I’m sure most of us are familiar with this little essay. It appears in a number of different forms, but it always looks something like this one, from the EWTN website:
If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex- monk of the Catholic Church, in the year 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to remarry.
If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560.
If you are a Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England founded by Samuel Seabury in the American colonies in the 17th century.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was launched by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744.
If you are a Unitarian, Theophilus Lindley founded your church in London in 1774.
If you are a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, N.Y., in 1829.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1605.
If you are of the Dutch Reformed church, you recognize Michaelis Jones as founder, because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.
If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as 'Church of the Nazarene," “Pentecostal Gospel.” “Holiness Church,” “Pilgrim Holiness Church,” “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past century.
If you are Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ the Son of God, and it is still the same Church.
Now, Protestants like me tend to not be very fond of this essay, since we don’t consider our denominations to be our religions any more than Catholics consider their dioceses to be their religions. (And this particular one happens to contain a gross factual error, since Samuel Seabury wasn’t even alive in the 17th century.) But the other day I was reading through a book of old sermons and found a version of it that was quite interesting.
What a glorious thing it is to belong to a Church that has such a Faith,–so come down, so fought for, so victorious. Look at those who do not belong to the Church, and see where their faith comes from. There are the Wesleyans: their faith comes from John Wesley, about 100 years ago. There are the Quakers: their faith comes from one George Fox, and is about 200 years old. There are the Baptists: their faith is about 300 years old. But we Catholic Christians take our name from no man. We have no Master but JESUS CHRIST. Our Faith comes from Him, through His Apostles, through His Bishops, through His Martyrs.
And why, you may ask, was this one so interesting? Well, the “Catholic Christian” who wrote it was John Mason Neale, an Anglican priest.