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Catholics, Methodists, Baptists: Why So Many Denominations? Pastor Melanie Weldon-Soiset February 1, 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Catholics, Methodists, Baptists: Why So Many Denominations? Pastor Melanie Weldon-Soiset February 1, 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Catholics, Methodists, Baptists: Why So Many Denominations? Pastor Melanie Weldon-Soiset February 1, 2015

2 Tonight’s Goals To learn more about the origins, beliefs, and distinctive traits of eight of the world’s largest denominations. To gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse branches of the church. To better understand our own beliefs.

3 Tonight’s Outline (We’ll examine the origins, beliefs, and blessings of each). 1.Orthodoxy 2.Catholicism 3.Lutheranism 4.Presbyterianism 5.Anglicanism 6.Baptists 7.Methodists 8.Pentecostals

4 Some Guidelines This list is only partial: there are MANY denominations around the world! This list is heavily Western: I am happy to include other groups in the future. Even if we don’t agree with every group, we gain wisdom by understanding them. Please save questions to the end.

5 Christianity’s Family Tree

6 Orthodoxy

7 The ORIGINS of Orthodoxy Claim their origins to the beginnings of the church: from Judaism, to Gentile-led. Various church leaders came together in 325 AD to decide various theological issues: the document they approved, the Nicene Creed, is the bedrock of Orthodox faith. First leaders, based in Constantinople, were Greek-speaking. Officially split from Rome in 1054 AD.

8 The BELIEFS of Orthodoxy Their name means “right worship and doctrine.” They believe they are the only true Christians. With Scripture as their starting point, Orthodox emphasize both creeds and councils (where church leaders come together to decide issues), as well as the teachings of the early church fathers. There are seven official sacraments, or means of God’s grace coming into our lives. Salvation is less about law, and more about healing from death. The lifelong goal is to become like God.

9 Blessings of Orthodoxy The Orthodox remind us that the ultimate reality is God’s eternal kingdom. Their theology and worship focus on this kingdom. God can (and does!) use everyday rituals to convey His grace to us. The saints who have gone before us are sources of encouragement, wisdom, and strength. Their stories are uplifting.

10 Catholicism

11 The ORIGINS of Catholicism The word “Catholic” means “universal”— this is a way of describing the early church. Rome was center of Roman empire by 100 AD, and had world’s largest Christian population. Bishop of Rome was seen as the most influential of Bishops. By 400 AD, he was called the Pope. Church was Latin speaking.

12 The BELIEFS of Catholicism Uphold the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed. Like Orthodox, also have seven sacraments. With Bible as starting point, they also trust teachings of bishops, Pope, and church councils as equally authoritative. Emphasize Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church, which they call the deposit of faith.

13 Blessings of Catholicism Rituals (such as saying certain prayers or observing church calendar), though not a way to salvation, can provide us discipline and comfort. Respecting the sacred: While not being superstitious, we can experience God’s holiness and mystery through using our bodies to pray, or respecting some objects as holy (Acts 5: 15-16, 19: 11-12). Communion can be a powerful means of experiencing God’s grace.


15 The ORIGINS of Lutheranism Luther originally understood God as a condemning judge. He eventually found God’s grace, especially in Romans 3: Discovered good works do not save us. Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, did not intend to start a new church. He simply wanted to correct the Catholic church, which he saw as increasingly off track (i.e. selling indulgences to get loved ones out of purgatory). On October 31, 1517, Luther nailed 95 complaints to church door in Wittenburg, Germany. Now known as “Reformation Day.”

16 The BELIEFS of Lutheranism All people can come directly to God without the intervention of a priest (i.e. priesthood of all believers). Scripture is our primary authority. The church’s teaching must submit to the Bible (sola scriptura). Scripture only teaches two sacraments: baptism and communion. We are saved by belief in Jesus, NOT by good works (justification by faith).

17 Blessings of Lutheranism EVERYONE should develop his/her gifts to serve the church. We are all part of a “holy priesthood”(1 Peter 2:4-5). We will be blessed when we are active in our faith. Our baptism affirms that each of us has a calling from God. Our joy is found in serving through that calling. ALL people should have access to the Bible in their own language.

18 Presbyterianism

19 The ORIGINS of Presbyterianism Some reformers felt Luther had not gone far enough. One of those reformers was John Calvin, a French lawyer born in Though born a Catholic, he became a Protestant when he moved to Switzerland in Their name comes from the Greek word in the Bible for “elder,” presbuteros. They don’t have bishops, only elders who lead each congregation. Some churches are also known as “Reformed.” Calvin’s protégé, John Knox, took his beliefs to Scotland, whose Church is seen as the mother church for Presbyterians.

20 The BELIEFS of Presbyterianism: TULIP Total depravity. Humans are completely sinful, and we cannot save ourselves. Unconditional election (i.e. predestination): God has chosen some people to be saved, and others to be condemned. Limited atonement: Christ’s death is only for the saved (i.e. “the elect”), not for everyone. Irresistible grace: The chosen cannot refuse God’s salvation. They will be unable to resist it. Perseverance of the saints: The elect cannot lose their salvation. They will persevere until Judgment Day.

21 BLESSINGS of Presbyterianism Love God with our MINDS: theology is very important, along with Bible study and education. God’s sovereignty means nothing is outside of God’s control: no problem is too big. We can trust God to handle our lives, like Psalm 139. No question is too difficult for God. Questioning and learning is an act of faith.

22 Anglicanism

23 The ORIGINS of Anglicanism Like in Continental Europe, the Catholic church in England had lost much of its vitality by the 16 th century. 150 years before Luther, John Wycliffe (a Catholic priest) was calling for similar reforms in England. He wanted to provide a Bible in English (vs Latin). The official split with the Catholic Church came when King Henry VIII wanted a divorce so he could remarry. When the Pope refused to grant it, Henry broke off from the Catholic church in During Henry’s son Edward’s short reign, Continental Protestant influence increased.

24 The BELIEFS of Anglicanism Via Media: In 25 quick years, England swung from Catholic, to Protestant, to Catholic again. To avoid more war, Queen Elizabeth proposed a “middle path” between Catholicism and Protestantism. Elizabeth’s successor, King James I, authorized the King James English Bible translation in 1611 to reflect this “via media” theology. Envision faith as a 3 legged stool: Scripture, tradition, and reason. Scripture is the biggest “leg.” Have “39 Articles” that outline their beliefs.

25 BLESSINGS of Anglicanism They emphasize the centrality of prayer and worship—through prayer and worship, we come to deeper awareness of God. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer offers many helpful prayers and liturgies to help to structure our lives around worship and prayer. Through the rhythms of prayer and the church calendar, we remember our faith is communal—we are united to other Christians through time and space.

26 Baptists

27 The ORIGINS of the Baptists Some Protestants in England thought the Anglicans had not gone far enough in purifying the church. Some of these “Puritans” stayed in the Church of England, and some split off. Those who split became known as Baptists. Over time, other nonconformists from various places joined the Baptist movement. Baptists said that only practices that are explicitly described in the New Testament should apply to the church. Infant baptism, therefore, should be eliminated. Baptists do not recognize infant baptism.

28 The BELIEFS of Baptists Baptists see baptism and communion as acts of remembrance and obedience only (i.e. an “ordinance”), and not a means of grace. In an effort to return to the New Testament, Baptists reject much of Catholic belief and practice. Baptists emphasize an individual’s conscience in reading Scripture, as well as purity of doctrine. Therefore, there is much theological diversity within and among Baptists. Baptists have no bishops or higher authority except the local congregation. Baptists practice believer’s baptism.

29 The BLESSINGS of the Baptists Because they believe only an adult who confesses personal faith in God should be baptized, Baptists greatly emphasize a personal relationship with God. Our faith must be intentional and central to our lives. Baptists claim Scripture as their only source of authority. They therefore invite all Christians to return to the Scriptures to judge every aspect of our lives. Baptists are incredibly dedicated to spreading the Gospel throughout the world—they put much money and energy behind this effort.

30 Methodism

31 The ORIGINS of Methodism For 200 years after King Henry VIII, there was war and bloodshed among Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans over the future of the Church of England. Some responded by turning to Enlightenment ideas of reason, and others to Pietism (and rejection of reason) for sake of holiness. John Wesley, an Anglican priest, inherited all these influences in his family and background. He sought to balance reason and faith by “methodically” meeting in small groups for prayer and charity. Wesley wanted to balance head and heart.

32 The BELIEFS of Methodism Jesus gives every person free choice whether to accept or reject Him (vs. predestination). Small groups for accountability and teaching are important—they are in the DNA of Methodism. Methodists cite 4 sources for spiritual authority: Scripture (most important), tradition, reason, and experience. God’s grace calls us to lives of deeper holiness.

33 Methodists help us hold various aspects of our faith together: head and heart, action and speech, liturgy and simplicity. Emerging from war and excess, Methodists remind us to seek balance and accountability. Methodists love to sing! Charles Wesley, John’s brother, wrote thousands of hymns, whose lyrics express profound faith. The BLESSINGS of Methodism

34 Pentecostals

35 Named after the Jewish festival of Pentecost, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the first Christians, as described in Acts 2. In 19 th century USA, Methodists became divided between those focused on heart, and those focused on reason/intellect. Some split away to form their own groups—became known as Holiness churches. In 1901 in Topeka, Kansas, Charles Fox Parham (from Methodist background) taught baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is demonstrated by speaking in tongues. Many began to speak in tongues. The movement spread across the US. The ORIGINS of Pentecostalism

36 The Holy Spirit is still blessing believers with supernatural power and miracles in the same way we see in Acts 2 with the early church, especially through gift of speaking in tongues. Believe Baptists did not go far enough in reclaiming New Testament practices—we need to teach baptism of Holy Spirit, as well. We have free will to choose Jesus, as well as to control the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Emphasize the Second Coming of Jesus, and his imminent return. The BELIEFS of Pentecostalism

37 Remind us to expect great and amazing things from God—in His love and power, the Lord wants to bless us supernaturally. Provide deeper teaching and knowledge of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often the most neglected person of the Trinity. Encourage us to identify and use our spiritual gifts, for the edification of the church. The BLESSINGS of Pentecostalism

38 Christianity’s Family Tree

39 Additional Reading Christianity’s Family Tree by Adam Hamilton A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez

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