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Post-Denominationalists ... and political irony

Post-Denominationalists ... and political irony

John Allen of the National  Catholic Reporter has written an interesting column on John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. Actually, it's not so much about her as about post-denominational Christians.

Excerpt:

[snip, snip, snip]
The initial confusion surrounding Palin’s denominational identity, therefore, has a simple explanation: She doesn’t have one. Instead, Palin appears to be part of that rapidly expanding galaxy of “post-denominational” Christianity, where elements of Evangelical and Pentecostal styles of faith and worship fuse into a myriad of unique local combinations, and where old denominational loyalties are essentially dead. Though post-denominationalists are, by definition, difficult to catalog and index, they’re unquestionably numerous.

[snip, snip, snip]

Not all post-denominationalists are conservative Evangelicals. The “emergent church” movement, for example, is often considered an expression of independent Christianity, and the relatively loose and flexible approach to creedal matters of some emerging churches – sometimes called “generous orthodoxy” – is regarded as unacceptably fuzzy by many Evangelicals. Globally, however, the largest share of the post-denominational universe is occupied by various forms of Evangelical and Pentecostal spirituality, with a strong emphasis on Biblical literalism and a lively sense of the supernatural.

[snip, snip, snip]
Although independent Christians spurn membership cards, they typically have little difficulty recognizing one other – in part, because there’s a shared culture formed by music, conventions in praise and worship, and spiritual language, which different congregations dip in and out of to varying degrees. For example, those who watched Palin’s announcement speech yesterday in Dayton, Ohio, might have noticed a throaty roar from the crowd when she said, “We are expected to govern with integrity and goodwill and clear convictions and a servant’s heart.” That reaction wasn’t simply about approval of good government; the phrase “servant’s heart” is a popular bit of Evangelical terminology, used as a short-hand for Christian humility. A quick web search reveals thousands of churches, ministries, and bands that use some variation of “servant’s heart” in the title; there’s even a residential cleaning service in Calgary called “Servant’s Heart.”

[snip, snip, snip]
There’s a bit of political irony for [Roman] Catholics. Given Palin’s strong pro-life credentials, it’s likely she will appeal to the most strongly “denominational” Catholics, those most devoted to traditional Catholic identity and teaching. Meanwhile, what one might call “post-denominational Catholics,” meaning those for whom religious branding carries less theological significance, may embrace Palin’s Democratic rival, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, the lone Roman Catholic on either ticket, because of his progressive stands on social and political matters. In other words, the denominationalists on the Catholic side will back the post-denominationalist, while the Catholic post-denominationalists will probably pick the candidate who bears the Catholic denominational label.

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