Blended denominations (v1)

(An updated version of this post is available here.)

Sometimes Christians choose to describe their faith using a “blended denomination” term if they feel that their experience or practice faith draws from more than one denominational tradition. For example, a person who worships regularly at a Baptist church but has a strong and rich personal commitment to the liturgical calendar and Lenten fasting may choose to use the term baptocatholic to describe their blending of two denominational traditions.

The possibilities here are not quite endless, but they are myriad. I have discovered twenty blended denomination terms so far in print and online sources: agmergent, anglimergent, bapticostal, baptigelical, baptimergent, baptocatholic, calvminian, cathodox, emergematic, evangecostal, evangemergent, fundagelical, luthermergent, methodomergent, pentegelical, pentemergent, presbycatholic, presbycostal, presbymergent, and reformergent.

Now the traditional denominations, whether mainline Protestant or any of the others you can probably name, almost always have a set of beliefs or doctrines published somewhere. They, in effect, define clearly what makes their denomination different from the others. Blended denominations don’t have such easy definitions, because in terms of being denominations they aren’t, of course, truly denominations at all. There are no governing bodies for anglimergents of fundagelicals (much as we might wish there were).

The names of the denominations are being used figuratively in an effort to paint with a mile-wide brush what one’s predominant influences or practices are. So a term like presbycostal means not much more than “having something to do with the Presbyterian and Pentecostal traditions—you better ask me if you want specifics.”

Blended denomination terms are playful and nonconformist. They’re perfect for those times when you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into a denomination, but you want to nail together two old pigeonholes to make comment on what you picked and chose from those denominations. (I think of the parable of the talents, where some people took what was assigned to them and expanded on it, built on it, put their own stamp on it and made it their own. Blended denominations are one way of engaging with the deep question: What sort of Christian are you?)

Well, enough of the philosophical stuff. Let’s get down to lexical definitions. Let’s start with examining all twenty of the blended terms I have so identified so far. First I’ll show you them all in a table according to their “prefix” and “suffix.”

Now I didn’t think ordering the denominations alphabetically would be very interesting (though it would make it easier to look up your favorite denomination), and so I ordered the denominations according to my estimate of how much “ecclesiastical apparatus” each denomination tends to have. The upper left corner is “minimal church hierarchy and structure” and the lower right is “significant church hierarchy and structure.” I think I also see that denominations nearer to the upper left rank the Bible over tradition, whereas denominations int he lower right rank tradition and Bible very similarly.

Click the table below a couple of times to enlarge it.

I’ll leave you now with the definitions as they currently stand for six of these terms: bapticostal, calvminian, cathodox, evangecostal, fundagelical, and pentegelical. For the definitions, see the updated version of this post.

Now I have a few questions for you. Have you encountered any of these blended denomination terms? Do you know any others? What do you think about using blended denomination terms to describe one’s faith? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

  • I’ve been using fundagelical to mean “evangelicals and fundamentalists,” since their cultures and beliefs are now largely identical. It’s not pejorative, just descriptive–I write a lot about that end of Christianity and it seemed easier that way.

    Man though… remember when people in both groups would get totally offended if anyone made the mistake of mis-categorizing them? Fundamentalists thought evangelicals were lukewarm Christians who couldn’t handle the call of holiness standards. Evangelicals thought fundamentalists were a bunch of sexists who were way too withdrawn from the world. Funny thing is… they were both right about the other. Here’s hoping you keep updating – this blog is one of my go-tos when I encounter a phrase that even I haven’t ever heard before.

    • Tim

      Thanks, Cap’n! I think you’re right about “fundagelical” also being used as an umbrella term to mean both groups. I appreciate the kind words. I’ve been busy (maybe overly busy) the past year writing a standalone Christianese book that includes terms like “fundagelical” as well as related words like “bapticostal” (Baptist + Pentecostal) and “presbylutheran” (Presbyterian + Lutheran), and as a result the blog has suffered quite a bit in posting frequency. Perhaps your encouragement is just what I need to find time to post some updates… Many thanks, and blessings. ~Tim Stewart