Thursday, November 15, 2007


I just started filling out my online application to Trinity Western (though I have a year- they let me save it, so I'm not turning it in yet obviously) and as you may gather from the name, it is a Christian university. Once I got past the name, address, citizenship (which I hate. They never have duel, so I always feel like I'm not telling the whole truth. And which one do I choose???) the next question is denomination.

Luckily, they have a scroll down list so that you don't have to worry about spelling, but that means you have to choose one. It's like a multiple choice question- you have to pick one of them. I'm going to list them all here, as they're written:

Advent Chr
Africa Inland Church
African Christian Church
African Methodist
African Orthodox Church
Amana Ch
American Evangelical Christian
Anglican Church
Apostolic Church
Armenian Church
Ashland Brethren
Assembly of God
Associated Gospel Church
Baptist General Conference
Baptist Union of Western Canada
Beachy Amish
Bible Fellowship
Black Muslim
Brethren Church
Brethren in Christ
Canadian Baptist Federation
Canadian Reformed Church
Ch of Ch Cong [I'm guessing Church of China Congregation?]
Christian Church
Christian Missionary Alliance
Christian Reformed Church
Church of Christ
Church of Christian Holiness
Church of Christian Scientist
Church of England
Church of God
Church of God in Christ
Church of the Bre[theren?]
Church of Nazarene
Congregational Church
Conservative Baptist
Conservative Mennonite Conf.
Coptic Orthodox
Covenant Church
Disciples of Christ
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Covenant Church
Evangelical Free
Evangelical Mennonite
Evangelical Mennonite Confederation
Evangelical Mennonite Brethren
Evangelical United Brethren
Fellowship Baptist
Free Methodist
Friends (Quaker)
Full Gospel
General Conference Mennonite
Grace Brethren
Greek Orthodox
House Church
Jehovah's Witness
Korean Evangelical Holiness Ch
Krimmer Mennonite
Mennonite Brethren
Mennonite Church
Moravian Church in America
Netherlands Reformed Church
No Church Listed
North American Baptist
Old German Baptist
Old German Baptist Brethren
Old Ord Riv Bre [Old Order River Brethren?]
Old Order Amish
Old Order Brethren
Old Order Wisslr.
Overseas Mennonites
Pentecostal Holiness
Plymouth Brethren
Reformed Church of America
Reformed Episcopalian
Reformed Mennonite
Salvation Army
Seventh Day Adventist
Southern Baptist
Southern Methodist
Syrian Orthodox
United Brethren
United Church of Canada
United Church of Christ
United Methodist
United Missionary Church
United Presbyterian
Vineyard Association
Wesleyan Methodist
World Wide Church of God

So after I searched for the "Whoa" selection, and then had deja vu of filling out the back of the SAT form (it's like that, only you're supposed to bubble your selection with a number two pencil), I looked through them. Here are the conclusions I found:

Why Can't We Be Friends?
Yes, that song played in my head. Even if you eliminate things that are obviously not Christian (Muslim, Buddhist, Bahai, Jewish) and the ones that are questionable (not to insult anyone, but Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, Unitarian) and you are still left with a boatfull of denominations. I mean, Church of God, and Church of God in Christ??? Granted, I know the university has to cover its tail, but when it comes down to it, a majority of the denominations resulted from a disagreement of some kind (or potentially, geographic location). I agree that if your church is not holding to the Bible, there is something wrong with it and therefore a new denomination may be necessary, and this isn't always cut and dry, since people interpret the Bible in different ways, but there are a lot of denominations, and that's a lot of theological skiffs. I know the formation of United Methodism is full of different things branching off and joining together and it's a mess.

Which one?
Personally, I was raised United Methodist, am now attending a North American Baptist church, and have attended an Evangelical Church of Canada until a couple weeks ago. Each denomination has its issues. But when someone asks which denomination you are, do they really care if you're Methodist or United Methodist? Do they even know the difference? Is there a difference? If there is, do you know the difference? And what if you really don't know. I agree with a majority of Methodist beliefs, but there are a couple that I don't. If someone asked me which denomination I am, is there one that better describes my beliefs?

My point is, labeling denominations is necessary to help choose churches, and get someones beliefs in a nutshell, but once you have that basic overview, does it hinder us from asking tough questions? If someone tells me they're Lutheran, my pathetic amount of knowledge would tell me "Cool, Lutheran, aren't they the ones who don't share communion with other denominations?" and leave it at that. However, if we didn't have nifty denomination titles, I would have to ask, "Well, what's your opinion on this?" and "How do you feel about that?" This would also encourage people to question their own personal beliefs, rather than following a denomination that may not describe them.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Interesting how that works. Like you noted, they kind of do have to put them all in to cover their bases with any picky person who might want to apply and might take offense to incorrect wording.

I myself know little about how religion works, but I believe that the sects are a trade-off. People like to feel that they are in a particular group, and are identified with being part of a whole. Humans are social creatures. At the same time, those divisions do cause a sort of predisposition and split people apart.

The subject your thoughts immediately reminded me of are race. People like to identify with people of their own race, with people who look like them. It's good to have a sense of belonging and meaning within a group. At the same time, racism is still common today. I doubt that many would want to erase race as a factor in people. We must all look past it and not allow one identity to dominate our image of a person.