Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Small Problem With the Denomination Selector

After learning that the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia was hosting retired Bishop John Shelby Spong on Good Friday, and knowing that Spong denies the physical resurrection of Christ (see "What's wrong with John Shelby Spong"), I had to wonder, "What kind of church is this that puts heretics in the pulpit on Good Friday?"

My answer, "Yikes, that's my denomination!"

If that is enough to make you want to run for the hills, here is a little quiz for you that purports to give your feet a little direction:
Free Denomination Selector

I took the quiz after seeing the link on Churchmouse Campanologist , and guess what I found.

What may come as a surprise to some, my top denomination came out to be Episcopal/Anglican at 100%. Does this mean I am stuck with John Shelby Spong? One must understand that this quiz was developed in 2001 before +VGR, before SSB's, before the departure of ACNA, DSC, etc., but not before the ministry of Bishop Spong. So I think the problem for the denomination seeker using the "Free Denomination Selector" is that there are alot of Episcopal churches out there that do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus, do not believe in a literal Heaven and Hell, do not believe that salvation can only be found through Jesus Christ, etc. I could go on and on with my responses that are in conflict with a church that would give Bishop Spong pulpit time. If this on-line test had guided me to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia this Friday, I would have felt like I did when my college room-mate once talked me into going on a certain blind date.

How might a seeker who does believe in the physical resurrection and does not believe in SSB's find an appropriate Episcopal/Anglican church? I am sure that not all Southern Baptist churches are the same either, and someone (in a small southern city like ours) who looks like a good match with the Southern Baptists according to the Denomination Selector might face a bewildering array of congregations from which to chose.

So here's a suggestion to all you entrepreneurial types out there, why not come up with a church matching web site like the popular dating web sites? I think such a site would give individual pastors, priests, churches, sects, cults, covens, a chance to input their unique set of quirks, passions, beliefs, non-beliefs, heresies, or whatever, into an algorithm that will match potential visitors to a particular church in their geographical area. This would reduce the amount of time wasted on church shopping expeditions as well as reducing the time clergy would have to spend explaining their beliefs and practices to newcomers.

In case you are interested, here are the rest of my rankings.

2) Methodist/Wesleyan Church (98%)
3) Evangelical Lutheran Church (90%)
4) Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (90%)
5) Mennonite Brethren (85%)
6) Assemblies of God (78%)
7) Church of Christ (78%)
8) Free Will Baptist (78%)
9) Orthodox Quakerism (78%)
10) Seventh-Day Adventist (78%)
11) Southern Baptist (70%)
12) International Church of Christ (65%)
13) Presbyterian Church USA (65%)
14) Presbyterian Church in America/Orthodox Presbyterian Church (65%)
15) Reformed Churches (65%)
16) Eastern Orthodox Church (63%)
17) Reformed Baptist (58%)
18) Roman Catholic Church (58%)
19) United Pentecostal Church (58%)
20) Mormonism (38%)
21) Liberal Quakerism (28%)
22) Jehovah's Witness (18%)
23) Unity Church (8%)
24) Unitarian Universalism (0%)

To give you some idea of how far under the radar we Anglicans are, here is the "Denompie":


Even the Oriental Orthodox have a bigger piece of the pie than Anglicans. 

Just imagine the size of the slice that might be occupied by TEc alone (which is where it will find itself if it continues in its walk apart from the historic Anglican Communion).

I wonder if that slice comes with a graham cracker crust?  

That would look pretty crumby huh?


  1. Anonymous3:39 PM

    It's amazing in the wake of the turmoil over Bishop Johnston approval (and defense) of Crossan's speaking engagement in Northern Virginia that the diocese would turn immediately around and allow Spong in. One would think a bit of cooling off would be the respectable course to take. It is petty and baffles all sense of fair play. It's clear the diocese is just trying to rub the noses of the departing parishes in it. It breaks my heart that Virginia, the land of Cavaliers and once the bastion of Southern gentility, can act in such an ungracious manner. It further breaks my heart that the diocese my family helped establish from the early colonial period, including providing three bishops (one who lent his name to one of my sons), has become thoroughly apostate. --Bryan Hunter, Charleston, SC

  2. For the sake of stewardship and those children lost in postmodern absurdity. I would like to remind you all that former Protestant societies were dismantled by their past Counterculture--now the norm. It is a necessity that we all realize that we be reactionary, or we be dead.

  3. UGP,
    A blogger named Allen Lewis has this list.

  4. There are more problems with the selector, too - some of the questions are open to too much interpretation. For example, I had to hesitate before answering the question about the "literal Heaven and Hell" because I wasn't sure what they were driving at with the "literal" bit. Are they referring to the two states themselves, or the imagery used in the Bible to describe them, or the way that they are presented in popular culture? I believe in a real Heaven and a real Hell, but that belief isn't irrevocably married to one that Hell looks like the inside of a crematorium or that the New Jerusalem has an area of 12,000 square stadia.