as those identified above. The continuing rise of "Nones" is often regarded as a reflection of ways in which American society is changing, "where it is headed." That said, given the seeming similarities between these two forms of religion, it may be that nondenominational evangelical Christianity will be an even more inviting "fit" with certain cultural sensibilities in the American future than it has been in the past.

7/22/2015 4:00:00 AM
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