How many different Beliefs Systems are there within Post Reformation Western Christianity

Numerous times I have seen the number of denominations bandied about with many different viewpoints on the validity of the number (usually 30,000 or more).
What bothers me personally about this number is that it doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual differences in Christian thought. So I want to reframe the question in order to discern better just how many doctrinal differences there are floating around out there.

So - - - -

Just what are the doctrinal differences among the various Christian sects in the Post Reformation Western Church(es)?
How many of these are truly contradictory and how many are more of a matter of understanding, emphasis or “semantics”?

Please make sure that the items posted are actual “Doctrinal beliefs” and not merely practices or “personal devotion” in nature.
Please - Lets keep this civil and let’s learn from each other.

I’ll begin with some of the more obvious differences and hope that I don’t post any errors.

[LIST]
*]Sola Scriptura
*]Sola Fide
*]OSAS
*]The Role of Saints
*]Real Presence
*]Infant Baptism
[/LIST]

These are the ones I can think of off hand. Please add any others that I missed.
From this perhaps we can better understand how many different belief systems there Actually are in Wester Christianity.

Peace
James

Hi James.
I think broadly speaking there are about 5 or 6 protestant belief systems: Lutheran, Calvinist/Reformed, Anglican, Anabaptist, come to mind. There are some others. Generally, it is along those lines how groups view the topics you list above. My guess would be that the one most have in common is sola fide, and even that isn’t agreed upon in its entirety.
From what I know (and I don’t mean to speak for others), Anglicans do not generally adhere to sola scriptura, and the Lutheran view is quite different from some of the others. OSAS is derived from Calvinism.
Generally, Lutherans and Anglicans accept the real presence and infant baptism, as we both have a sacramental approach, which some of the others do not have.
On the saints, Lutheran honor them as great leaders and role models for the godly life. I think some Anglicans practice intercessory prayer.
Don’t know if that helps or not.
Hope your family is well,
Jon

Thanks Jon,
I knew I could count on you to post here. We are doing OK. Living with someone with Alzheimers teaches one many new lessons in love. In that I am blessed.

I appreciate your input here. I thought of a couple other different doctrines that I’m not sure how to express, those being:

Should we worship on Saturday or Sunday (adventist)
The Identity of Christ as God - (Jehovahs Witnesses)

I hope others will also comment.

Peace
James

It is a bit of a stretch, but you might include LDS as well as the JWs. The JWs, who deny Christ’s divinity, are more or less modern day heirs of the Arian heresy, with the LDS being further removed as polytheists. I recall that the number of denominations came from a Protestant sourced compendium. That number, which is impossible to state with certainty, was determined by a non-Catholic standard. We merely cite it as evidence.

Any number above one grieves Heaven.

I’m not familiar enough with the LDS to comment on them but hoped others would bring in whatever I overlooked.
Of course it is not my intent here to get into any debates on the relative merits of any of the doctrines, but rather just try to get an Idea of what the true “variation” in beliefs are.

I recall that the number of denominations came from a Protestant sourced compendium. That number, which is impossible to state with certainty, was determined by a non-Catholic standard. We merely cite it as evidence.

I also recognize that but since it really doesn’t seem to reflect real “theological” differences I felt it important, both for myself and and others, to get a good idea of how many actual belief systems are out there.

Any number above one grieves Heaven.

Amen to that.

Peace
James

James,
I know of only one other group that practices Saturday sabboth - the Herbert W. Armstrong followers, in their various make-ups. And the SDA, I’m just not familiar with their history to say much.

As for the JW’s, the incarnation, and divine nature of Christ is so central to Christianity, that I have a hard time classifying them as such. That is not intended to be pajorative, but simply an observation. They are certainly different in their understanding of Christ from what one might call the Church Catholic - Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformation and Protestant churches.

Jon

I absolutely agree with this statement.
Jon

They hold to the Jewish sabbath, but dispense with the other Mosaic laws. They teach “soul sleep” at death, temporary hell, “soul annihilation” for the condemned at the judgment, and the discipline of vegetarianism. They also teach that Jesus is St. Michael the Archangel. Their unique beliefs come from alleged visions received by their foundress, Ellen Gould White. However, they baptize using a proper trinitarian formula, so are true members of the Body of Christ. The SDA remain one of the most vocal anti-Catholic sects, teaching that the CC is the “whore of babylon” and that the Pope is the antichrist. They have moderated their views somewhat in recent years, but still remain on the fringe of Protestantism by most accounts.

As for the JW’s, the incarnation, and divine nature of Christ is so central to Christianity, that I have a hard time classifying them as such. That is not intended to be pajorative, but simply an observation. They are certainly different in their understanding of Christ from what one might call the Church Catholic - Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformation and Protestant churches. Jon

True enough. They, along with the LDS and the SDA are considered “adventist” religions. They have printed their own, modified bible (New World Translation) and apparently “borrowed” the concept of Jesus being St, Michael the Archangel, from the SDA. The SDA remain the only true Christians, by their trinitarian belief.

Can somebody enlighten my ignorance?

What is OSAS? :eek:

OSAS: Once Saved, Always Saved.

As for Saturday worshippers, there is a group known as Seventh-day Baptists. Can`t say that I know how they are similar or different than and of the other “flavors” of Baptists.

To clarify, my point was that the SDA are the only true Christians between themselves, the LDS and the JWs. Sorry for any consternation this may have caused.

They, being sola scriptura believers, are subject to the winds of change in church doctrine since the Protestant separation. They reject Luther’s observance of the Lord’s Day. They apparently think little of Jesus being raised form the dead on Sunday, and the Apostles gathering on Sunday in observance thereof. I note that their beliefs appeared in America, like so many of the other strange beliefs that have infiltrated Christianity since the “reformation”. Here is a link to their website:

seventhdaybaptist.org/7db/Default_EN.asp

Actually the SDAs have not dispensed with the other Mosaic laws entirely, besides thier insistence on the Jewish sabbath, they also require their members to keep Kosher, they eschew all “unclean” meats, shellfish, pork and so on, the only difference between SDAs and Jewish people is that they don’t drain thier meat of all blood, by salting it (koshering).

Adventists
Anglicans
Anabaptist
Baptist
Calvinist
Charismatic
Congregational
Lutheran
Methodist / Wesleyan
Nazarene
Pentecostal
Plymouth Brethren
Presbyterian
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
Reformed
Restoration movement
Seventh-day Adventist
Waldensians

That is a Wiki List, probably others.

I was a Baptist for about a year and half (been going to a Baptist church since I was about 2-3, but I was not converted until I was 14-15). Baptists are a Broad view of a group, their are different organizations, here are the major ones:

SBC: Southern Baptist Convention (I was in this, still am since I can’t tell my parents I no longer believen Jesus)
ABC: American Baptist Churches in the USA
NBC: National Baptist Convention, USA.Inc
NBCA: National Baptist Convention of America .inc
BBFI: Baptist Bible Fellowship International

Yes, I know, you wana sing that song “ABC, easy as 123”, but eh. I like the SBC, cause they keep to a lot of rules, but they do not go ape-crazy if you break one, but that is just around here, it could be different 50 miles South/North/East/West.

The only way to discuss this may be to limit discussion to the major belief subsets. With the private interpretation theories of many believers in sola scriptura, the permutations of belief systems are endless.

Calvinist, Presbyterian and Reformed all have the same belief system. Presbyterians are Calvinists who originated in Scotland while Reformed are Calvinists whose roots were in continental Europe.

Thanks for the list, but I’m afraid it is a bit off topic. What I am looking for is the variations in actual beliefs among the Western Post reformation Churches. As someone else pointed out, many of the Churches you listed can and do have overlapping beliefs. That is why I listed and asked for other Doctrinal beliefs rather than going with the neames of communities.

Peace
James

I think that to a large degree you are correct. There are probably only a relative few different belief systems as such, with many permutations forming out of these. I think JonNC did a good job differentiating how the major denominations flow into the original reformers’ beliefs.

That being said, Are there any other Doctrinal differences that We have overlooked?

Peace
James

Here are a few more areas of differences:

Beliefs about church governance
Ecclesiology
How literally to interpret to scripture
Beliefs about free will and original sin
Beliefs about suffering (redemptive, punishment for sin, etc. )
Beliefs about healing and miracles (Word of faith movement)
Beliefs about afterlife (purgatory, permanence of hell)
Beliefs about prosperity and tithing

OSAS stands for “Once Saved, Always Saved” or “eternal security.” That is, one cannot lose ones salvation even through mortal sin. Instead serious sin means that you weren’t really saved to begin with.

End-times beliefs

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