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Author Topic: Quick question about Christian denominations  (Read 2623 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Quick question about Christian denominations
« on: November 11, 2014, 10:54:31 AM »
I'm doing some research on Christian denominations right now and I'm wondering: are Latter Day Saints / Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses considered Christian churches?

Back here, the Catholic Church's stance seems to be that they aren't. Back in high school, in our religion class (yes, we do have religion class as part of our school education), the nun that was our teacher conducted a lesson on "dangerous cults" and clearly labelled Mormons as such a cult. Which means that the Church doesn't consider them to be a Christian denomination, or even a proper religion... The Church's stance seems to be quite similar regarding Jehovah's Witnesses. But what it's like in other countries? Come to think about it, what do adherents of these religions think of themselves? Do Mormons consider themselves Christians, or something separate?

BTW. I was reading some history yesterday and man... the Catholic Church seems to have a lot of blood on its hands. I mean, the poor Waldensians... nearly exterminated for trying to do some good  :-( And why did both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church hate Anabaptists that much?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2014, 11:02:53 AM »
I'm doing some research on Christian denominations right now and I'm wondering: are Latter Day Saints / Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses considered Christian churches?

There's no quick answer there.  What you have to remember is that there's no centrally determined book of what is a Christian denomination and what isn't.  Both of those denominations would consider themselves, to a greater or lesser extent, Christian but other denominations (the Orthodox churches for example) specifically state that they're not. 

To cut it as short as I can - "Christian" isn't a well enough defined term to really answer that, sadly.


Quote
And why did both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church hate Anabaptists that much?

Again, there's no simple and easily digestible answer here.  If you want one word its "anti-authoritanism" 

The most famous persecution of the anabaptists to me is the English persecutions - though I freely admit some observer bias may exist.  This was because they were a danger to the stability of the country - England at that point was delicately if at all balanced and an aggresively proselytzing radical sect with such a strong anti-Monarchy stance was never going to fare well.  Over in the continent, they were protesting against feudal oppression, which had roughly the same issues. 

Phrasing this as a purely religious oppression is missing the point a little - the theological differences were subsumed and of lesser import than the secular ones.  An alternative way of looking at the situation is a group of anti-authority figures (who happened to be anabaptists) rebelling against established authority (protestant or Catholic as appropriate)

Hope that helps

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2014, 11:19:14 AM »
As I recall, the Annabaptists, and their offshoots, the Mennonites, were mainly a German denom, weren't they? The ones that were going for anti-Monarchy in England, led by Oliver Cromwell were the Puritans, and their offshoots the Pilgrims and the Quakers. Of course, they were all hated because the control that the status quo had over them was limited or nil, and their popularity, similar to that of the Lutherans, were a threat to the powers that were at the time.

As for the Mormons, JWs and Latter Day Saints... while I don't think they are officially recognized as a Denomination in their own right, here in Brazil, a Traditionally Catholic country, they are generally considered to be their own little thing, while not too big or bothersome as they seem to be in the States...

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2014, 11:27:32 AM »
We used to have a lot of LDS missionaries come by my old house to talk to my housemates who ended up converting, so I have a bit of a view into their church.

The church of Latter Day Saints consider themselves to be Christian, however they consider themselves to be the ones who are practicing it correctly. They add the Book of Mormon as a companion work to the bible, believing it to also possess divine authorship and revelation. To an LDS church member, they are expected to preach not only to Atheists and those of other religions, but also to fellow Christians in order to teach them about the Book of Mormon.

Most Christian churches as far as I've seen however do not consider the LDS to be a Christian, or at least not "real Christians". It really does depend on who you ask though. Most Unitarian churches are quite happy to welcome just about anyone for example and are fairly light on the judgement. Other denominations don't even necessarily consider Christians of other denominations to be "real Christians". However members of the church of LDS are excluded from being considered Christians probably more than just about any other denomination.

Also amongst certain baptist crowds, Catholics aren't considered "Real Christians" either. From what I've seen this is particularly common in America.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2014, 11:27:56 AM »
As I recall, the Annabaptists, and their offshoots, the Mennonites, were mainly a German denom, weren't they? The ones that were going for anti-Monarchy in England, led by Oliver Cromwell were the Puritans, and their offshoots the Pilgrims and the Quakers.

Not really, no.  The anabaptists spread across northern Europe but if you had to pick one country for them to be a demon of it would be Switzerland,   "Puritan" isn't a denomination per se - they were largely what we'd now call presbyterians or Calvinists, and the anabaptist persecutions were a century or so before the English Civil War.

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2014, 11:32:24 AM »
Not really, no.  The anabaptists spread across northern Europe but if you had to pick one country for them to be a demon of it would be Switzerland,   "Puritan" isn't a denomination per se - they were largely what we'd now call presbyterians or Calvinists, and the anabaptist persecutions were a century or so before the English Civil War.
Right you are... Switzerland, how could I forget that...

The church of Latter Day Saints consider themselves to be Christian, however they consider themselves to be the ones who are practicing it correctly.
To be fair, just about every Denom believes themselves to be the only ones who are doing Christianity right, with everyone else wrong in some aspect or another...

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2014, 11:35:52 AM »
To be fair, just about every Denom believes themselves to be the only ones who are doing Christianity right, with everyone else wrong in some aspect or another...

Well, of course.  By definition.  If you thought another denomination was right then, well, why aren't you a member of that denomination, instead of the one you presumably think is wrong.  Nothing terribly surprising there.

Offline Oniya

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2014, 11:42:43 AM »
Most Unitarian churches are quite happy to welcome just about anyone for example and are fairly light on the judgement.

Just to build on this - the Unitarian Universalists were open enough to allow Mr. Oniya and I to have our decidedly Pagan wedding in their building, and many UU churches have an associated chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans.  UU's take the whole 'peace, love, and cosmic awareness' creed to a really good level.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2014, 12:02:50 PM »
Well, of course.  By definition.  If you thought another denomination was right then, well, why aren't you a member of that denomination, instead of the one you presumably think is wrong.  Nothing terribly surprising there.

It's sort of funny how the Seventh day Adventists believe there is a fixed number of just christians who will be raised up into Heaven on the last day - precisely 144.000 throughout history - and that the key sign of heresy in all the other churches is how they all celebrate on Sunday, not on Saturday. I mean, God is above time, the Bible says that "a thousand years is like one day for the Lord", so God condemning most of mankind for having got one day off in their schedule of prayer and celebration seems abysmally snide.  ???

Actually, you could suspect that the real reason the Seventh-day Adventists stick so hard to this is because they want to define themselves as a remnant, a group that's not part of the wider world - and celebrating on a different weekday, and pledging no work on that day, is one of the most effective ways of building such a status as a group.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2014, 12:09:04 PM »
It's sort of funny how the Seventh day Adventists believe there is a fixed number of just christians who will be raised up into Heaven on the last day - precisely 144.000 throughout history - and that the key sign of heresy in all the other churches is how they all celebrate on Sunday, not on Saturday. I mean, God is above time, the Bible says that "a thousand years is like one day for the Lord", so God condemning most of mankind for having got one day off in their schedule of prayer and celebration seems abysmally snide.  ???

Actually, you could suspect that the real reason the Seventh-day Adventists stick so hard to this is because they want to define themselves as a remnant, a group that's not part of the wider world - and celebrating on a different weekday, and pledging no work on that day, is one of the most effective ways of building such a status as a group.

Ah yes, the "The seventh day adventists are a bunch of dicks" argument.  I believe it was Mother Teresa who said "Seriously, fuck those guys"

Apologies to any on the boards here, twas a joke.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2014, 12:19:19 PM »
It's sort of funny how the Seventh day Adventists believe there is a fixed number of just christians who will be raised up into Heaven on the last day - precisely 144.000 throughout history - and that the key sign of heresy in all the other churches is how they all celebrate on Sunday, not on Saturday.

Many, if not all, religions have extraordinary tenants of faith that they expect their followers to practice. While they may sound strange to outsiders, I expect most religious people or those raised in a particular religio-cultural background have an equal number of religious practices that are accepted as commonplace which would appear equally unusual when viewed from a different perspective.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2014, 12:20:11 PM »
Ah yes, the "The seventh day adventists are a bunch of dicks" argument.  I believe it was Mother Teresa who said "Seriously, fuck those guys"

Apologies to any on the boards here, twas a joke.
I thought it was funny *offers fist-bump*

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2014, 12:20:57 PM »
It's sort of funny how the Seventh day Adventists believe there is a fixed number of just christians who will be raised up into Heaven on the last day - precisely 144.000 throughout history - and that the key sign of heresy in all the other churches is how they all celebrate on Sunday, not on Saturday.

I knew about the Seventh Day Adventists worshipping on Saturday, but I didn't know about the 144000 belief. I thought it was what the Jehovah's Witnesses believe?

Regarding the JW and the LDS - I know that, to some extent, every denomination believes itself to be correct one... and I know that some Protestants believe Catholics not to be Christians at all (I actually once spoke to a man who believed that the Pope was a high priest of Satan). But I think that, to some extent, most denominations recognize some others as Christians. The Catholic Church doesn't claim, for once, that the Lutherans or the Eastern Orthodox aren't Christians, even if they do have theological issues with them.

Meanwhile, back here, I've heard the Church openly claim that the JW aren't Christians at all (although I know that the JW say they are). I also thought that, when it comes to the LDS, their addition of Book of Mormon to the canon of holy texts makes them something more distinct that just another Christian denomination. I wasn't even sure if they consider themselves Christians... Meanwhile, on Wikipedia both of the groups are classed as Christians. So, I wondered what is the consensus on them in other countries...

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2014, 12:25:25 PM »
Ah yes, the "The seventh day adventists are a bunch of dicks" argument.  I believe it was Mother Teresa who said "Seriously, fuck those guys"

Huh? Are Seventh Day Adventist so unpopular?

Many, if not all, religions have extraordinary tenants of faith that they expect their followers to practice. While they may sound strange to outsiders, I expect most religious people or those raised in a particular religio-cultural background have an equal number of religious practices that are accepted as commonplace which would appear equally unusual when viewed from a different perspective.

It's probably true, although I admit that I can't find anything too unusual about the Catholic Church. But I was raised Catholic, so I'm most probably missing something  ;)

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2014, 12:27:06 PM »
I knew about the Seventh Day Adventists worshipping on Saturday, but I didn't know about the 144000 belief. I thought it was what the Jehovah's Witnesses believe?

It's from a strictly literal interpretation of a passage from the Book of Revelations (sorry I can't quote the chapter and verse from memory, I can look it up if people want to know). I wouldn't be surprised if it existed within multiple christian groups.

Quote
The Catholic Church doesn't claim, for once, that the Lutherans or the Eastern Orthodox aren't Christians, even if they do have theological issues with them.

Historically the Catholic Church was much more exclusive, however over the last century or so they've managed some fairly extraordinary bridge building with other denominations and even reaching out to members of other faiths.

Quote
I also thought that, when it comes to the LDS, their addition of Book of Mormon to the canon of holy texts makes them something more distinct that just another Christian denomination.

It's a common misconception that the bible is common and identical throughout religious denominations. The accepted canon of the Catholic Church is a fairly commonly used one, and the protestants took this with them when their schism first occurred. However many of the other denominations use different canons of holy texts.

Quote
I wasn't even sure if they consider themselves Christians...

All the ones I have met considered themselves LDS first and Christian second, however they all considered themselves Christians. (And they do worship Jesus Christ so the term is not overly inappropriate).

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2014, 12:30:17 PM »
Once again, Beorning, I think you're looking for something that doesn't exist. 

There is no...no "criteria" for being a Christian denomination beyond "claims to be a Christian denomination".  Anything you want to throw out as a sine qua non of Christianity is not held by someone, somewhere, who still claims to be Christian.  The Catholic Church does and doesn't recognise some.  As does the Anglican Communion, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Reformed Church and the guy who lives four doors down from me - none of them have any more authority over the question than anyone of the others.  There simply isn't a membership card that would allow you to say "he is, he isn't" etc. 

Both the Jehovah's Witnesses and the LDS consider themselves Christian. 


It's a common misconception that the bible is common and identical throughout religious denominations. The accepted canon of the Catholic Church is a fairly commonly used one, and the protestants took this with them when their schism first occurred. However many of the other denominations use different canons of holy texts.

Actually, the Catholic canon is different to most protestant ones.  The Catholic old testament has 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, additions to Esther and  Bel and the Dragon in Daniel which protestant bibles tend not to.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2014, 12:31:57 PM »
It's probably true, although I admit that I can't find anything too unusual about the Catholic Church. But I was raised Catholic, so I'm most probably missing something  ;)

Catholics have their share of fairly extraordinary beliefs.

For example the belief that during the Rite of Eucharist the communion wafers and wine are literally trans-substantiated into the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ is a fairly bold and unusual claim to many from an outside perspective of the church.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2014, 12:33:46 PM »
Actually, the Catholic canon is different to most protestant ones.  The Catholic old testament has 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, additions to Esther and  Bel and the Dragon in Daniel which protestant bibles tend not to.

I'm sorry, you're quite right. My mistake on that one.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2014, 12:48:43 PM »
Once again, Beorning, I think you're looking for something that doesn't exist. 

There is no...no "criteria" for being a Christian denomination beyond "claims to be a Christian denomination".  Anything you want to throw out as a sine qua non of Christianity is not held by someone, somewhere, who still claims to be Christian.  The Catholic Church does and doesn't recognise some.  As does the Anglican Communion, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Reformed Church and the guy who lives four doors down from me - none of them have any more authority over the question than anyone of the others.  There simply isn't a membership card that would allow you to say "he is, he isn't" etc. 

Oh, I know that. But don't you think that some sort of general consensus could be found? As far as I know, the Catholic Church considers many Protestant Churches to be Christians (even if "Christians with some wrong ideas"). And I suspect it goes the other way, too - I haven't heard anything about Lutherans excluding Catholics from Christianity (in the modern day, at least). Meanwhile, as it was mentioned, groups like the LDS often *are* excluded. So, if we summed all of this up, we could most probably find what is and what is not, more or less, considered Christianity these days...

Also, I'm not looking for any objective list, or something like that. I'm simply curious about the opinion on the JW and the LDS in other countries. As I said, they aren't considered Christians here... but Polish Catholic Church is backwards in many things. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the LDS were widely accepted as Christians in the States or in Britain...

For example the belief that during the Rite of Eucharist the communion wafers and wine are literally trans-substantiated into the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ is a fairly bold and unusual claim to many from an outside perspective of the church.

Come on! It's nothing unusual at all!

... okay, joking. I guess it *is* strange...  8-)

BTW. Anyone willing to give some advice over at my new thread over at the World-Building Forum?

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2014, 02:29:36 PM »
Catholics have their share of fairly extraordinary beliefs.

For example the belief that during the Rite of Eucharist the communion wafers and wine are literally trans-substantiated into the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ is a fairly bold and unusual claim to many from an outside perspective of the church.

No, we don't think we are literally eating the flesh of Jesus. Its supposed to be symbolic. - _ -

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2014, 02:34:11 PM »
No, we don't think we are literally eating the flesh of Jesus. Its supposed to be symbolic. - _ -

While I have no problem with that interpretation as a person's belief it is not the official dogma of the catholic church as decided by the council of Trent.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2014, 02:35:50 PM »
No, we don't think we are literally eating the flesh of Jesus. Its supposed to be symbolic. - _ -

No it isn't.  Not in Catholicism, or a few other places.  The substance of the bread/wine is changed to the physical body and blood of Christ.

CC1376:
The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2014, 02:37:32 PM »
While I have no problem with that interpretation as a person's belief it is not the official dogma of the catholic church as decided by the council of Trent.

....okay il give you that one.  :P

Same to you Kythia.

But I myself still stick with it being a symbolic thing that is being taken out of context. Like poetry if you take it too seriously.
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Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2014, 02:53:25 PM »
But I myself still stick with it being a symbolic thing that is being taken out of context. Like poetry if you take it too seriously.

That's between you and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. :P

But this is the difficulty in understanding the difference between denominations. The points on which they differ, may not even be acknowledged or believed by the average member of the laity. Adherents of a particular faith are often only in the denomination that they found to be the closest to their point of view, or the one in which they were raised and have a traditional background. Individual beliefs and worships can vary greatly.

Makes it hard to make any meaningful comparisons.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2014, 02:55:51 PM »
But this is the difficulty in understanding the difference between denominations. The points on which they differ, may not even be acknowledged or believed by the average member of the laity. Adherents of a particular faith are often only in the denomination that they found to be the closest to their point of view, or the one in which they were raised and have a traditional background. Individual beliefs and worships can vary greatly.

Makes it hard to make any meaningful comparisons.

Indeed, not to mention many people will self-identify as religious (over here its Anglican) out of ease/convenience/never really having thought about it/whatever but without the instruction in the faith to know what it actually means.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2014, 02:58:35 PM »
Well, the JW are viewed with mistrust by many people in Sweden, and there's been a vague feeling that they are "not really Christians" but historically that was just as true about attitudes to Roman Catholics around here (and in England, I suspect). They were sized up as garbled Christians, idolatrous and without any real sense of personal responsibility for their faith - and had not the Jesuits declared that "the end justifies the means"? Right up to the time of WW2, primary school textbooks in history declared that "when Sweden became Christian due to the efforts of monks, captive slaves and returning Vikings who had been converted, it was not the true kind of Christian faith even if it contained much that was good, right, civilizing and useful". The real faith only arrived here with the Reformation. Even if the church here has never dismissed its medieval past as being "un-Christian" it was sort of perceived as semi-Christian for centuries after Luther.

Of course, at the time when popular opinion looked like that, most people in Scandinavia had never met a Catholic in real life.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2014, 02:59:02 PM »
That's between you and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. :P

But this is the difficulty in understanding the difference between denominations. The points on which they differ, may not even be acknowledged or believed by the average member of the laity. Adherents of a particular faith are often only in the denomination that they found to be the closest to their point of view, or the one in which they were raised and have a traditional background. Individual beliefs and worships can vary greatly.

Makes it hard to make any meaningful comparisons.

Same thing can be said about most choices. "Liberal" "conservative" "Pro this" "Pro that" the problem is Humans are so different from one another that it makes it difficult to stick them into a certain category at times. Which is a good thing.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2014, 03:00:23 PM »
Indeed, not to mention many people will self-identify as religious (over here its Anglican) out of ease/convenience/never really having thought about it/whatever but without the instruction in the faith to know what it actually means.

That's right, my grandmother for example despite being fairly clearly an Atheist, always used to self-identify as Anglican because that was the common cultural background she was from (and saying you're an Atheist hasn't always been as easy as it is now).

Same thing can be said about most choices. "Liberal" "conservative" "Pro this" "Pro that" the problem is Humans are so different from one another that it makes it difficult to stick them into a certain category at times. Which is a good thing.

Agreed.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2014, 03:08:21 PM »
(and saying you're an Atheist hasn't always been as easy as it is now).


Even though in a way it is starting to develop a sort of negative connotation. My boyfriend (an atheist) never likes to say he is atheist because the first thing people think of is the rabid person screaming at anything religious and saying that those who practice religions should be put into camps or their books should be burned and other such horrible things.

Sadly I have encountered those and I see what he means. He wishes that a new name would be thought that means "Human who does not practice a religion but is also not an asshole about it." As he says.

Offline Primal

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2014, 03:20:46 PM »
I would call anyone who believes in the divine nature of Jesus Christ, and makes an attempt (however imperfect) to live his or her life in conjunction with his teachings, an individual that fits the term "Christian" by the most general standards of its definition.  Naturally, the "right way" to interpret Christ's teachings and properly follow them is going to vary, hence the different denominations.  People of one denomination might see their way as the only "right way", and therefore claim other denominations aren't "real Christians", but that seems like a hyperbolic way of saying "those other Christians aren't doing it right".

I am not a Catholic (or even religious) now, but I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic school from kindergarten through the end of high school.  My personal experience was that the church was very tolerant of other views, even faiths that weren't Christian.  My school had plenty of non-Christians (Jewish, Muslim, etc) send their kids there because the school was a good; they never had to pray, attend the weekly service, etc.
While this is only my own personal experience, I think the current teachings of the church is inclusive and tolerant, as a whole.  I'm not expert on this, so that's just my perception.
"I believe in God - not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being." -Pope Francis (the current pope of the Catholic church)


In regards to the various atrocities of the Catholic faith, history is certainly replete with them.  In my humble opinion, its very important to never forget our history, especially if we're a member of whatever group's historical atrocities are being discussed (in this case Catholics).
At the same time, we shouldn't judge an institution (religious or otherwise) based on their misgivings of the past, particularly the distant past.  We should learn about them, continue discussing and teaching them, but not ignore what good the institution is doing at present.  Whether the institution is ultimately "good" or "bad" is your own personal judgement call to make.

This is a good article discussing the finances and charity of the American Catholic church.  In 2010, $4.7 billion was given to poor.  That's good stuff.  But like all big institutions, there's also plenty of corruption (also discussed in the article), not to mention the utterly atrocious manner the church had been dealing with child abuse by clergy.  Good and bad to be found in its present state, up to you to decide if you think the good outweighs the bad.

As a side note: No one in this thread cast judgement on the church, only pointed out the atrocities its been involved with in the past.  I included the second part of this post just for the heck of it, not to claim anyone was casting judgement, nor as evidence that the church is "good" overall.  The article linked is from The Economist, and certainly isn't painting the church's finances in a positive light.  I thought it might be handy info for the general discussion, but if not then just ignore it :)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 03:22:21 PM by Primal »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2014, 03:25:42 PM »
I would call anyone who believes in the divine nature of Jesus Christ, and makes an attempt (however imperfect) to live his or her life in conjunction with his teachings, an individual that fits the term "Christian" by the most general standards of its definition.

Unitarians don't believe Christ was divine but are still Christians (according to them which, as I say, is the only measure I think is important.)  There's no sine qua non.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #31 on: November 11, 2014, 03:36:20 PM »
Even though in a way it is starting to develop a sort of negative connotation. My boyfriend (an atheist) never likes to say he is atheist because the first thing people think of is the rabid person screaming at anything religious and saying that those who practice religions should be put into camps or their books should be burned and other such horrible things.

Sadly I have encountered those and I see what he means. He wishes that a new name would be thought that means "Human who does not practice a religion but is also not an asshole about it." As he says.

Most religious philosophies have their extremists and Atheists are no exception. It's unfortunately a common human trait to disrespect and disregard others for having a different belief or value system to your own, I don't think we're going to get over that any time soon though.

While this is only my own personal experience, I think the current teachings of the church is inclusive and tolerant, as a whole. I'm not expert on this, so that's just my perception.

I personally wouldn't agree. While I do think that they have recently made great moves forward in being more inclusive and tolerant which deserves acknowledgement and congratulations, I also think that they have a long way to go before they can truly deserve those titles. However they do seem to be working on doing so, which is a wonderful sign to see.

Offline Primal

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2014, 04:36:19 PM »
Unitarians don't believe Christ was divine but are still Christians (according to them which, as I say, is the only measure I think is important.)  There's no sine qua non.

Excellent point.  Considering your post, the term "Christian" is more nebulous then I originally thought.  I concede to your point, and admit that, well, I really don't have a good answer anymore :)

I personally wouldn't agree. While I do think that they have recently made great moves forward in being more inclusive and tolerant which deserves acknowledgement and congratulations, I also think that they have a long way to go before they can truly deserve those titles. However they do seem to be working on doing so, which is a wonderful sign to see.

Definitely a fair point.  There's certainly plenty of intolerance in the church as a whole (based on things I read about now and then), I just didn't see it personally.  I'm speaking from my personal experience, which is not an indicator for the church as a whole.  Take it with a grain of salt.
I totally agree with you that the church is moving in the right direction.  I'm not a Catholic, but I do wish the church well and therefore it pleases me to see it moving in the right direction.  Thank God (no pun intended) that Francis was made the pope.  I hope he pushes for full acceptance of all sexual orientations, lets priests get married, lets any sex/gender be a priest, and implements a zero-tolerance no-BS policy regarding any and all child abuse issues (allowing marriage and all genders/sexes to be priests would help that issue a great deal, I'd expect). 

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #33 on: November 11, 2014, 05:03:26 PM »
I hope he pushes for full acceptance of all sexual orientations, lets priests get married, lets any sex/gender be a priest, and implements a zero-tolerance no-BS policy regarding any and all child abuse issues (allowing marriage and all genders/sexes to be priests would help that issue a great deal, I'd expect).

If they could do this and allow for the medical use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV... wow. That would really be something to see and it would be a great force for social change within the world. I would really have a lot of respect for them as an organization if they could do this, and it would solve pretty much all my problems with them.

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2014, 05:34:42 PM »
Christianity is one of the three major branches of the Abrahamic religion, the other two being Islam and Judaism. The defining characteristic between the three branches lies in the existence and origins of a Prophet.

The Jewish religion teaches that Jesus Christ was a prophet and a caring, compassionate, intelligent, and eloquent man. But that he was nothing more than that: A man inspired by the holy spirit to speak. He is not the Messiah, a specific figure who is meant to come to lead the Chosen People to true Paradise, but rather a particularly well known, popular, and influential False Messiah.

Islamic doctrine holds that Jesus was a Prophet sent by God through immaculate conception via the Virgin Mary to usher in a new era for the Jews by bringing them a further Gospel from Allah. But he was nothing more than that. Instead the focus of the Islamic religion is on the Final Prophet, Mohammed who came to Earth as a messenger of God to place the people on the Right Path in the 6th century.

And then you have Christianity, which holds that Jesus Christ himself was the Messiah and the absolute Son of God. That he is the way unto Heaven and that all who turn their back on him will find themselves separated from God.

With that said: Yes. Mormons, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and all other denominations who follow the core idea that Jesus is the Son of God and the Redeemer/Messiah/Etc are Christian in nature.

Also the Church of Latter Day Saints are a peculiar bunch, in the end. The 144,000 figure actually comes from Revelations and refers to the Twelve Tribes of the Jews. Each tribe would have 12,000 of it's members elevated in the days of Revelation who would bear witness to the works of God as he brings about the end of the world. As few if any members of the Church of LDS are Jewish it seems odd to think they'd be the ones elevated as the 144,000. But such is the way of things.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2014, 11:38:34 PM »
Excellent point.  Considering your post, the term "Christian" is more nebulous then I originally thought.  I concede to your point, and admit that, well, I really don't have a good answer anymore :)

Definitely a fair point.  There's certainly plenty of intolerance in the church as a whole (based on things I read about now and then), I just didn't see it personally.  I'm speaking from my personal experience, which is not an indicator for the church as a whole.  Take it with a grain of salt.
I totally agree with you that the church is moving in the right direction.  I'm not a Catholic, but I do wish the church well and therefore it pleases me to see it moving in the right direction.  Thank God (no pun intended) that Francis was made the pope.  I hope he pushes for full acceptance of all sexual orientations, lets priests get married, lets any sex/gender be a priest, and implements a zero-tolerance no-BS policy regarding any and all child abuse issues (allowing marriage and all genders/sexes to be priests would help that issue a great deal, I'd expect).

Francis does seem to be getting behind the sexual orientation acceptance issue and pushing (uncertain about the other issues, though there have been some unambiguous proclamations about abuse), and there's a fair bit of the rest of the church officials (plus a big chunk of its laypersons) who seem to feel that way. But there's also still a gigantic and powerful force of reactionaries and conservatives that the progressives have to overcome internally - I'd posted a thread about this a little while ago regarding the recent synod and the back-and-forth messages coming out of it. They're moving in the right direction, but it is still going to be a long journey; a generation's length or so most likely, to finish the die-off of the current crop of priests and bishops who were elevated during a much more hostile time.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 11:41:04 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #36 on: November 12, 2014, 10:53:32 AM »
Regarding the "who is a Christian" issue...

A person I talked about it on another forum claims that there actually is an objective criterion for that: the Nicean Creed, which includes things like the belief in the Holy Trinity etc. Denomitations that don't follow that creed (by rejecting trinitiarism etc.) aren't really Christian.

What do you think? I'm not sure if that's so obvious...

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2014, 11:45:12 AM »
Regarding the "who is a Christian" issue...

A person I talked about it on another forum claims that there actually is an objective criterion for that: the Nicean Creed, which includes things like the belief in the Holy Trinity etc. Denomitations that don't follow that creed (by rejecting trinitiarism etc.) aren't really Christian.

What do you think? I'm not sure if that's so obvious...

There is indeed an objective formula in the Creed.  I, however, missed the massive worldwide vote where we, as a people, agreed that "some guy on a forum" got to be in charge of defining who was a Christian and who isn't.  Did he make any sort of campaign promises?  Is he in charge of defining all things or just that?  What about people who disagree with him - will there be a brutal re-education process or is it straight to the death camps? 

I have so many questions. 

Offline Ebb

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2014, 11:48:05 AM »
Regarding the "who is a Christian" issue...

A person I talked about it on another forum claims that there actually is an objective criterion for that: the Nicean Creed, which includes things like the belief in the Holy Trinity etc. Denomitations that don't follow that creed (by rejecting trinitiarism etc.) aren't really Christian.

What do you think? I'm not sure if that's so obvious...

Nope.

Basically, you can't ask the question "Is religion X Christian?" It doesn't make sense.
You can only ask the question "According to religion Y, is religion X Christian?" It's a matter of opinion, not a scientific test.


Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2014, 11:56:15 AM »
There is indeed an objective formula in the Creed.  I, however, missed the massive worldwide vote where we, as a people, agreed that "some guy on a forum" got to be in charge of defining who was a Christian and who isn't.  Did he make any sort of campaign promises?  Is he in charge of defining all things or just that?  What about people who disagree with him - will there be a brutal re-education process or is it straight to the death camps? 

I have so many questions. 

Heh.  ;D

But it's not that "some guy on the forum" decided that thing... It's that the Creed was something that the early Christians agreed on. And, apparently, most of the denominations agree with it. The person I talked to seems to claim that this is the criterion the various Churches define Christianity with...

I don't know. We could use some official stances by the Churches...

Basically, you can't ask the question "Is religion X Christian?" It doesn't make sense.
You can only ask the question "According to religion Y, is religion X Christian?" It's a matter of opinion, not a scientific test.

Wait. Soooo, there's no point in asking if, say, Buddhism is a branch of Christianity?  ;)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #40 on: November 12, 2014, 11:59:41 AM »
Heh.  ;D

But it's not that "some guy on the forum" decided that thing... It's that the Creed was something that the early Christians agreed on. And, apparently, most of the denominations agree with it. The person I talked to seems to claim that this is the criterion the various Churches define Christianity with...

I don't know. We could use some official stances by the Churches...

Beorning...

There is not a definition.  This has been brought up many times by a few different people now. The criterion you are looking for doesn't exist.  It's not a thing.  The guy who says it is?  Ignore him.  Idiot. 

There is not a definition, Beorning.  Please.

Quote
Wait. Soooo, there's no point in asking if, say, Buddhism is a branch of Christianity?  ;)

No.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2014, 12:14:00 PM »
the Nicean Creed, which includes things like the belief in the Holy Trinity etc. Denomitations that don't follow that creed (by rejecting trinitiarism etc.) aren't really Christian.
It's that the Creed was something that the early Christians agreed on.

Although this was an attempt to gain consensus within the church, it was hardly a universal meeting of all christians.

The 318 representatives who turned up to the First Council of Nicea were composed of early Christians within the Roman empire invited by Emperor Constantine after the persecution of Christians was ended.

One of the main agenda items was to judge Arianism. (The belief that Christ was the son of God and not a part of him as per the trinity). Arianism was condemned as being non-christian, therefore requiring that all Christians accept the Trinity. There were plenty of Christians who argued with this such as Secundus of Ptolemais, Theonus of Marmarica, Zphyrius,  Dathes, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Paulinus of Tyrus, Actius of Lydda, Menophantus of Ephesus, and Theognus of Nicaea.

However this decision doesn't create the definition of Christianity beyond the politics of the time. This was basically the proto-catholics brutally suppressing those of a dissenting faith and is not suitable as a definition of Christianity for the modern age.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #42 on: November 12, 2014, 12:19:05 PM »
Beorning...

There is not a definition.  This has been brought up many times by a few different people now. The criterion you are looking for doesn't exist.  It's not a thing.  The guy who says it is?  Ignore him.  Idiot. 

There is not a definition, Beorning.  Please.

Okay, okay, I'm just wondering...

Quote
No.

Really? Come on. I think that every reasonable person will say that Christianity and Buddhism aren't the same religion...

Although this was an attempt to gain consensus within the church, it was hardly a universal meeting of all christians.

The 318 representatives who turned up to the First Council of Nicea were composed of early Christians within the Roman empire invited by Emperor Constantine after the persecution of Christians was ended.

One of the main agenda items was to judge Arianism. (The belief that Christ was the son of God and not a part of him as per the trinity). Arianism was condemned as being non-christian, therefore requiring that all Christians accept the Trinity. There were plenty of Christians who argued with this such as Secundus of Ptolemais, Theonus of Marmarica, Zphyrius,  Dathes, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Paulinus of Tyrus, Actius of Lydda, Menophantus of Ephesus, and Theognus of Nicaea.

However this decision doesn't create the definition of Christianity beyond the politics of the time. This was basically the proto-catholics brutally suppressing those of a dissenting faith and is not suitable as a definition of Christianity for the modern age.

Good point, but note that most of the Protestants agree with the results of that Council... And they question many of the beliefs held by the Catholics.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2014, 12:22:09 PM »
Heh.  ;D

But it's not that "some guy on the forum" decided that thing... It's that the Creed was something that the early Christians agreed on. And, apparently, most of the denominations agree with it. The person I talked to seems to claim that this is the criterion the various Churches define Christianity with...

I don't know. We could use some official stances by the Churches...


Depending on how literally (or unflinchingly) you were supposed to stick to the sense of what the Nicene Creed says to be credited as belonging within the realm of true Christians, you could end up with very differing limitations. Is it a requirement to believe that Jesus was literally born of a virgin, without any human impregnation? Or that he is in equal measures true god and true man? Do you bave to believe that Jesus literally walked on the waves of Lake Gennesareth and raised Lazarus from the dead, although his corpse was already smelling? (not in the creeds, but familiar parts of the Gospel tradition). Many people find those statements either imprecise, problematic or downright unacceptable as literal truths - and some of them are or were leading theologians. So if you're hardcore and believe in all of them as literal truths, it could flat-out be claimed that almost all of Christendom has strayed into heresy and laziness since the mid-19th cntury.  8-)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 12:24:38 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #44 on: November 12, 2014, 12:23:50 PM »
Really? Come on. I think that every reasonable person will say that Christianity and Buddhism aren't the same religion...

The Catholic Church felt the need to issue a specific statement about this because so many people were mixing the two.  For example, see here

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #45 on: November 12, 2014, 01:09:09 PM »
Good point, but note that most of the Protestants agree with the results of that Council... And they question many of the beliefs held by the Catholics.

Protestants were Catholics up until Martin Luther. By the time that division occurred, this decision had been made and resolved for well over a thousand years. On this issue, they don't really count as separate groups.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #46 on: November 12, 2014, 03:51:16 PM »
Good point...

Funny thing, BTW.: I just realized that, even in my Catholic years, I haven't really bought into the idea of Holy Trinity. Soooo... I wasn't really Catholic, then? Hmmm...

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #47 on: November 12, 2014, 05:11:04 PM »
Funny thing, BTW.: I just realized that, even in my Catholic years, I haven't really bought into the idea of Holy Trinity. Soooo... I wasn't really Catholic, then? Hmmm...

Catholic church has that one covered already. They say that having doubts is normal and that it's the effort to have faith that counts. This was covered a lot when some letters from Mother Teresa came to light in which she admits to having a lot of problems with her faith.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #48 on: November 12, 2014, 08:37:15 PM »
Although if you just straight up don't believe it - if you're more "I don't believe in one God in trinity and trinity in unity" than "hmmm, not so sure" then I think a pretty good argument could be made that you weren't, no.

Quite honestly - changing the subject slightly - I'm not certain to what extent I believe in three persons and to what extent I see that as an explanatory tactic.  The situation is a little different within the Anglican communion - "they may err, and sometimes have erred" - but its certainly one of my most heterodox moments.

Offline Lilias

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #49 on: November 13, 2014, 04:23:39 AM »
Regarding the "who is a Christian" issue...

A person I talked about it on another forum claims that there actually is an objective criterion for that: the Nicean Creed, which includes things like the belief in the Holy Trinity etc. Denomitations that don't follow that creed (by rejecting trinitiarism etc.) aren't really Christian.

What do you think? I'm not sure if that's so obvious...

That is pretty much the mind of the Orthodox Church, as well. Calling oneself X doesn't automagically make them X, and so on.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #50 on: November 13, 2014, 11:02:28 PM »
Quote
Back in high school, in our religion class (yes, we do have religion class as part of our school education), the nun that was our teacher conducted a lesson on "dangerous cults" and clearly labelled Mormons as such a cult.

What exactly, is a cult, and who gets the pleasure of creating its definition?
And what's the difference between a "cult" and a "dangerous cult"?

For me, it was when I started to analyze these two questions, that I started to see how much religions and cults actually have in common.  I won't give you an oversimplified definition of who and what is a cult, but I would encourage looking this up and deciding for yourself.

One of the tricky things about religion and cults is in the definitions of these terms. The person who gets to define what a Christian is, and what a cult is, has the power to exclude people form their Christian religions and to deem religions as cults and vice versa. It's no wonder everyone has a different opinion of the definitions for these terms.

Two tongue in cheek definitions:

A cult is usually "some other religion that disagrees with ours."

ie. "The Mormons disagree with us. We cannot both be right. Therefore they are a cult and thus wrong."

A dangerous cult is usually, "some other religion that disagrees with ours AND is trendier than ours."

Son: Mom, good news! Me and my friend Jane are going to become Wiccans!
Mom: Jesus Mary and Joseph, No! They're a dangerous cult!






Offline Oniya

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #51 on: November 13, 2014, 11:11:13 PM »
There's actually a scale out there that the FBI used in Project Meggido at the turn of the millennium.  It covers many of the aspects that psychologists look for, like Isolation, Paranoia, Sexual Manipulation and Violence.  Each of 18 indicators should be rated 1-10, and the higher the total, the more 'cultish' the group.


http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #52 on: November 13, 2014, 11:47:30 PM »
Interesting links, Oniya. I've found this site to be rather interesting too. Its useful for finding information about various "religious" groups. Bear in mind, the guy who started the site claims to have been a "deprogrammer", so expect some anti-religious slant. I thought the site was actually rather level despite this. ( I haven't  read it in a while, so hopefully it hasn't changed too much since then.)

http://www.culteducation.com/faq.html  ( previously rickross.com )




Offline Strident

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #53 on: April 02, 2015, 11:00:09 AM »
Enjoyed reading this topic very much. I broadly agree with Kythia. No one has copyrighted or trademarked the term "Christian".. So pretty much anyone can apply that term to themselves and their beliefs.. And many do.

However, to make the term vaguely meaningful, I think we could reasonably say that a Christian denomination  would be one which, in the essence of it's beliefs and practices would be recognised by the first apostles as the faith they received from Christ himself.

In principle, a careful study of the most reliable primary sources in their proper historical context (that is, primarily the gospels and the epistles) will allow us to arrive at some sort of yardstick for that. In practice, of course, there is bound to be a lot of disagreement about it... Particularly the fringe /marginal cases.

The creeds, particularly the nicean creed, do give us some sort of summary definition..but it's a working guide at best.

Kythia, you speak in some detail on this topic..do you identify as Christian yourself? What denomination, if any? :)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #54 on: April 02, 2015, 11:38:27 AM »
I do, yeah.  And Anglican - CofE specifically.  Pretty high church, skirting the line with Anglo-Catholic.  Though I recognise I'm now going in to levels of detail noone gives a fuck about.

I, perhaps predictably, disagree that a study of the early documents is a valid way of making a yardstick, though.  Take for example the Mormons (LDS).  They believe, in brief, that an angel - Moroni - guided Joseph Smith to a new, previously unknown, set of revelations.  Leaving any statement on the truth or otherwise of that claim, those revelations wouldn't be known by the early church and so the LDS would fail that test.  Sure, the LDS are one of the "fringe/marginals" you refer to but the problem isn't unique to them.  Seventh Day Adventists - far less of a fringe case - could well fall in to the same problem and depending on your stance there's a pretty good chance that any non-sola scriptura denomination could as well.

Offline Strident

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #55 on: April 02, 2015, 12:39:36 PM »
Kythia, yes, I quite agree that Latter Day Saints would "fail" the test. They would be  Christian derived sect.

7th day adventists I think could just sneak inside the definition...but would like at the fringe.

That's not intended to in any way offend, but merely give some focus to the word "Christian". As you rightly say, no one "owns" the word..and anyone is free to use it if they want. I would tend to think that using the word Christian to apply to that set of values and beliefs which would have been recognisably shared with Christ and his first followers is a useful yardstick. O

Ca

Offline Caehlim

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #56 on: April 02, 2015, 10:23:28 PM »
In principle, a careful study of the most reliable primary sources in their proper historical context (that is, primarily the gospels and the epistles) will allow us to arrive at some sort of yardstick for that.

I disagree. Disputes amongst early Christians were no less fierce than the ones at present, nor do we have any primary sources that were contemporary to the events described. The gospels and epistles were simply those texts of the era that became favoured by what was to later become the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Selecting those as our privileged sources is ignoring the work of Gnostic Christian writers (and others) at the time.

We have a flourishing and diverse variety of 2nd Century accounts of the Christian faith and even a few dating back to late 1st Century. However those that we presently place the most value in are those that won out in the conflicts between sects and beliefs of the 3rd Century. This isn't even considering the bias in which texts were preserved due to the beliefs of later ages.

Offline Strident

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #57 on: April 03, 2015, 03:46:55 AM »
I agree the scriptures we now consider the Canon were determined to be so in the 3rd century.

However, they are also the oldest texts and the most closely associated with Christ himself, while the origins of the gnostic texts are distant in both time and location  from Christ.

There is little doubt that the oldest document regarding Christ is 1 Corinthians 15, in which Paul is quoting an earlier source (probably an early church hymn). Given that we know Paul's biography pretty well, and know at what point he could have conceivably learned that hymn, we can be confident of dating the original source to within just 3 years of Christ's death.

The gospel account of Luke (continued in acts) contains many historical details which required the writer to have lived contemporaneously with Christ. Slightly more contentious, but still well supported is that John's gospel indicates significant first hand knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its fall in 76AD.

While I don't claim we can be sure or every detail, we can be pretty confident that the canonical gospels reflect Jesus as he was understood pre 100AD.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #58 on: April 03, 2015, 04:41:09 AM »
Well, if another Christian comes up with a set of criteria that completely contradicts yours, then who is correct, you or him?

It's kind of hard to be "right" if there is no solid ground to stand on and the firmest footing you can get is an opinion or something along the lines of "This text is older, therefore" or "More Christians of type Y hold this opinion, therefore.." or "These old wrinkly dudes with Zztop beards say so, therefore...."

So what's wrong with just plain ole do it yourself Christianity? Where you take whatever information you can get your hands on and just interpret it as you feel is right? Bob next door reads his bible to his family every Tuesday before they can eat their savory saviour stew, Sue is building a spaceship because Jesus told her the day is coming, and Abraham down the street is tripping out on some heavy shit and seeing six-eyed angels and locusts and stuff because he has the gift of "prophecy" and this is how god speaks to him.

All joking aside, if everyone has the same mindset, the same values and plays by the same rules, then its going to be easier to lead those people and to get them behind you so to speak. I think politics and leadership kind of play into the convenience of having everyone think the same way. Those who can influence the masses wield a lot of power.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #59 on: April 03, 2015, 07:28:47 AM »
There is little doubt that the oldest document regarding Christ is 1 Corinthians 15, in which Paul is quoting an earlier source (probably an early church hymn). Given that we know Paul's biography pretty well, and know at what point he could have conceivably learned that hymn, we can be confident of dating the original source to within just 3 years of Christ's death.

Well, you're running straight in to issues there.  If we say "the early Pauline epistles are the yardstick for Christianity" then you're forced to confront the fact that Paul clearly hadn't heard of the Empty Tomb.  So any denomination that believes in it - and off the top of my head I can't think of any that don't, though I pretty much guarantee there are some - isn't Christian.

Quote
The gospel account of Luke (continued in acts) contains many historical details which required the writer to have lived contemporaneously with Christ. Slightly more contentious, but still well supported is that John's gospel indicates significant first hand knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its fall in 76AD.

While I don't claim we can be sure or every detail, we can be pretty confident that the canonical gospels reflect Jesus as he was understood pre 100AD.

Luke had a copy of Josephus' Jewish War, published in about 75 AD, and quite probably a copy of Jewish Antiquities (around 95 AD) as well - the historical details are from there, almost word for word in some cases.  There's no requirement to live contemporaneously with Christ any more so than there is for someone writing a novel set in the Second World War to have lived through it.  Further, Luke was being revised well in to the second century.

This isn't just to quibble, this is to say that any line you draw is inherently arbitrary.  Basically I think there are two problems:

1)None of the early sources are "complete" in the sense of being a straight up list of teachings.  As an example, take Paul's mention of the Last Supper in Corinthians -

Quote from: 1 Cor 11:23-26 from ESV:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

- had it not been relevant to the point he was making to the church in Corinth there would be no evidence that he had heard of it.  How much else did he take as granted as Christian knowledge but simply didn't bother to mention because it wasn't relevant to the point he was making?

2) The early canon wasn't universally accepted - take the dispute over Revelation for example or the Marcionite Controversy as a more extreme one.  The church under Valentinus used more than four gospels, Ireneas thought the Shepherd of Hermes was canon.  God only knows what the Ebionites were doing.  Etc etc etc.  Trying to define a set of beliefs for the early church as a whole is impossible, and so using that as a yardstick is inherently a judgement call - you are implicitly ruling in and out some early groups which is precisely the opposite of the claimed intent.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 07:30:08 AM by Kythia »

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2015, 06:42:18 PM »
I know this might seem hypocritical coming from a non-denominational Christian but I don't consider Mormons Christians, personally. That's my opinion, and this is the possibly-hypocritical part: I find the story very suspect. Not because I don't think this guy couldn't have had an angel dictate a book or two, but because the relationship of the books to anything actually regarding the teachings of Jesus, and in fact much of their polygamy (and I know that's not that big of a thing in mainstream Moronism anymore) is in direct opposition to what Jesus said about similar subjects.

All religions start out as cults, the only distinction I worry about is if the cult actually seems dangerous, like Jim-Jones level dangerous.

Still, if you ask the US Government, it depends on if they get the tax exemption for being a religion. I also support people freedom of religion, so there's that also.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #61 on: April 05, 2015, 11:18:27 PM »
As I understand, Jim Jones' posse was seemingly harmless at first. By the time people got themselves stranded in Jonestown though, it was a bit too late.

As for Mormons not being real or authentic Christians because of their unique claims, compare that to the early Christian’s claims that Jesus literally rose from the dead (and then disappeared), or the stories about him healing people and walking on water. All those claims were outside of what most of us would call reality or normal experience. If you believe what Jesus told his apostles - that they would do even greater things than he did, then the Mormon's claim about being visited by angels and given golden tomes and secret decoder glasses sounds kind of tame in comparison. Likewise, if we give Christians a free pass and excuse them from having to prove that these claims about Jesus were real, then shouldn't we be fair and give the Mormons the same free pass? For that matter, the Raelians seem like nice folks. Why not give them the same free pass too?



Offline Vulpa Regina

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2015, 11:32:38 PM »
I'd like to quote from Bertrand Russell's essay, "Why I Am Not A Christian," in which he first defines what it is that he is not:

Quote
Nowadays it is not quite that. We have to be a little more vague in our meaning of Christianity. I think, however, that there are two different items which are quite essential to anybody calling himself a Christian. The first is one of a dogmatic nature -- namely, that you must believe in God and immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and in immortality, and yet they would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about Christ, I do not think you have any right to call yourself a Christian. Of course, there is another sense, which you find in Whitaker's Almanack and in geography books, where the population of the world is said to be divided into Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, fetish worshipers, and so on; and in that sense we are all Christians. The geography books count us all in, but that is a purely geographical sense, which I suppose we can ignore.Therefore I take it that when I tell you why I am not a Christian I have to tell you two different things: first, why I do not believe in God and in immortality; and, secondly, why I do not think that Christ was the best and wisest of men, although I grant him a very high degree of moral goodness.

But for the successful efforts of unbelievers in the past, I could not take so elastic a definition of Christianity as that. As I said before, in olden days it had a much more full-blooded sense. For instance, it included he belief in hell. Belief in eternal hell-fire was an essential item of Christian belief until pretty recent times. In this country, as you know, it ceased to be an essential item because of a decision of the Privy Council, and from that decision the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York dissented; but in this country our religion is settled by Act of Parliament, and therefore the Privy Council was able to override their Graces and hell was no longer necessary to a Christian. Consequently I shall not insist that a Christian must believe in hell.

So if you go by that very basic definition, LDS and JW are both Christian sects.

Offline BitterSweet

Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #63 on: April 06, 2015, 09:12:43 PM »
The basic criteria for be a Christian is that you believe - in some fashion - in Jesus Christ.  And (because many Muslims accept Jesus Christ as a prophet, just not the important one), that he is a foundational part of the practitioners faith.  So, in wikipedia any religion that places Jesus Christ front and center, can be defined as Christian.  Many of those faiths on the list, however, would exclude one or more or all of the others on the list based on various tenants they hold dear (child baptism vs. adulthood baptism, day of worship, whether or not you believe in the Holy Trinity, etc, etc, ad naseum).

Christ is what makes a denomination Christian.

The Catholic Church has a long history of defining what is a Christian, based on particular practices or expressed beliefs.  Example: the Holy Trinity, not all Christian faiths belive in it, those that don't would not be Christian by the Catholic definition.  The Christian Scientists (my father's faith) believe that they can 'become like Christ' and I think the Catholic Church to this day defines them as a heresy because they believe (rather strongly) that you can imitate Christ, follow his teachcings, etc but you can't become like him because he is the son of god  No one else is.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 09:14:59 PM by BitterSweet »

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #64 on: May 01, 2015, 12:02:22 AM »
I am an atheist now, but I was raised as a Catholic and remained one until twenty-one.  I was taught to look at Protestants as unfortunate, having accepted Jesus as their savior, but not the Pope as his representative on Earth, and consider them as similar to the Prodigal Son in the similarly-named parable.  Orthodox religions were almost okay--they just needed to come back into the fold and accept the Pope as the leader of Christians on Earth.  Jews were God's Chosen People, but since they did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah, they were unfortunately going to Hell--unless they were converted.  All in all, Jews weren't bad people either, because at least they believed in the same God as us, and were part-way there.  More distant religions like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism were given little or no examination, but more disparate branches of Christianity (in Catholics' mind) like Mormons, JW's, and Seventh-Day Adventists were considered cults because they were believers in Christ but with dangerously heretical beliefs mixed in that no self-respecting Catholic would ever accept.

Of course, when I started actually examining all of these religions on my own and discovering for myself my own opinion on them, I began to see things much differently.

Religion, in itself, is simply a belief system one person has claimed as the truth, and then other people come to follow it.  In actuality, no two humans believe exactly the same on all topics, and so, to be honest, we could say that all human beings have their own religion, as varied and different as fingerprints.  It is funny how Protestant religions operate on the doctrine of a personal relationship with Jesus, but don't take it all the way under that line of thinking, and consider that following any other person's religion would mean you weren't truly in a personal relationship with Jesus--you were copying another person's personal relationship with Jesus as your own.

It's all immaterial to me now.  After exposure to so much information of all the world's religions, I developed the idea that not all of them could be right, since so many were diametrically opposed or made claims that ruled out their both being right...and I made that common leap of logic that came next: If many of them must be wrong...could all of them be wrong?

I realized that most people don't research and chose their religion--they are indoctrinated to it as an impressionable child by their parents.  Most people simply fall into their religion and continue it out of familiarity.  It is an accident of birth for most people on what religion they espouse.  With this indoctrination comes rigidity and resistance to other ways of thinking, thus the all-too-common hostility to other religions...though it is telling that most religious hatreds are between more similar religions than those very different.  You don't hear about Christians hating on Hindus for having multiple gods, but look no further than Northern Ireland for Christians behaving in very un-Christian-like ways towards one another.  Likewise, Jews and Muslims can profess belief in the same God, Abraham, and not eating pork, but that pesky part in the Bible about Abraham's sons and who got his blessing kinda tears the agreements in two after that.

No religion has the authority to declare if another religion is legitimate or not, as none of them are based in any way on rationality or facts, but faith--the very antithesis of fact--believing in something with no evidence whatsoever.  When new religions pop up, or old religions die away, contemporary religions have no problem attacking their legitimacy on grounds of too few adherents...but they forget the fact that, at one time, their own religion was a foundling with only a handful of faithful.

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Re: Quick question about Christian denominations
« Reply #65 on: May 01, 2015, 10:07:36 AM »
The basic criteria for be a Christian is that you believe - in some fashion - in Jesus Christ.  And (because many Muslims accept Jesus Christ as a prophet, just not the important one), that he is a foundational part of the practitioners faith.  So, in wikipedia any religion that places Jesus Christ front and center, can be defined as Christian.  Many of those faiths on the list, however, would exclude one or more or all of the others on the list based on various tenants they hold dear (child baptism vs. adulthood baptism, day of worship, whether or not you believe in the Holy Trinity, etc, etc, ad naseum).

Christ is what makes a denomination Christian.

The Catholic Church has a long history of defining what is a Christian, based on particular practices or expressed beliefs.  Example: the Holy Trinity, not all Christian faiths belive in it, those that don't would not be Christian by the Catholic definition.  The Christian Scientists (my father's faith) believe that they can 'become like Christ' and I think the Catholic Church to this day defines them as a heresy because they believe (rather strongly) that you can imitate Christ, follow his teachcings, etc but you can't become like him because he is the son of god  No one else is.

The Christian Scientists sound interesting I'd like to hear more about them. I'm a christian myself, sort of a nondenominational one.
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