david b.
Topic Author
Posts: 2894
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 7:18 pm

Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 3:21 am

What is the difference between lutherism, Presbyterianism and Christianity?

Do they have different versions of the bible? What are the differences in beliefs?
Teenage-know-it-alls should be shot on sight
Posts: 6673
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2000 12:26 pm

RE: Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 12:54 pm

Well, David B., to put it simply, Lutherans and Presbyterians are considered Christians.

Christianity is a faith based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the most orthodox/conservative (I'm not talking about Orthodox Churches) believe the following:
1) Jesus Christ was God and man simultaneously.
2) You must believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior to go to heaven.
3) The Bible is the infallable word of God.

Everything else aside from those three things is up for debate (and the most liberal of Protestant denominations would even argue about the validity of those three.) I'll give you a short history of how things came about:

The original Christian church became what we know as the Roman Catholic Church. Early on in Christian history, when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, (I'm not sure at what time) there was the first Great Schism in the church which created the (mostly geographical) separation between the Roman Catholic and the eastern Orthodox churches. While Roman Catholicism dominated western Europe, Orthodoxy dominated far-eastern Europe and Asia Minor.

Later on, at about the same time as the Renaissance in arts, the Reformation began. Reformers were called "Protestants" because they were protesting against excesses in the Roman Catholic Church such as the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther was perhaps the most vociferous of the Protestants, and those who followed him out of the Roman Catholic Church were called "Lutherans." Even today in Germany you will still find that northern Germany is heavily Lutheran while southern Germany is generally Roman Catholic.

Another Protestant was John Calvin, and those who followed him were "Calvinists." The Calvinists in Scotland called their church the "Presbyterian" and adopted a statement of beliefs called the "Westminster Confession."

Other Protestant groups include the Dutch Reformed Church (Calvinist), the Methodists (lead from the Anglican Church by John Wesley), the Baptists and pentacostal churches.

In the U.S., the Anglican Church is called "Episcopal." Anglicans are also known as The Church of England -- which was formed when King Henry VIII decided he wanted another divorce and the Archbishop of Canterbury wouldn't grant it. King Henry VIII declared that England would no longer be Roman Catholic and installed his own Archbishop of Canterbury, which is why that is still today the highest leader of The Church of England. Some Protestants do not consider Anglicans/Episcopalians to be true Protestants due to the lack of Reform theology incorporated into Anglican traditions.

So, in short, your Lutherans follow the teachings of Martin Luther and your Presbyterians follow the Westminster Confession. Protestants and Roman Catholics differ in theology based on the teachings of the Reformation, and the Orthodox Churches are very similar to the Roman Catholic Church except that they don't follow the Pope in Rome.

Part of the reason I know a lot about this is because I've been a member of several different churches! I was baptized as a Lutheran, was raised in a United Methodist church, and as a teenager my family then joined a Presbyterian church. Now I attend a pentacostal church affiliated with the Assemblies of God (when I can drag myself out of bed on Sunday morning!) I am a Christian and I believe the three points I laid out above. For me, personally, it isn't important what's on the door -- it's important that the people believe those three things, and that they love God enough that it shows in their every action.

If you want to e-mail me, my e-mail address is in my profile. Rather than that, go to your local library and look some of this stuff up, usng the terms in the descriptions above. Or I can also suggest a Protestant website that might be helpful (aside from its relatively conservative bias) -- http://www.gospelcom.net which is one of my favorite reference sites.

Up, up and away!
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 2:15 pm

RE: Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 1:08 pm

Christianity refers to all denominations, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Orthodox, Methodists, whatever. It never ceases to amaze me how many "Catholics" don't believe they are "Christians".

One source of confusion might be they fact that there are protestant denominations which call themselves "The Church of Christ", or "1st Christian Church".

The three main divisions of Christianity are Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Protestantism is probably the most fractured group of these three categories. All three groups believe in more or less the same bible, although there are different "translations".

Also, Catholics regularly pray to "saints", such as St. Mary, St. Jude, etc whereas Protestants only pray to a single entity. I'm not sure if Orthodox churches have the saints or not.

[Edited 2003-03-05 05:16:18]
Posts: 3369
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:58 am

RE: Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 1:51 pm

Religion is a man made phenomena that was first promulgated to address the mystery of nature and the inability of man to undertand it.

Eventually, it became an organizational tool that allowed the clergy to control civilizations by convincing the general populace that they were closer to God and therefore could control God's blessings or wrath.

In simple terms, Christianity is just a spin-off of Judaism. And even more simply speaking, Jesus Christ was a Jewish fellow who posessed the charm and wisdom to actually attract a splinter group of Jews to join him and accept him as the Messiah. The average respectible Jew doesn't think Jesus was the Messiah and doesn't think the Messiah has arrived on earth yet. Judaism is also a ancient "spin-off" religion but that's a whole other thread....

Along the way, many of Jesus' followers jotted their thoughts, dreams, beliefs and life stories in a book and callled it the Bible. It contains, among other things several confusing references to dream-like sequences that countless theologians have tried to decipher over the millenia. (Wouldn't it be a hoot if they were just written while the authors were high or drunk)

Anyway, as more people followed Christianity, and more men of power become powerful clergy (like some Kings for instance) they began to resent some of the restrictive teachings and scripture in the Bible book. They couldn't understand why, as divine as they were, they had to follow the rules of the common man. So...they just changed the rules. I mean if anyone was gonna change the rules shouldn't the King and head of the church be the guy to do it?

Of course not everyone in the Christian world obeyed the King's wishes (or even knew he existed) so the King needed to figure out a way to identify his loyal fans and distinguish them from the backward Christian geezers that just weren't "with it" enough to go with the flow. So he named his new religion.

As the years went forward, more and more influential men modified the original teachings of christ and made yet more "spin-offs". Some even reverted to earlier teachings and called themselves "Orthodox".

Anglican, Unitarian, Presbyterian, Shakers, Evangelists, Baptists, Methodists, Huderites, Mennonites, Bud-Lites (OK I made that one up) Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists, Lutherans, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Ukranian Orthodox, Protestant, Episcopalian, Mormon.....blah blah blah......ad nauseum

Who is right? Who is wrong? Nobody knows....everybody knows. Personally I believe that men are weak creatures. We need something to beleive. We can't have mysteries. We need everything explained. When something is inexplicable, we forumlate an explaination to comfort us. If it comes to "divine intervention" then so be it. Great safety net!

Clergy will tell you that the Bible holds "the answer" to everything. Unfortunately it's open to interpretation. So...if you find something in that man-made reference, within your man-made faith, that gives you peace, solice, comfort...good for you. If you can't, just change it. But just remember to name your new religion so we can tell you from the rest......

 Big grin

Jean Leloup
Posts: 1954
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2001 10:46 am

RE: Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 3:06 pm

Hey David;

Lutheranism and Prebyterianism are indeed both branches of Protestantism, which is itself a form of Christianity. While the presbyterian churches are, as mentioned, largely descended from Calvin, the word itself comes from a Greek word meaning 'elders'. A presbyterian church is one governed by elders. The designation thus refers more to the way the church is organized than to whose teachings it follows (as opposed to Lutheranism). Thus not all presbyterian churches are scottish, and many do not necessarily embrace the Westminster Confessions. So while redngold's description is an accurate approximation of the origins of presbyterianism, it is a bit oversimplified. I am a presbyterian and am thus far too biased to argue too much with anything said above  Big grin , but I will answer your question about the different bibles.

There are essentialy two main bibles (or Canons), the protestant and the roman catholic. These two are largely the same, except that the catholic canon has a few more books (and slightly different versions of a couple of the common books.) In both cases, the new testament contains the same 27 books (all written between, say, 50 and 150 AD, depending on who you talk to.) The protestant version of the old testament contains the 39 books traditionally associated with the Hebrew Bible, while the roman catholic contains all these and a few more, being based on a greek translation of the hebrew bible (called the septuagint) that came from Alexandria in Egypt just a little while B.C., I think. The eastern orthodox churches also include a couple of books not found in the catholic canon, and a few smaller slavic chucrches and such also include a few others, I believe. But basically, your two standard canons are the protestand and catholic ones. Of course, there are many different TRANSLATIONS of both, but that's another matter.

As for usage of the Bible, you will find there is a large range of interpretations among believers and non-believers alike, moving from one extreme (See Redngolds post) to another (See Airplay's.) This can be complex, and it is not true that clergy (or laity) always insist that the Bible holds the one "answer" to everything. Even when one does believe in infallibility, for instance, different folks might have different ideas for what a doctrine of infallibility means as far as how to interpret and apply the text(s) in question.

E-mail me if I can help you any further.
Jean Leloup
Next flight.... who knows.

RE: Questions About Faith.........................

Wed Mar 05, 2003 3:18 pm

"I'm not sure if Orthodox churches have the saints or not."

From what I remeber from attending services with my Orthodox relatives, I believe they do. But then again, my church actually bought a Greek Orthodox church to hold services in, and I don't remember seeing any stained glass saint windows or anything.


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