Thinking Out Loud

January 12, 2018

Theological Comparisons: What Type of Church Do You Attend?

I’ve been amazed recently at people who attend a church which has a denominational affiliation, but they don’t know what it is. Visiting? Maybe. You’re just passing through. Attending frequently? I would have thought it was a basic question. When it comes to actual doctrines, overarching theology, spiritual values, church culture and core beliefs1 I would think people would want to know where their church fits in across various spectra2 but apparently if the worship is good, the children’s ministry is high quality, and the sermons are engaging, people are happy not knowing whose name is on the door.

A few days ago we asked the question, “What is a Charismatic.” It seems to me that a diligent blogger could start a series on this, “What is a Baptist?” and “What is an Episcopalian?”3 being next in line. Unfortunately I am not that writer. However…

We started the work week on Monday with Michael Patton, so it seemed like a good place to end the work week. First of all, for those of you who are subscribers, I need to clarify something that we updated a few hours after the piece appeared, and that is that Michael’s blog Parchment and Pen migrated to CreedoHouse.org. The specific article, What Does it Mean to Be Charismatic which we quoted, is available in full at this link.

In the interest of getting it right this time, while I couldn’t find the image below at the new site, a full explanation of it appears at this link.

My motivation in all this is often very perfunctory. As regular readers know, I spend at least two days per week serving customers in a Christian retail store. So when the above chart first appeared, I introduced it as follows:

Sometimes, I have to admit, I need to be able to put people into a box.

It’s not that they will necessarily fit into the box comfortably, but frankly it saves time; it lets me know what set of terminology to use; it indicates to me what schools of doctrinal thought are off limits; it helps me find common ground with authors or worship styles or even Bible translation preferences.

This is not good.

However, sometimes it does cut to the chase. Give me some indicators and let me make assumptions. Is that the ESV Study Bible you’re holding? Here’s a new book from John Piper you might enjoy. You attend the Revival Center? You might enjoy the new Jesus Culture album.

Stereotyping, as we once called it; today it’s called profiling.

The same day as that ran, I also ran another chart, this one from Matt Stone. His blog has also migrated, but at the risk of making the same mistake twice, I did more research this time, and the chart can now be located at this link. The new website is called Curious Christian (and he’s still very much into visuals.)


I hope this helps somehow! I realize the title of today’s piece asks a question and only gives you a minimalist framework to formulate an answer, but such as the two graphic images are, they help us get back the superficial (see cartoon above) and think about things in more important terms.


1 This phrase is all about the cadence and rhythm of the sentence. Some of the words themselves are redundant. Speaking of words, it’s interesting that the modern dichotomy of Calvinism and Arminianism is nowhere to be seen in the two graphics.
2 Spectra, as in plural of spectrum. Usually churches can be measured in terms of where they land on the spectrum for three or four major discriminators. Instead of a double-axis graph, picture something that looks more like an asterisk.
3 Or, if you prefer Anglican; but although based in Canada, I’m writing for a dominantly U.S. audience, so Episcopal it is! Some would argue that only those within a particular movement can accurately describe it or write about it. What do you think?

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May 19, 2010

Wednesday Link List

For your consideration…

  • Top Trend of the Week On Christian Blogs (and Everywhere Else) — Quitting Facebook.   This one isn’t a faith blogger, but it makes the point well.
  • C. Michael Patton may call his post Why I Am Not Charismatic, but he’s more Charismatic-friendly than most.   Besides, I have a thing for charts:

  • Speakers, worship leaders, pastors:  If your church has an audio system, act as though The Mic Is Always On.   (Actually it’s a good rule for life, too.)
  • This British TV commercial — a long one, at 1:30 — for the John Lewis department stores is our YouTube clip of the week, as it could easily be one of those media clips your church uses on Sunday morning.
  • Donald Miller thinks the next time you’re at a party, instead of asking someone, “What do you do?” you might try asking, “What is your story?”  Everybody has one.
  • Even the little ethnic churches in major cities are prone to sex scandals.   This one took place in Toronto and you probably didn’t hear about it, but South Korea’s two largest TV networks were all over it.
  • This post on theological systems isn’t very long, but makes a good point, and besides, like I said, I’ve got a thing for charts.   Go to Matt Stone’s blog and double click the image there for a clearer vision.

  • Here’s a longer post I wrote on the weekend over at Christianity 201 which includes a long re-post of something serious by Jon Acuff.  Check out Where Sin Abounds.
  • Tired of getting all your blog input from 20-somethings and 30-somethings?   Donald M. Bastian is no spring chicken, but if you appreciate the wisdom of older mentors — especially if you’re in ministry — check out Just Call Me Pastor.   (And the page which explains the blog’s name.)
  • I need you to check this apologetics blog out — pretend you’re a skeptic for a few minutes — and tell me what you think of Proof That God Exists.
  • Joel Taylor discovers that your local hospital may not be able to call that little room a chapel anymore, because that word is too sectarian.
  • Will Mancini says that when you break down Jesus’ spoken word content, his influence boils down to the use of metaphors.   As a matter of fact, this blog post even has a chart:

  • Book Trailer of the Week:  David W. Pierce describes his 2009 Waterbrook story of mountain climbing with his daughter, Don’t Let Me Go.
  • Devotional Blog Discovery of the Week:  Smoodock’s Blog.   The writer is actually named Eddie, and his “about” page tells you what a Smoodock is.  (You already know, you just didn’t know it had a name.)  Short devos posted every other day or so.  Reminds me a bit of Rick Apperson‘s blog.
  • In our Saving-The-Best-For-Last department, Matt Stone scores another Wednesday link with this post — you so gotta do this — asking you to compare two worship songs.
  • This actually isn’t part of the Wednesday Link List — It was in my image file and I truly have no idea where I got this — but like I said, I have thing for charts:

  • Instead of actual cartoons this week, we have some panels from Sacred Sandwich:

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