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William

Christian Denominations - Where did all the Christian Denominations come from?

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“Universal/Worldwide = catholic” Jesus Christ 30 A.D.

 

There are seven major families of denominations which comprise the Biblical Historical Christian faith: Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Four Protestant Families

  • Oriental Orthodox - Not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox denominations - the Oriental Orthodox churches broke off in the earliest of schisms in Church history. Some were Nestorians, others were "monophysites" (a complex understanding of Christology unfairly declared heretical). This family still has a representation of denominations dating back to the third century - Coptic Christians in Egypt (heavily persecuted by Muslims), Church of India (established by the Apostle Thomas), Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (possibly dating as far back as the Biblical encounter between the Apostle Philip and the influential Ethiopian eunich in Acts 8
  • Roman Catholic - This group emerged distinctive at the point of the Great Schism in 1054, but had been forming for hundreds of years via the dogma of "Papal Primacy" originally introduced by Leo, then the head of the Church at Rome, who fought to establish Rome as the "primary see" and its Bishop as the "primal Papacy" (which of course at the time, was none other than himself!) He would emerge from this contested ecumenical council as "Pope Leo", the first to be referred to by that title with the meaning of "Primal Papal Office". This office would be further solidified in the west by the combination of church and state with the Pope appointing Kings and emperors and Kings and emperors influencing who would be "Pope". The office of "Pope" would begin to be authoritatively enforced under Pope Gregory the Great (c.AD 600) and the iron-fisted reign of the popes would start to wane with the introduction of the Waldensians (earliest reformers) and the office would become a laughing stock in the Christian world with the "Great Papal Schism" of the 14th century where the Roman Catholic church had THREE Popes at once - none of which wanting to give up their authority!
  • Eastern Orthodox - Eastern Byzantine empire - began forming alongside the "Roman Church" with the division of the Roman empire into east and west. The Eastern church - primarily Greek and North African, spoke a different language, enjoyed a different culture, and eventually held to a different governance ecclesiology over time. The emphasis of the primacy of see of Rome and its Bishop as possessing chief papal authority (Pope) the Eastern Orthodox church had already begun to operate independently of Rome. The final spark occurred with the addition of the filioque (from the Son) to the Nicene creed which led to sharp criticism of the Roman Church with Patriarch Michael Cerularius accusing Pope Leo IX of overstepping his authority. The Pope was incensed and sent Cardinal Humbert to deliver a Papal Bull excommunicating Cerularius. Cerularius in turn, excommunicated Cardinal Humbert, AND Pope Leo IX who sent him. Both East and West churches emerged separate and distinct and have not rejoined since. This has come to be known as the "Great Schism" of 1054 AD. However it should be called the Great Schism of the 3rd - 11th centuries!
  • Protestant (Four Family 'sub' groups) - A term used to describe those Christians who sought to "reform" the Roman Catholic church. Contrary to popular misnomer, the word did not arise as a result of "protesting" the Pope or the Roman Catholic church. Rather, the etymology of "Protestant" is tied to a group of German princes, civic centers, and authorities all of whom voiced their dissent from the Diet of Speyer which was decidedly against Luther reforms. It has since come to be known as a term for "anti papist" groups and although it primarily referred to German reformers (Lutherans) and the term "Reformed Churches" referred to Swiss and French reformers, the term protestant has today come to represent all denominations besides the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox denominations.

Pre-Reformers - These are the groups of believers which broke from Roman Catholic oppression prior to Luther's German Reforms

 

Waldensians - Founded by Peter Waldo, perhaps the earliest of all true reformers. Waldo decried the lavish lifestyle of monks and priests amidst the squalor of the common people. He petitioned for the Scriptures to be translated from Latin (educated tongue) to French - the language of the common people. He also believed in preaching in the common language as well. The Roman Catholic church for some strange reason believed that all masses should only be "said" in Latin - a language which most common people could not understand. Waldo also believed in personal evangelism. His efforts would earn him infamous hatred and notoriety that would dog his followers, the Waldensians, for centuries BEYOND the great reformation! The Waldensians are perhaps the most persecuted Christian denomination in Church history, mostly due to their challenge of the Roman Catholic Pope's authority.

 

Moravians or Unity of the Brethren - began by secret small study groups formed by John Hus, the Czech pre-reformer - originally called "Hussites", they closely mirrored the reform teachings of John Wycliffe who died prior to Hus' martyrdom at the hands of the Roman Catholic faith. Half of the "Hussites" or "Unity of the Brethren" fled the persecution of Czechoslovakia to join the Moravians - both groups are still in existence today.

 

Lutheran - started by Martin Luther and although some Lutheran pastors have left to join or start other movements, Lutherans have tended to produce other varieties of Lutherans but there have been no other significant denominations that broke from the Lutheran tradition and subsequently trace their roots to Luther. I believe that this can be considered a credit to Lutheran unity.

 

Anglican - Began as a state issue and not a doctrinal issue, King Henry VIII "seceded" from Roman Papal authority, declaring himself as "Head of Church and State". The Church of England would endure hardship at the hands of the Roman Catholic Mary Stuart or "Bloody Mary" but eventually, reformers like Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and compromiser Elizabeth I would bring about distinction for this Christian family. Most denominations trace their roots to this branch: Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc.

 

Reformed - A large number of denominations consider the Reformed church as their historical foundation: Presbyterians, Amish, Evangelical Free, and Christian and Missionary Alliance.

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Reformed: also some Reformed Baptist Churches.

 

G'day Strat,

 

The name Reformed Baptist does not refer to a distinct denomination but instead is a description of the theological leaning of certain Baptist churches.

 

Reformed Baptist churches quite often adhere to either the First or Second London Baptist Confession of 1644 and 1689 respectively. These two statements are usually not considered exhaustive, but instead are convenient summaries of a church's belief. Reformed Baptists attempt to derive all of their doctrine directly from the Bible, which they see as the sole authority of faith and practice.

 

Reformed Baptist Churches are distinct in that they are both Reformed (adhering to much of Calvinism) as well as Baptists (believing in baptism for believers only, and that by immersion). Historically, the Five Points of Calvinism have been central tenets of the Reformed faith, with which all Reformed Baptist churches agree by definition.

 

However, Reformed theology is normally committed to Covenant theology, one application of which is to justify the practice of infant baptism. For this reason more traditional Reformed branches of Christianity (Presbyterian, etc) sometimes refuse to accept their Reformed Baptist brothers as truly Reformed. Nevertheless, Reformed Baptists are distinctly Covenantal in their theology, regarding the Covenant of Grace as made only with the elect. Baptism is seen as a sign of the New Covenant administration - made with those who have been regenerated by having the law written on their hearts, their sins forgiven and who savingly know the Lord (Jeremiah 31:31-34). As typical of Baptists, only those who can credibly profess this reality are to be baptized.

 

Modern Reformed Baptists usually consider themselves the spiritual heirs of English Baptists John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon. The Calvinist theology of the Reformed Baptist is akin to if not descended directly from that of early English Particular Baptists.

 

Common traits of Reformed Baptists

 

The centrality of the Word of God: the church takes no part in human schemes for church growth, nor searches for popularity, but sows the Word and trusts God will make it multiply.

 

Creedalism: historic creeds of the faith are considered useful, but not necessarily authoritative.

 

The Regulative Principle of Worship: the belief that "the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be Worshipped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures," (from chapter 22, paragraph 1 of the London Baptist Confession of 1689). This is usually manifested in a relatively simple liturgy.

 

Covenant Theology: most hold to the classic Reformed contrast between the Covenant of Works in Adam and the Covenant of Grace in Christ (the last Adam) - and the Elect in Him as His seed. This eternal Covenant of Grace is progressively revealed through the historic Biblical covenants.

 

Local autonomy: each congregation is a fully independent church, which considers itself accountable directly to Jesus Christ rather than intermediately through an earthly organization such as a Convention, Synod or Presbytery.

 

Plurality in Leadership: each local church has multiple Elders as well as one or more Pastors (also known as plurality of elders); often the terms are interchangeable or denote only a difference in full or partial-time dedication to the ministry. Often all leaders are called elders, with the pastor being considered only a primus inter pares.

 

The reservation of the Elder role for men, and usually also that of Deacon.

 

Moderate Cessationism: the supernatural Gifts of the Holy Ghost in general, and Revivals specifically, are considered exceptional measures sovereignly bestowed by God, not to be searched as a common policy. Thus a rejection of man-generated Revivalism in general and Pentecostalism specifically.

 

The idea of the Sunday as the Christian Sabbath (except for New Covenant Theologians).

 

Other Calvinistic Baptists

 

Other independent Calvinistic Baptist churches have purposefully avoided calling themselves "Reformed" Baptists because of recognized differences beyond the issue of baptism. Many of these have become associated with New Covenant Theology which is seen as an alternative to the Reformed Covenant Theology. These churches usually adhere to the First London Baptist Confession of Faith (especially in its 1646 edition) rather than the later London Baptist Confession of 1689 which was for the most part a restatement of the Westminster Confession with minor changes to accommodate believer baptism.

 

Related history

 

In the early 17th century, Baptists in England developed along two different theological lines. The General Baptists were so-called because they held to a General (or universal) atonement, which maintains that Christ died for all men alike, making a general provision for all on the condition of faith. This is the same universal atonement of Arminianism. Early General Baptist leaders included John Smyth and Thomas Helwys.

 

The Particular Baptists were so-called because they held the Particular (or limited) atonement. The Particular view of the atonement is that Christ in His death undertook to save particular individuals, referred to as the elect. This position is the same limited atonement of classic Calvinism. Some early Particular Baptist leaders included Benjamin Keach, Hanserd Knollys, and William Kiffin.

 

Present day Strict Baptists of England are descendants of the Particular Baptists. Sometimes they are referred to as "Strict and Particular" Baptists. The term "strict" refers to the strict or closed position they held on membership and communion. The majority of early Particular Baptists rejected open membership and open communion. One notable exception was the author of Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan. Over the 18th century, General Baptists lapsed into theological liberalism and practically disappeared from the scene in England. During this same period, the Particular Baptists moved toward extreme doctrinal conservatism, which some have described as Hyper-Calvinism and Antinomianism. In 1785, Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) published The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. This helped turn many Particular Baptists toward a new evangelicalism that was dubbed "Fullerism," and would lead to eventual division among the Particular Baptists of England. The "Fullerites" are probably best represented by Fuller and William Carey (1761-1834), Baptist missionary to India. The leading spokesman for strict Calvinism was John Gill (1696-1771), perhaps best known for his Exposition of the Whole Bible, the only commentary to comment on every verse of the Bible. Among the "Fuller strain" of Particular Baptists, Calvinism declined and the practice of open communion grew. In 1891, most of the remaining General Baptists merged with the Particular Baptists in the Baptist Union of Great Britain (formed 1813). The Old Baptist Union represents General Baptists that did not participate.

 

God bless,

William

 

Sources: Theopedia

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Thanks for the input. It sounds much like what I read on a Reformed Baptist site in our area. I'm getting fed up with the teachings of free will in our church and not being allowed to distribute my book which inarguably proves free will is not taught in the Bible.

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A false history of the (Roman) Catholic Church. It was founded by Jesus Christ on the apostles.

 

As to the various protestant groups:

 

Did the Apostles set these up ?

 

1521. The foundation of the Lutherans, the beginning of Protestantism, was laid down by Martin Luther.

1522. The foundation of the Anabaptists was laid down by Conrad Grebel, Menno Simons, Thomas Munzer and others.

1525. The foundation of the Mennonites was laid down by Menno Simons in a split from Anabaptists.

1534. The foundation of the Anglican Church of England, was laid down by King Henry VIII.

1536. The foundation of the Calvinists was laid down by John Calvin, as he taught predestination.

1560. The foundation of the Presbyterians was laid down by John Knox, who studied under Luther.

1582. The foundation of the Congregationalists was laid down by Robert Brown, a branch from Puritanism.

1609. The foundation of the Baptists in Holland was laid down by John Smyth.

1639. The foundation of the Baptists in America was laid down by Roger Williams.

1647. The foundation of the Quakers was laid down by George Fox in England.

1693. The foundation of the Amish was laid down by men in a split from the Mennonites.

1708. The foundation of the Church of the Brethren was laid down by five men and three women.

1739. The foundation of the Methodists was laid down by John and Charles Wesley.

1770. The foundation of the Universalists was laid down by John Murray in New Jersey.

1774. The foundation of the Unitarians was laid down by Theophilus Lindley.

1789. The foundation of the Episcopalians was laid down by Samuel Seabury. It is the American branch of Anglicans.

1792. The foundation of the Reformed Church in America was laid down by many who broke from the Dutch Reformed Church.

1802. The foundation of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference was laid down by Stephen and Ann Mumford.

1803. The foundation of the Evangelicals was laid down by Jacob Albright.

1820. The foundation of the Fundamentalist-Bible was laid down by John Darby, Cyrus Scofield, and others.

1827. The foundation of the Christian Church (Stone-Campbell) was laid down by Alexander Campbell.

1827. The foundation of the Primitive Baptist was laid down by men. It is considered the strictest of all Baptists.

1830. The foundation of the Mormons was laid down by Joseph Smith in Palmyra New York. (Galatians 1:6-10)

1832. The foundation of the Disciples of Christ was laid down by a presbyterian schism called "The Stone-Campbell Movement".

1840. The foundation of the Primitive Methodist Church was laid down by Hugh Borne and William Clowes.

1843. The foundation of the Wesleyan Church was laid down by Orange Scott.

1844. The foundation of the Christadelphians was laid down by John Thomas from Stone-Campbell movement.

1845. The foundation of the American Baptist Churches was laid down by several men.

1845. The foundation of the Religious Society of Friends was laid down by Joseph Gurney, and John Wilbur.

1845. The foundation of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest non-Catholic denomination, was laid down by several men.

1847. The foundation of the Apostolic Christian Church of America was laid down by Benedict Weyeneth.

1852. The foundation of the Baptist General Conference was laid down by Gustaf Palmquist.

1858. The foundation of the Bible Fellowship Church was laid down by Mennonite leaders.

1860. The foundation of the Adventists was laid down by William Miller.

1860. The foundation of the Advent Christian Church was laid down by George Storrs and Charles Hudsen.

1863. The foundation of the Seventh-Day Adventists was laid down by Ellen Gould White.

1863. The foundation of the Church of GOD (7th Day) was laid down by Gilbert Cranner.

1865. The foundation of the Salvation Army was laid down by William Booth.

1865. The foundation of the North American Baptist Conference, was laid down by German immigrants.

1867. The foundation of the Church of Christ Temple was laid down by Granville Hedrick in a split from Mormonism.

1870. The foundation of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was laid down by many members.

1873. The foundation of the Reformed Episcopal Church was laid down by George Cummins.

1874. The foundation of the Jehovah's Witnesses was laid down by Charles Taze Russell.

1875. The foundation of the New Age movement was laid down by Helena Blavatsky. (Colossians 2:8)

1879. The foundation of the Christian Scientists was laid down by Mary Baker Eddy.

1882. The foundation of the Brethren Church was laid down by expelled Church of the Brethren members.

1886. The foundation of the Church of GOD was laid down by former Methodists.

1894. The foundation of the Church of Christ Holiness was laid down by C.P. Jones.

1895. The foundation of the Modernism movement was laid down by Alfred Loisy, and George Tyrrell.

1895. The foundation of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., was laid down by many black Baptists.

1896. The foundation of the Christian Catholic Church was laid down by Alexander Dowie.

1897. The foundation of the Church of GOD in Christ was laid down by Charles Mason and Charles Jones.

1901. The foundation of the Pentecostalism was laid down by Charles Fox Parham and William Seymour.

1903. The foundation of the Church of GOD was laid down by AJ Tomlinson.

1903. The foundation of the House of GOD was laid down by Mary Magdalena Tate.

1906. The foundation of the Church of Christ was laid down by men out of the Stone-Campbell movement of 1832.

1907. The foundation of the Apostolic Faith Church was laid down by Florence Crawford.

1908. The foundation of the Church of the Nazarine was laid down by Phineas F. Bresee.

1909. The foundation of the Church of Christ in Christian Union was laid down by several union members.

1914. The foundation of the Iglesia ni Cristo was laid down by Felix Manalo

1914. The foundation of the General Council of the Assemblies of GOD was laid down by former pastors.

1917. The foundation of the Four Square Gospel was laid down by Aimee Semple McPherson.

1918. The foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod was laid down by immigrants.

1920. The foundation of the Churches of Christ was laid down as one of several split from Church of Christ.

1923. The foundation of the Church of GOD of Prophecy was laid down by AJ Tomlinson.

1926. The foundation of the Protestant Reformed Churches was laid down by Herman Hoeksema and others.

1930. The foundation of the Branch Davidians was laid down by Victor Houteff in a split from Seventh-Day Adventists.

1930. The foundation of the Independent Churches of America (IFCA), was laid down by a consortium of churches.

1932. The foundation of the General Association of General Baptists was laid down by Benoni Stinson, when he broke from the American Baptist Convention.

1961. The foundation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention was laid down by Martin Luther King Jr.

1962. The foundation of the Southern Episcopal Church was laid down by B. H. Webster in a split from Episcopalians.

1964. The foundation of the Lutheran Churches of Reformation was laid down by many in a split from the Lutheran Missouri synod.

1965. The foundation of the Calvary Chapel was laid down by Chuck Smith.

1966. The foundation of the Assemblies of Yahweh was laid down by Jacob Meyer.

1968. The foundation of the Disciples of Christ was laid down by those who separated from Churches of Christ.

 

 

 

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Going back to the OP:

 

What happened to the Church that Jesus founded? He only founded one Church and promised to be with it to the end of time (Mt 28:20).

 

He gave his Church a unity of belief (Phil. 1:27, 2:2)

 

Jesus promised his Church would be indefectible. – the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18)

 

He promised the Church would be preserved from error by the Holy Spirit by reminding the apostles of all that Jesus had taught them (Jn 14:26) and guide them into the truth in the future (Jn 16:13)

 

He prayed that it would be one Church (Jn 17:20-23).

 

That Church has four scriptural marks as described by Paul and proclaimed in the Nicene Creed – one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

 

Eph 2:19-22

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, [catholic]

built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, [apostolic]

in whom the whole structure is joined together [one]

and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. [holy]

 

 

Where is that Church now?

 

 

 

 

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What happened to the Church that Jesus founded? He only founded one Church and promised to be with it to the end of time (Mt 28:20).

 

Protestants believe that there is one true church, but that it isn't a physical institution.

 

Bede, how would you sell us on the Roman Catholic Church without playing the "one true church" card?

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For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

(Matthew 18:20 ESV)

 

 

Jesus being among people doesn't mean they are the Church that Jesus founded.

 

Would you say that a Calvanist, a Jehovah's Witness and a Catholic meeting together are the Church that Jesus founded?

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Protestants believe that there is one true church, but that it isn't a physical institution.

 

Bede, how would you sell us on the Roman Catholic Church without playing the "one true church" card?

 

What do you mean by "not playing the one true church" card?

 

Didn't Jesus found one Church?

 

Didn't he pray it would be one?

 

I think it is also clear from scripture and history that the Church that Jesus founded is very much a visible institution.

 

 

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What do you mean by "not playing the one true church" card?

 

Didn't Jesus found one Church?

 

Didn't he pray it would be one?

 

I think it is also clear from scripture and history that the Church that Jesus founded is very much a visible institution.

 

 

I believe the catholic (universal) church was founded from Scripture. Other definitions fail:

 

The church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. Are these not core elements of the Roman Catholic faith?

 

God bless,

William

 

P.S. I am most interested in Church history, more so around time of the Nicene Church before the formation of Roman Catholicism as a State religion. If you have anything without the Roman version of Apostolic succession, I'd be most interested and appreciative.

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I think it is also clear from scripture and history that the Church that Jesus founded is very much a visible institution.

 

 

So, you can't give a defense of the Roman Catholic Church, aside from "the one true church" argument?

 

There are many ways to defend a church of God, such as its loyalty to scripture. A good church follows what the Bible says. A compromising church gives us a song and dance routine as an excuse not to follow the Bible. For example, The Bible doesn't support women as pastors. A compromising churches dances and sings nonsense about the secular culture in the first century not approving of female pastors and then tells us that Priscilla was a church pastor because she and her husband spoke privately to Apollos.

 

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The church is 1 John 3:1-3. Also 1 John 2:3-6. If you know the Scriptures, stick with them. If you don't know the scriptures, know them and stick with them. There is only one true church and it is defined in the Scriptures. False teachers and antichrists are all over the place and they too create churches, but they are false. The true church sticks to the truth of the Bible. It's that simple. Satan confuses things with false doctrines, but he is the author of confusion and lies. God is not confusing and has made it abundantly clear what makes a true church. It does not originate in any one place or by any one apostle. It originates from the Holy Ghost in the hearts of every believer.

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I believe the catholic (universal) church was founded from Scripture. Other definitions fail:

 

The church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. Are these not core elements of the Roman Catholic faith?

 

God bless,

William

 

P.S. I am most interested in Church history, more so around time of the Nicene Church before the formation of Roman Catholicism as a State religion. If you have anything without the Roman version of Apostolic succession, I'd be most interested and appreciative.

 

Praying to, and venerating Mary & other saints are not core elements of the Catholic faith. The Church teaches that the centre of Catholicism is Jesus Christ.

 

But all are all arguable from scripture, though do not expect them to be explicit and detailed. Doctrines and practices develop with time as the needs arise. It took almost 300 years for the doctrine of the Trinity to be formalised at Nicea. The next five General Councils were concerned with Christological issues.

 

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So, you can't give a defense of the Roman Catholic Church, aside from "the one true church" argument?

 

I don't understand what you are looking for. I asked What do you mean by "not playing the one true church" card? You haven't explained.

 

There are many ways to defend a church of God, such as its loyalty to scripture. A good church follows what the Bible says. A compromising church gives us a song and dance routine as an excuse not to follow the Bible. For example, The Bible doesn't support women as pastors. A compromising churches dances and sings nonsense about the secular culture in the first century not approving of female pastors and then tells us that Priscilla was a church pastor because she and her husband spoke privately to Apollos.

 

The Catholic Church doesn't have women pastors so what is your point? Also the Catholic Church is loyal to scripture.

 

 

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The church is 1 John 3:1-3. Also 1 John 2:3-6. If you know the Scriptures, stick with them. If you don't know the scriptures, know them and stick with them. There is only one true church and it is defined in the Scriptures. False teachers and antichrists are all over the place and they too create churches, but they are false. The true church sticks to the truth of the Bible. It's that simple. Satan confuses things with false doctrines, but he is the author of confusion and lies. God is not confusing and has made it abundantly clear what makes a true church. It does not originate in any one place or by any one apostle. It originates from the Holy Ghost in the hearts of every believer.

 

Indeed there have been false teachers all through the history of Christianity, most notably since the Reformation, but the Catholic Church has always rejected their heresies.

 

 

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      One in every nine Christians in the world lives in an area, or in a culture, in which Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished, according to the latest report on global persecution by Open Doors USA. That’s a 14 percent increase over the previous year. For the past 27 years, the organization has published the Open Doors World Watch List, a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization. During the World Watch List 2019 reporting period, in the top 50 countries, a total of 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked; 2,635 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned; and 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons. On average, that’s 11 Christians killed every day for their faith. Countries are ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution plus the pressure experienced in five spheres of life: church, national, community, family, and private. Based on the report’s research, the top 10 nations where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith are: 1. North Korea Persecution type: Communist and Post-Communist Oppression Estimated number of Christians: 300,000 How Christians are suffering: “The primary driver of persecution in North Korea is the state. For three generations, everything in the country has focused on idolizing the Kim family. Christians are seen as hostiles to be eradicated. There was hope that new diplomatic efforts in 2018—including the 2018 Winter Olympics—would mean a lessening of pressure and violence against Christians, but so far that has not been the case. Kim Jong-un has maintained tight control over the populace, and dissent or worshiping anything else is not tolerated.” Prayer point: “The situation for Christians is vulnerable and precarious. They face persecution from state authorities and their non-Christian family, friends and neighbors. Pray for their protection.” 2. Afghanistan Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: Thousands How Christians are suffering: “Afghanistan is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion. This means any expression of any faith other than Islam is simply not permitted to exist. Additionally, to convert to a faith outside Islam is tantamount to treason, because it is seen as a betrayal of family, tribe, and country.” Prayer Point: “Christian converts from Islam face strong pressure from family, friends and neighbors and can even be attacked. Pray for these believers to have courage and protection.” 3. Somalia Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: A few hundred How Christians are suffering: “Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. Sharia law and Islam are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the persecution of Christians almost always involves violence. Additionally, in many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab are de facto rulers.” Prayer point: “Somali Christians often must hide their faith to stay safe. Pray for the safety and discipleship opportunities for these isolated believers.” 4. Libya Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: 37,900 How Christians are suffering: “After the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya plunged into chaos and anarchy, which has enabled various Islamic militant groups to control parts of the country. Converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. Libya is also home to many migrant workers who have been attacked, sexually assaulted, and detained, which can be even worse if it is discovered they are Christians.” Prayer point: “Pray for the protection of migrant workers, especially for those who are Christians and face double persecution.” 5. Pakistan Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: 3,981,000 How Christians are suffering: “Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians continue to live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy—which can carry a penalty of death. Additionally, radical Islamists seem to be gaining more political power, and the new ruling government must maintain good diplomatic relationships with some radical groups. Christians are largely regarded as second-class citizens, and conversion to Christianity from Islam carries a great deal of risk.” Prayer point: “Pray for Pakistani converts from Muslim backgrounds who suffer the brunt of the persecution in Pakistan. Radical Islamist groups see them as apostates, and their family, friends, and neighbors see their conversion as shameful to the community.” 6. Sudan Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: 1,910,000 How Christians are suffering: “Sudan has been ruled by the authoritarian government of President al-Bashir since 1989. The country has been ruled as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities and heavy restrictions on freedom of speech and press. Christians face discrimination and pressure—multiple church buildings were demolished in 2017 and 2018, leaving some Christians without a place to worship. Christian converts from Islam are especially targeted for persecution.’” Prayer point: “Pray for converts to Christianity, that they would be able to stand strong in the face of accusations of betrayal.” 7. Eritrea Persecution type: Dictatorial paranoia Estimated number of Christians: 2,474,000 How Christians are suffering: “Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen a brutal authoritarian regime that rests on massive human rights violations. In 2018, there were raids on churches, and hundreds of Christians were imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Additionally, there are estimates that other Christians are currently in Eritrea’s vast prison network, but no one knows how many there are or if they are still alive.” Prayer point: “Thousands of Christians have been imprisoned in Eritrea over the last decade. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in horrific conditions, and ask God to give them perseverance in their faith.” 8. Yemen Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: A few thousand How Christians are suffering: “An ongoing civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, making an already difficult nation for Christians even harder. The chaos of war has enabled radical groups to take control over some regions of Yemen, and they have increased persecution against Christians. Even private worship is risky in some parts of the country. Converts to Christianity from Islam face additional persecution from family and society.” Prayer point: “The instability in Yemen has created a refugee, food, and health-care crisis. Ask God to help provide food, clean water and safety to the people of Yemen.” 9. Iran Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: 800,000 How Christians are suffering: “Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Therefore, church services in Persian, the national language, are not allowed. Converts from Islam face persecution from the government; if they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” Prayer point: “Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces a charge of apostasy and can be thrown in jail or worse. Pray that the laws will change, allowing for freedom of religion.” 10. India Persecution type: Religious nationalism Estimated number of Christians: 65,061,000 How Christians are suffering: “Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more each year. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith— including Christianity—is viewed as non-Indian. Additionally, in some regions of the country, converts to Christianity from Hinduism experience extreme persecution, discrimination, and violence.’” Prayer point: “Pray for Christian converts from Hinduism who are forcefully pressured to return to their national religion.” View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • LifeWay Christian Store Announces They Are Closing Several Locations

      Popular Christian book store, LifeWay Christian Store announced Wednesday that would be closing several of its store locations due to a significant decline in sales. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • 'Criticism of Christian Education in America Should Stop,' Vice President Pence Defends His Wife amid Media Backlash

      Vice President Mike Pence’s wife was the target of criticism this week after she announced that she would be teaching art at a private conservative Christian school, and the Vice President is stepping up to defend her. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Gnostic Christian

      I am a Gnostic Christian and tend to not last long in Christian sites.   I guess that the reason for that is the same as it was when the early Christian church decimated us and burned our scripture.   They could not take criticism well or argue against us in a reasonable way and chose to kill us instead.   Can those here, including the mods handle criticism?   I do try to be as civil as possible but know that even civil criticism is not tolerated well in many Christian sites   Thoughts?   Regards DL

      in Exploring Christianity

    • How to Form a Christian Mind in a Digital World

      Many have rightly warned that evangelicals are losing “a Christian mind” by neglecting the Bible and indiscriminately consuming secular materials informed by non-Christian ideas. But what if it’s not just the content we consume but also the medium in which we read it that poses a danger to our minds? In Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, Maryanne Wolf makes a compelling case that our use of digital devices is changing the way we read, which in turn is profoundly altering the way we think—a chilling prospect for Christians, who believe that through his written Word, God renews our minds, enabling us to think in sanctified ways. Digital Challenges Although Wolf—a Tufts University professor who has studied the neurological processes involved in the act of reading—has no such spiritual concerns, she believes the stakes in our transition from a print to a digital culture are incredibly high. Again and again she confronts her readers with sobering questions: “Will new readers develop the more time-demanding cognitive processes nurtured by print-based mediums as they absorb and acquire new cognitive capacities emphasized by digital media?” “Will our youth develop such a passive response to knowledge that eventually the store of what they know and their ability to connect it through analogy and inference will be depleted?” “Will the combination of reading on digital formats and daily immersion in a variety of digital experiences . . . impede the formation of the slower cognitive processes such as critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that are part of deep reading?” “Will the quality of our attention change as we read on mediums that advantage immediacy, dart-quick task switching, and continuous monitoring of distraction . . . ?” Wolf obviously sees a strong possibility that the answers to these questions might be yes. The reason? In her early research, she studied what happens within the brain when we read. Eventually she became concerned about “how the circuitry of the reading brain would be altered by the unique characteristics of the digital medium, particularly in the young.” Her conclusion is that since the advent of the digital age, “we have already begun to change how we read—with all of its many implications for how we think.” Reading Brain On the opening page of the book, Wolf declares provocatively that “human beings were never born to read,” by which she means that reading isn’t something our brains are hardwired to do, such as seeing or communicating. Rather, reading is “an unnatural cultural invention” that we must learn. This we’re able to do since our brain cells can make myriad connections, leading to the formation in each emerging reader of a “reading circuit” that links centers of the brain concerned with such crucial tasks as vision, language, cognition, motor functions, and affective functions. However, she warns that digital devices pose a threat to the development of this mental circuitry—not because digital reading is fundamentally different from print reading, but because the digital medium deluges us with information in byte-sized chunks, promoting information overload and distraction. As evidence, Wolf notes that students today are demonstrating “diminishing familiarity with conceptually demanding prose.” Wolf sees numerous dangers here: shrinking attention spans that preclude “deep reading” (her term for focused, thoughtful reading), which in turn leads to failure to gain the empathy for others that reading engenders and the kind of personal store of knowledge that enables inference, deduction, and analogical thinking. Christians might perceive an overarching danger: a reduction in our ability to grasp God’s truth through deep reading of his Word. Clearly God created us with the capacity to learn the complex process of reading so that we might benefit from his written revelation, the Bible. But the Word of God is a challenging book, a prime example of “conceptually demanding prose” that requires attentive, reflective reading. Are we willing to let our digital pottage make us poorer students of this treasure? Reader Recommendations What is to be done? Wolf’s recommendation isn’t simply that young readers be denied exposure to digital devices—indeed, she is surprisingly open to their use—but that such exposure be meted out in careful doses. She urges parents of children up to age 5 to read to them often, giving them little access to digital devices. “Human interaction and physical interaction with books and print are the best entry into the world of oral and written language and internalized knowledge, the building blocks of the later reading circuit,” she writes. As for children 5 to 10 years of age, Wolf wants them develop a “biliterate brain” by learning in both print and digital mediums. Physical books are her preferred tool for reading instruction, while digital devices might be used to teach coding, programming, and creative skills such as graphic arts and musical composition. In other words, she envisions a two-track learning approach, with the understanding that students can safely combine print and digital media only when their mental reading circuits are firmly established around fourth grade. Thereafter, the goal is to prevent those circuits from atrophying. Digital Wisdom Whether many schools would agree to adopt such an approach, there is wisdom here for Christian parents, who must always be their children’s prime educators. If you’re a parent, read the Bible to your children from an early age, along with age-appropriate Bible storybooks and well-written (and well-illustrated) children’s books. As they grow, introduce them to classic literary works. Let them hear both biblical truth and also beautiful language. Through the exhausting early years of child-rearing, fight the terrible temptation to let a smartphone or tablet serve as a babysitter, much as parents a generation ago had to resist the siren song of TV. Keep books in your home for this purpose, whether owned or borrowed from the local library. Don’t let down your guard as your children acquire the ability to read for themselves. Help them find books that appeal to their expanding interests. When the time is right, these might include eBooks, but as much as possible help them use digital devices as tools for specific purposes, not as toys for relieving boredom. Hopefully by these means, we can raise up children who will be able to read and appreciate challenging texts, especially the Scriptures, which unfold the gospel of salvation through Christ. Meanwhile, we adults will do well to guard our own minds from the degenerative effects of the digital world. If Wolf is right—and her research seems sound and well-attested—such digital discipline is crucial for Christians who want to grow in their knowledge of God and his truth. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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