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Author Topic: Quick question about Christian denominations  (Read 2076 times)

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Offline gaggedLouise

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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.

Online 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...

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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

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.