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Rachel Benjamin student no:47327170 Assignment 2 Christianity: Discuss the main branches of Christianity that exists today. In your survey you should attend to the origins, founders and main charachterists of these divisions and subdivisions within Christianity. Before we look at the different branches of Christianity that exist today it would be important to explain where it has originated from. At the most basic level, a “Christian” is anyone who professes that Jesus of Nazareth is the “Christ” (the "Messiah," the "anointed one" of God). Christ” is a title derived from the Greek word Christos (lit. “anointed one”), which in turn comes from the verb chrio (“to anoint; to smear or pour oil over someone”). It has exactly the same meaning as “Messiah,” which is derived from the Hebrew Mashiah . According to Acts 11:26, the first time those who believed in Jesus were called “Christians” was in Antioch, a Greek-speaking city of ancient Syria about the year 35 or 40 CE. Before that time, in the Aramaic-speaking environment of Judea, the followers of Jesus may have been called Nazarenes, or Messianists, or Followers of the Way, or by some other designation. About a quarter to a third of the world's population are Christians. Christianity is the world's largest religion. Though not by all Christian denominations most Christians branches belief in the following creeds or statement of religions which have shaped or divided them from one another: 1. The Apostles' Creed was developed between the 2nd and 9th centuries. It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. It was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. This statement of faith remains largely acceptable to most Christian denominations: 2. The Nicene Creed, largely a response to Arianism, was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 respectively and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431. 3. The Chalcedonian Creed, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches,[ taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, in confusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably": one divine and one human, and that both natures are perfect but are nevertheless perfectly united into one person. 4. The Athanasian Creed, received in the western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance." According to the text book the human search for meaning modern day Christianity is marked by three trends: 1. “A multiplication of churches after the first split from the Catholic Church, as churches continued to split from the Protestant churches 2. Expansions far outside the confines of Europe 3. An increase movement towards closer understanding and cooperation between various churches in the 20th century.” According to the census of 1991 the major Christian denominations in South is represented as follows: Denominations Percentage African Initiated Churches 33 Reformed family 18 Catholics 11 Methodists 9 Anglicans 6 Lutherans 4 Main Branches of Christianity: Many organizational schemes divide Christians into several main “branches” (each of which can be further subdivided, of course). Yet how many “main” branches are there? Who gets grouped together? Where do smaller groups belong? And does arranging the divisions in certain ways reflect any bias? Three (or Four) Main Branches: Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant (and Anglican, "Anglo- Catholic"; half-way between Catholic & Protestant) o Some schemes suggest five, six, or more "main" branches, possibly including: Nestorian, Monophysite, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Restorationist, Independent, Marginal, etc.? Subdivisions of the Main Branches (here in overview; see the next section for more details): o Eastern Christians are mostly "Eastern Orthodox," but some are Nestorians ("Church of the East") or Monophysites ("Oriental Orthodox"). The divisions among these Eastern Churches go back almost 1500 years, stemming from disagreements in the fifth century CE. Long after the East/West divisions of 1054, some Eastern Churches reunited with the Roman Catholic Church (thus called "Uniate" Churches). o Protestant Christians are subdivided into thousands of different denominations, as well as "independent" or "non-denominational" groups. The historically earliest were founded in the 16th century by Martin Luther ("Lutherans") and by John Calvin ("Reformed" or "Calvinist" Christians). The Anglicans, or "Church of England," separated from the Roman Catholic Church for political, not theological reasons; thus, "Anglo-Catholic" beliefs and practices are similar to Roman Catholics, but Anglicans don't acknowledge the leadership role of the Bishop of Rome (the "Pope"). The three primary divisions of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox church, and Protestantism. There are other Christian groups that do not fit neatly into one of these primary categories. Let us look at the main branches of Christianity and the difference among them: The Main Branches of Christianity: An Overview of Some Contrasts and Differences Branch: Orthodox Catholic Protestant Meaning/Origin of “right teaching; “universal; general; whole” “protesting” against Name correct opinion” Catholicism Geographical Origins Eastern Roman Western Roman Empire, Central Europe, Empire, esp. Rome esp. Germany & Switzerland esp. Constantinople Principal Languages Greek, Russian, etc. Latin, European, etc. German, Dutch, English, etc. Concentrations Today Eastern Europe S. America & W. Europe N. Europe & N. America Number of Members ca. 250 Million over 1 Billion ca. 400-500 Million Top Leaders Patriarchs (esp. Pope (Bishop of Rome); varies greatly by Constantinople & Cardinals, Archbishops, denomination: Moscow); Bishops Bishops? Presidents? None? Autocephalous Bishops Local Leaders Priests, Deacons, Priests, Deacons, Lay Pastors, Ministers, Deacons, Monks Ministers Elders, etc. Titles for Worship Divine Liturgy Holy Eucharist, Mass Sunday Worship, Communion Service # Books in Bible 53-56 OT + 27 NT 46 OT + 27 NT 39 OT + 27 NT Artistic Focus Painted Icons, lots of Statues, Paintings, Stained Little art; often plainer church gold Glass decors Distinctive Emphases Maintain Ancient Papal Authority; Seven Participatory Music; Biblical Customs & Languages Sacraments Preaching Sacraments of Initiation Baptism, Chrismation, Infant Baptism, Child First Infant Baptism in some Communion Communion, denominations; all three together, Teen Confirmation; all at Adult Baptism more common usually for infants once for Adults Roman Catholic Church Roman Catholic Beliefs The basic religious beliefs of Roman Catholics are those shared by other Christians as derived from the New Testament and formulated in the ancient Creeds of the early ecumenical councils, such as Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381). The central belief is that God entered the world through the Incarnation of his Son, the Christ or Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The founding of the church is traced to the life and teachings of Jesus, whose death is followed by resurrection from the dead after which he sends the Holy Spirit to assist believers. This triple mission within the Godhead is described doctrinally as the divine Trinity, God one in nature but consisting in three divine persons. Roman Catholics attach special significance to the rites of Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism is sacramental entry into Christian life, and the Eucharist is a memorial of Christ's death and resurrection in which he is believed to be sacramentally present. The Eucharist is celebrated daily in the Roman Catholic church. Catholic ethical doctrines are based ultimately on the New Testament teachings but also on the conclusions reached by the church, especially by the popes and other teachers. The Roman Catholic church's prohibition of remarriage after divorce is the strictest of the Christian churches, although the church does admit the possibility of annulments for marriages judged to be invalid. The Worship of the Church The public worship of the Roman Catholic church is its liturgy, principally the Eucharist, which is also called the Mass. After the recitation of prayers and readings from the Bible, the presiding priest invites the faithful to receive communion, understood as sharing in the sacramental presence of Christ. At the Sunday liturgy the priest preaches a sermon or homily, applying the day's biblical texts to the present lives of believers. The church observes a liturgical calendar similar to that of other Christians, following a cycle of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. It also follows a distinctive cycle of commemoration of the saints. The worship of the church is expressed as well in rites of baptism, confirmation, weddings, ordinations, penitential rites, burial rites or funerals, and the singing of the Divine Office. A distinguishing mark of Catholic worship is prayer for the dead. The Roman Catholic church also fosters devotional practices, both public and private, including Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (a ceremony of homage to Christ in the Eucharist), the Rosary, novenas (nine days of prayer for some special intention), pilgrimages to shrines, and veneration of saints' relics or statues. The devotional importance attached to the Saints (especially the Virgin Mary) distinguishes Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy from the churches of the Reformation. In the last two centuries the Roman Catholic church has taught as official doctrine that Mary from her conception was kept free of original sin (the Immaculate Conception) and that at the completion of her life was taken up body and soul into heaven (the Assumption). Catholics are also encouraged to practice private prayer through meditation, contemplation, or spiritual reading. Such prayer is sometimes done in a retreat house with the assistance of a director. The Organization of the Church The Roman Catholic Church is structured locally into neighborhood parishes and regional dioceses administered by bishops. In recent times national episcopal conferences of bishops have assumed some importance. Catholic Church policy is characterized, however, by a centralized government under the pope, who is regarded as the successor to the apostle Peter, entrusted with a ministry of unity and encouragement. The First Vatican Council (1869 - 70) further enhanced the role of the papacy by declaring that the church's Infallibility (or inability to err on central issues of the Christian faith) can be exercised personally by the pope in extraordinary circumstances. This teaching of the pope's primacy and infallibility is a major stumbling block to the unification of the Christian churches. The pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals (about 130). He is assisted in the governance of the church by the bishops, especially through the World Synod of Bishops that meets every three years. More immediately in the Vatican City, the papal city - state within Rome, the pope is aided by the cardinals and a bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia. The Vatican is represented in many countries by a papal nuncio or apostolic delegate and at the United Nations by a permanent observer. By tradition the all - male ordained clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons) are distinguished from the laity, who assist in the ministry of the church. In the Western (Latin) rite of the Catholic church, bishops and priests are ordinarily celibate. In many of the Eastern Rite churches, priests are allowed to marry. Some Catholics live together in Religious Orders, serving the church and the world under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Members of these orders of congregations include sisters (or Nuns), brothers, and priests. Priests who belong to religious orders are sometimes called regular clergy, because they live according to a rule (Latin regula). Most priests, however, are ordained for ministry in a diocese under a bishop and are called diocesan or secular priests. Church discipline is regulated by a code of Canon Law. A revised code for the Latin rite went into effect in 1983. A code for the Eastern Rite churches is in preparation. Catholic Christians are mostly "Roman Catholic"; yet some groups still call themselves "Catholic," but are no longer united with Rome. The "Old Catholic Church" broke away in 1870, disagreeing with the decrees from the First Vatican Council about "papal infallibility." Various groups of "Traditionalist Catholics" or "Tridentine Catholics" broke after 1965, disagreeing with reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Other groups of "Progressive Catholics" broke since 1965, thinking the reforms instituted by Vatican II did not go far enough. The Catholic Church comprises that are headed by bishops, in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, as its highest authority in matters of faith, morality and Church governance. The Roman Catholic Church through Apostolic succession traces its origins to the Christian community founded by Jesus Christ. Catholics maintain that the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" founded by Jesus subsists fully in the Roman Catholic Church, The church acknowledges other Christian churches and communities and works towards reconciliation among all Christians. The Catholic faith is detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Orthodox The word Orthodox literally means right teaching or right worship, being derived from two Greek words: orthos (right) and doxa (teaching or worship). As the false teachings and divisions multiplied in early Christian times, threatening to obscure the identity and purity of the Church, the term Orthodox quite logically came to be applied to it. The Orthodox Church carefully guards the truth against all error and schism, both to protect its flock and to glorify Christ whose body the Church is. The churches founded by the Apostles themselves include the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Rome. The Church of Constantinople was founded by St. Andrew, the Church of Alexandria by St. Mark, the Church of Antioch by St. Paul, the Church of Jerusalem by Sts. Peter and James, and the Church of Rome by Sts. Peter and Paul. Those founded in later years through the missionary activity of the first churches were the Churches of Sinai, Russia, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and many others. Each of these churches is independent in administration, but, with the exception of the Church of Rome, which finally separated from the others in the year 1054, all are united in faith, doctrine, Apostolic tradition, sacraments, liturgies, and services. Together they constitute and call themselves the Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodoxy comprises those churches in communion with the Patriarchal Sees of the East, such as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church also traces its heritage to the foundation of Christianity through Apostolic succession. It has an episcopal structure, though the autonomy of the individual, mostly national churches is emphasized. A number of conflicts with Western Christianity over questions of doctrine and authority culminated in the Great Schism. Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest single denomination in Christianity, with over 200 million adherents. The Oriental Orthodox Churches (also called Old Oriental Churches) are those eastern churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils—Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus—but reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon and instead espouse a Miaphysite christology. The Oriental Orthodox communion comprises six groups namely: 1. Syriac Orthodox, 2. Coptic Orthodox, 3. Ethiopian Orthodox, 4. Eritrean Orthodox, 5. Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) 6. Armenian Apostolic churches. Protestant In the 16th century, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin inaugurated what has come to be called Protestantism. Luther's primary theological heirs are known as Lutherans. And Zwingli and Calvin's heirs are , and are referred to as the Reformed Tradition. Most Protestant traditions branch out from the Reformed tradition. In addition to the Lutheran and Reformed branches of the Reformation, there is Anglicanism after the English Reformation. The Anabaptist tradition was largely ostracized by the other Protestant parties , but has achieved a measure of affirmation in recent history. Some but not all Baptists prefer not to be called Protestants, claiming a direct ancestral line going back to the apostles in the 1st century. The oldest Protestant groups separated from the Catholic Church in the 16th century Protestant Reformation, followed in many cases by further divisions. For example, the Methodist Church grew out of Anglican minister John Wesley's evangelical and revival movement in the Anglican Church. Several Pentecostal and non-denominational Churches, which emphasize the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, in turn grew out of the Methodist Church. Because Methodists, Pentecostals, and other evangelicals stress "accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior", which comes from John Wesley's emphasis of the New Birth, they often refer to themselves as being born-again. Special groupings are the Anglican churches descended from the Church of England and organised in the Anglican Communion. Some Anglican churches consider themselves both Protestant and Catholic. Some Anglicans consider their church a branch of the "One Holy Catholic Church" alongside of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a concept rejected by the Roman Catholic Church and some Eastern Orthodox. Some groups of individuals who hold basic Protestant tenants identify themselves simply as "Christians" or "born-again Christians". They typically distance themselves from the confessionalism and/or creedalism of other Christian communities by calling themselves "non-denominational". Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations. Sources: An Overview of the Main Branches, Churches, Denominations, Religious Orders, and other identifiable Groups within Christianity of the Past and Present. A brief overview of the Eastern Orthodox Church's history and teaching. Some contemporary moral questions. The church building. A final note. The human search for meaning: A multi religious introduction to the religious of humankind. From the above mentioned it is clear that all churches are formed from the same base which is Jesus Christ and different beliefs and interpretations of the word of God has resulted in the formation of different branches of denominations as referred to today. I declare that this assignment is my own work. Where secondary material has been used this has been acknowledge and references under sources. I understand that plagiarism ia and am aware of the department’s policy in this regard. I have not allowed anyone else to borrow or copy my work.
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