Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Differences in Christianity

Question:

We hear on differences in Christianity. To many Muslims, including myself, the main religion is Christianity and then branches off to Catholics, Protestants, Church of England, etc. I could of course, be completely wrong here. Please clarify this point. Thanks in advance.

Jeff Answers:
There are many ways to answer this question. Some of the ways are simple and so I will try those.

The three biggest branches of Christianity are: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Catholicism and Orthodoxy are organized into gigantic Churches that have a government and a single set of teachings. Protestants are broken into many small churches with different structures and different teachings from each other.

The Church of England includes people who think they are Protestant, people who think they are Catholic, and people who think other things.

If you go to Russia or to Greece, for example, most of the Christians you will find are Orthodox, in case you haven't heard of them. If you want beautiful music and beautiful ceremony and art, you will certainly find them among the Orthodox!

Catholics and Orthodox are very close. We believe most of the same things. Catholics, though, believe that the Pope has ultimate authority over the Church, in teaching and in ruling. Orthodox reject the Pope.

The word "Catholic" means "Universal", so the "Catholic Church" means, "The Church of Every Place and Time." "Orthodox" means, "Believing the Right and True Way."

Protestants began in the 1500s with Martin Luther. They came out of Roman Catholicism. That is why they are called "Protestant," because they "protested" against the Catholic Church. Luther's main idea is that all Christian truth is in the Bible. He thought the way to get it was for each believer to read the Bible for himself.

In Protestantism, the accent is on the Individual. Everybody has a unique encounter with God, God illuminates everyone's mind directly, especially by reading the Bible. If you could express Protestant Christianity in one word, it is "Bible". All that "Church" means for Protestants is, all the believers in the world, even if they worship in different churches. Protestants say the true Church is "INVISIBLE.

In Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the accent is on the Society. We believe that the Church is a real Society, almost like a Country, but a spiritual one. It is governed by real live people, like any Society.
For Catholics and Orthodox, the Church is VISIBLE. If you could express Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in one word it is: "Church".

We believe in the Bible, too, of course. But we don't read it as individuals. We read it as a whole society. And we also believe in Tradition. That is, there are true things that are not written but that all believers accept. So, when we read the Bible, we read it in the light of what our Fathers said and wrote for two thousand years.

There are many other differences, but this is a good place to start your understanding.

Are these different branches of Christianity? Sure, you could say that. The traditional or strict answer of all three groups is: We are the only true Christians. The others have fallen into error.

Most of us still believe this in some way, but we are searching for ways to come closer together on the basis of what we share, even though the differences are important. And we have a common challenge that helps us: Secularism and Disbelief in God. This common challenge also helps us to look to other Believers in God--Muslims for example--as allies and friends.

Oftentimes, we can seem very different and the differences are real. But if a believing Christian and believing Muslim sit and talk with an atheist or someone who has thinks the whole idea of God is silly and just lives the way they want, we soon find out how close we are!

9 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Thank you so much Nash!

I just want to say that Nash is very welcome to manage people's comments as he sees fit; it's his idea and his blog.

As for me, though, I don't mind if people speak harshly about Christianity. I have heard it all before and it doesn't bother me! Some people are sensitive about these things, but not me. I prefer that when people speak to me, they be able to say what they think and not be polite!

Sometimes, though, I might not answer the question as fully as possible, because I like to try to avoid quarrelling. My heart won't be hurt by what people say, but I can still hurt other people's hearts, even if it seems like defending! So, I try to avoid that.

Also, I try to give answers as neutrally as I can. But sometimes, in order to answer a question properly, I might have to show what it FEELS like for a Christian. And sometimes, my answers might be skewed a bit because I am Catholic. But I'll do the best I can.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

There are many ways to answer this question. Some of the ways are simple and so I will try those.

The three biggest branches of Christianity are: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Catholicism and Orthodoxy are organized into gigantic Churches that have a government and a single set of teachings. Protestants are broken into many small churches with different structures and different teachings from each other.

The Church of England includes people who think they are Protestant, people who think they are Catholic, and people who think other things.

If you go to Russia or to Greece, for example, most of the Christians you will find are Orthodox, in case you haven't heard of them. If you want beautiful music and beautiful ceremony and art, you will certainly find them among the Orthodox!

Catholics and Orthodox are very close. We believe most of the same things. Catholics, though, believe that the Pope has ultimate authority over the Church, in teaching and in ruling. Orthodox reject the Pope.

The word "Catholic" means "Universal", so the "Catholic Church" means, "The Church of Every Place and Time." "Orthodox" means, "Believing the Right and True Way."

Protestants began in the 1500s with Martin Luther. They came out of Roman Catholicism. That is why they are called "Protestant," because they "protested" against the Catholic Church. Luther's main idea is that all Christian truth is in the Bible. He thought the way to get it was for each believer to read the Bible for himself.

In Protestantism, the accent is on the Individual. Everybody has a unique encounter with God, God illuminates everyone's mind directly, especially by reading the Bible. If you could express Protestant Christianity in one word, it is "Bible". All that "Church" means for Protestants is, all the believers in the world, even if they worship in different churches. Protestants say the true Church is "INVISIBLE.

In Catholicism and Orthodoxy, the accent is on the Society. We believe that the Church is a real Society, almost like a Country, but a spiritual one. It is governed by real live people, like any Society.
For Catholics and Orthodox, the Church is VISIBLE. If you could express Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in one word it is: "Church".

We believe in the Bible, too, of course. But we don't read it as individuals. We read it as a whole society. And we also believe in Tradition. That is, there are true things that are not written but that all believers accept. So, when we read the Bible, we read it in the light of what our Fathers said and wrote for two thousand years.

There are many other differences, but this is a good place to start your understanding.

Are these different branches of Christianity? Sure, you could say that. The traditional or strict answer of all three groups is: We are the only true Christians. The others have fallen into error.

Most of us still believe this in some way, but we are searching for ways to come closer together on the basis of what we share, even though the differences are important. And we have a common challenge that helps us: Secularism and Disbelief in God. This common challenge also helps us to look to other Believers in God--Muslims for example--as allies and friends.

Oftentimes, we can seem very different and the differences are real. But if a believing Christian and believing Muslim sit and talk with an atheist or someone who has thinks the whole idea of God is silly and just lives the way they want, we soon find out how close we are!

8:46 AM  
Blogger Sever said...

Thank you for this blog, Nash!
I hope it will be very interesting ;-)

I`m not cCatholic, I`m not Muslim... so I will just look at you, will read what you think & to ask my questions :)

By the way, I already don`t agree with the Catholic point I read in Jeff`s comment.
But ok ok, I must close my mouth.

I simply want there would not be wars & walls of misunderstending in this world between different religions.
Very childish wish. Yes, I know.

Problem that people who try to prove that their religion is the best, the main & the most right don`t realize that they are so mistaken... all of them... all of them... nobody holds truth.
God only!

Sorry, don`t want to make anyone be offended.

Good work, Nash!

10:18 AM  
Blogger Nash said...

Jeff:
No worries, I am glad that we are able to communicate this way. We can understand each other better. If you have any questions on Islam, please let us know and we will try our best to answer.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Nash said...

Server,
I agree with what you say. The truth lies in God only. I am not really sure about Catholics, because I am not catholic myself. But if you think there is something you like to point out which you disagree, please go ahead, I am sure Jeff will be more than happy to discuss it.
Of course, there are many points we as humans disagree, but that should not make stop us from getting along.
So Server, please go ahead and raise your doubts, it will be interesting to learn from this experience.

5:49 AM  
Blogger >>Sama Oman said...

I'm really appreciate you effort Dear Nash with Dear Jeff.

But

I was waiting to read Jeff's stories.
Not only about religions :(

12:48 PM  
Blogger Nash said...

We can incorporate his stories in the same blog, will make it more interesting that way...

5:57 AM  
Blogger Sever said...

Orthodoxy... we call it "pravoslavie" in Russian = "true/right glorifying" - explaining: they think they glorify God in the right way, not like all others...
Something like this.

"in one word it is: "Church"..."

Sorry, but that`s what I don`t like about Christianity.

I heard a lot of people can`t pray without something VISIBLE... all these icons & so on...

In my case I can`t pray looking at something...

God is not in things... God is everywhere...

+ in this I think Catholicism is better /in my opinion/. Look at our Russian Orthodoxal churches...
oh & ah!
Gold, gold, gold... colourful stones & so on...
It`s so silly... it presses on you so much... & what do they try to prove? that they have a lot of money when all other believers don`t have anything?
& I don`t find it beautiful at all...

Jeff, I like your last words very much!
& all post is good.

3:58 PM  
Blogger ammoon said...

Greetings to everyone here,
This is a good blog and I have enjoyed reading it.
Although a lot of stuff is a bit sensitive when it comes to 'religion', but I guess we all have to be open minded. And everyone is entitled to their own belief.
I'll definitely come back to read your blog.
Good work guys...!!! keep it up.!

9:50 PM  

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