On Protestant Denominations
9/29/2009 | Author: RCW
Evidently, my last post was a very relevant issue for some people. It has elicited the need for another post on denominations.

For now, an introductory read can be found by my friend Matt Slick of www.carm.org. Just click here to read it.

I also mentioned the Rose Publishing pamphlets. Click here to see a great one on denominations, here to see one on Christianity, cults, and world religions, and here to see one on Christianity, cults, and the occult. They also have one on Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses if you were intrigued by some of those comments. Another great denomination comparison is available here through Ron Rhodes, a man who has published a ton of resources on world religions, cults, and Christianity, etc.

These pamphlets are good starting points. Starting points simply give user-friendly information without a ton of academic discussion. For a somewhat deeper and more researched resource, people could purchase one of H. Wayne House's charts that can be found by clicking here.

Hope this is helpful for now.

Choosing a church is an important decision for any believer. Most new believers choose to attend the church where they became a Christian, the church that they know best or the church of one of their closest Christian friends (perhaps the church of a person who was instrumental in their decision to embrace Christ).

These resources can help make sense out of the host of churches out there....what they have in common and what is markedly different (in theology and practice) about each one. I will likely publish one or two more little tidbits on this subject of denominations.

Roadmaps of Religious Belief
9/24/2009 | Author: RCW
There's a lot of confusion out there among the masses when it comes to "religion" and spiritual matters.

  • Example #1:
    Suppose I tell someone out in public that I am a minister. Often, they will ask, "Oh yeah, what religion are you?" I tell them "Christian" and they will say, but what religion are you...Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist?"

    If you can't spot the misunderstanding here, then I will explain it momentarily.

  • Example #2:
    I was at a college campus sharing my faith with students a few years ago and within a 10 minute period, I asked two separate people if they were Christians. The one replied, "Yes, I'm Catholic." The other replied, "No, I'm not a Christian. I'm Catholic."

    Puzzling, huh?

  • Example #3 comes when people recite the Apostle's Creed:
    I believe in the Holy Ghost;
    the holy catholic church...
    the communion of saints;
    the forgiveness of sins;
    the resurrection of the body;
    and the life everlasting.

    A certain church I enjoyed in graduate school (it was not a Catholic church) used to recite the creed every single Sunday. I don't know how many times I heard people either refuse to speak the line or say afterward, "I don't like that line about the Catholic church."

    Are you tracking with me?

  • Example #4: Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons will often insist that they are Christians. And some people actually believe them!

This is not a rant against those that make such statements or betray such obvious misconceptions. Instead, I hope that it will clear up some of the misunderstandings.

I think some simple charts can do the job.

Below are some examples of world religions.

A religion is a comprehensive belief system held by a community. It usually has a "holy book" and typically provides answers 3 questions: What is reality? What is wrong? What is the solution? If you see a flaw or simply don't like my off-the-cuff definition, here's a link to Wikipedia's definition of a "religion." Notice that Christianity is a religion.

The next chart is the three major "branches" or "realms" of Christianity. (I'm sure there is a better word, but for now right now the most commonly used term escapes me.) These are not different religions; they are actually all considered part of Christianity.

Finally, after the Protestant Reformation (notice the spur of Protestantism off of Catholicism in the chart above), a virtual plethora of Protestant "denominations" arose. Below is a chart of some of the ones you might be familiar with. (Ironically enough, the earliest of these various denominations proceeded to fight and kill one another quite frequently for several years. Aren't you glad that we now fortunately realize that we who are Protestants are all Christians and that Lutherans need not slay Baptists, Anglicans shouldn't behead Lutherans, etc.)

Don't study the above chart too closely. The denominations aren't arranged in any particular fashion except that "lots of others" can be a sub-category of "Bible Churches" or "Non-Denominational" or entirely outside of both categories. One of the problems however is that many non-Christian religious movements, groups, and cults, aim to convince people they are a "denomination" when in actuality, the beliefs make them otherly altogether (a different religion).

My charts are very simplistic. Better charts are published in pamphlet form by Rose Publishing.

Does this clear up some of the confusion? If you're still wondering about the earlier examples, here are the answers, you sillies:

    Example #1 - My religion IS Christianity. What they should have asked was what denomination I am.

    Example #2 - The truth is that Catholics ARE under the umbrella of Christianity. Some Catholics might think that when they are asked if they are a "Christian," the question is asking if they are a Protestant or someone associated with "mainstream" Protestant Christianity.

    Example #3 - Even though the term "Catholic" probably would have originally referred to the Catholic church (since the Catholic church WAS the early church), the term "catholic" as we know it today refers to the universal church. The "catholic" church would then simply mean those around the world from every Christian group or denomination calling themselves followers of Christ. (See how the "church" is also not just a building? It's PEOPLE. WE are the church.)

    Example #4 - Jehovah's Witnesses & Mormons commonly claim they are a Christian group or a Protestant denomination. (They try to convince people that they belong in the "lots of others" category in the list of denominations under "Protestantism.") Yet, if you study those groups, the beliefs CANNOT fall under the umbrella of Christianity since the views they hold have been deemed UN-Christian by Jesus, by the church from earliest Christianity, and sometimes even earlier...by Judaism. There is no way that the two groups could ever call themselves Christians except to mislead and sway others, or to simply distort the ugly truth.

Well, enough of my rambling. I hope that this proves helpful the next time you spot a similar misconception. Point your guilty violators to this post and maybe it can clear up the confusion! :)