Presented by: The Master's table
Question: Why are there so many different and opposing Christian denominations? If Christians don’t question and study the important subjects of their church theology how can they conclude a belief in it?
This section below describes how most Christian denominations can be sorted into 15 families, according to their historical roots. This list of Christian families of denominations is largely patterned after the work of J Gordon Melton, the editor of the Encyclopedia of American Religions however I have added some that I believe should be noted as well. It is one of many possible ways of sorting individual denominations.
As of the early 21st century, Christianity has around 2.2 billion adherents.
One of many possible lists of families of Christian denominations are:
Adventist Familys and Adventist groups.
Jehovah's Witnesses, and British Israelism Baptist Family Southern Baptists, American Baptists, and Seventh day Adventist which is where the General conference church of God came from and became the radio church of God headed up by Herbert W. Armstrong and grew into what became known as the World wide Church of God with around 130,000 members till it split into over 800 small groups around the world.
Christian Science-Metaphysical Family:
Christian Science, etc,
New Thought Communal Family:
The Jesus People, Twin Oaks, etc.
Eastern Orthodox Family
Various Orthodox churches -- Russian, Greek, Serbian.
European Free-Church Family:
Amish, Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers, Shakers, etc.
Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of the Nazarene, etc.
Independent Fundamentalist Family:
Plymouth Brethren, Fundamentalists, etc.
Latter-day Saints Family:
a.k.a. LDS Restorationists
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
The community of Christ Lutheran Family Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran church - Missouri Synod, etc.
Jews For Jesus, and other similar groups
Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN)
Scandinavian Pietism, United Methodist Church, other Methodists
Reformed, various Presbyterian churches, Congregational, United Church of Christ
Western Liturgical Family:
Anglican Communion; Roman Catholicism, including the Latin Church and the Eastern Rite Churches:
(Armenian 5 Catholic Church, Chaldean C.C., Coptic C.C., Marionite C.C., Melkite C.C., Syrian C.C.); Old Catholicism; and the Ukranian Catholic Church. To which might be added a number of additional faith groups and secular systems, some of which have only a loose connection to Christianity -- if at all.
Unitarian Universalists, Humanists, Progressive Christianity, Evolutionary Christianity, Ethical Culture, Free Thinkers, Secularists, etc. Spiritualist, Psychic & New Age Family Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, New Age groups, etc.
How the Christian "families" evolved:
With the exception of the first few years after the execution of their founder Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ), Christianity was never a unified religion. By the end of the 1st century CE three main movements remained: Pauline Christians: a group of mainline congregations, largely of non-Jewish Christians. Some had been created by Paul and his co-workers. They evolved to become the established church.
Gnostic Christians: They claimed salvation through special, otherwise secret gnosis (knowledge). Some were members of mainline congregations; others were part of Gnostic groups. They were declared heretics and were gradually suppressed and exterminated.
Jewish Christians: remnants of the group originally headed by James, the brother of Yeshua, and including Jesus' disciples. They were scattered throughout the Roman Empire after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and gradually disappeared. Circa 400 CE: The Bishop of Rome began to be recognized as the most senior of all bishops. Siricius (384-399 CE) became the first bishop to be called Pope.
1054 CE: A lengthy power struggle between eastern and western Christianity culminated in a schism between the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Western Rite (later often called the Roman Catholic Church). Many Christian sects broke away from the Western Rite throughout the Middle Ages (Cathars, Knights Templars, etc.). These were generally exterminated by the central church in various genocidal wars.
1517 CE: Martin Luther attacked certain practices and beliefs of the Church, and the authority of the Pope. He was followed by other reformers which produced a mass movement -- the Protestant Reformation. They were driven largely by two fundamental principles: "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture Alone): The belief that the Holy Bible was the ultimate authority for all matters of religious belief and practice.
The Priesthood of all Believers: The belief that no priest or other intermediary is needed between the Christian believer and God.
John Wesley was an 18th century Anglican evangelist and founder of the Wesleyan Tradition. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield's Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally. Wesley's writing and preaching provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement and the Holiness movement, which encompass numerous denominations across the world. In addition, he refined Arminianism with a strong evangelical emphasis on the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith. Wesley died on Wednesday March 2, 1791, in his eighty-eighth year.
1820: Joseph Smith, at the age of 14, received his first vision. He
reported that God and Jesus Christ had appeared before him as separate entities
and told him that all of the Christian sects and denominations were in error
and that he should not join any of them. He founded The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints in 1830. It attracted 1,000 members during its first 12
months and has since grown rapidly. About 13 million believers who are members
of almost a hundred faith groups trace their church's history back to the church
that Smith founded.
Into modern times:
Protestant Christianity became fractured into over 1,500 individual denominations, as individuals and groups began to interpret the Bible in their own unique ways. They continually formed new sects that they felt were closer to Jesus' intentions for the church. In the past fifteen decades in North America schisms occurred over the legitimacy of human slavery, and whether to allow women to be ordained. A number of mainline denominations -- Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal -- are attempting to keep their organizations intact in spite of differences of belief about sexual orientation. They are debating whether to grant equal rights to gays and lesbians, and whether to recognize same-sex relationships.
Ellen G. White
Wife of James S. White. She accepted the 7th day Sabbath after reading and accepting Joseph Bates' articles. Claimed to have been given "the gift of prophecy" around 1844 and had visions and dreams of "Bible truths." Became the highest authority of the 7th Day Adventist Church.
G. G. Rupert
Independent minister of Church of God 7th Day. Observed law of Moses. Ascribed prophetic importance to the year 1933. Believed in time cycles. Taught the Sabbath observing church of God was the only true Christian church on earth by lineage. Published "Remnant of Israel," which Herbert W. Armstrong plagiarized from.
Herbert W. Armstrong
Independent minister of Church of God 7th Day. Observed Law of Moses. Ascribed prophetic importance to the year 1936: Herbert drew a chronological chart of End-Time events in the June issue of the Plain Truth magazine and labeled the year 1936 as the end of the time of tribulation and "the End of the Age." Herbert Armstrong believed in time cycles as well because he ascribed to Rabbi Hillel II new way of counting the holy days. His new system was called "Delioth" which means, "Postponements" and this way of counting threw off the time so every 19 years it had to be readjusted. Armstrong correctly taught the Sabbath however he did not teach a correct way to keep the Sabbath. Herbert Armstrong also used the pagan hierarchical church government after he had written a very correct article about church government in 1939 which taught against the hierarchical type of government. He also taught that his church was the only true Christian church on earth by the lineage of the seven churches down through time. He also claimed to be Elijah the prophet that was to bring the warning to the world just before the return of Christ. Many of his predictions never came to pass. (we have the predictions and where with the dates they are written on the Master's table and if you want to see them contack me at ... email@example.com
(It is noted that Herbert W. Armstrong plagiarized many of Rupert's writings and this is documented in many places. See: Herbert W. Armstrong's Religious Roots for information.)
I ask again: Why are there so many different and opposing Christian denominations? If Christians donít question and study the important subjects of their church theology how can they conclude a belief in it?
When Jesus came the first time there was a Great Apostasy among the Jews. The very priests, who were entrusted to keep it, had changed the covenant God had made with the children of Israel and by our research we have found that they replaced much of the old covenant with the old Babylonian and Hellenistic religion. The question we must ask and answer is has the Christian religion today been changed in the same way? As I stated in what is titled A Call to Arms, "Many Christians love singing the song "On-ward Christian Soldiers", but are we actually willing to be a Christian Soldier? Do we believe that false shepherds have infiltrated the Christian religion? Is it possible that the same evil spirit that hates God and His saints has been working for almost two thousand years to infiltrate the Christian religion is still doing so today, or has Satan given up and quit the fight?"
(You might want to check out the link below before you come to a conclusion.)
A Call To Arms
You also might want to see "Roman Catholicism's timeline" to see when pagan teachings were accepted into the Church and as a result were carried over into the Protestant Churches which includes Christ-mass, Easter, Halloween, (All Saints' Day) and the worship of the queen of heaven, the worship of saints, the worship of the cross in 312 A.D, Doctrine of purgatory, when Prayers conducted to Mary started and when the Rosary (prayer beads instituted) and when they changed the worship day from God's Holy Sabbath (Seventh day) to the pagan day of the Sun called Sunday and much, much more. (Roman Catholicism's timeline.)
Timothy M. Youngblood
Author and Steward of The Master's table