Posts Tagged ‘churches’

Ok, let’s face it, there are a lot of Christian denominations. We’re talking thousands! To be honest I’ve only known what a few of them actually believe of why they have the name they do, so I did a little research to find out what some of the most popular are all about.



The one that started it all. Started inRomeoriginally to oversee all other Churches the Catholic Church became very modified over hundreds of years. In which they acquired many traditions and practices, many of which are not mentioned nor commanded anywhere in the Bible but were instead products of adopted traditions from other religions, political movements, and philosophical movements over the years. The Catholics believed that the Bible, along with the Church leaders and traditions, were the ultimate authority. One method by which the Catholics maintained a monopoly on Christianity was by only allowing Bibles to be produced in Latin, a language that was dying out and the majority of lay people did not understand.  Therefore, the only access the layperson had to the Bible was through the Church authority. These actions among other corrupt actions taken by Church leaders led to an eventual revolution.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283

The Protestant Reformation:

Launched by Martin Luther and others, the Reformation was a “back to the Bible” campaign. The key belief being that the Bible was alone the authority and guide to each man, not the doctrines and traditions of the church. This ran contrary to the Catholics way of doing things, which the reformers felt had become corrupt and ineffective (as indeed it had). One of the greatest outcomes of the Reformation was the Bible being translated into various languages for people to read themselves. Every denomination that came from this reformation is considered Protestant.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283


With the Reformation came the Lutherans, followers of Martin Luther’s back to the Bible campaign.  Martin Luther one morning nailed a Ninety-five Thesis to a church door that addressed the corruption of the church. He was excommunicated and his life threatened but he continued forward writing many theological works. In many ways Lutherans practice or appear to carry out services like Catholics (hence their nickname of Catholic-lite) but maintained a priority of the Bible being the only authority.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 284


The Anglican Church started with King Henry VIII inEnglandwho wished to divorce his current wife, but his request was denied by Pope Clement VII of the Catholic Church. Protestant Thomas Cranmer saw this as an opportunity to override the Pope’s authority and convinced English clergy to separate from the Pope’s authority and make the King the true head of the Church of England. This of course made it possible for King Henry to divorce his wife, and thus the Anglican Church was born. The Anglican theology is overall a confusing mix of Catholic and Protestant beliefs.



After the reformation came another split as some Christians felt that even the Protestants were not faithful enough to the New Testament. Their name came from their belief that only adults should be baptized, not infants (as many Catholics and protestants like Lutherans do). They were called “rebaptizers” which is where the name Anabaptist comes from. They asserted that infant baptism is NEVER mentioned in the New Testament, which is true.  The Anabaptists also followed a very high moral code as outlined by Jesus. These differences lead to harsh persecution from Catholics and Protestants. Mennonites and the Amish are a branch of the Anabaptists.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 148-149

The Amish:

Stemming from the Mennonites and Anabaptists are the Amish. We all know about the Amish and their strict lifestyle. Why the simple life? Their belief is that Bible should be taken literally, with an emphasis on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with its strong stance on non-violence. Compared to all other denominations they live most accordingly to the Bible’s command to avoid worldliness.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 149

The Quakers:

Started by George Fox originally as the Society of Friends, taking their name from John15:15, “… but I have called you friends.” They believed that Christian worship was too ritualized and shallow. True Christian life was to live by the Bible and be guided by the Holy Spirit (or as they referred to it as the “Inner Light”). Like the Minnonites, they had a strong stance on non-violence. As they became larger they became named the Quakers and were harshly persecuted by other Christians.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.150

The Baptists:

Like the Anabaptists, the Baptists are named because of their belief in adult baptism or “believers baptism” which maintains that as long as you’re old enough to understand baptism and willingly want to be baptized, you may be baptized. This is can be done as young as 5-yrs old. Just like the Anabaptists, the Baptists point out that no infants were ever baptized in the Bible, but instead believers were.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.151

The Methodists:

Originally a university group called the Holy Club, they believed that the Church of England was a shallow Christian Church. They believed that the Christian lifestyle needed to be focused on prayer, fellowship, and Bible study. The name Methodist comes from their stance that “one who lives according to the method laid down in the Bible.” People inAmericaandEnglandwere desiring a much deeper Christian lifestyle and latched onto the Methodists launching a Methodist revival in the 1700’s.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152


Episcopalians are actually an organization of the Anglican Church here in theUnited States. They get their name from the Greek word “Episcopal” which means Bishop. In 1789 they became independent but remain Anglican in that they’re a mix of catholic and protestant beliefs, but throughout its history it has adopted many liberal theologies and interpretations of the Bible which has strained relations with the Anglican Church.


The Mormons:

Also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many Christians do not consider the Mormons a denomination of Christianity but instead a cult. This is because they do not maintain the Bible as the authoritative text on God, but instead believe that other books; the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, supersede the Bible’s authority. TheChurchofJCLDSwas founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed he was visited by an angel, which revealed to him Golden Tablets, which Smith then translated into the Book of Mormon. Oddly, the tablets have never been seen by anyone else, and the Book of Mormon contains many verses that are word for word identical to passages from the King James translation of the Bible, which leads to the fair assessment that he copied them out of the Bible. Because of this and many other facets of the Mormon teachings which contradict the teachings of the Bible, they have been labeled a cult, and though they claim to be Christian, almost all other denominations do not consider them to be.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Seventh-Day Adventists

A pastor by the name of William Miller predicted that Christ would return and the world would end onOctober 22, 1844. His followers spent all that day waiting, but of course it never happened. That day is historically known as the Great Disappointment. Miller disconnected himself from the movement, but his followers remained. They are known as the Seventh-Day Adventists because they worship on the seventh day, Saturday. This was the original day of Sabbath, as still practiced by the Jewish. The Sabbath was moved to Sunday in Christianity because that was the day Jesus resurrected from the dead. An interesting side note is that many Seventh-Day Adventists are strict vegetarians, which the Bible does not command.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Originally called “Bible Students,” Jehovah’s Witnesses are named for their strong evangelical practices, as I am sure many of you have had them come to your door at one time or another. Started by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870’s, he started a publishing house, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which publishes their own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. Mind you, the NWT has serious alterations in many key areas of the Bible, most notably the divinity of Jesus which JW’s deny. Like the Mormons, the JW’s contradictory beliefs lead one to not consider them Christians though they are often associated with Christians.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.153


The term Pentecostal comes from Acts 2 with its description of baptism by the Holy Spirit, which happened to Jesus’ disciples during Pentecost. This baptism by the Holy Spirit is more important than baptism by water for the Pentecostals, which one could make an argument for based off Biblical accounts of people “saved” despite not being baptized in water, like the criminal crucified next to Jesus. Pentecostals are also strong believers in the spiritual gifts of Christians as mentioned in 1 Corinthians and Romans. This is why many Pentecostals use speaking in tongues and prophesying heavily.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.154

The Evangelicals:

Evangelical is often considered a denomination though it is more so a term for any Christian that evangelizes. Today it brings with it the connotation of a conservative Christian. Evangelicals believe the Bible to be accurate and true in all aspects.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.159


Unitarians have the most liberal theology of all Christian denominations. They recognize all spiritual religions and faiths. They also don’t have a conversion process, one may self-identify themselves as a Unitarian and do not need to denounce their current faith. Though it should be pointed out that their beliefs contradict Biblical teaching that Jesus in the only route to heaven (John 14:6).


These are the most popular ones I know of. In case you’re wondering which denomination I am… I am none of these. My faith is non-denominational. I conduct myself in accordance to the Bible and it’s teachings as the literal truth of God. If anything, I’m closest to an evangelical.


Let’s be honest, we use this word with a very negative connotation these days. When someone is called a fundamentalist or “fundi”, they’re usually being labeled as radical, irrational, and usually ignorant. I’ll be honest, I’ve used the word many times myself to label particular people, but my usage was based off how I perceived it being used by others. I had no clue as to what the history behind the word was. Where did the term fundamentalist even come from?

What I learned first is that the real meaning behind a fundamentalism isn’t really that bad, but has been escalated to have a very negative connotation today that far exceeds its original meaning. Fundamentalism comes from an American movement in the early 1900’s. For years the Churches were adopting very liberal theology due to modernism, Darwinism (and of course liberalism) compromising and omitting many teachings in the Bible. Many Christian leaders and prominent theologians were disappointed and concerned with this trend, so prominent members of Princeton Theological Seminary agreed that a movement should be started. These leaders published over 90 articles from 1910 to 1915 which were collectively titled, The Fundamentals: A Testimony of Truth. These articles aimed to defend the core essential (fundamental) doctrines of the Bible, which they felt was being morally undermined by Modernism.[1] These articles were printed in the millions and distributed to churches across America. Anyone who stood by the writings of these articles was therefore considered a fundamentalist.

The articles revolved around 5 main concerns:

  1. The Bible being understood as literally true.
  2. The deity of Christ.
  3. Humanity’s atonement through faith in God and His grace.
  4. The resurrection of Christ.
  5. The authenticity of Christ’s miracles and His eventual second coming.

But outside of these main issues, the theologians disagreed regarding many other topics. Here we stumble across a misconception in who is labeled a fundamentalist today. The original fundamentalist theologians disagreed on whether evolution contradicted the Bible or supported it. Some agreed with the former, some agreed with the latter. They also disagreed with the age of the earth and other controversial creation topics. What is interesting is that Christians are often labeled fundamentalists if they don’t believe in evolution, or believe in a six day creation ect. This is an inaccurate title however, because there were fundamentalists that believed the opposite! Other issues that the theologians disagreed with: Moses wrote the first five books of the Gospel; the rapture will occur before end times; and dispensationalism. These issues were disputed because they’re often the result of interpretation and not direct wording from the Bible.

All and all the purpose of the Fundamentalist movement was to defend the Bible as being true. So in a traditional sense, if you today believe that the Bible is the accurate word of God, with Jesus being the messiah and Son of God, and that all men need God’s forgiveness for their sins, then you’re a fundamentalist. By this standard I am a fundamentalist as well. All other topics of dispute can’t be considered fundamentalism because the fundamentalists didn’t even agree on them!

So how did Fundamentalism become a bad word of derogatory use? Well, down the long road of history the word fundamentalism slowly became the shameful word it is today. In 1925, the famous Scopes trial was covered extensively by the media which falsely labeled the prosecution as fundamentalists, even though evolution was a subject the fundamentalists disagreed on between each other. Therefore when people read their history about the Scopes Trial they read of the prosecution being fundamentalists even though that title is inaccurate. In more modern times, religion entered the political realm with the Religious Right and the Christian Coalition among others. All of which self-proclaimed themselves to be “fundamentalists.” Naturally those (democrats) that opposed the viewpoints of these fundamentalist parties (which were republican in alignment) developed a disliking of fundamentalists. From this point on it would be set in stone by liberals that fundamentalism = bad!

Despite the origins of fundamentalism it has become a word today that represents crazy snake-handling ignorant Christians with radical agendas, and is even used to describe other religions like Islam. It’s interesting to see how a word meaning changes over time and fundamentalism is a great example. It can be argued that fundamentalism being used in a derogatory fashion stems from a lack of understanding the history of fundamentalism. I think we should instead be true to history and roots of the word. To be a fundamentalist is to hold the Bible’s scripture as true, nothing more nothing less. To attribute anything else to fundamentalism would be an exaggeration of its true meaning. In knowing this, I’m challenging myself to only use this word for its true context and not in a misconceived context which is so prominently used today.

[1] Modernism was a trend that considered that humans (not God) held the only power to create and shape our environment with scientific knowledge and new technology. This movement was gaining momentum in the church leading to theology that contradicted scripture.


Posted: March 25, 2011 in Did you know?, History Related
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A lot of you old church goers may recognize this acronym. It has been a common acronym written or engraved in many churches all over the world. But what does it mean?

Many think it is “In His Spirit.” Some think it is the Latin phrase Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, Savior of Man). Others think it is Iesus Habemus Socium (We have Jesus as our companion). Sorry but these are all wrong, and you actually might disappointed to know what it really means. “H” is actually the Greek symbol for the letter “eta” or “e.” IHS is actually just the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek. “Jes” equals “IHS.”[1] Not as amazing as you thought right?

[1] J. Stephen Lang, 1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible.  (New York:NY Barnes & Noble, Inc. 2010) Pg 67.