An improper riddance of the proper

With proper-noun naming (denominating) comes more of a sense of formal organization, as detailed in the last post here.  A denominated group may manifest unwillingness to have its name questioned.  This was my experience when teaching a junior high Bible class as a young instructor in a Christian academy.  I had the one Bible class (along with band and choir classes I taught) and took them all very seriously; the worksheet below is one assignment I devised for the students.

8th grade test given during a course on the book of Acts at a Church of Christ school
Worksheet used during a course on the book of Acts at a CofC school

One would think that I’d’ve been applauded for asking the 8th graders to “go back to the Bible” to find various descriptions and labels for the church.  Not so.  The Bible class was actually taken away from me midstream.  In my view (obviously not that of a certain school administrator and, I suspect, some others with clout), this was an improper riddance of me as a Bible teacher.  More important, it was an improper pushing-aside of some very simple, yet significant, facts from scripture.

It is hurtful to be judged unworthy by the group from which you originate when you are only trying to bring growth.  Although I was over those particular wounds within a couple years, in a very real sense, a general anxiety in connection with potentially being judged improperly has remained with me.

Relatively consistently for a quarter-century now, I have been seriously interested in undenominational Christianity, relegating group names to a low berth if proper names must be used at all.  This is a small part of restoring and unifying, but it is a part nonetheless.


6 thoughts on “An improper riddance of the proper

  1. John Eoff 04/10/2016 / 9:47 am

    Congratulations for your effort to be true to Jesus by your opposition to denominationalism. I look a little differently at your first sentence, I think. I seems to me that formal organizing is a prerequisite of denominating. Nothing can be named until it exists. Thus the four denominations in Corinth had to have organized themselves into some type entity before they could attach the handles, “of so and so”. If Jesus had created any church, it could have and would have had to be named, for identity purposes. Instead those who were called are addressed only by descriptive terms, not names. My casting out came some fifty years ago when I defined the wages of sin as death instead of eternal torment.


    • Brian Casey 04/10/2016 / 11:38 am

      So you predated Edward Fudge by a quarter-century on not going the route of eternally burning fires of torment. Interesting. I lead heavily in that direction now, but it’s only been in the last decade, more or less.

      As with most conversations, definition of terms is important, and you seem to be using “denomination” differently, for instance. (I doubt Corinthian denominating related to organized groups, and more doubtful that those “groups” bore much resemblance to today’s denoms.) The organizing certainly contributes to negative trends, and probably more seriously so than denominating, in most cases. You may be right that organizing predates denominating in most cases.


  2. John Eoff 04/10/2016 / 6:40 pm

    Brian, how could anything be denominated if it was not first organized into something? A group might be called something while not organized but it would just be a descriptive term. If they adopt a name, they have to be something to begin with. Names are used to identify entities if not simply a description of the group——-such as out called, or out called ones, or house of, or body of, or brothers, or friends.


    • Brian Casey 04/10/2016 / 7:32 pm

      I have denominated something that doesn’t exist yet — I call it “A New Gathering of Christians .” I have also known of people seeking to begin church groups; they name themselves something before they really exist. Outside the religion realm, we might also think of startup businesses. To be able to organize themselves into existence, a name will often arise in the mind of one or more people first. That’s the kind of thing I have in mind.


  3. Steve 04/11/2016 / 12:03 pm

    Brian–are you familiar with any of Monroe Hawleys’ publications on undenominational Christianity?


    • Brian Casey 04/11/2016 / 4:18 pm

      I have Hawley’s *Redigging the Wells *but don’t know of others. I know in general terms that he has a reputation for long-term, good-spirited work in this area.


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