New life for denominationalism

It's no longer taken for granted

On the cusp of the 21st century, a strange thing is happening. Congregations—not all, but a noticeable number—are choosing to highlight their denominational particularities. While for some this might not seem so strange, for much of the 20th century highlighting denominational differences has been considered by many to be somewhat suspect. Early in the century, H. Richard Niebuhr wrote, “Denominationalism thus represents the moral failure of Christianity. . . . Before the church can hope to overcome its fatal division it must learn to recognize and to acknowledge the secular character of its denominationalism.” Despite whatever good sectarian revivals may do at renewing the church, he condemned divisions based on denomination because the denominations were laden with ethnic, racial and class-based divisions.


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