I once attended a very small but well-known Calvinistic Baptist church near where I live. Years before I started attending, the church name was changed from _________ Baptist Church to a non-denominational name. I wasn’t so much bothered by the new name as the rationale. The argument, as I understand it, is that denominational names carry baggage that they wanted to avoid. Instead of being a ‘Baptist’ church, they would be a ‘baptistic’ church. I cringe when I hear that! Should we flee from the baggage associated with the words like Christian and proclaim ourselves no longer Christian, but Christian-istic?
The short-sited aspect of this phenomenon, to my mind, is that it is in many cases the non-denominational churches that are the proprietors of every imaginable gimick, format, program, method, heresy, and all manner of craziness and ‘looniness’.
Here are a few of my arguments for avoiding non-denominational names:
- Does the title Baptist come with baggage? The non-denominational name tag comes with far more
- It dishonors our Baptist forefathers who fought and suffered for our beliefs
- It sends a message that we are not proud of what we believe regarding ecclesiology – certainly not as proud as Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc
- It wreaks of ecumenicism
- It ties the identify of the church to the modern passing fads of the age rather than to a historic and well founded system of Biblical theology
- If it was good enough for Spurgeon, it’s good enough for me
- It is a dishonest lie.
If you are not persuaded by me, be persuaded by the wisdom of a greater age –
There are some very excellent people in our time who think it a merit to be entirely undenominational, and who proclaim that they “love one church as well as another.” But, where not deluded, such persons are few and quite exceptional; in general, the truest, most devoted, and most useful Christians are strong in their denominational convictions and attachments. I repeat, then, that by proper instruction in our distinctive views we shall really make our young people better Christians.
John A. Broadus
The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views
For more from Broadus, see: The Duty of Baptists to Teach Their Distinctive Views
What do Baptist believe?