the meaning of so many protestant denomenations


#1

In good faith, I do have some questions for our Protestant brothers and sisters out there:

What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the fact that there are so many **different **(and often conflicting) Protestant denomenations out there?

What implications does this have for the truth of Protestantism?
What implications does this have for the reliability of Sola Scriptura?

thanks and God bless


#2

<< What implications does this have for the truth of Protestantism? >>

Well, I think even your average “Protestant” would have to agree that Protestantism as a whole can’t be true. If one Protestant teaches X, and another Protestant teaches anti-X, then both can’t be right. Your average “Protestant” must hold to the law of non-contradiction. So Protestantism as a whole, meaning all official doctrines and ecclesiologies of all Protestant churches and denominations, can’t all be true. :stuck_out_tongue:

However, it can mean that a single particular individual Protestant church or denomination could be true (like the Evangelical Lutheran Church for example). :smiley:

<< What implications does this have for the reliability of Sola Scriptura? >>

Means that sola scriptura leads to division. But there are different definitions of sola scriptura. For example, Keith Mathison argues in The Shape of Sola Scriptura that Scripture is the infallible (or inerrant) rule of faith, while the visible Church does the interpreting of Scripture. This is acceptable to most Catholics/Orthodox.

The issue then becomes the identification of the visible Church that does the interpreting.

Phil P


#3

[quote=Tom of Assisi]In good faith, I do have some questions for our Protestant brothers and sisters out there:

What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the fact that there are so many **different **(and often conflicting) Protestant denomenations out there?

What implications does this have for the truth of Protestantism?
[/quote]

Well, IMO, I think one big difference b/w Catholics and Protestants is that Catholics believe that there is a perfect teaching. Protestants don’t believe that they have everything 100% correct. We are constantly learning. The conflicts are usually among “non-essentials”…such as how the service is run, what language is spoken (that was the reason for many splits in my town), the type of music, etc…

Just my $0.02

~mango~


#4

Mango2003,

Do you really believe that all protestants are in agreement on whether Baptism is necessary for salvation? For those who believe that it is, this would certainly be more of an “essential” than a “non-essential”

ILO


#5

[quote=mango_2003]Protestants don’t believe that they have everything 100% correct. We are constantly learning.
~mango~
[/quote]

Intresting. there are some points I am not sure on:

  1. from what sources are Protestants continually learning?
  2. what authority decides what learning is correct
  3. liberal Protestants and fundamentalist Protestants are so different. Are they all equally correct (even on the “non-essentials”)?

thanks very much in advance for taking the time to respond.:slight_smile:


#6

[quote=What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the fact that there are so many **different
[/quote]

(and often conflicting) Protestant denomenations out there?
My opinion for what it’s worth, the ministers don’t teach confession of sin. They teach of a need for confession to God only. I have not found a confession to God only to relieve me from the guilt of sin. God allready knew what I had done, I feel he wanted to bring me to a point where nothing else mattered except the forgivness of my sin before he would allow me to know it was forgiven. I only found this possible through a spoken confession to another Christian. It also helps keep me from some sins, as it does not feel very good to go before some one that respects you and confess how awfull you really are.

The Churches preach what the people want to hear, not what they need. I assume this is because there is a huge employment factor in these Churches, and no one wants to lose their job.

I’m not sure this answers your question of so many denominations. As far as conflicting, I believe there can be more than one layer of meaning to a particular Scripture, both of them correct in a sense. There is also such a thing as flat mis-interpretation. Mis-interpretation comes when you desire to speak to the flesh.

Gobleonian


#7

#8

[quote=ILO]Mango2003,

Do you really believe that all protestants are in agreement on whether Baptism is necessary for salvation? For those who believe that it is, this would certainly be more of an “essential” than a “non-essential”

[/quote]

First, as far as I know, MOST (notice I did not say all) Protestant denoms. do not believe that it is necessary for salvation. Most will say that while it’s not necessary, it’s not optional either, as it was commanded by Christ.

By essentials, I’m talking things such as:

-God is One in a Trinity.
-The Diety of Christ
-Christ death for forgiveness of our sins

and so forth.

Hope that helps.

~mango~


#9

Before I start, I should present a disclaimer of sorts. By no means am I a final authority on the topic, nor do I claim that what I say is the complete truth. It is simply how I understand the subject at hand. :smiley:

[quote=Tom of Assisi]Intresting. there are some points I am not sure on:

  1. from what sources are Protestants continually learning?
    [/quote]

The Bible and from each other. We learn together. We read and discuss and learn from one another and from God’s Holy Word.

  1. what authority decides what learning is correct

The authority is the Word. Any beliefs that are in contradiction to the Word which is inerrant and God-breathed are addressed. No one person has complete authority.

  1. liberal Protestants and fundamentalist Protestants are so different. Are they all equally correct (even on the “non-essentials”)?

I’m not very sure what the difference is, so, sadly, I cannot comment. Could you explain it to me? I’m not sure if I understand the term “Liberal Protestant”.

thanks very much in advance for taking the time to respond.:slight_smile:

No problem. It wasn’t much, but it’s a start! :slight_smile:

~mango~


#10

[quote=mango_2003]First, as far as I know, MOST (notice I did not say all) Protestant denoms. do not believe that it is necessary for salvation. Most will say that while it’s not necessary, it’s not optional either, as it was commanded by Christ.

By essentials, I’m talking things such as:

-God is One in a Trinity.
-The Diety of Christ
-Christ death for forgiveness of our sins

and so forth.

Hope that helps.

~mango~
[/quote]

Essentials? Where is the list of essentials in scripture? As I understand it from Matthew 4:4 “man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The divisions in Christianity are a scandal and go against John 17:20-21 where Jesus prays that all believers will be one just as He and the Father are one, so that the world may believe that Jesus was indeed sent by the Father.

This is a serious problem in christianity, but it doesn’t seem to get much attention from the non-catholics that I question about it. The existence of differing doctrines seems to be accepted as a simple fact of christian life with little regard for the truth. Toleration of varied doctrines as if it makes no difference is contrary to scripture, and a hindrance to true christian unity.


#11

The “non-essential” argument doesn’t work. Central theological and moral issues continue to divide Protestantism: Does God regenerate us in baptism or is it only a sign? Is Christ truly present in the Eucharist or are the elements merely symbolic? Can we resist God’s grace and lose our salvation or are we eternally secure? If we remarry after a divorce do we commit adultery? Is homosexual behavior sinful? Is abortion a sin? Is contraception a sin? What about abortifacient contraceptives such as the Pill, IUD, Norplant, and Depo-Provera?

It is impossible to determine the truth on these and other issues using the Bible alone. If we are to understand its true meaning, Scripture must be read with the mind of the Church. Scripture says that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Truth matters!

God bless!

Cindy

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3).


#12

As a converting Lutheran I agree that the number of denominations (whatever it is) is less than ideal. I certainly hope that that number will shrink in the future.

The Roman Catholic Church sees itself as the “Rock” …yes? But that does not make them an island. They are not free from the problems associated with the several separate entities in the Christian faith. Any atheist, Muslim, etc. looking in from the outside will include the RC with the multiple denominations when speaking of the problems of so many belief structures.

When I hear Catholic individuals talk about the divisions in the Christian church I often get the feeling that they think that this large continent broke off from the Roman Catholic Church and that all divisions there after happened within the Protestant Churches. This is not the case; many of the other denominations today are other separations from the Catholic Church and not divisions within the Protestant break. I think all Christians share this burden and have the responsibility to rectify it to the best of their ability.

There are some basic reasons for the divisions in the Lutheran Church.

  1. How much should women be allowed to participate in the church?
  2. Who should and should not receive communion?
  3. Are the numbers and other such things in the Bible symbolic or literal?
  4. Should electric guitars and other such things be allowed during Service?

If you look around on this message board you will quickly see that the problems within the Lutheran church are not that much different between the problems within the Roman Catholic Church.

I think that a good start would be if all of the separations of the Church stopped bickering over who serves God best and start working on how they can best serve God. Stop trying to reassemble the divisions by knocking down other Churches but by building up their own by teaching of its greatness. I realize that this line of thinking can only go so far but it is a good start.


#13

Any atheist, Muslim, etc. looking in from the outside will include the RC with the multiple denominations when speaking of the problems of so many belief structures.

Actually, I think that they wouldn’t, because most people don’t put as serious an emphasis on doctrinal orthodoxy when defining categories. They think it is natural to have liberals and conservatives, but it is the self-affiliation and identification with a group for whatever reason that defines a “denomination” in most people’s eyes.

Apropos of the thread, I think that the alleged doctrinal chaos of Protestantism is highly overrated. They have liberals and conservative, and while the liberals are way out in left field (although no more so than “Catholics” for Free Choice and Call to Action), the conservatives in all Protestant denominations are pretty darn consistent in a core of belief that they all consider essential to the Gospel. ISTM that their big theological disputes are over exactly how corrupt Rome is. :slight_smile:


#14

I think it is a little short-sighted not to see the many expressions of faith in the Catholic religion.

Fransicans, Opus Dei, Carmelite, Charismatic Remewal, Dominicans, the list goes on and on…

The reason there is variety in the Catholic Faith is because there is variety in God’s people. I believe that is the same reason there is variety among Protestant denominations.

There is a difference between the issue of Papal authority and variety of expressions of faith. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a diverse choice of ways to express your faith.


#15

There are various religious orders, but they share the same Catholic faith. Groups such as Call To Action and Catholics for Free Choice may call themselves “Catholic” if they choose, but they have abandoned the Catholic faith.

Though we live in a relativistic culture, there is such a thing as objective, absolute truth. 2+2=4. It does not equal 5 or 3 or 8. Either Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist or He is not. Homosexual behavior is either a sin or it is not. It is either a sin to kill a baby in the womb or it is not.

We cannot merely choose the denomination that conveniently fits our lifestyle. If we truly love God, we will love Truth.

God bless!

Cindy


#16

[quote=Cindy]There are various religious orders, but they share the same Catholic faith. Groups such as Call To Action and Catholics for Free Choice may call themselves “Catholic” if they choose, but they have abandoned the Catholic faith.

Though we live in a relativistic culture, there is such a thing as objective, absolute truth. 2+2=4. It does not equal 5 or 3 or 8. Either Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist or He is not. Homosexual behavior is either a sin or it is not. It is either a sin to kill a baby in the womb or it is not.

We cannot merely choose the denomination that conveniently fits our lifestyle. If we truly love God,** we will love Truth**.

God bless!

Cindy
[/quote]

:thumbsup: Well said !! There are absolutes or we fall into** relativism** !!


God Bless You,
Shalom,
Catherine


#17

SHIBOLETH,

Thanks for your posts. You do have a viewpoint, but may I differ with this paragraph that you just wrote?


By Shiboleth,

"When I hear Catholic individuals talk about the divisions in the Christian church I often get the feeling that they think that this large continent broke off from the Roman Catholic Church and that all divisions there after happened within the Protestant Churches. This is not the case; many of the other denominations today are other separations from the Catholic Church and not divisions within the Protestant break. I think all Christians share this burden and have the responsibility to rectify it to the best of their ability.


Twenty years ago the literature reported only 7,000 Protetstant Denominations. Today, you will read between 22,000 to 30,000 Protestant Denominations. I believe you are saying that thousands of the New Prot. Churches were ones who were Catholic and broke away from the Catholic Church. I do not belive that.

You are contending that there are few breaks in the Protestant Churches and many in the Catholic Church. I do not think you can support that statement. Do you know that many of these new P. Churches have fewer than 50 in their congregations?


#18

[quote=Tom of Assisi]What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the fact that there are so many **different **(and often conflicting) Protestant denomenations out there?

What implications does this have for the truth of Protestantism?
What implications does this have for the reliability of Sola Scriptura?

[/quote]

By anyone’s measure, there are many thousands of Protestant denominations – each based on its human founder’s interpretation of the same 66-book, cut version of the Bible. No two denominations agree on what they are to believe and how their religion is to be practiced, but each claims to teach the truth. That’s why they separated into disparate groups with identifying names.

New denominations form worldwide at the rate of about five a week, if previous estimates have held true. Many of the newest Protestants are not affiliated with any previous denomination and have no ties to historic Christianity, according to a recent study (Newsweek, April 16,2001). This is Sola Scriptura in action, carried to its ultimate, irrational, and predictable conclusion.

Christianity is a revealed religion, based not on a book but on the teaching of Christ through the Apostles to His Church. The Church produced the Bible. But revelation is meaningless to I’ll-do-it-my-way Christians.

Protestantism is an umbrella term that encompasses as many so-called “truths” as there are denominations – and that is thousands. Therefore there is no “truth” in Protestantism. Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, unhistorical, untenable, and unworkable.

Jay Damien
Ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, and by the grace of God, Catholic!


#19

What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the fact that there are so many **different **(and often conflicting) Protestant denomenations out there?

As a protestant, my thoughts and feelings on the 75 trillion denominations used to be pretty much nothing. I wondered about it sure, questioned it some, but didn’t give it much serious thought. I just shrugged it off. And to tell you the truth, I still have not done much serious studying on any thing church-history related, something I need desperately to do. However, since coming here, you dumb ol’ Catholics :wink: , have forced me to re think some things. My thoughts are:

  1. this holy spirit, who leads people in private interpretation of scripture, seems to contradict himself, if indeed he has inspired people to start all these different denoms.
  2. I think that God can’t be happy with all these denoms but maybe he has mercy on these people who are just muddling through and figuring out the bible the best they can which leads me to 3.
  3. but WHY would God just leave us to struggle and muddle and wonder and desperately hope that we’re reading/interpreting correctly? of course we can’t know everything and we won’t do everything right. I’m not saying that. But with something as important as the Bible, from which we draw our ‘instructions for life’ so to speak, you would think that God wouldn’t leave us alone and in the dark to figure it out all by ourselves. Which brings me to point 4.
  4. He said that He would NOT leave us alone and in the dark, but instead send the Holy Spirit to teach us things…but which denom was started by interpretation of the scriptures by the Holy Spirit?? and which not??? scream :banghead:

As you can see… my thoughts on this go in a vicious cycle.


#20

[quote=Curious]1. this holy spirit, who leads people in private interpretation of scripture, seems to contradict himself, if indeed he has inspired people to start all these different denoms.
2. I think that God can’t be happy with all these denoms but maybe he has mercy on these people who are just muddling through and figuring out the bible the best they can which leads me to 3.
3. but WHY would God just leave us to struggle and muddle and wonder and desperately hope that we’re reading/interpreting correctly? of course we can’t know everything and we won’t do everything right. I’m not saying that. But with something as important as the Bible, from which we draw our ‘instructions for life’ so to speak, you would think that God wouldn’t leave us alone and in the dark to figure it out all by ourselves. Which brings me to point 4.
4. He said that He would NOT leave us alone and in the dark, but instead send the Holy Spirit to teach us things…but which denom was started by interpretation of the scriptures by the Holy Spirit?? and which not??? scream :banghead:

As you can see… my thoughts on this go in a vicious cycle.
[/quote]

Jesus didn’t leave us a book; He left us a Church. He didn’t write a word, nor did he tell his Apostles to write. He told them to teach. And that’s what they did. The Catholic Church (the People of God united under Peter and his successors) wrote the New Testament. She canonized the OT and NT and named them both – then put them together in one book that she named the “Bible” – when she was nearly 400 years old.

Christianity is an historic, revealed religion. As my sig says, to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.:slight_smile:

I LOVE THIS CHURCH!!!

JMJ Jay
Ex-Protestant, deliriously happy Catholic


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