Blended denominations (v1)

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(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.

(Update 5/14/2018: It turns out I get to write an entire dictionary of over a thousand different blended denomination terms! The dictionary, entitled The Mixed Blessings Dictionary, is scheduled to be published next year! Check out the Mixed Blessings website and blog.)

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.

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