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Showing posts with the label #Denominations

Reformation Day.

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31 October isn’t just Halloween. For Protestants, some of us observe the day as a regular holiday. Others remember it as Reformation Day, the day in 1517 when bible professor Dr. Martin Luther of the University of Wittenberg in the Holy Roman Empire (now Germany) posted 95 propositions he wanted to discuss with his students. Specifically, about certain practices in the Catholic church—in which, at the time, they were all members—to which he objected.Technically it wasn’t 31 October. Y’see, Europeans were still using the Julian calendar in 1517. That calendar was out of sync with the vernal equinox by 11 days, which is why they updated it with the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Once we correct for that, it was really 10 November. But whatever. Reformation Day!Luther didn’t realize this was as big a deal as we make it out to be. It’s dramatically described as Luther, enraged as if he just found out about 95 problems in his church, nailing a defiant manifesto to the school’s Castle Church d…

The Orthodox/Catholic schism.

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History books tend to refer to the Orthodox/Catholic schism as “the Great Schism.” And history teachers have the bad habit of mispronouncing schism, which is 'sɪz.əm not 'skɪz.əm —as well as oversimplifying and underplaying what really happened.So what really happened? Jesus’s church split. Not because one faction went heretic, so they needed to split: It’s over stupid, petty, political things.I know: Both sides claim it was neither stupid nor petty, but vitally important. Of course it’s because they picked a side. They’re either pro-Orthodox or pro-Catholic, and wanna defend their team. But just like the Catholic/Protestant schism, there’s no defending the fruitless behavior both before and after the division. Both sides acted like power-hungry politicians, violated Jesus’s command to love one another, Jn 13.34 and seriously hindered the church’s growth in both maturity and ministry.Let’s begin at the beginning.As y’might know if you read Acts, Jesus’s church began with 120 p…

Churches who wanna “restore” Christianity.

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RESTORATIONISTrɛs.tə'reɪ.ʃən.ɪstadjective. Wants to return Christianity to what they consider the beliefs and practices of the earliest Christians.[Restorationism rɛs.tə'reɪ.ʃən.ɪz.əmnoun.]Humans really like to reboot things. Not just Spider-Man movies; there are lots of things we figure have broken, got too complicated, or run down; so maybe it’d be best if we take ’em back to the drawing board and start over. Maybe we can improve upon the original. Or maybe the original was best, so let’s go back to that.And Christians keep trying to do it with Christianity. We look at all the traditions our culture has layered upon the church and think, “Well that’s not what the ancient Christians taught… and maybe we should never have taught that to begin with.” We wanna get back to basics. Reset the religion to its factory settings, like a phone—where it worked just fine until we started adding all these “useful” apps which just gummed things up.So every so often, Christians will start a …

“The mainline”: America’s older churches.

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Mainline is a bit of Christianese in the United States. The adjective refers to the Protestant churches in the United States who were around since the 1700s—since before our constitutional freedom of religion made it possible for all sorts of new churches to crop up, and add to the thousands of Protestant denominations.Some of these churches, like the Baptists, Congregationalists, and Unitarians, got their start here. Others, like the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, got their start in England and Scotland—but when the colonies declared independence from the UK in 1776, the churches reorganized their leadership to become distinct from their UK governing bodies.So being “mainline” or a “mainliner” doesn’t refer to a belief system. They’re not mainliners by philosophy: Other than Jesus’s teachings and Protestant traditions, they don’t necessarily have a lot in common. (In the case of Unitarians, the rest of us figure they’re heretic.) They’re mainline because they’re old…

Coming together. Or not.

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ECUMENICALɛk.jʊ'mɛn.ə.kəladjective. Representing multiple Christian churches or denominations.2. Promoting unity among Christian churches, regardless of affiliation.3. Representing all Christian churches, regardless of affiliation.[Ecumenism ɛ'kjʊ.mɛ.nɪz.əm, ɛk.jə'mɛn.ɪz.əmnoun.]One of Jesus’s commands was that we Christians love one another, Jn 13.34, 15.12, 1Jn 3.23 and one of his prayers was that we be one, like he and his Father are one.John 17.20-23 KWL20“I don’t only ask about these, but about those who believe in me by their word,21so they could be one—like you, Father, in me, and I in you.So they also could be in us. So the world could believe you sent me.22The honor which you gave me, I gave them, so they could be one like we are one.23I in them, you in me, so they can be perfected as one,so the world could know you sent me, and love them like you love me.”Originally we Christians were one group. Or at least every Christian church was affiliated with every other C…

“Why do you write all that Catholic stuff?”

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In some of my posts about the stations of the cross, which I was writing about as Easter 2016 approached, I got trolled. Certain commenters (whom I’ve deleted and blacklisted, obviously) objected, profanely, to my writing about “Catholic stuff.”I get this kind of pushback every so often. Because I write about Christianity, every so often I’m gonna write about medieval and ancient Christianity. The medieval stuff would be the Christianity which took place before Protestantism was invented in 1517. And the ancient stuff would be the Christianity which took place before Catholicism was invented—back when there was only one universal church, back before the Christians split into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics by holding separate Fourth Councils of Constantinople in the 870s (and finalized in the Great Schism of 1054).But your average person nowadays doesn’t know jack squat about history, much less Christian history. So as soon as I start writing about any Christian practices outside…

Denominations: When churches network.

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DENOMINATIONdi.nɑm.ə'neɪ.ʃənnoun. Organized network of affiliated churches.2. Autonomous branch of a religion.[Denominational də.nɑm.ə'neɪ.ʃən.əladjective.]When Jesus began his church, it had a really basic organization: The Twelve, the apostles whom he hand-picked to lead his followers… and his followers.Over time this evolved. As it kinda had to, ’cause the church spread. The Twelve didn’t stay in Jerusalem: Simon Peter went to Rome, Andrew to Greece, John to Ephesus, Jude and Simon to Syria, Bartholemew to Armenia, Thomas to India, and so forth. The followers spread out to different cities in the Roman Empire, and to the barbarians outside the Empire. They founded new groups.All sorts of questions began to crop up about how connected these groups were with one another. Of course since power is always a stumbling-block for us humans, there was also concern about what authority various apostles and bishops in other groups had over the new congregations and their leadership.Th…

…Don’t we all have some fundamental beliefs?

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FUNDAMENTALISTfən.də'mɛn.(t)əl.ɪstadjective. Adheres to certain beliefs as necessary and foundational.2. Theologically (and politically) conservative in their religion.3. [capitalized] Has to do with the 20th-century movement which considers certain Christian beliefs mandatory.[Fundamentalism fən.də'mɛn.(t)əl.ɪz.əmnoun, Fundie 'fən.diadjective.]I grew up Fundamentalist, and refer to Fundies from time to time. But I need to explain what I mean by the term. Too many people use it, and use it wrong.For most folks fundamentalist is just another word for conservative. If you’re a Fundie, you mean conservative like you are. If you’re not, you just mean more conservative than you: You may believe women can minister, but Fundies sure don’t. You may believe Jesus can save anyone and everyone, but Fundies sure don’t. Or conversely, you may not believe miracles still happen, but Fundies sure do. It’s not all that consistent a definition.But properly, a fundamentalist is someone who b…

There’s evangelicals, and there’s Evangelicals.

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EVANGELICALi.væn'ʤɛl.ə.kəladjective. Has to do with the evangel, i.e. the gospel.2. [capitalized] Holds to the Protestant tradition of individual conversion to Christianity (i.e. being born again). Plus Jesus’s atonement, the bible’s authority, and an active Christian lifestyle.[Evangelicalism i.væn'ʤɛl.ə.kəl.ɪz.əmnoun.]I once heard a pagan define Evangelical as “somebody who actually believes in all that [synonym for doo-doo].”I like it, but technically that’s not quite it. She was confusing the lowercase-E with the uppercase-E: She got her evangelicals and Evangelicals mixed up.Every Christian is the lowercase kind of evangelical. We all believe in this [dooky]. We may not agree about miracles, worship styles, how to interpret the bible, and whether electric guitars are of God (and I say they totally are). But we all agree Jesus is God the Son, our Lord, conceived by the Spirit, born of Mary, suffered under Pilate, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, ascended, coming back …