Sectarian Minimalism is a heretical sub-christian sect consisting of professing believers in Jesus, but who minimalize, repudiate, or neglect the local church. Sectarian Minimalism manifests itself in many Christian traditions, and typically leads to great harm both among its adherents and also to churches where it has taken root.
Sectarian Minimalism has two primary characteristics that are always present, and other characteristics that are often present. The two primary characteristics include, as the name suggests, (A) a sectarian mentality that separates adherents from the local church and (B) a minimalist approach to ecclesiology that both insults and rejects the organized church.
Other secondary characteristics of Sectarian Minimalism include:
- A belief that offices of elder and deacon are unofficial, or that these are simply men who hold elder-like or deacon-like gifting
- A belief that church meeting houses, buildings or property are a sign of a watered-down “corporate” church
- An assertion that taking advantage of charitable tax-status is being enslaved to the state
- A belief that preaching (a monologue of exposition in an authoritative oration) is pagan-influenced or unbiblical, instead having “share times” when individuals can speak whatever they “feel led”
- A belief that church membership is unbiblical, and have a tendency to speak of the church in only universal terms
- A disinterest or contempt for a liturgy, no matter how minimal (for example, the typical “order of service” that you find in most evangelical or Protestant churches)
- A tendency to refer to local churches as “organizations” or “fellowships”
- A belief that the family unit is actually the church (among some)
- Often there is a doctrine espoused within the Sectarian Minimalist cult that is sub-Christian, and the actual church as a whole rejects that doctrine (Sectarian Minimalists often include aberrant sub-christian sects like Hebrew Roots, Abolish Human Abortion [AHA], extreme charismatics or other fringe or radicalized groups)
- A twisting of the doctrine of “Priesthood of the Believer” that denies distinctions of church offices and spiritual gifting
- A repudiation of religious education in organized settings like Bible College or Seminary, relying heavily upon their supposed “leading of the Spirit”
- A reverence and dependence upon books like Pagan Christianity (by George Barna) or Re-Imaging Church (by Frank Viola).
- They have a greater passion for proselytizing church-going believers than evangelizing the lost
The consequences of Sectarian Minimalism is that it:
- Denies the importance of historic theology
- Takes members out of the local church and away from the Bride of Christ, making its sub-christian sect into a spiritual prostitute
- Often observes the ordinances without the duly constituted Biblical authority, making them blasphemous and condemned under God’s judgment
- Does not fit the qualifications or marks of a Biblical church (for an explanation of “what is church,” click here).
- It fits the Scriptural qualifications of the wicked apostates of Romans 16:17-20
For an example of Sectarian Minimalism, click here.