Examining Christianity’s Roots & Denominations

By Kristen Johnson

If you’ve ever wondered what “other” Christians believe, or you have friends and family members who worship in a denomination other than your own, then Adam Hamilton’s book Christianity’s Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why is the book for you.

Most people I know do not attend church, or if they do it’s not necessarily the denomination they were raised in. I am a prime example of this phenomenon. I have been a very committed Methodist now for 4 years. However, I was raised in a Pentecostal church (Assembly of God) and have also participated in youth groups or regular church services in Baptist, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Foursquare, Presbyterian, and Nazarene churches. I have family members who are Orthodox, Baptist, Evangelical/non-denominational, and Nazarene, and quite a few who don’t believe in God at all or choose not to attend church if they do. That’s a whole lot of different ideologies, creeds, and traditions to think about!

What I love about Pastor Hamilton’s book is that he really seeks to find where we all have common ground, and where we can learn from each other. He also gives readers a brief history of Christianity in general, a brief history of each of the 8 major denominations he discusses, and major beliefs of each. The core beliefs are all held in common (generally a belief in the Nicene Creed and Apostle’s Creed) but each denomination varies in everything from a belief of pre-destination (or not), to how we view Mary/Saints and church leadership, our focus on the end-times (or not), our emphasis on community service or evangelizing, all the way up to how we serve Communion, worship during services, and how we adorn (or not) our Churches. We also have differences on beliefs about which books should (or should not) be included in the Bible.

I have read several books on world religions, and I studied the subject in college and graduate school, but for some reason a discussion of the differences in mainline Christianity was never discussed. I found it to be very important to me to understand how “others” view God, how and why they worship the way they do, and what our differences and commonalities are. Reading about the history of the various denominations (and Christianity as a whole) was also extremely helpful and important.

 

It’s time to continue to work toward serving the world together. Look for commonalities among us and not what divides us.

Happy reading.

Romans 12:18 (NRSV):  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io

 

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7 thoughts on “Examining Christianity’s Roots & Denominations

  1. Question is what is common to all and if that is really how Jesus had envisioned it? In Christendom we can see the denominations of Christianity (worshipping only One true God, the God of Israel) and the majority, those who worship a Trinity and even went to make graven images of their gods. Between the last ones commonalities may be found which are not according to the Scriptures. People should better concentrate to the Biblical teachings and come to see the commonalities which are among those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and should step away form those churches which preach hate and war among the Christians

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I certainly agree that we should step away from churches that preach hate and war among Christians. I have been very saddened to be attacked by my fellow Christians on a regular basis for my views. We should be preaching and living the gospel message and following the 2 greatest commandments – love God and love neighbor!

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      1. People can get caught in a church or denomination. Before they know it, not asking questions they might find it easy that the church takes care of everything for them. But by the teachings and preachings in a group we see that there are many so called Christian churches where everything is done to blacken the other churches, forgetting that they perhaps may be one of those elements or organs a body also needs to have.

        Let us hope that people come to see that it is more important to hold on to the biblical doctrines than onto denominational doctrines.

        “life is precious”. We also should be aware that it is very short. When we are young it may look like it takes a lot of time and it takes ages before we get some where. Some things may look an eternity. Coming from eternity we do have to go to eternity and may not become blinded by all the things that go on in this world. We also should be careful with our surroundings which may look so safe and our church which may be offering a haven where we do not have to worry or question things.

        “Always believing that each brilliant morning” we can get some transformation to go from boy into man we have to be patient and willing to grow by teachings we can hear around us and have to look for guidance which can bring us far away. Too many people forget that they are given a free Guidebook which shows them all the swamps and pitfalls in this world and gives directions for the shortest and fastest ways to get somewhere.

        That Guidebook, the Bible should be our most precious book. In it we can find most answers to our many questions.
        Let us make use of it as much as we can, and let us see the love of God which should go so deep in ourselves that we too become infested by it wanting to spread that love all over the world.

        Jesus was a preacher of love and his followers should be people of love. God gave a golden rule and that is like you say ” following the 2 greatest commandments – love God and love neighbor!”

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      2. Thank you for your comment! And, I agree with you…..I don’t understand why people seek to “blacken” other churches. It is really strange to me and hurtful at times. (Sadly, it has happened to me by my fellow Christians.) I think, as you say, we are to be preaching love and the golden rule!

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  2. I believe, At the end Jesus not going ask you what denomination you have been in. ” For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, ” But though it is good for you to know the difference between them.
    Any church we go if we do not have a right heart to offer on altar , we are going to mess it up anyway.

    Thanks for sharing your info and heart to us .

    Come n visit me and say hi , if you like just follow

    http://www.hhhigh.wordpress.com

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