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Postby tirtlegrrl » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:36 am

(This question is primarily for the Christians but I would like interested atheists to feel free to contribute, even if on purely academic grounds.)

I've been reading up on church history (Oxford is a good place to do that!) and am curious to find out the opinions of our diverse forum inhabitants.

In regard to Christian denominations, who is in schism with whom? Is there a Church Visible, and where is it? How much authority do the Pope/bishops/Orthodox patriarchs have in determining issues of doctrine and morals? Was Vatican I a load of hooey?
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Re: Ecclesiology

Postby Stacie Cook » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:45 am

I am no scholar, so you probably know more about church history than I do, but generally speaking 'The Church' starts out as a group of people that meet. Around here in Indiana, a group of people start a meetup typically at a school. As the members grow and as they get funds, then a building is purchased or built to be the church building.
Some denominations will start up a church by finding a building and sending a few members of one location to start a new one somewhere else. Franchising in a way.
Authority of the Pope would depend on whether you are Catholic or not (I think).
I am not catholic, and I do not believe that the Pope has anymore say in doctrine than any pastor or preacher. I can't say for certain that the Vatican was a load of hooey, but it is questionable in my mind. But I also think that is on a level of church that can be debated.

It is like a triangle. At the very tip top is God. Any believer cannot disagree amongst each other about the existence of God. As you go down the triangle, it gets wider, which leaves more room for denominations, debate/discussion on issues, how to worship, who is an authority in church, wearing a purple hat to church vs a blue hat, etc. The Vatican is like mid-level triangle in my opinion....
To my understanding, denominations come about when there is disagreement on how things ought to be done. We are human afterall, and we are not all going to agree on one thing.
I hope I answered your question in some way. Thank you.
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Re: Ecclesiology

Postby mitchellmckain » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:45 pm

tirtlegrrl wrote:In regard to Christian denominations, who is in schism with whom?

When a church excludes others then it is only logical that they exclude themselves from their community. Thus when a church declares itself to be the one true church and all the rest to be false, then they have logically excluded themselves from Christian fellowship, have they not?

tirtlegrrl wrote:Is there a Church Visible, and where is it?

Is science visible? Yes and no. Expecting me to point and confine it to a single object or group is crazy. It is a methodology and you can see examples in many places. As the body of Christ you can say much the same about the visibility of the church. But I think the principle point is that the head of the body is Christ and not some human being or group of them. Therefore HOW can you point to some group organized and administrated by human beings and say that is the body of Christ. It makes no sense. It might be finger. A finger has organization and it does what the nerves direct it to do but how can it be the body of Christ without the head? They might like us to believe that God/Christ belongs to them as their exclusive property but this is very far from believable.

tirtlegrrl wrote:How much authority do the Pope/bishops/Orthodox patriarchs have in determining issues of doctrine and morals?

Like any other human authority they have what authority other people give them.

tirtlegrrl wrote:Was Vatican I a load of hooey?

Not for the Catholics. But what could it have to do with other Christians. What have the nerves in the finger to do with the foot?
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Re: Ecclesiology

Postby spongebob » Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:00 am

tirtlegrrl wrote:In regard to Christian denominations, who is in schism with whom? Is there a Church Visible, and where is it? How much authority do the Pope/bishops/Orthodox patriarchs have in determining issues of doctrine and morals? Was Vatican I a load of hooey?

That's actually a vast question because at some level almost all Christian denominations have distinctions from all others while sharing quite a lot of factors as well. To go into all of them would be pretty time consuming. There are obvious ones like the Catholic Church differing in major ways from almost all Protestants. And what I call "Catholic Lite" versions like Lutheran and Episcopal opposing elements of both Catholicism and the Evangelicals (Methodist, Baptist, Church of God, Church of Christ...etc). The Calvinists are quite distinct among the protestants for their beliefs in predestination; Baptists belief in "once saved, always saved" differs from many other protestants belief that one can be saved, then fall back out of grace. Of course there are those that believe in limitations of a woman's role in church, limitations on music, limitations on dress code, snake handling, poison drinking and other odd interpretations. Of course I'm not even broaching the beliefs of the Amish and Mennonites with their rejections of certain technologies and pacifism. And there were the Shakers who disappeared for many reasons, not least of which was their rejection of procreation. Primitive Baptists are an interesting group that actually reject much of the evangelical activities of other Baptists and some other doctrinal issues and consider themselves to be the "original" Baptists. There must be thousands of others. I've sometimes amused myself by reading Wikipedia articles about various Christian sects and you'll find a lot of good comparisons there to other traditions. After learning about so many differences in beliefs over the decades, I great great amusement out of Christians who have deluded themselves into believing that they and only they have the absolute, concrete interpretation of the Bible and all others are false or flawed. I believe it's the single most ridiculous thing that people do in relation to their religion.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
~Bertrand Russell

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Re: Ecclesiology

Postby somecallmeTim? » Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:46 pm

Denominations originally arose out of disagreements over specific doctrines or practices. (think Protestant Reformation) However, many of those original differences are seen as less relevant today, compared with the core message of the gospel. Preferences in style of worship are often a determining factor in what church someone attends these days. I don't have any "schism" with any other Christian denomination.

Today, I think the key differences are between "conservatives" and "liberals", regardless of denomination (and within a denomination). The conservative side ("evangelicals") believe the Bible is the Word of God. The liberal side believes the Bible "contains" the Word of God and you have to determine which parts should be believed and which parts are to be rejected. If I understand correctly, I think most churches in the UK and the rest of Europe are quite "liberal". In the US, there are many churches on both sides.

I grew up a Baptist, but currently attend an Anglican church. What's most important to me is a conservative/evangelical view of the Bible, rather than the specific denomination.

(I have a Master of Divinity degree from a Baptist seminary. But I wouldn't call myself an expert on church history.)
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Re: Ecclesiology

Postby Og3 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:13 am

Schisms? Well...

the oldest division that is still active in the church today would be the Eastern/Western split. One one side, you have the "Orthodox," such as Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, &c. Divisions within the Orthodox tend to be nationalist. the larger branch on the other side of that would be the Romans, or RCC. There were also a considerable number of what I would call "Non-conformist" groups, such as the Piedmontese and the Abigensians (sp?) who were not of either of the aforementioned branches.

The Romans split among themselves, but healed the division; later, during the reformation, the COE split from the Romans. During this time period, the COE split again, producing the Presbyterians, and the COE itself is divided into high and Low. Later still, the Methodists split from the COE, and at about this time, the RCC split again, giving us Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, and several other denominations, most of which are Calvinist in doctrine.

Interaction between Anabaptists, a nonconformist branch, and Methodists, a fully Arminian branch of the COE, gave rise to the modern Baptists. Great care must be taken when modern Baptists meet with older groups in this chain, because, as we all know, "Yih Kinna mix Baptists and Anabaptists cold, Captain!"

Baptists themselves have also split repeatedly, for various causes.

But there is one thing to consider: Nearly all of these groups believe mostly the same things. Paul, in 1 Cor. 15, gives five essential points of his doctrine:

1. That Christ died for the sins of mankind
2. And was buried,
3. And rose again on the third day
4. And was seen by many
5. And shall return on the Last Day.

Further, Christian Doctrine has been repeatedly codified in confessions and creeds, one of which, the Nicene Creed, is particularly noteworthy.

In a survey that I conducted on another forum, in which 90 self-proclaimed Christians voluntarily took part, 95% were able to endorse both Paul's five points and the Nicene Creed. A few had an issue with a single word in the creed, "catholic" (small c) which means that the church is all-encompassing; they protested it on the fact that the all-encompassing church is not necessarily "Catholic" (large C), i.e. Roman.

So yes, there is a visible church; and yes, that visible church is divided, and yet, that visible church is united.
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