I have a friend who recently joined the Russian Orthodox church after years of being a Baptist. Why? He had read some of the church fathers and felt that perhaps we evangelical protestants were mistaken in our view of the Lord's Table. Not wanting all the mythology that is included within Roman Catholicism, but still wanting the historical authority of the ancient church, he chose the Orthodox church. He is not alone. Many evangelicals toss around, seeking solid authority for the tenets of their faith. Protestant denominations tend to give ground on the Bible and become prone to drifting away from orthodox (little "o") Christianity. The PCUSA, United Methodists, American Baptist, the Episcopal Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and other mainline denominations produce many leaders who question the validity of Scripture and seem to redefine the gospel in the image of the world. Bible-believing leaders in these denominations object and form "conservative" movements within, and often split, creating new denominations. Such institutional uncertainty upsets many.
If one denomination says one thing, another says another thing, who decides what is right and true? Which institution offers certainty? What is a Christian to do? Many look to the Roman Church or the Eastern Orthodox Churches and see their leaders happily proclaim themselves to be the visible authority of Jesus on earth, the true church.
Of course, most evangelicals don't run to the ancient Roman churches mentioned above. However, some are beginning to fret and fear the rise of the "non-denominational" brand. I hear arguments in defense of denominations because "at least people in denominations know what they believe," --as if non-denominational churches are filled with the uninformed. But to cling to a denomination as an authority of orthodoxy has its own problems, doesn't it? After all, Luther was not a Lutheran when he stood against the denomination of his age (the Roman Catholic Church).
To be clear, I am not speaking for nor against denominations. The purpose of this blog is to introduce an idea I hope to develop more. The purpose is to make observations. The main observation is this: non-denominational churches may be flying "without a denominational net," however not as dangerously as Luther, Calvin, or Zwingly, nor the many martyred preachers of the reformation. In other words, the reformers stood on the scripture when there were not yet any denominations, per se, to offer them cover. In this respect, the non-denominational leaders share something with reformers that Presbyterians and Lutherans do not. Ironic, isn't it?