There are tens of thousands of denominations in Christianity. There are an estimated twenty-odd major religions in the world, many of which have or likely have several (if not hundreds or thousands) of branches, break-offs, streams of thought, denominations, sub-groups, or whatever you want to call them. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just use sub-group here.
When it comes to non-religious groups, I only recently discovered that
a) there are more than just atheists and agnostics and
b) even atheists and agnostics have sub-groups.
I had always thought you either didn’t believe in any gods or you didn’t know if any really existed, and that was the extent of it. How do you find the “right” label for yourself? And are these labels even important? They always kind of bugged me….maybe because I didn’t know how to label myself. I always said I was a Christian. “Yeah…but what kind?”
“Independent fundamental, Bible-believing, Bible-beggin’, foot-stompin’, soul-winnin’, door-knockin’, pew-jumpin’, sin-hatin’, devil-chasin’, King James Version ONLY Baptist!” —Mark Lowry (the only place on the net I could find this quote is here)
My family on both sides is several generation Pentecostal. From the age of 10 until in my teens when my family stopped attending church, we went to a Baptist church. So was I a Pentecostal? Was I a Baptist? I didn’t really know and figured it shouldn’t matter. I was a Christian! That’s all that mattered! I remember catching a ride somewhere with my great-aunt and uncle and a couple of friends of theirs. My aunt and uncle are, of course, Pentecostal, as were their friends. Conversation revolved around God and church, and my aunt suddenly warned her friends “Be careful what you say! We have a little Baptist in the car!” I thought about that warning many times over the years, which lead to my belief that denominations don’t matter. Or labels.
And yet…being label-less in regards to my belief system…I catch myself looking for one. I feel more vulnerable and lost without one. I think “If I had a label, I would know what I believe and I’d have an answer for people when they ask me.” There’s comfort in that. Security. I don’t like not having an answer.
GOD I miss the days when I knew what I believed!