Why are there so many Protestant Denominations? Matt McAuliffe - theDove.us

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Perry Atkinson:         Delighted to have back in the studio with us my good friend Matt McCullough. Matt is the bible professor at Pacific Bible College. He teaches church history among other things. He's here to help us with our church history series. We've had some other guests with us for weeks prior to this and Matt's with us for the next several weeks.                                     Buddy, it's nice to have you. Now you're teaching this this term at Pacific Bible College. Matt McAuliffe:        In about 45 minutes as a matter of fact. Perry Atkinson:         Really. Is that a three day a week class? Matt McAuliffe:        I actually do three hours on Wednesday mornings and it's three semester credits, runs for the full semester. Perry Atkinson:         There you go. That's good. You cover much of the same material? Matt McAuliffe:        Yes and no. A lot of it historical but the apologetics of world view we get into more philosophy so we're all over the place Perry. Perry Atkinson:         All right. We've had great interest in this church history because most people think the church history started the day they became a Christian, right? Matt McAuliffe:        Indeed they do. Perry Atkinson:         We get all of these various faiths and denominations and we're primarily talking about those obviously that are Christian-based. We're not talking about anything outside of the orthodoxy of Christianity. Let's put it that way. We've had Orthodox represented, we've had the Catholics represented … You're here now to lead us through some of the Protestant thinking.                                     What I find so interesting that there is actually church history prior to the Book of Acts. Matt McAuliffe:        Who'd have thunk it. Perry Atkinson:         We're trying to talk about that … Let me ask you this. You look across … How did we get all these denominations? Because therein lies a problem because I have the truth you don't. You know the argument. Matt McAuliffe:        Oh gracious goodness. It is a weird witness to give to the rest of the world. If God's given you guys the truth why can't you agree on some of these things? But I think there's actually a really good explanation.                                     When we arrived at the Reformation all of the sudden we didn't have a single man in the papacy and the Pope telling us how to interpret and what to believe. All of the sudden it fell into the laps of individual believers and this really carried with it the implication that we're all going to interpret the Bible for ourselves. That's good news and it's also bad news.                                     It really opens us up … Each person can follow the convictions of their own conscience according to the understanding God gives them by His spirit looking at His word. That's good. On the other hand it really does allow room for a lot of wacko interpretations which is just what the Pope in the Catholic Church feared. That part was bad.                                     For better or for worse we were launched. I like to call it the scent of accountability in which people cease to have a priest or a pope or even a king telling them what to believe. They are now answerable themselves to the Lord. Perry Atkinson:         Have we drifted much at all in the core beliefs at that point? When all these denominations started to emerge, were they fundamentally based upon Christ? Matt McAuliffe:        Yeah they really were. As a matter of fact … Boy if you'll indulge me for a minute, Perry, I think I can clear up … Once the Protestants led by Martin Luther left the Roman Catholic Church we really, in the next century or two, we see the Protestant faith dividing into three main branches.                                     The first is just Lutheran, on and on it goes. Luther simply … He set out his doctrines and his church remained almost unchanged. The other two that took off in a different direction … One was what we call the Reformed Church very soon after, about the late 1500s, in which John Calvin's interpretation of scripture really led the way. From Calvinism of course came the Presbyterians of John Knox in Scotland, the Puritans in England.                                     But along about 1600, Calvin's interpretations of such issues as predestination, that's a ticklish one you know … Did God really create people in order to send them to Hell? That's what everyone was afraid of. You saw the development of the Armenian branch of the Protestant religion. They were the ones that were really terrified by that implication and really wanted to make sure that we knew that God would never do that and we know that anyway. They really stressed the human role in sanctification.                                     You have the Armenians, the Wesleyans, the Methodists, the Pentecostals on one side. You have the Reformed, the Calvinists, the Presbyterian, the Baptists on this side. You have the Lutheran. Those are your three main Protestant branches. Perry Atkinson:         Wow. Let's come back to the two that I had on prior, I had the Orthodox and the Catholic. A lot of parallels in their belief systems and yet there is a little bit of a tug-of war who came first, the chicken and the egg so to speak. I don't mean to trivialize that it just that there is a seemingly little bit of a rub one was before the other. There's a lot of similarities in their worship and in their liturgy. Matt McAuliffe:        Very much so. Perry Atkinson:         But they just can't seem to get along. Matt McAuliffe:        Wouldn't you know it. I hope the Lord laughs at us sometimes. Perry Atkinson:         Yeah I hope it's laugh. Matt McAuliffe:        Golly. It really is interesting because in their own way the Orthodox and the Catholic churches also ended up with their version of denominations if you will.                                     In the Orthodox Church what you see is the development of churches that are centralized around a certain ethnic group or nationality. You have the Russian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Serbian Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox. Each would just be a little bit different spin on its doctrine and interpretation of scripture.                                     Then with the Roman Catholic Church, what you see especially through the Middle Ages, people … I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that … Were a little bit more engaged and serious about their discipleship tended to end up in the monastic orders. Of course that was only way to get educated or get a good job back then too so that was another reason. But you have all these different monastic denominations if you will … The Augustinians, the Trappists, the Carmelites … Gracious, the Franciscans.                                     Really both the Orthodox and the Catholic Church had their edition of denominational differences. By that I would say it's parallel that all through the ages Christians have tended to differ on what they think the Lord's telling them. Perry Atkinson:         Of course the Catholics ended up with the papistry and the Orthodox remain with the archbishops, is that right? Matt McAuliffe:        The patriarchs. Perry Atkinson:         Patriarchs, excuse me. I think six or seven of them worldwide? Matt McAuliffe:        Then I believe there's a metropolitan in Greece. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. But there are some really rich traditions that come out of them to the point maybe we don't appreciate, we didn't carry them forward. Would you agree with that? Matt McAuliffe:        I completely agree, Perry. As a matter of fact, honestly, that's one of the things that got me into church history 10, 15 years ago in a big way. Going back and realizing, oh my gosh, a lot of the things that we believe, that we say, a lot of our devotions and our liturgies, come directly from believers who lived in the first centuries of the church and on into the Middle Ages. We still do many things that the Orthodox Church does. As you say we share a lot in common based on the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the findings of the first church councils in those days. That's why we can extend our hand in fellowship to the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. Not that we don't have denominational differences … Perry Atkinson:         We do. Matt McAuliffe:        Oh boy big ones. Perry Atkinson:         But we're now seeing a change and a movement, and I'm totally for it, where we ought to look for the areas that we can agree and get along. Because at the end of the day it's people coming to Christ. Matt McAuliffe:        Amen, brother. Perry Atkinson:         God has to sort it all out at the end. But when I interviewed the Catholic historian he literally said, "I consider you a brother in Christ." He said that to me. I thought that's quite a statement. Matt McAuliffe:        That is really only a recent development in the Catholic Church since Vatican II in the '60s, where they felt the freedom to regard us Protestants as separated brethren. I think it's from the Lord because I think … I agree with you that that is His first priority. Perry Atkinson:         Right okay. Now what are the dangers with all of these denominations? Somebody decides hey I'm going to become a Christian and they open up the phonebook and what do I do? I mean there's a kazillion of them out there and we are stabbing one another, so to speak. We're poking at each other. He's got it wrong here, we got it right there … You know the drill. Matt McAuliffe:        Oh my. I don't know. For myself, Perry, it's taken a lot of years to realize that we hold certain things in balance. One is that I think it's okay for us to fellowship with the other denominations, even the other branches of the Christian faith. We can only do so in a limited way, we can't share communion with the Catholics, they won't … They're not open to that. Yet I think we can do that without giving up our own convictions.                                     If you will … In other words if I sit down with a Catholic friend, a Catholic brother … Actually we did this at a desert retreat at one point. A good Catholic friend came with us and it reached the point in the retreat, it was a bunch of us pastors, where we were going to take communion. He couldn't take communion with us because it was forbidden by the tenets of his faith. We recognized okay you're under the Pope's authority so actually we understand and you know what? That's okay. We're going to honor that you have to operate based on that conviction. We're going to operate on the basis of the conviction that God's table is open. Why don't you just pray with us while we're taking communion.                                     I don't know. It's a tightrope walk it really is. I'm not going to endorse or agree with a lot of the doctrines of the Catholic Church but I have to realize that that conviction is really for me and those people whom I oversee as a shepherd of Christ. I can't really condemn them. What if we get up there and they're right, Perry? Boy that will be embarrassing. Golly. Perry Atkinson:         No I think what I'm trying to understand here is that we can agree to disagree on some doctrinal issues. I realize that they're very sharp. But we're also talking about people who believe that Jesus is the son of God. Matt McAuliffe:        There it is. Perry Atkinson:         That there is no other way to Heaven but through him. As simple as that requirement is it's universal through the Christian faith even though outside of that come all these other spins that divide us. Matt McAuliffe:        Boy there really are. We could probably have several programs just on some of those differences. But for me, when I stand before the Lord in that day, Perry, I would much rather be guilty of showing too much grace than not enough. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. Now let's talk about this a little bit deeper and maybe some guidelines in fellowshipping with other churches and faiths. Now we're living a world of pluralism. We deal with it in broadcasting a lot especially with the groups that we have within the United Christian Broadcasters. Governments will come in and say, "Look, you can't raise Christ higher than any other God."                                     John, Chapter 14, Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No man come to Father but through me." If we were to read that … As an employee of one of our stations was to read that in a commonwealth country they run the risk of a fine because they have lifted Christ and made Him supreme. What the world is saying is at the end of the day we're all believing in the same God and all roads lead to Heaven.                                     We're asking for religious in Christian … We're asking for religious and faith tolerance except for Christians. The thing is turned and come against us and I don't think we know how to handle this. I don't know if we know how to battle this. Matt McAuliffe:        No. I think it's really important, Perry, for us to be clear on these things so that when we find ourselves in those situations we're not afraid to take the heat of social disapproval. Because I think we're going to be put in that situation where we simply have to say, "I don't share my faith with you. We don't have the same faith. I am willing to work with you and love you and cooperate for the common good." But in terms of the intimate fellowship, the breaking of bread and the worshiping that characterizes Christian fellowship, that's not something I can share and I can't be unequally yoked to an unbeliever insofar as we get on the same committee and we pretend that it's the same God.                                     Sooner or later I think the Holy Spirit will hold our feet to the fire and draw from us the confession that no He is unique and I have to go with that. Even if that limits my participation in the big platform of world ecumenism. Perry Atkinson:         No. You go back in the Orthodoxy, and even if you go back up into Catholicism, you go into the monastic life, there is this suffering for Christ, this separation for Christ. In the Orthodox church you're going to hear about saints. In order to be canonized as saint … I guess both in Orthodox and Catholicism there are a lot of things that have to happen. But the bottom line there is something that these saints have in common: they suffered tremendously for their faith. We don't for ours. Now we're being pressured into a form of suffering and we're not sure if we like it. Matt McAuliffe:        We don't like it. Perry Atkinson:         Okay let me … My purpose behind this, Matt, is this: I'm finding out that we can't get along unless we understand where people are coming from. There are a lot of areas that we can love each other and get along with … At the end of the day aren't you glad you're not God and you don't have to sift it out.                                     We have all these divisions and everybody thinks their church is the one true church and I don't want to minimize that at all and I'm not criticizing that. I think you are … You grow out of your experience and what I'm trying to get us to realize that there are some really rich things in history for us to bring forward as to why certain denominations do what they do.                                     I've learned a lot by talking to other people and realize that my view of God and religion was based upon my experience with God. Not that that experience is wrong it's just that it was at that moment I didn't … I wasn't seeing this way I was seeing very narrow. Matt McAuliffe:        Amen, Perry. Perry Atkinson:         Anyway we're talking about these things and it's really interesting but we have a hard time if we're not careful we're quick to criticize the other person because they don't believe like us. I'm not sure if we really know what we believe or are we just parroting what we've been told from the pulpit. Somewhere in there isn't there a hunger to know more? Matt McAuliffe:        I am certain you're right. I'm also certain that a person who's relationship with God is real is going to bare the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Part of that is a deep sense of humility as we realize, just as you said, we're not God. We are … Romans 14 is a great place to emphasize that we are responsible to God for the decisions we make, the words we speak, the gestures we offer, based on our convictions. But at no time does He hold us responsible for another person's soul or conviction insofar as that goes.                                     We are to offer a reason for the hope that is in us. Paul went and reasoned in the synagogues, he reasoned with the Greeks in the agora … We're always to witness and to apologia … Apologetics is to defend the gospel against lies and accusations. But all of these things allow another person the dignity to decide for themselves. Where I end up having trouble is so many religions, and I'm afraid even many Christians, don't give other people that God-given gift to decide for themselves. Perry Atkinson:         Yeah. Quite frankly the motive behind the origination of Pacific Bible back in 1989, when we first put it together as just a little small institute, was to provide an opportunity for people to come in and study outside their initial experience. Not that that's wrong but that's the starting point. But you need to bring the past in in order to look to the future.                                     The other thing is I am concerned that there is a perceived dividing line between the Old and New Testament. That what was the Old that was then and we're not even to consider that. That that's Old Testament and the New Testament … That the real church is everything from the second chapter of Acts forward. Matt McAuliffe:        I offer up … I think it's Luke 22 where on the road to Emmaus Jesus took a great care in drawing his disciples attention the scriptures and telling them … Showing them what all the scriptures about him. That's my paradigm for the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament is simply the prequel to the incarnation of Christ. It all speaks of Christ. It all points toward Christ. The Old Testament actually needs to be interpreted through the lens of faith in Jesus Christ. Any other reading will turn the Old Testament into a list of rules. Perry Atkinson:         All right, what do we do with clearly abhorrent theology that's being taught in some churches? In other words they have … Their origin is based upon Christ and then outside of that they start taking on some things that are clearly contrary to the teachings of Christ and yet they've included it. How do we handle that? Matt McAuliffe:        In Titus and Timothy, when Paul's discussing our responsibility especially as teachers and ministers towards refuting those arguments and heresies, nowhere does he make us actually responsible for fixing these things. I mean I … If you've got the first wacko church of Colorado out there or something preaching some crazy thing, I can't fix them. What I can do is approach them in love and say, "Fellows, do you take the Bible seriously? Look here's actually what the Bible says and if you take the Bible seriously, as Jesus does, if you want to have his attitude toward scripture, you really need to let the Spirit put this in your mind. You need to look and see your behavior really is out of sync with what God's word says."                                     There's a lot of places where it's easy to do that and it's amazing how many people will just [inaudible 00:20:02]. They just don't want to hear it and they run in the other direction. Perry Atkinson:         What do we do with cults as Christians? The reason I bring that up because maybe we'd have to define what a cult is. Remember the late Walter Martin, he and I were actually really good friends. Matt McAuliffe:        Were you really? I love that guy. Perry Atkinson:         Yeah we were really good friends. I come to really love this man and he'd call me many times. When he passed it was a great loss. Matt McAuliffe:        Amen. Perry Atkinson:         He was even open to realizing that sometimes what was originally defined as a cult could move away from the teachings that were abhorrent to Christian faith and align themselves back to scripture. Case in point, I think he was really instrumental, at that time, in what was going on in the Seventh Day Adventist Church about raising the writings of White … What's her first name? I'm having … Matt McAuliffe:        Ellen? Perry Atkinson:         Ellen White. Making her writings equal to scripture. Matt McAuliffe:        Amen. Perry Atkinson:         He came along and said, "No. Her writings are commentary to scripture." That created quite a fuss but now I think that controversy has pretty much settled, you just don't hear it anymore. It is commentary on the scripture and the Bible is still … He actually went on to call it, I don't know if this is a misnomer or an oxymoron, but he ended up calling it a Christian cult. I thought Walter, what are you saying? There's those areas … Don't get me wrong, I think the Seventh Day Adventists are our brothers and sisters. We can agree to disagree on some issues but they are clearly our brothers and sisters. But there's a case in point where they took a turn in the right direction.                                     You can't say that about the Jehovah Witnesses and I guess you can go down the line, a bunch of others … I don't mean to just single them out. What do we do as people of faith recognizing them … They're very solid in their belief system but we know that there's wrong. What do we do with this? Matt McAuliffe:        I think it's incumbent on us as believers to really trust God in this situation, continue to speak what we know to be the truth in love, speak into the darkness of those beliefs, and trust the presence of God's spirit in the midst of them. He's always working. I can't think of how many times I've given up on somebody, some cult members and others just flat out pagans, and years later they end up coming to the Lord. Simply because … If not from something I said from a seed someone else planted.                                     The Holy Spirit is like a glacier. He's not fast, he's not showy, but he just does not stop. No one gets in his way for very long. I think with the cults there are people within there that God has chosen and for known and there are people who He has not. I think if we continue to speak the people who are interested in the truth will hear it and … Perry Atkinson:         It will set free. Matt McAuliffe:        I think it will. I really do. I've seen that happen. We get uptight because we want to correct the whole denomination, the whole cult, and fix them all. We have to remember there are people in there that don't want to be fixed. They don't want to know the truth. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. The scripture says what about them? They have seen it and they turned from it? Matt McAuliffe:        Yeah. God actually gives them over to the darkness. They just end up in a spiral that gets worse and worse and worse. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. That's fascinating because within Christendom we have legalism. Matt McAuliffe:        Oh my. Perry Atkinson:         Then we have hyper grace. We got legalism over here that says you can't do this, can't do that, and then you got grace over here that says yeah you can sit on Friday, repent on Saturday, and go to church on Sunday. How do we balance that? Matt McAuliffe:        My goodness. I got a couple formulas that I know that I use. Just as we were talking about a cult, any time the person of Jesus Christ is replaced by any other person, that's a cult. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. Matt McAuliffe:        If Jesus isn't at the center it's a cult. The next thing I would say in terms of legalism any time you add anything other than faith in Christ to salvation that's legalism. If I have to do anything other than have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, give my life to Him and receive salvation by faith, that's legalism. Perry Atkinson:         Okay. Now let's go the next step. You've accepted Christ by faith, you come into the church, you become a Christian. But now you have to do all of these things to maintain your Christianity. Matt McAuliffe:        Well, now here's another thing we want to throw in there. A lot of this depends on what church you're in. There are really strict churches, Perry. Perry Atkinson:         I know. Matt McAuliffe:        There are churches where you really need to tow the line but they don't confuse that with salvation. They don't say you have to get baptized here, you have to stop smoking cigarettes, you have to show up and go on mission here for two years. Anybody that adds one of those things to belief in Christ, that's legalism. But there are churches that don't pretend to do that. They just say if you want to worship here, here's our rules. That's okay. There are people that actually enjoy a stricter observance of their faith.                                     As opposed to, as you said, the hyper grace … I think if you have a bunch of people who nominally say they believe in Christ but after a season you don't see any fruit of the Spirit I believe what you're looking at is a bunch of faux Christians. Maybe Churchianity, if you will, in which people just gather together and it becomes more of a social club than anything else. I think that's what James was talking about. Perry Atkinson:         Scripture says everything that can be shaken will be shaken until the relationship between you and Christ cannot be shaken. Are we experiencing that today? Matt McAuliffe:        I would say so. Yeah. I'm really feeling a lot of seismic tremors nationally, locally, globally. It almost seems like the shape of our faith and its relation to the rest of the world community is changing even as we speak. That's exciting and it's a little intimidating. Perry Atkinson:         All right. I've only got a couple moments left here. We in America, and other parts of the world but primary America, there's a part of Christianity that focuses on me the parishioner. It's all about me. I want to say that carefully. It's what God can do for me now and it's about my future, my finances, my healing, yadda yadda yadda, right on through … I understand that to a point but the problem that we're having is that we have lost our hunger for the lost. We are more concerned about what Christ can do for me than what I can do to help this person out here who's totally lost to come to Christ. How dangerous is this? Matt McAuliffe:        I think we run the risk of replacing Jesus on the altar if we do that too much. I think that's why he said in the Sermon on the Mountain, Matthew chapter 7, he said, "Seek first God's kingdom, His righteousness." All of the rest of this stuff, the stuff you're talking about, that will be added to you.                                     I tell people more and more often if you set your sights and your will on becoming a better disciple in Christ you'll be a better parent, a better employee, a better citizen, a better political person, a better congregant. You'll be better at everything. A better spouse. Seek first His kingdom and all the rest of the things will be added to you as God sees the need. Perry Atkinson:         In this shaking that's going on that you're seeing … You a pastor you probably have seen a lot of people's faith shaked to the core. Matt McAuliffe:        Oh my gracious. Perry Atkinson:         Whether it's financial, relational, just what's happening in the world. There's a squeezing … We're all sensing it. The whole world's in a pressure cooker and even Christians now are beginning to say, "What do I believe?" I think that's healthy. But what I'm not seeing is just overwhelming conviction that as the world crumbles to run out and get the lost saved. Matt McAuliffe:        It's part of who we are and I wish people would take it more seriously, Perry. I know not everybody's called to go to New Guinea. Perry Atkinson:         I understand that. Matt McAuliffe:        I'm not saying that. Perry Atkinson:         God's using media like unbelievable and I just want to get a station here and put on a satellite there and do this and do that. Why? Because people … Only God can take content and match it with a human need. Then the miracle … Nobody's involved in that. That's God and that person. It's amazing to see it happen. Matt McAuliffe:        I think if we, in good conscience, are doing everything we know how to do, I think we can trust the harvest to Him. He will let people hear this radio program that you would not even have guessed. Perry Atkinson:         Right. Matt McAuliffe:        I'll have people come up to me after a sermon that I thought I completely botched and they'll say it touched their lives. Oh my gracious. He's operating on so many levels. Our job is to show up, hit hard, play good, and do our homework, and He will ensure the harvest. Perry Atkinson:         All right one last question and I'll let you go. Somebody now realizes I need to do a little bit deeper study in my studying of God and church history, where would you have them start? Matt McAuliffe:        I would have them contact their pastor and immediately get involved in a little bit more in depth Bible study. They could call you guys here at the Dove and get access to resources all over the place. They can march right down to Pacific Bible College and take a look through the catalog at what classes might be available there in the areas that interest them. I would really encourage people get in the fight. Let the Spirit … Trust Him to use you for God's purpose. Perry Atkinson:         Thank you, Matt. See you next time. Matt McAuliffe:        Okay buddy, God bless you. Perry Atkinson:         All right we'll be right back on Focus Today.


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1 Jesse James DeConto = "The Protestant Reformation changed Christianity in many, many ways, but perhaps the most important was what it did to authority. In questioning the popes and how the Roman Catholic Church was operating, the Reformers set in motion a process whereby regional or local bishops or priests could attract followers according to their own understandings of God, Jesus and the Bible. By translating the Bible into vernacular language, Reformers like Martin Luther in Germany and John Wycliffe in England opened the door to individual interpretation, a function which popes and their Latin scholars had held tightly for many centuries. Just look at the name "Protestant"; they are defined as those protesting the authority and actions of Rome. Armed with the Scriptures in their own languages, Protestants could interpret their faith as they saw fit. What they shared in common was resistance to Rome. Whereas Catholics in each European country answered to a single Pope in Rome, the Protestants shared neither leadership, nor geography, nor language. Thus, each protest, each attempt at reformation, took on the unique characteristics of each region's culture and the personalities of the leadership.In England, for example, while Reformers like Wycliffe and Thomas Cranmer were fighting for vernacular liturgies and against clerical power in secular government, Anglicanism finally separated from Rome because King Henry VIII wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which the Vatican prohibited. Methodism later developed as a pietist response to what founder John Wesley perceived as Anglicans not taking their faith seriously enough. The Methodists eschewed luxury, fasted and spent their time with the poor and prisoners. Marked by intense, revival preaching, they later formed their own denomination because of a priest shortage in the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Methodism has further split into dozens of other Wesleyan and Pentecostal traditions around the world. You can see similar patterns occurring in Reformed, Anabaptist or Arminian traditions originated in other parts of Europe and spreading to the United States and around the world.Between de-centralized authority and biblical interpretation, differences of geography, culture and language, and practical concerns, Protestantism has always been defined by evolution, reformation and division. "
2 Deena E = "I think a more profound question to ask here is: Why is the church, the Body of Christ so divided? Today the church is divided into three main denominations: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant.This could be considered insight on the parable Jesus gave in Matthew 13:33 (three measures of meal). "
3 Sarah R = "Paul warned against divisions in the church in 1 Corinthians 1:10 "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you. Be perfectly united in mind and thought." One wonders what he would say about how the Protestant church is divided today."
4 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "The information that has been passed on throughout the generations has been changed dramatically to form what is now modern day Christianity. The reason for the vast discrepancies within various sects of Christianity, and there are many, is because Christianity is a system of faith. In a system of faith, dogmas change, customs evolve and rituals form. A faith based system has nothing solid to attach itself to. In fact, many Christians who claim to possess the ‘Holy Spirit’ worship however they are guided. Many don’t attend a Church and practice the form of Christianity that they believe comes from within their heart. It is impossible for a system guided by one’s heart to remain the same across billions of people throughout the centuries. A faith based system leaves room for self-interpretation and divergence from the original intent of the word. A person that is guided by the Holy Spirit will not have the same practices, beliefs and rituals as another person guided by the Holy Spirit; each person is left to his or her own interpretation. This is proven by the fact that Baptists, Evangelicals, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Lutherans, Southern Baptists, etc. etc. all claim to possess the true form of Christianity yet each one worships differently and has different core beliefs than the others. How can a single spirit of truth guide thousands of Churches in contradictory paths? An often given answer is that each group claims the others are not real Christians. Each group claims to possess the true Holy Spirit, while the other denominations are misguided heretics. It is easy to see why a faith based system can never work in properly transmitting a set of beliefs across the ages."
5 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "Question: "So is the alternative to a faith-based system, one that is based on a written word with rules, laws and logic? That seems implied from your explanation, but it might be good to make it more explicit for those who might read the explanation as a criticism without an alternative recommendation."Answer: I personally believe the answer is yes. If we look at the early framers of the constitution for example, they were very clear with respect to the limitations placed on government and what freedoms the people had. They didn't just say "the people are free", they explicitly stated that "free people can speak openly and have a right to bear arms". They removed any doubt as to what constitutes a "free people" which prevented anyone from drawing their own conclusions. Freedom to Americans is very different than freedom to people in other nations because our freedoms are listed clearly as opposed to generically.In a belief system that allows people to interpret scriptures on their own, such as the case with modern day protestant Christianity [not the same problem in Catholicism], we are left with 41,000 different denominations (and growing) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations which really shows a lack of cohesiveness and unity and puts into question the divine origin of the belief system in place. In Jesus' own words [Mark 3:25], "a house divided against itself can not stand". Certainly, 41,000 different Christian denominations can not all claim to be the true word of God and be taken seriously. Some of the arguments between the various denominations are not trivial and constitute a completely different understanding of the nature or Jesus and his place in Christianity such as in Unitarianism, Mormonism, Jehovah's witnesses and others which still fall under the realm of Christianity. Since each group decides to interpret the original Jewish scriptures in their own way, they erroneously come to many different conclusions about a scripture that neither belonged to them nor one that they had any hand in forming. If I were going to eat authentic Italian food, I wouldn't order it in a Chinese restaurant. So too, if I wanted to study original Jewish scriptures, I wouldn't ask a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Christian, I would ask a person of the Jewish faith. Conversely, if I wanted to learn about Islam I wouldn't ask a Christian.In conclusion, there is truth about God in every religion, however when certain groups distort Jewish scriptures, it is incumbent upon knowledgeable Jews who know how to read and translate the original Jewish text to come forward and correct the mistakes which are made by these various groups. The difference between opinion and fact is that one group copies translations for another source and presents it as fact, the other group actually knows how to read, write and speak the language of scriptures and can see these errors for themselves. This is the difference between knowledge and faith. I am not an expert on Christianity and don't claim to be, however I am an expert on Judaism and make the claim as such."
6 Craig St Clair = "He fundamentally misunderstands non-Protestant ecclesiology (especially Catholic ecclesiology) and the nature of religious orders within the Catholic Church.  There were not "monastic denominations," nor are religious orders like denominations.  There were religious orders (not all were monastic either) that embodied the spirituality of their founders (St. Benedict for the Benedictines, St. Augustine for the Augustinians, St. Dominic for the Dominicains, etc.).  These founders did not teach doctrine contrary to the Church, as did the Protestant reformers, but primarily focused on the ways and means of living a deeper life of faith (he does get that part mostly right).  I get that he's not Catholic or Orthodox, but his presentation garbles so many basic historical elements of ecclesiology and theology--and thus history--that I seriously question his grasp of the history he is talking about."
7 Craig St Clair = "Papacy, not "papistry.""
8 Craig St Clair = "The danger of all of these demoninations?Confusion about the existence of God, Jesus Christ and His Church.House after house divided against itself with little ability to agree.  Not very biblical.No accepted voice of authority.  Disobedience and error happen with ease.If culture is based on religion, then Protestant denominationalism is fundamentally responsible for the cultural decline we are experiencing today in the U.S., as it is the dominant form of Christianity.  Is Protestant Christianity ultimately responsible for the cultural relativism that most conservative Christians deplore?  It would seem so."
9 Craig St Clair = "Is not faith without works dead?  You need the works to follow a living faith for salvation.  Of faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love, not faith."
10 Craig St Clair = "Bible study is bible study, and certainly necessary, but not the best way to learn church history.  Granted, Acts and the NT Letters tell us much of early, pre-120 AD church history, but nothing beyond that.  What of 120-2000?  The following are my recommendations:Jaroslav Pelican's The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Christian Doctrine (vols 1-5).  He was a Missouri Synod Lutheran turned Orthodox with a masterful grasp of church history.Martin Marty's A Short History of Christianity, or anything else, also a masterful grasp of church history.  Very even and balanced with all Christian traditions."