PORTIONS OF THIS PAGE WILL BE THE BASIS FOR FUTURE POSTS
I’ve noticed over the past several years that the word, Christian has become a loose term that is brandished about with little thought. This post is to refresh your (and my) knowledge of its meaning. The change from Protestant to Christian when referring to our religious beliefs has blended branches and denominations into the same category. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Christianity goes. We just need to appreciate and respect the differences. The words are not interchangeable. Making sure that we all understand the difference will get everyone back on track.
- Eastern Orthodoxy, officially, The Orthodox Catholic Church, claims to be the one true church of Christ; and seeks to trace its origin back to the apostles through an unbroken chain of apostolic succession.
- Roman Catholicism is attributed to Roman Emperor Constantine around 512 AD. Among their beliefs are holdings that the Bishops, headed by the Pope, rule the universal church; that the Pope is infallible; and that Scripture and tradition together are the word of God. They also believe Mary is co-redeemer and co-mediator with Christ.
- Protestantism is the branch of Christianity I know more about because I was raised in a Protestant family. The name of this branch comes from Martin Luther‘s protest which was declared when he posted his 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was protesting against the church’s offering of absolution from sin by the purchase of indulgences. This took place during the 16th century followed by denominations developing within the branch as follows:
- Lutheranism was unintentionally founded by Martin Luther , a German monk and theology professor when, on October 31, 1517, he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Roman Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany. He was seeking to reform the church — not start a new one. The theses protested the purchasing of indulgences — a practice instituted by the Catholic church to absolve parishioners from sin. Luther’s main intent was to inform the Church that the Bible — not the Pope — was infallible.
- What fueled the spark of Luther’s 95 Theses was his idea to use Gutenberg’s printing press — making the theses available to those outside of his normal sphere of influence. Luther’s idea of using the printing press inspired others to also make use of it. By 1519, Luther’s writings had reached France, England, and Italy. Luther also used the printing press to translate the Bible from Greek and Hebrew to German. The Holy Bible soon became more widely available after other countries translated the Scriptures into their respective languages.
- The Baptist church in America was founded by Roger Williams in 1639. However, it was formed from the Anabaptist movement of 1527 in Schleitheim, Switzerland. “Anabaptist” means to be rebaptized which is in keeping with the movement’s rejection of infant baptism in favor of believer’s baptism. The name was actually a misnomer — given to the movement by their enemies as a reference to their “re-baptizing” adults who had been baptized as infants. The Baptists’ position was that, since infant baptism was not taught in the Bible, one’s baptism as an adult was his first and only baptism.
- Presbyterianism was founded by another notable reformer — John Calvin circa 1560 in the British Isles.
- Founded by John Wesley and his brother, Charles Wesley, the Methodist Church originated from the Church of England in the 18th century. In the United States it became the religion of many slaves who later formed “black churches” in the Methodist tradition.
There are other denominations that are a part of Protestantism. I’ve only touched on the more prominent ones.