Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
This is just a small list but it makes its point at the end.
Monotheism- The belief and worship of one God and one God only.
Polytheism- The belief and worship of many gods.
Pantheism- The view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent abstract God; or that the Universe, or nature,
and God are equivalent.
Theism- The belief that at least one divinity is immanent in the world, this divinity (perhaps among others) is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.
Deism- The belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe, but shall not intervene in its normal operation.
Atheism- The affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism.
2,190 BC. Judaism-Abraham
Judaism is a monotheistic religion based on principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). According to Jewish tradition, Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham. In Judaism, ultimate reality is a single, all-powerful God. It is this belief that made the Jews unique among other ancient Semitic peoples and that became the legacy Judaism has passed on to the entire Western world. The sacred name of God, as revealed to Moses in the book of Exodus, is YHWH. Since ancient Hebrew was written without vowels, we do not know the original pronunciation of this word. A more “correct” pronunciation, and that which is used among scholars, is “Yahweh.” The discussion is irrelevant to observant Jews, however, as they do not pronounce this holiest of names. When the Torah is read aloud, Adonai (“Lord”) is read in its place. God is conceived of as eternal, the creator of the universe, and the source of morality. God has the power to intervene in the world. The term God thus corresponds to an actual ontological reality, and is not merely a projection of the human psyche. Maimonides describes God in this fashion: “There is a Being, perfect in every possible way, who is the ultimate cause of all existence. All existence depends on God and is derived from God.” The worship of multiple gods and the concept of a singular god taking multiple forms (as in the doctrine of Trinity) are equally heretical in Judaism. Most of classical Judaism views God as personal. We have a relationship with God, God has a relationship with us. “God is the only one we may serve and praise….We may not act in this way toward anything beneath God, whether it be an angel, a star, or one of the elements…..There are no intermediaries between us and God. All our prayers should be directed towards God; nothing else should even be considered.” Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah because: Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies, Jesus did not embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah, Biblical verses “referring” to Jesus are mistranslations, Jewish belief is based on national revelation, Christianity contradicts Jewish theology.
1,500 BC. Hinduism- no specific founder
It is difficult to assign a dogmatic orthodoxy to Hinduism. Many variations have developed from Hinduism over the years, and many non-Hindu cults and religious movements gained their inspiration from Hinduism. Even in India today, the most orthodox divisions of Hinduism have changed significantly over the last three thousand years. One of the oldest aspects of Hinduism is as much social as religious, and that is the caste system. It is important to understand the caste system before delving into Hindu religious beliefs. According to Hindu teaching, there are four basic castes, or social classes. Each caste has its own rules and obligation for living. The elite caste is the Brahman, or priest caste. Second are the Kshatriyas, or warriors and rulers. Third are the Vaisyas, or merchants and farmers. Finally, the fourth caste is the Shudras, or laborers. Outside the caste system are the untouchables. The untouchables are the outcasts of Hindu society. Though outlawed in India in the 1940s, the untouchables are still a very real part of Indian society. One does not get to decide his or her caste – that matter is decided when one is born into a particular caste. Virtually all Hindus believe in: 1) The three-in-one god known as “Brahman,” which is composed of: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer). 2) The Caste System. 3) Karma. The law that good begets good, and bad begets bad. Every action, thought, or decision one makes has consequences – good or bad – that will return to each person in the present life, or in one yet to come. 4) Reincarnation. Also known as “transmigration of souls,” or “samsara.” This is a journey on the “circle of life,” where each person experiences as series of physical births, deaths, and rebirths. With good karma, a person can be reborn into a higher caste, or even to godhood. Bad karma can relegate one to a lower caste, or even to life as an animal in their next life. 5) Nirvana. This is the goal of the Hindu. Nirvana is the release of the soul from the seemingly endless cycle of rebirths. Hinduism is both polytheistic, and pantheistic. Hindus also worship the “wives” of Shiva, such as Kali, or one of Vishnu’s ten incarnations (avatars). This is only the beginning. There are literally millions of Hindu gods and goddesses – by some counts, as many as 330 million! At the same time, Hinduism teaches that all living things are Brahman in their core. In other words, all living things are Brahman, or god. Enlightenment is attained by becoming tuned in to the Brahman within. Only then can one reach Nirvana. Todays Hare Krishna are a Hindu Religion.
560 BC. Buddhism- Gautama Buddha
The name Buddhism comes from the word ‘budhi’ which means ‘to wake up’ and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Siddhata Gotama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 35. Buddhism is now 2,500 years old and has about 300 million followers world-wide. Until a hundred years ago, Buddhism was mainly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe and America. Gautama Buddha grew up in wealth and luxury but eventually found that worldly comfort and security do not guarantee happiness. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw all around and resolved to find the key to human happiness. When he was 29 he left his wife and child and set off to sit at the feet of the great religious teachers of the day to learn from them. They taught him much but none really knew the cause of human suffering or how it could be overcome. Eventually, after six years study and meditation he had an experience in which all ignorance fell away and he suddenly understood. From that day onwards he was called the Buddha, the Awakened One. He lived for another 45 years in which time he traveled all over northern India teaching others what he had discovered. His compassion and patience were legendary and he made thousands of followers. In his eightieth year, old and sick, but still happy and at peace, he finally died. He did not claim that he was a god, the child of a god or even the messenger from a god. He was a human being who perfected himself and taught that if we followed his example, we could perfect ourselves also. When someone worships a god, they praise and honor him or her, make offerings and ask for favors, believing that the god will hear their praise, receive their offerings and answer their prayers. Buddhists do not indulge in this kind of worship. The other kind of worship is when we show respect to someone or something we admire. When a teacher walks into the room we stand up, when we meet a dignitary we shake their hand, when the national anthem is played we salute. These are all gestures of respect and worship and indicate our admiration for certain persons or things. This is the type of worship Buddhists practice. A statue of the Buddha with its hands rested gently in its lap and its compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. The perfume of incense reminds us of the pervading influence of virtue, the lamp reminds us of the light of knowledge and the flowers which soon fade and die, remind us of impermanence. When we bow, we express outwardly what we feel inwardly; our gratitude to the Buddha for what his teachings have given us. This is the nature of Buddhist worship.
550 BC. Taoism – Lao Tzu
Tao (pronounced “Dow”) can be roughly translated into English as path, or the way. It is basically indefinable. It has to be experienced. It “refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites (i.e. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)” The priesthood views the many gods as manifestations of the one Dao, “which could not be represented as an image or a particular thing.” The concept of a personified deity is foreign to them, as is the concept of the creation of the universe. Thus, they do not pray as Christians do; there is no God to hear the prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation. Taoism is an atheistic religion; we do not believe in the existence of any god or deity. We do believe that an order to the Universe exists, and that this order is defined and maintained by the Tao. Unlike a deity, however, the Tao is not personified or anthropomorphized; it is, rather, the indefinable power that regulates and manifests all Natural processes.
599 BC. Jainism, Mahavira
The word Jainism comes from the Sanskrit word for saint “jinah” which dreives from “Jayati” meaning “he conquers” – thus they are conquers of mortal bondage. Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism is one of the three most ancient of India’s religions still in existence. Although Jainism has [fewer] followers than Hinduism and Sikhism it has had an influence on Indian culture for over 2,500 years, making significant contributions in philosophy, logic, art and architecture, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and literature. Lord Mahavira is regarded as the last of a line of 24 holy and spiritually enlightened beings, the Tirthankaras. Mahavira was born in India in 599 BC. At the age of thirty he gave up his life as a wealthy prince and became a religious asceti. He was a reformer and propagator of the religion. Jainism is a religion of love and compassion above all else. Jains believe that the universe is eternal. They believe in the eternity of the soul. There are thought to be multitudes of souls or life-modas, which are all independent and eternal. Jains worship idols of Jinas, Tirthankars, who are reverend as supreme beings but as the time passed by Jains also started worshipping many other deities, Yaksas and Yaksinis, in Jain temples.
30 AD. Christianity –Jesus Christ
Started in Judea (present-day Israel) with Jesus Christ and His faithful group of disciples. During this period, Judea was a cross-cultural mecca of bustling cities and farms. The emperor of Rome was the ruler. The Jews at that time hated Roman rule — it was but another reminder of the historical oppression they faced as a people. The polytheistic cultural beliefs of Rome were also pagan and intrusive to Jewish life. Some Jews saw that their only hope was to conform to this change. Others became religious zealots who formed pockets of guerilla resistance against Rome. Still others withdrew themselves into the Judean wilderness to study the Jewish law and wait for the eventual coming of their promised Messiah (savior). Jesus’ teaching was revolutionary. He challenged the established religious authorities to repent from their self-righteousness and hypocrisy and realize that the Kingdom of God is rooted in service and love. Jesus’ teachings stirred the hearts of people and created instability, something the Jewish religious authorities feared. Soon, a faithful group of men began to follow Jesus and call him teacher. These men became His disciples. Jesus taught His disciples about the will of God and about the “new covenant” God will bring to humanity through Him. Jesus helped them to see that mankind is bound to the pain and futility of life as a result of sin. Due to sin, mankind lost its relationship with God. The purpose of this “new covenant” is to restore those who accept it into a renewed fellowship of forgiveness and love with God. Jesus himself would pay for the sins of all humanity by being crucified unjustly on a Roman cross. Three days later, He would rise to life, having conquered death, to give hope to a hopeless world. Well, it happened just as Jesus taught, and His disciples were witnesses to an amazing miracle. Their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, died and three days later rose again to become their Messiah. Compelled by a great commission to share the love that the God of this universe had imparted upon them, the disciples began to proclaim this gospel of hope throughout the territory. Thus, from a small group of ordinary men that lived in a small province in Judea about 2000 years ago, the history of the Christian Church began, and the Christian Faith has since spread to the rest of the world. Their gospel message was simple: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Though most of the historical record for the start of the Christian faith is recorded in the New Testament accounts, the history of Christianity actually began with prophecy in the Old Testament. There are over 300 prophecies (predictions) that span over a period of 1000 years that are recorded in the Old Testament concerning the coming of a Jewish Messiah. A study of Jesus’ life, death and background will show that He was undoubtedly the fulfillment of these Messianic prophecies. Thus, even long before Jesus walked the earth, His mission was made known to mankind through the Word of God. Jewish Christians identify themselves primarily as Christians. They are mostly members of Protestant and Catholic congregations, usually are not strict about observing Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) or the Sabbath, and are generally assimilated culturally into the Christian mainstream, although they retain a strong sense of their Jewish identity which they, like Messianic Jews, strongly desire to pass on to their children. In Israel, there is a growing population of Orthodox Christians who are of Jewish descent and conduct their worship mostly in Hebrew (the most prominent language in Israel, as well as the official language). Messianic Jews consider their primary identity to be “Jewish” and belief in Jesus to be the logical conclusion of their “Jewishness”. They try to structure their worship according to Jewish norms, they circumcise their sons and (mostly) abstain from non-kosher foods, and (often) observe the Sabbath. Many (but by no means all) do not use the label “Christian” to describe themselves. The boundary between the two movements is blurred, but the differences between the two movements are such that it may not be fair to treat them as one (cf. Baptists and Methodists, for example). There are a few organizations which have been established to support Jews who wish to become Christian. Additionally, there are a few organizations to support Messianic Jews who wish to remain faithful to Torah.
50-100 AD. Gnosticism-
The name is derived from the Greek word “gnosis” which literally means “knowledge.” However, the English words “Insight” and “enlightenment” capture more of the meaning of “gnosis.” It is pronounced with a silent “G” (NO-sis). Gnosticism is not factual, intellectual, rational knowledge, such as is involved in mathematics and physics; that would have been more accurately represented by the Greek world “episteme.” Rather, Gnosticism involves the relational or experiential knowledge of God and of the divine or spiritual nature within us. “…we believe that gnosis-knowledge requires ultimate transcendence of the merely intellectual to be actualized.” Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware. It became one of the three main belief systems within 1st century Christianity, and was noted for four factors by which differed from the two other branches of Christianity: 1) Novel beliefs about Gods, the Bible and the world which differed from those of other Christian groups. 2) Tolerance of different religious beliefs within and outside of Gnosticism. 3) Lack of discrimination against women. Although Jesus treated women as equals, and Paul mostly did the same, the other Christian belief systems started to oppress women in later generations. 4) A belief that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge. In the words of The contemporary Gnostic Apostolic Church, humanity needs to be awakened and brought “to a realisation of his true nature. Mankind is moving towards the Omega Point, the Great day when all must graduate or fall. This day is also the Day of Judgment in that only those who have entered the Path of Transfiguration and are being reborn can return to the Treasury of Light.” Some Gnostic sects honored the snake. They did not view the snake as a seducer who led the first couple into sinful behavior. Rather, they saw him/it as a liberator who brought knowledge to Adam and Eve by convincing them to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus to become fully human. They believed that they alone truly understood Christ’s message, and that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus’ mission and sayings. Knowledge to them was not an intellectual exercise; it was not a passive understanding of some aspect of spirituality. Rather, knowledge had a redeeming and liberating function that helped the individual break free of bondage to the world. The Supreme Father God or Supreme God of Truth is remote from human affairs; he is unknowable and undetectable by human senses. She/he created a series of supernatural but finite beings called Aeons. One of these was Sophia, a virgin, who in turn gave birth to an defective, inferior Creator-God, also known as the Demiurge. (Demiurge means “public craftsman” in Greek.) This lower God is sometimes called Yaldabaoth or Ialdabaoth Jaldabaoth — from Aramaic words meaning “begetter of the Heavens.” This is Jehovah, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). He is portrayed as the creator of the earth and its life forms. He is viewed by Gnostics as fundamentally evil, jealous, rigid, lacking in compassion, and prone to genocide. The Demiurge “thinks that he is supreme. His pride and incompetence have resulted in the sorry state of the world as we know it, and in the blind and ignorant condition of most of mankind.” The role of the redeemer in Gnostic belief is heavily debated at this time. Gnostics seem to have looked upon Christ as a revealer or liberator, rather than a savior or judge. His purpose was to spread knowledge which would free individuals from the Demiurge’s control and allow them to return to their spiritual home with the Supreme God at death. Some Gnostic groups promoted Docetism, the belief that Christ was pure spirit and only had a phantom body; Jesus just appeared to be human to his followers. They reasoned that a true emissary from the Supreme God could not have been overcome by the evil of the world, and to have suffered and died. These beliefs were considered heresy by many non-Gnostic Christians. Some Gnostics believed that Christ’s resurrection occurred at or before Jesus’ death on the cross. They defined his resurrection as occurring when his spirit was liberated from his body. Many Gnostics believed that Jesus had both male and female disciples. A person attains salvation by learning secret knowledge of their spiritual essence: a divine spark of light or spirit. They then have the opportunity to escape from the prison of their bodies at death. Their soul can ascend to be reunited with the Supreme God at the time of their death.
150-250 AD. -Modalism (Monarchianism)–Sabellius, Praxeus, Noetus, Paul of Samosata
Monarchians, believed that Christ was only a man “until” He was anointed at His baptism. The word, Monarchiani, was first used by Tertullian as a nickname of the group. Basically they deny the Trinity. They taught that Jesus was a man born of a virgin as the Bible states, that He lived like other men, and was most righteous and that it was at His baptism in the Jordan the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the likeness of a dove. He was not the Christ until Spirit came down and was manifested in Him. They taught that even after his baptism Christ was not God, but that God’s spirit came upon Him and left Him at his death. It seems to be a perversion of the Bible doctrine of the Oneness of God. Not accepting that God can be three persons in one as the Trinity explains, they denied the Trinity and came up with a way that in their minds that Jesus could be the Savior and the Son of God without being God. Noetus (from whom the Noetians) was a Smyrnaean (Epiphanius, by a slip, says an Ephesian). He called himself Moses, and his brother Aaron. When accused before the presbyterate of teaching that the Father suffered, he denied it; but after having made a few disciples he was again interrogated, and expelled from the Church. He died soon after, and did not receive a Christian burial. The Monarchians properly so-called (Modalists) exaggerated the oneness of the Father and the Son so as to make them but one Person; thus the distinctions in the Holy Trinity are energies or modes, not Persons: God the Father appears on earth as Son; hence it seemed to their opponents that Monarchians made the Father suffer and die. In the West they were called Patripassians, whereas in the East they are usually called Sabellians. Although this teaching fell by the way side after the third century, today there are forms of it in some Pentecostal church which teach the “Jesus only” view. These churches teach that God, who is Jesus Christ, progressively revealed Himself as the creator and lawgiver through the “office” of Father, as the redeemer through the office of Son, and as the source of grace through the office of Spirit. To them there is only one God, . . Jesus. They do not baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and deny the Trinity.
325 AD. -After being persecuted for almost 200 years Constantine made the Church become a legal religion, compromise begins to enter. (In 306, Constantius I, the Emperor of the Western part of the Roman Empire, died at York, in Britain. His son, Constantine, was proclaimed Emperor by the Roman army in Britain, and became Emperor of the European and British part of the Empire. In 312 he defeated his rival in the West, Maxentius, and became sole Emperor of the western part of the Roman Empire. He attributed this victory to the Christian God and made his soldiers wear the Chi Rho symbol on their shields. He and Licinius, the Emperor in the East, proclaimed toleration for both Christians and pagans. Constantine defeated Licinius in 324 and became sole Emperor of the whole empire. Constantine is perhaps best known for being the first Christian Roman Emperor. His reign was a turning point for the Christian Church. Constantine instituted several legislative measures which had an impact on Jews. They were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise their slaves. Conversion of Christians to Judaism was outlawed. Congregations for religious services were restricted, but Jews were allowed to enter Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. In August, 314 AD, Constantine held an imperial church council. At this meeting he organized church government. He instituted the Bishop of Rome as ruler over the universal, or “catholic,” church. Today, the Bishop of Rome is called the “Pope.” From this day forward, church and state were mixed, and the entire empire was under Constantine’s rule for government AND religion. Later, in 321 AD the “Christian” Emperor Constantine praised Apollos, the sun god, worthy of worship on the first day of the week. He then decreed the official day off for of the Empire as Dies Solis, the Day of the Sun. This is where history records the Sabbath day was changed from the seventh day of the week to the first. This is also where the name Sunday has its origin. Sun-day is the day to worship the sun/apollos. Constantine did not allow any other day to be regarded as holy for worship. Constantine said, “this day should be regarded as a special occasion for prayer,” says the book History of the First Council of Nicea. Harsh fines and even death were imposed on those who kept the seventh day holy. In 325 AD, the Nicean Council was held. History records that the purpose of this meeting was to decide when the early church would celebrate the feast of Passover. (The first believers kept the Holy Days of Leviticus 23.) However, at the Nicean Council the “Easter Edict” was passed. This Edict, written by Constantine insisted the believers keep the holiday of Easter instead of Passover. Why was it important to change from Passover to Easter? Because, the majority of people in the Roman Empire already celebrated Easter. The word “Easter” is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility. A festival was held in her honor every year at the vernal equinox. The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the “Easter Hare”, hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that “All life comes from an egg.” In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts. Constantine’s influence upon Christianity is undeniable. His ruling actions over the church and government drove the world into the Dark Ages. During this gloomy time in human history, learning was thwarted and the Roman Catholic Church ruled worldwide. Bibles were banned and science was stalled. Years later Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation against many errors. However, mainstream Christianity continues to still follow Constantine. Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door, but his reforms were not enough. Baptist, Methodists, Lutherans, and Charismatics are still joined to Catholicism and Constantine. “If Protestants would follow the Bible, they would worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church,” said Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Encyclopedias and history books prove that Easter, Sunday worship, and even Christmas were additions to the faith by the Catholic Church. These days were celebrated long before the Messiah came and mixed into the original faith by various Bishops. “In 321 AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. He also introduced Sunday as a holy day in a new 7-day week, and introduced movable feasts (Easter). However, even though Constantine officiated 25 December as the birthday of Christ, Christians, recognizing the date as a pagan festival, did not share in the emperor’s good meaning. Christmas failed to gain universal recognition among Christians until quite recently. In England, Oliver Cromwell outlawed Christmas festivities between 1649 and 1660. Still, Christmas was not even a legal holiday until the 1800s. The date of December 25th originated with the ancient “birthday” of the son-god, Mithra, a pagan deity whose religious influence became widespread in the Roman Empire during the first few centuries A.D. Mithra was related to the sun-god, Shamash, and his worship spread throughout Asia to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. Rome was well-known for absorbing the pagan religions and rituals of its widespread empire. As such, Rome converted this pagan legacy to a celebration of the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god during the winter solstice period. The winter holiday became known as Saturnalia and began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and downright debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples. December 25th was declared the birth and celebration of Jesus’ birthday as Christmas because it coincided with the pagan traditions of Winter Solstice. The purpose was to replace the pagan celebrations with the Christian one. Most Christmas customs, the decorating the evergreen “Christmas” tree, the hanging of mistletoe, gift exchanges, and Santa Claus, all came from pagan winter practices and secular traditions that were celebrated throughout Europe.
590 AD.-Roman Catholicism- Developed after Constantine
Catholicism often means the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes it also refers to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, or other Churches that believe in the great lists of Christian beliefs called “creeds” (from the Latin word credo, meaning “I believe”), such as the Anglican Church. The word catholic means “everywhere or universal” (belief that the Church is one big family). The Great Church Orthodox and Catholic was started by Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew who descended from the line of King David who was crucified by the Romans, at the Jewish feast of Passover, in accordance with and fulfillment of the hebrew scriptures – especially Isaiah and the Psalms ca. 33 AD. The followers of Jesus reported in the scriptures as they witnessed it – that he was resurrected by God the Father and appeared to over 500 people for forty days before he ascended into heaven. He later sent the holy spirit onto his disciples at Pentecost when they spoke in tongues and understood each others different languages. One of his followers, Saint Peter, was appointed leader by Jesus and later became recognized as the first Pope, or Bishop of Rome, soon after that – he was captured and died in Rome. He was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and was the first to recognize Jesus as Messiah when questioned by Jesus as to “Who do you say that I am?” Today, the pope is Benedict XVI, who is the leader of the Church (like the male head of a family, or father). This is where the word pope comes from. That is why the pope is also called the Holy Father – he is our spiritual father here on earth. In 325, the First Council of Nicaea agreed on how to organise the church. The council agree the Church had five patriarchs (patriarch was the highest type of church leader). They were the archbishops of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The Patriarch of Rome, was honored as “first among equals.” In time, the Church split apart with fights over who is right; these fights caused breaks in the Church called schisms. Most schisms happen because of people have different beliefs about what is true, but politics is often a big reason for these fights too. In 451, a church division happened when all the church leaders meeting at the Church Council in the city of Chalcedon excommunicated (cut off) three leaders, because they would not accept the view that Jesus had two natures. These three were the bishops of Egypt, Syria, and Armenian. Of course, these three bishops did not accept being excommunicated either, so the churches under them are still known today as Oriental Orthodox Churches. In 1054, the Great Church Orthodox and Catholic split into the Western (Roman) Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church . The Eastern Orthodox Church was divided into national churches, making the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and so on. The Roman Catholic Church developed the idea of one united church leader with the pope. Some Eastern Orthodox Churches believe the emperor or king is the head of the Church as well as the country. In England, the Anglican Church is like this. The next big schism was the Protestant Reformation, which protested against the central authority of the Church in Rome and against what it thought were wrong ways of doing and believing things about God in the Catholic Church. It started in Germany, where Martin Luther sent his demands for change to the Church. Because of politics in Europe, many nations supported Luther. The Lutheran Church was started. Later the Calvinist or Presbyterian Church started. Roman Catholics give special honor to saints (people in heaven) because they believe that saints can pray for them directly to God. Roman Catholics believe God can forgive sins through the sacrament of reconciliation (penance) done by a priest. Roman Catholics believe it is important to live by Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium (the bishops in communion with the Pope). Roman Catholics believe that papal authority and the Bible are infallible. Roman Catholic bibles include the deuterocanon. Roman Catholics believe God is of one substance in three persons (consubstantiation).
597 AD.- Anglicanism-
The word Anglicanism is a neologism from the 19th century; being constructed from the much older word Anglican. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a Medieval Latin phrase meaning “the English Church”. Anglicanism, in its structures, theology, and forms of worship, is commonly understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and, as such, is often referred to as being a via media (or middle way) between these traditions. The faith of Anglicans is founded in the Scriptures and the Gospels, the traditions of the apostolic Church, the historic episcopate, the first four Ecumenical Councils, and the early Church Fathers. Anglicans understand the Old and New Testaments as ‘containing all things necessary for salvation’ and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith. Anglicans understand the Apostles’ Creed as the baptismal symbol, and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
610 AD.- Islam- Mohammed
The single most important belief in Islam, and arguably the central theme of Islam, is that there is one God. The Muslim name for God is Allah, which is simply Arabic for “the (al) God (Ilah).” The term is related to Elohim, the Hebrew word for God. Along with Judaism and Christianity, Islam belongs to the religious category of “ethical monotheism.” Islam is the world’s second largest religion with a following of over one billion people called Muslims. Islamic belongs to the Semitic family; it was promulgated by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia in the 7th century AD. The Arabic term islam, literally “surrender,” illuminates the fundamental religious idea of Islam–that the believer (called a Muslim, from the active particle of islam) accepts “surrender to the will of Allah (Arabic: God).” Allah is viewed as the sole God–creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. The will of Allah, to which man must submit, is made known through the sacred scriptures, the Qur’an (Koran), which Allah revealed to his messenger, Muhammad. In Islam Muhammad is considered the last of a series of prophets (including Adam, Noah, Jesus, and others), and his message simultaneously consummates and abrogates the “revelations” attributed to earlier prophets. The doctrine about God in the Qur’an is rigorously monotheistic: God is one and unique; he has no partner and no equal. Trinitarianism, the Christian belief that God is three persons in one substance, is vigorously repudiated. Muslims believe that there are no intermediaries between God and the creation that he brought into being by his sheer command: “Be.” Although his presence is believed to be everywhere, he does not inhere in anything. He is the sole Creator and sustainer of the universe, wherein every creature bears witness to his unity and lordship. But he is also just and merciful: his justice ensures order in his creation, in which nothing is believed to be out of place, and his mercy is unbounded and encompasses everything. His creating and ordering the universe is viewed as the act of prime mercy for which all things sing his glories. The God of the Qur’an, described as majestic and sovereign, is also a personal God; he is viewed as being nearer to man than man’s jugular vein, and, whenever a person in need or distress calls him, he responds. Above all, he is the God of guidance and shows everything, particularly man, the right way, “the straight path.” The Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Adam (the first man) is accepted, but the Qur’an states that God forgave Adam his act of disobedience, which is not viewed in the Qur’an (in contradistinction to its understanding in the Christian doctrine) as original sin. In the story of man’s creation, angels, who protested to God against the creation of man, who “would sow mischief on earth,” lost in a competition of knowledge against Adam. The Qur’an, therefore, declares man to be the noblest of all creation, the created being who bore the trust (of responsibility) that the rest of the creation refused to accept. The Qur’an thus reiterates that all nature has been made subservient to man: nothing in all creation has been made without a purpose, and man himself has not been created “in sport,” his purpose being service and obedience to God’s will.
A Puritan of 16th and 17th century England was an associate of any number of religious groups advocating for more “purity” of worship and doctrine. Puritans felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Church of Rome. The word “Puritan” was originally an alternate term for “Cathar” and was a pejorative term used to characterize them as extremists similar to the Cathari of France. The Puritans sometimes cooperated with Presbyterians, who put forth a number of proposals for “further reformation” in order to keep the Church of England more closely in line with the Reformed Churches on the Continent. Notable beliefs include: An emphasis on private study of the Bible, a desire to see education and enlightenment for the masses (especially so they could read the Bible for themselves), the priesthood of all believers, simplicity in worship, the exclusion of vestments, images, candles, etc., they did not celebrate traditional holidays which they believed to be in violation of the regulative principle of worship, believed the Sabbath was still obligatory for Christians, although they believed the Sabbath had been changed to Sunday, some approved of the church hierarchy, but others sought to reform the episcopal churches on the presbyterian model. Some separatist Puritans were Presbyterian, but most were congregationalists (a system of church governance in which every local church congregation is independent). The words of the Bible were the origin of many Puritan cultural ideals, especially regarding the roles of men and women in the community. While both sexes carried the stain of original sin, for a girl, original sin suggested more than the roster of Puritan character flaws. Eve’s corruption, in Puritan eyes, extended to all women, and justified marginalizing them within churches’ hierarchical structures. An example is the different ways that men and women were made to express their conversion experiences. For full membership, the Puritan church insisted not only that its congregants lead godly lives and exhibit a clear understanding of the main tenets of their Christian faith, but they also must demonstrate that they had experienced true evidence of the workings of God’s grace in their souls. Only those who gave a convincing account of such a conversion could be admitted to full church membership. Women were not permitted to speak in church after 1636 (although they were allowed to engage in religious discussions outside of it, in various women-only meetings), and thus could not narrate their conversions. Some have suggested that it is a “Puritan spirit” in the United States’ political culture that creates a tendency to oppose things such as alcohol and open sexuality. However, the Puritans were not opposed to drinking alcohol in moderation or to enjoying their sexuality within the bounds of marriage as a gift from God. In fact, spouses (albeit, in practice, mainly females) were disciplined if they did not perform their sexual marital duties, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7 and other biblical passages. Because of these beliefs, the Puritans publicly punished drunkenness and sexual relations outside of marriage. Alexis de Tocqueville suggested in “Democracy in America” that the Pilgrims’ Puritanism was the very thing that provided a firm foundation for American democracy, and in his view, these Puritans were hard-working, egalitarian, and studious.
1515 AD.- Protestantism (Reformers) Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin
Protestantism refers to the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated in the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Protestant doctrine, also known in continental European traditions as Evangelical doctrine, in opposition to that of Roman Catholicism. It typically holds that Scripture (rather than tradition or ecclesiastic interpretation of Scripture) is the only source of revealed truth, and also that salvation is the result of God’s grace alone. Three Fundamental Principles of Protestantism: The belief in the Bible as the sole source of faith, Justification by Faith Alone, and the universal priesthood of believers which implies the right and duty of the Christian laity not only to read the Bible in the vernacular, but also to take part in the government and all the public affairs of the Church. It is opposed to the hierarchical system, which puts the essence and authority of the Church in an exclusive priesthood, and makes ordained priests the necessary mediators between God and the people. General “families” are listed here; some of these groups do not consider themselves as part of the Protestant movement, but are generally viewed as such by the public at large:
* Methodist / Wesleyan
* Plymouth Brethren
* Restoration movement
The Lutheran denomination is the oldest Protestant denomination. It was founded (not deliberately at first) by Martin Luther, the German monk and professor who famously posted 95 Theses against the practice of indulgences in 1517. Luther saw contradictions between the Bible and current church practice as well as corruption and abuses within the (Catholic) church, and initially hoped for reform, not schism. When that proved impossible, he continued to spread his teachings despite excommunication and threats to his life. Lutherans practice infant baptism and the baptism of believing adults. In the Lutheran perspective, baptism is a sacrament that is commanded by God and “cleanses from sin, snatches us from the power of Satan, and gives us everlasting life.” Lutherans hold beliefs that are shared by many Christians: God is three persons in one: the Father, who created and sustains the world; the Son, who lived as a human being, died, and rose from the dead; and the Holy Spirit who works God’s will in the world. The Bible is God’s word, spoken through human writers. Sin exists in every person. It is the cause of the bad things people do to each other. Everyone will have existence after death-either in heaven or hell- forever. God has a plan to end the world, when he will judge everyone-both living and dead. The Missouri Synod flatly rejects millennialism and the teaching of any “secret rapture.” They believe that all believers will be caught up (raptured) on the Last Day (i.e., the end of time). This belief system is formally referred to as “Historical Amillennialism.” The synod’s focus tends to be on immediate salvation rather than on the end of times.
1536 AD.- Mennonites- Menno Simons
A group of Christian Anabaptist (do not accept that a child can be meaningfully baptized.) denominations named after Menno Simons, though his teachings were a relatively minor influence on the group. As one of the historic peace churches, Mennonites are committed to nonviolence, nonviolent resistance/reconciliation, and pacifism. The early history of the Mennonites begins with the Anabaptists in the German and Dutch-speaking parts of central Europe. The German term is “Täufer” (that is, Baptists). These forerunners of modern Mennonites were part of the broad reaction against the practices and theology of the Roman Catholic Church known as the Protestant Reformation. Its most distinguishing feature is the rejection of infant baptism, an act that had both religious and political meaning since almost every infant born in Western Europe was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. Other significant theological views of the Mennonites developed in opposition to Roman Catholic views or to the views of other Protestant reformers like Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli. Because the Anabaptists held to these positions in opposition to both the Catholic and Evangelical (or ‘protestant’) governments, which legalized religious beliefs, the Anabaptists were declared criminals and arrested, tortured and killed by all governments in Europe for the next 100 years. Even evangelical leaders such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli encouraged political leaders to arrest and kill Anabaptists. Traditionally, very modest dress was expected (apparent mostly in women’s apparel), particularly in conservative Mennonite circles, but, as the Mennonite population became urbanized and more integrated into the wider culture, this visible difference has disappeared outside of conservative Mennonite groups. While each congregation is at liberty to decide independently on its form of worship and other matters, Mennonites generally agree on certain points—baptism of believers only, the necessity of repentence and conversion for salvation, the refusal to bear arms and to take oaths, the rejection of worldly concerns, simplicity of dress and habits, and disapproval of marrying outside the faith. In celebrating the Lord’s Supper, some branches include the rite of foot washing and the kiss of charity. Other beliefs include scripture is the supreme authority over the church, God is able to do what he wants, is holy, judges the wicked but is merciful to humanity, God the Father created the universe and guides his people, Jesus is the Christ and is both God and human, The Holy Spirit is God present with his people, salvation is a gift of God’s grace, based on what Jesus did on the cross, that must be received by faith, The Lord’s Supper and baptism are sacraments of God’s people, the church must spread the gospel and establish communities around the world, the Lord Jesus will return at any time to judge the wicked and reward the righteous in him. In addition to the beliefs that Mennonites have in common with other evangelicals, Mennonites also firmly adhere to the word of Jesus above all other teaching, which leads us to the following beliefs that are not necessarily shared by other evangelicals: 1) The teaching of Jesus and the apostles takes precedence over the Law and the Prophets. Thus, Mennonites do not hold to a ‘flat’ Bible, but see the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as central, and the rest of Scripture being interpreted through the teaching of Jesus. 2) The end of all Bible study is to do what it says. We can believe in the Bible, but unless we do it, then our faith is dead. The true believer in Jesus is not just one who agrees with the word of Jesus, but who lives it out. 3) Believers of Jesus must be faithful to the teaching of Jesus, even if this brings them into conflict with the authorities placed over them by God. 4) Baptism is for believers only. Baptism may not be given to infants or family members of believers in Jesus, but only for those who are firmly committed to Jesus for their whole lives. 5) Each local congregation is qualified and responsible to decide what should be taught to it. Local congregations should also call, support and discipline their own pastors. 6) Believers of Jesus are literally to love their enemies and not to resist evildoers. This means that Christians cannot participate in the military. This separates all disciples from the world system which demands warfare and violence. 7) Believers in Jesus must share what they have with other believers who have needs. This means that believers need to live simply, in order to reserve their extra resources to share with others.
1541 AD.- Presbyterianism- John Calvin, John Knox
Presbyterianism is a family of Christian denominations within the Reformed branch of Protestant Western Christianity. Hallmarks include Calvinist theology and the presbyterian form of church governance. A form of Calvinism, Presbyterianism evolved primarily in Scotland before the Act of Union in 1707. John Knox (1505-1572), a Scot who had spent time studying under Calvin in Geneva, returned to Scotland and led the Parliament of Scotland to embrace the Reformation in 1560. In England, Presbyterianism was established in secret in 1572. Thomas Cartwright is thought to be the first Presbyterian in England. Cartwright’s controversial lectures at Cambridge University condemning the episcopal hierarchy of the Elizabethan Church led to his deprivation of his post by Archbishop John Whitgift and his emigration abroad. In 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England permitted Presbyterianism. The re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 brought the return of Episcopal church government in England (and in Scotland for a short time); but the Presbyterian church in England continued in non-conformity, outside of the established church. By the 19th century many English Presbyterian congregations had become Unitarian in doctrine. Although some modern adherents still hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, there is a wide range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism. Some Presbyterian Churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists. Calvin argued from Scripture that God has “predestined” or “elected” some people to be saved in Jesus Christ and others not to be. He insisted, nonetheless, that we could be sure only of our own salvation; we were never in a position to judge whether or not another person was saved.
1639 AD.-Baptists- Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke
The name is derived from a conviction that followers of Jesus Christ are commanded to be baptised (by being immersed in water) as a public display of their faith, and thus most adherents reject infant baptism. While the term “Baptist” has its origins with the Anabaptists, and was sometimes viewed as pejorative, the denomination itself is historically linked to the English Dissenter or Separatist or Nonconformism movements of the 16th century. Baptists are typically considered Protestants. Some Baptists reject that association. Most Baptist churches choose to associate with denominational groups that provide support without control. The largest Baptist association is the Southern Baptist Convention but there are many other baptist associations. Some Baptists object to the application of the labels Protestant, denomination, Evangelical and even Baptist to themselves or their churches, while others accept those labels. Due to their rejection of their congregationalist roots, many traditional Baptists (sometimes referred to as Northern Baptists) do not consider the Southern Baptist congregation (a quasi-episcopal organization) to be Baptists at all. Most Baptist churches do not have an age restriction on membership, but will not accept as a member a child who is considered too young to fully understand and make a profession of faith of their own volition and comprehension. In such cases, the pastor and parents usually meet together with the child to verify the child’s comprehension of the decision to follow Jesus. There are instances where persons make a profession of faith but fail to follow through with believers’ baptism. In such cases they are considered saved but not church members until baptized. Although most churches require you to be baptized to become a member of the church or, alternatively, to transfer membership from a church of like faith, they believe that being baptized will not save you, it is only the outward showing of the washing away of the consequences of the sin nature through the acceptance of the sacrificial death and shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. Baptists share orthodox Christian beliefs with most other moderate or conservative Christian denominations. These would include beliefs about one God; the virgin birth; miracles; atonement through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus; the Trinity (the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, together with God the Father); the need for salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, his death and resurrection, and confession of Christ as Lord); grace; the Kingdom of God; last things (Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth, the dead will be raised, and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness); and evangelism and missions. Baptists generally believe in the literal Second Coming of Christ at which time God will sit in judgment and divide humanity between the saved and the lost (the Great White Throne judgment) and Christ will sit in judgment of the believers (the Judgment Seat of Christ), rewarding them for things done while alive, knowing that works will not get someone to Heaven. Beliefs among Baptists regarding the “end times” include amillennialism, dispensationalism, and historic premillennialism, with views such as postmillennialism and preterism receiving some support.
1650 AD.- Quakers- George Fox
The Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, began a Nonconformist movement separate from other such movements, from Anglicanism and from Roman Catholicism. Some would say that it was not precisely a “break” from any of these, but was organized outside of them. It is difficult to write a description of Friends beliefs that would be acceptable to all the Quakers in the world today. Quakers all share common roots in a Christian movement that arose in England in the middle of the 17th Century. Today, it is generally true that Friends still adhere to certain essential principles: a belief in the possibility of direct, unmediated communion with the Divine (historically expressed by George Fox in the statement, “Christ is come to teach his people himself”); and a commitment to living lives that outwardly attest to this inward experience. Nonetheless, modern Friends exhibit significant variations in the ways we interpret our traditions and practice our beliefs. Nowhere are these differences more marked than in the United States which contains four distinct branches of Friends. In worship, some Friends still practice unprogrammed “silent” meetings with no formal minister or liturgy, while other Quakers now have programmed services led by a pastor, similar to many Protestant denominations. In belief, some Friends place most emphasis on the teachings of Christian Scripture, while others give greater emphasis to the importance of the Inward Teacher (“that of God in everyone”), allowing for a wide range of religious perspectives.
1693 AD.- Amish- Jacob Amman
The Amish started as a reform group within the Mennonite movement — an attempt to restore some of the early practices of the Mennonites. The beliefs and practices of the Amish were based on the writings of the founder of the Mennonite faith and on the 1632 Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith. The Amish who split from Mennonites generally lived in Switzerland and in the southern Rhine river region. During the late 17th century, they separated because of what they perceived as a lack of discipline among the Mennonites. The faith group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century European rural culture. They try to avoid many of the features of modern society, by developing practices and behaviors which isolate themselves from American culture. Almost all members are born into and raised in the faith. Converts from outside of the Amish communities are rare. Some Amish groups have a very restricted gene pool and are experiencing several inherited disorders. The Amish are a very conservative Christian faith group, with an Anabaptist tradition. Most of their beliefs are the same as Mennonites and many of their beliefs are identical to those of Fundamentalist and other Evangelical churches, including: Belief in the Trinity, the virgin birth, incarnation, sinless life, crucifixion, resurrection ascension, and atonement of Jesus Christ. One lives on after death, either eternal rewarded in Heaven or punished in Hell. The Bible’s authors were inspired by God. Their writings are inerrant. The Bible is generally to be interpreted literally. Satan exists as a living entity. The Old Order Amish do not have church buildings, but hold worship services in private homes. Thus they are sometimes called “House Amish.” This practice is based on a verse from the New Testament: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands…” (Acts 17:24). In addition, the early Anabaptists, from whom the Amish are descended, were religiously persecuted, and it was safer to pray in the privacy of a home. Members who break church rules may be called to confess before the congregation. Those who will not correct their behavior are excommunicated. Excommunicated members are shunned in order to shame the individual into returning to the church. Members may interact and even help a shunned person, but may not accept anything — like a handshake, payment or automobile ride — directly from the wayward person. Some communities have split in the last century over how they apply the practice of shunning, as in the case of Swartzendruber Amish. This form of discipline is recommended by the bishop after a long process of working with the individual and must be unanimously approved by the congregation. Excommunicated members will be accepted back into the church if they return and confess their wrongdoing.
1784 AD.- Shakers – Mother Ann Lee
The Shakers developed from the religious group called the Quakers which developed in the 17th century. Both groups believed that everybody could find God within him or herself, rather than through clergy or rituals, but the Shakers tended to be more emotional and demonstrative in their worship. Shakers also believed that their lives should be dedicated to pursuing perfection and continuously confessing their sins and attempting to stop sinning. The name “Shakers,” originally pejorative, was derived from the term “Shaking Quakers” and was applied as a mocking description of their rituals of trembling, shouting, dancing, shaking, singing, and glossolalia (speaking in strange and unknown languages). In 1774 Ann Lee pulled together nine of her followers from an English sect known as the Wardleys, founded by Jane and James Wardley, which she joined in 1758. Membership in the Shakers dwindled in the late 1800s for several reasons. People were attracted to cities and away from the farms. Shaker products could not compete with mass-produced products that became available at a much lower cost. Shakers could not have children, and although they did adopt up until the states gained control of adoption homes, this was not a major source of new members. Although there were six thousand believers at the peak of the Shaker movement, there were only twelve Shakers left by 1920. In the United States there is one remaining active Shaker community, at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, which as of 2008 has four members. The Sabbathday Lake community still accepts new recruits, as it has since its founding. Shakers are no longer allowed to adopt orphan children after new laws were passed in 1960 denying control of adoption to religious groups, but adults who wish to embrace Shaker life are welcome. This community, founded in 1783, was one of the smaller and more isolated Shaker communities during the sect’s heyday. They farm and practice a variety of handicrafts; a Shaker Museum, and Sunday services are open to visitors.
1830 AD.- Mormonism – Joseph Smith
Mormonism is a term used to describe the religious, ideological and cultural elements of certain branches of the Latter Day Saint movement, and specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Mormonism has been closely associated in public discourse with polygamy. In the 1830s, Joseph Smith, Jr. instituted a form of polygamy in which one man would have several wives (but not the reverse), referred to as plural marriage, which Brigham Young promoted after the LDS church’s move to the Utah Territory. According to his own statements, Joseph Smith, Jr. was more than a little uneasy at facing the institution of plural marriage, and said that he did so only after being warned through subsequent divine revelation that he should begin the practice or “be destroyed”; however, not all members practiced polygamy.The Articles of Faith are as follows:
1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon this, the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
1840-45 AD.-Millerites 2nd day Adventists –William Miller then became 7th Day Adventists
The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843. Despite the urging of his supporters, Miller never personally set an exact date for the expected Second Advent. However, in response to their urgings he did narrow the time-period to sometime in the Jewish year 1843, stating: “My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844”. March 21, 1844 passed without incident, and the majority of Millerites maintained their faith. On March 25, Miller wrote to Himes, “I am still looking for the Dear Savior…. The time, as I have calculated it, is now filled up; and I expect every moment to see the Savior descend from heaven. I have now nothing to look for but this glorious hope.” As George R. Knight states, the movement’s survival was a result of the fact that, “the Millerite leaders had been ‘soft’ on the time…. They allowed for the possibility of small errors in their calculations and even in some of their historic dates.” In fact, on February 28, Miller himself had written, “If Christ comes, as we expect, we will sing the song of victory soon; if not, we will watch, and pray, and preach until he comes, for soon our time, and all prophetic days, will have been filled.” Many other dates were set for the Coming of Christ, however, those days also came and went. Both Millerite leaders and followers were left generally bewildered and disillusioned. Responses varied: some Millerites continued to look daily for Christ’s return, others predicted different dates—among them April, July, and October 1845. Some theorized that the world had entered the seventh millennium—the “Great Sabbath,” and that therefore, the saved should not work. Others acted as children, basing their belief on Jesus’ words in Mark 10:15, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” O. J. D. Pickands used Revelation 14:14-16 to teach that Christ was now sitting on a white cloud, and must be prayed down. Probably the majority however, simply gave up their beliefs and attempted to rebuild their lives. Some members rejoined their previous denominations while a substantial number joined the Shakers.
1863 AD.- 7th Day Adventists-
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Christian denomination which is distinguished mainly by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church today. Her many visions and strong leadership convinced her fellow Adventists that she possessed the gift of prophecy. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several “Adventist”. In order to keep the Sabbath holy, Adventists abstain from secular work and other non-essential business on Saturday. They will also usually refrain from purely secular forms of recreation, such as competitive sport and watching non-religious programs on television. However, nature walks, family-oriented activities, charitable work and other activities that are compassionate in nature are considered acceptable. Much of Friday might be spent in preparation for the Sabbath; for example, preparing meals and tidying homes. Some Adventists gather for Friday evening worship to welcome in the Sabbath, a practice often known as Vespers. Saturday afternoon activities vary widely depending on the cultural, ethnic and social background. In some churches, members and visitors will participate in a fellowship (or “potluck”) lunch.
1870 AD.-Jehovah’s Witnesses- Charles Taze Russell
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a restorationist, millenialist, Christian denomination. The religion emerged from the Bible Student Movement, founded in the late 19th century by Charles Taze Russell—raised a Presbyterian and heavily influenced by Adventist teachings—, and today claims an active worldwide membership of 7.6 million. The movement was originally known as the International Bible Students Association, but its name was changed by Russell’s successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford. Those members are most well-known for their door-to-door preaching ministry, their refusal to fight in war and their refusal to take blood transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was the only one created by Jehovah alone, his only begotten son. Then Jehovah created everything else in the universe by means of Jesus. While on earth as a human, Jesus performed miracles, but he does not perform them now. Jesus’ death served as a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind. They do not venerate the cross but believe the instrument of Christ’s death, was a torture stake. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus and the Archangel Michael are the same being. Weddings, anniversaries, and funerals are typically observed. Religious holidays such as New Year’s Day, Halloween, Easter, and Christmas are not celebrated, for they regard these as pagan (non-Christian) in origin and have published information regarding the origins of these and others. They also refrain from most celebrations that focus on individuals, such as birthdays. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their allegiance belongs to God’s Kingdom, which is viewed as an actual government. Thus they refrain from saluting the flag of any country or singing nationalistic songs. They believe that these acts are tantamount to worship. The political neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses is also expressed by their refusal to participate in military service – even when it is compulsory – and by their detachment from secular politics. Voting in political elections is considered compromising their Christian neutrality. However, they believe that they owe the secular authorities their obedience. Members are expected to obey all laws of their native governments, so long as these do not violate God’s law. They are instructed to pay all taxes of the country in which they reside, considering the government to be solely responsible for how they are used. Like other Adventist groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize the apocalyptic sections of the Bible, particularly the books of Daniel and Revelations. They worship Jehovah (the term comes from the name for God in the Jewish Bible) and believe in universal atonement through the crucifiction; in an Arian Christology—the nontrinitarian belief that Christ was an archangel who chose to become a human; and in the imminence of the millennium. In that golden age, they believe, 144,000 elected will share in Christ’s rule as citizens of a messianic kingdom based in Jerusalem. According to Russell, the movement had reached 144,000 converts by 1881 (although, because of apostasy [abandoning one’s faith], no one could know the absolute number of spiritually baptized saints). The numerical limit of saved converts has necessitated a unique doctrine in which there are two “classes” of Witnesses: the 144,000 elected, and others who may escape destruction and achieve limited rewards provided they join the Witnesses during their lifetimes. Today, this tightly organized movement engages in widespread evangelism. Their principal activities include Bible study, door-to-door witnessing, and the publication and sale of religious literature. In the United States, Jehovah’s Witnesses have attracted legal controversy due to their claim of exemption from military service, which is based on their commitment to fight in no battle except Armageddon; their proselytizing activities; their rejection of blood transfusions; and their refusal to pledge allegiance to the American flag (Witnesses pledge obedience to Jehovah alone). Popular animosity notwithstanding, the courts have consistently affirmed their right to dissent.
1906 AD. -The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World
Pentecostalism is a fundamentalist religious movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on the direct personal experience of God through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as shown in the Biblical account of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Pentecostals believe that in order to receive salvation and enter Heaven one must accept the teachings of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. This includes the “New Birth” or “Regeneration” and is the fundamental requirement of Pentecostalism. Most Pentecostals also believe that salvation is a gift received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and cannot be earned through good deeds alone (e.g. penance). Both Classical and Finished Work Pentecostals believe that every person who is “born again”, according to the Scriptures, is in the Kingdom of God and are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Likewise, Pentecostals typically believe that the Bible has definitive authority in matters of faith, adopting a more literal approach in its interpretation. Some Oneness Pentecostal Apostolic believers believe that the only way to be saved is through the baptism in Jesus Name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues, sanctification and baptism in the Holy Spirit. One feature of Pentecostalism is a total reliance on God, a trust in Jesus and the Holy Spirit and not in an organisation or church.
1955 AD.- Scientology- L. Ron Hubbard
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices initially created by American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. The major organization promoting Scientology is the Church of Scientology, a hierarchical organization founded by Hubbard, while independent groups using Hubbard’s materials are collectively referred to as the Free Zone. Hubbard developed Scientology teachings in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. Hubbard later characterized Scientology as an “applied religious philosophy” and the basis for a new religion. Scientology encompasses “auditing”, a spiritual rehabilitation philosophy and techniques, and covers topics such as morals, ethics, detoxification, education and management. Former members, journalists, courts and the governing bodies of several countries have described the Church of Scientology as a cult and an unscrupulous commercial enterprise, accusing it of harassing its critics and abusing the trust of its members. Scientology officials argue that most of the negative press is motivated by interest groups and that most of the controversy is in the past. Scientology’s beliefs and related techniques comprise 18 basic books, and 3,000 recorded lectures. There is no single Scientology book that is the equivalent of the Bible or the Qur’an, but the study of Scientology is achieved through the chronological study of its basic books and lectures. The Church of Scientology declares that the goal of Scientology is to achieve “certainty of one’s spiritual existence and [of] one’s relationship to the Supreme Being,” and says that Scientology’s tenets are not a matter of faith but of testable practice: “That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true.” Other beliefs of Scientology are: A person is an immortal spiritual being (termed a thetan) who possesses a mind and a body. The thetan has lived through many past lives and will continue to live beyond the death of the body. Through the Scientology process of “auditing,” people can free themselves of traumatic incidents, ethical transgressions and bad decisions which are said to collectively restrict the person from reaching the state of “Clear” and “Operating Thetan.” Each state is said to represent the recovery of native spiritual abilities and to confer mental and physical benefits. According to Hubbard, some past traumas may have been deliberately inflicted in the form of “implants” used by extraterrestrial dictatorships such as Helatrobus (an “interplanetary nation”, now extinct, which existed trillions of years ago) to brainwash and control the population. Hubbard’s lectures and writings include a wide variety of accounts of complex extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in earthly events, collectively described by Hubbard as “space opera.” There is a huge Church of Spiritual Technology symbol carved into the ground at Scientology’s Trementina Base that is visible from the air. Washington Post reporter Richard Leiby wrote, “Former Scientologists familiar with Hubbard’s teachings on reincarnation say the symbol marks a ‘return point’ so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder’s works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe.” Scientology states that it is fully compatible with all existing major world religions and that it does not conflict with those religions or their religious practices. However, due to major differences in the beliefs and practices between Scientology and especially the major monotheistic religions a simultaneous membership in Scientology is seen as not compatible with the major world religions. For its part, Scientology only allows a passive formal membership in a second religion. Parishioners are not allowed to engage in other religious activities or ceremonies. Additionally, the highest level yet-revealed Scientology scriptures portray religious figures such as Jesus as fictitious implants. Hubbard also writes: “…People get to such a level of identification with Christ that they will run the Crucifixion complete with somatics and, indeed, there are several instances in history where on the holiday of the Crucifixion, persons spontaneously bleed from the ‘thorns’.” “Scientology can demonstrate that it can attain the goals set for man by Christ, which are: wisdom, good health and immortality.” Higher Level Scientologist learn that “75 million years ago, there was an alien galactic ruler named Xenu who was in charge of 76 planets in our part of the galaxy, including our own planet Earth, whose name at that time was Teegeeack. All the planets were over populated so, he sent out for them to be destroyed. Xenu’s entire fleet of DC8-like spaceships then flew to planet Earth, where the frozen people were dumped in and around volcanoes in the Canary Islands and the Hawaiian Islands. When Xenu’s Air Force had finished dumping the bodies into the volcanoes, hydrogen bombs were dropped into the volcanoes and the frozen space aliens were destroyed. However, Xenu’s plan involved setting up electronic traps in Teegeack’s atmosphere which were designed to trap the souls or spirits of the dead space aliens. When the 1.4 trillion spirits were being blown around on the nuclear winds, the electronic traps worked like a charm and captured all the souls in the electronic, sticky fly-paper like traps. The spirits of the aliens were then taken to huge multi-plex cinemas that Xenu had previously instructed his forces to build on Teegeack. In these movie theatres the spirits had to spend many days watching special 3D movies, the purpose of which was twofold: 1) to implant into these spirits a false reality, i.e. the reality that WOGS know on Earth today; and, 2) to control these spirits for all eternity so that they could never cause trouble for Xenu in this sector of the Galaxy. During these films, many false pictures were implanted into these spirits, which resulted in the spirits believing in all the things that control mankind on Earth today, including religion. The concept of religion, including God, Christ, Mohammed, Moses etc., were all an implanted false reality that to this very minute is used to control WOGS on earth. As for Xenu, the Loyal Officers of the Marcab Confederation finally discovered how evil he was and overthrew him. He is now locked away in a mountain on one of the planets and kept in by a force-field powered by an eternal battery. Several of Xenu’s relatives can often be found on ARS.” A comment from a former member, “I know people who have sat in a room at the Sandcastle building in Clearwater, Florida for 5-7 hours per day, holding two asparagus cans together, attached to a lie detector, talking all day to these dead space aliens. And guess what? You’ll never ever finish talking to dead space aliens until you leave Scientology.”
1966 AD.- Church of Satan –Anton LaVey
In the 1950s Anton LaVey formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later evolved into the governing body of the Church of Satan. The Church of Satan was established in San Francisco, California, on Walpurgis night April 30, 1966, by Anton Szandor LaVey, who was the Church’s High Priest until his death in 1997. After Anton Szandor LaVey’s death, his position as head of the Church of Satan passed on to his common law wife, Blanche Barton. Barton remains involved in the Church; however, in 2001 she ceded her position to long-time members Peter H. Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia, the current High Priest and High Priestess and publishers of The Black Flame, the official magazine of The Church of Satan. The Church of Satan does not recognize any other organizations as holding legitimate claim to Satanism and its practice, though it does recognize that one need not be a member of the Church of Satan to be a Satanist. The Church of Satan has two types of members: Registered Members and Active Members. Registered Members are simply people who have been inducted as members of the Church, and there are no requirements to achieve this position. To be deemed an Active Member, a person has to be involved with the Church and local members. Active Membership is divided into five Degrees: Active Members begin at the First Degree. One must apply and be approved for an Active Membership, and this is subject to one’s answers to a lengthy series of questions. One cannot apply for higher Degrees, and the requirements for each degree are not open to the public. Promotion to a higher degree is by invitation only. Members of the Third through Fifth degrees constitute the Priesthood and may be addressed as “Reverend.” Members of the Fifth degree may also be known as “Doctor,” although “The Doctor” usually refers to LaVey. Individuals seeking membership must be legally defined as adults in their nation of residence. The only exception made is for children of members who demonstrate an understanding of the Church philosophy and practices who wish to join. Their participation is limited until they reach legal adulthood. The Church of Satan does not solicit membership. Those who wish to affiliate can become a Registered Member for a one-time registration fee of two hundred dollars ($200) in United States currency. Affiliates receive a red card declaring them as a member of the Church of Satan to other members. The Nine Satanic Statements outline what “Satan” represents in the Church of Satan. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence, vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams, undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit, kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates, vengeance instead of turning the other cheek, responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires, man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all, all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification, Satan is the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years. The Nine Satanic Sins: Stupidity, Pretentiousness, Solipsism, Self-deceit, Herd Conformity, Lack of Perspective, Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies, Counterproductive Pride, Lack of Aesthetics. The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth: Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked, Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them, When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there, If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy, Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal, Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved, Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained, Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself, Do not harm little children, Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food, When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him. “Satanism begins with atheism. We begin with the universe and say, ‘It’s indifferent. There’s no God, there’s no Devil. No one cares!’ ” —High Priest Peter H. Gilmore. Regarding Christian conversion, “Who wants them?” Let’s pretend for a moment that you were actually able to convince this Christian halfwit that Satanism is the way to go—what then? I’ll tell you what. Before long the misguided fool will be looking, for a cat, goat, or baby to sacrifice to Satan—his “personal savior” who has now replaced Jesus. Why? Because he won’t accept our definition of Satanism; he’ll look to what his former Christian brethren define as Satanism. These people can’t understand Satanism, are plainly unsuited to a Satanic philosophy of life, and introducing them to one isn’t going to make things better for anybody. There are few things worse than a Christian who decides to devote himself to “sin and wickedness.” They will become pointlessly destructive and will wind up making a horrible mess of everything with which they come in contact. You think that they are a nuisance as Christians? Try and “convert” them all to “Satanism,” then you’ll find out what a**holes they can be when they really try. As Christians, they are usually feeble and ineffectual enough. It’s best to let sleeping lambs lie, but persistently annoying lambs can make good “lamb chops.”—Magister Michael Rose of the Church of Satan.
*Not restricted to or associated with a religious denomination.
*Not restricted to a particular religious denomination; “a nondenominational church”
*A non-denominational church (usually Christian) is a religious organization which does not necessarily align its mission and teachings to an established denomination. It is also often done to allow the church to govern themselves without interference from the policies of a regional, national or multinational organization, in regards to budgets, memberships, policies, formal standards, and public image.
*Of or involving different religious denominations
*Occurring between, involving, or common to different religious denominations.
*Interchurch: occurring between or among or common to different churches or denominations; “interchurch aid”; “Interdenominational cooperation between Methodists and Presbyterians”
*Interdenominational Churches built for the purpose of bringing together Christians of different denominations are often referred to as united and uniting churches. This sometimes leads to doctrinal and stylistic compromises, leading to the idea that there are “primary” and “secondary” issues in faith. Primary issues describe those about which there can be no disagreement, whereas secondary issue can be compromised upon. Christian faith-based organisations which act independent of church oversight are called interdenominational or parachurch organisations (para, is Greek for beside, or alongside). They are typically Protestant or evangelical.
What happened to no divisions among us as Paul said? Man tries hard to be the dominate being in every manner. Every group has their own beliefs and teachings but the bible has only one meaning and no matter how hard man wants to change it, it’s not going to happen.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.~ 2 Peter 1:20
If we were one with God as Paul and Peter were, we would not be divided and we would all have the wisdom to understand the truth. Instead, we put our faith and trust in man who wants to be in control. Religions are an escape route to help you justify your beliefs. It allows you to believe whatever you want in order to avoid the things you don’t want to be true. Religion is the easy way out. Go to church, again putting faith and trust in man for the truth, and never look it up yourself. “The preacher said it, so it is so.” What if he was taught wrong? What if the ones who taught him were taught wrong?
Matthew 15:12-14 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Religions are falling away from the truth and taking their congregations with them. Churches selling their sermons on cd inside the church. Evangelist selling their preachings on dvd, cd, and books. Fathers, pastors, preachers, and Bishops, what have you, that molest children. Churches that judge and remove congregation members because of something they did or didn’t do. Churches teaching what they believe or want to believe is truth rather than what the bible actually says is truth.
1 Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Matthew 9:10-12 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Jeremiah 8:8 How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
Revelations 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
This question was asked on raptureready.com:
“Whenever I look at all the groups that teach false doctrine and are highly focused on end-time events, I cannot find any that support the rapture theory. Some organizations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, teach a false gospel and are heavily into Bible prophecy. Why, then, don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a false doctrine that would be right up their alley? Could it be that the demonic forces that influence these groups know something that Christians opposed to the rapture don’t know? The list of prophetically minded cults that reject the idea of a rapture goes on and on. Here are some more: the Mormons, the Worldwide Church of God and the Moonies, as well as leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh.”
It’s a good question. I have often wondered why so many religions teach what they do. Such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses believing that only 144,000 will enter the kingdom of heaven when the bible clearly states many more. Simple truth, they twist the bible around for their own gain, whether for status or monetary. And yes, it is demonic forces that influence them. Satan is causing God’s sheep to stray and what better way than through world religions. He started this centuries ago and generation after generation continue to teach and believe it.
Be wary of man’s religion. Trust only in God.