Basic '3' Types of Christianity
Basically, there are '3' types of Christianity. Each group embraces the term "Christian", each uses the Bible. But they about different interpretations the Bible regarding which parts of the Bible may or may not be literal or symbolic. They may each hold different interpretations of the Scriptures regarding such topics as the divine nature of Jesus , the the nature of the resurrection of Jesus , the nature of hell , and views on End Times or millennialism . In edition, these 3 types of Christianity will hold different interpretations of Sciptures regarding such social justice issues as women's equality , abortion, position on war , religious tolerance sexual orietation. .
Theologians and commentators have difined Christianity into three wings:
Among the conservative wing, there is general unanimity of belief on the above-mentioned topics. Probably in excess of 90% of the membership oppose the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy for economic reasons. Homosexual behavior is viewed as sinful. Conflict tends to be more often over numerous fine points of theology, like: Under what conditions -- if any -- should a Christian couple be allowed to divorce and remarry, or Whether a person who does not speak in tongues has been truly saved.
Within moderate denominations, particularly among Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist faith groups, many intense conflicts are emerging. Such discord is inevitable. The denominations are finding themselves increasingly divided between liberal and conservative factions, each of which has a different vision for the future.
Among the liberal wing, there is a wide range of individual beliefs about deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. But these denominations are accustomed to such differences of opinion among their membership.
Another level of serious conflict occurs between the clergy and laity of some moderate a few liberal denominations. Generally speaking, many church members have been brought up to believe in the divinity of Jesus and a physical resurrection of Christ. Some believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, and other historical beliefs, and yet many hold differing views on some parts of the scripotures beinng purely symbolic, while others literal. Some clergy may have attended a conservative theological college and many have developed personal beliefs that may reflect a more moderate interpretation of the Biblical or vice versa. This produces a conflict among clergy, between their need to preach the truth as the way they have come to view it, and their need to support the basic beliefs of their denomination even though they may have come to view them as being in conflict with their interpretations of what they believe the Bible actually teaches or may not, to simply avoid controversy or being disfellowshiped.
At stake can be the unity of the congregation and denomination. There is no simple solution to this problem.
Starting in 1996, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has experienced major conflicts over gay / lesbian ordinations and union ceremonies. Membership votes reveal a major split: The northern presbyteries on the East and West coast voted solidly in favor of homosexual inclusive policies; the Southern Presbyteries voted solidly against; the Midwest is split.
The Episcopal Church is currently undergoing a major strain. The Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), a renewal group representing conservative elements within the denomination are in effect creating a parallel Episcopal Church within the United States. They were motivated primarily over sexual matters: the ordination of women, and the gradual shift within the original Episcopal Church towards the ordination of gays and lesbians.
The Roman Catholic Church is not normally considered a mainline denomination, and is certainly not Protestant. But its experience is similar to mainline Protestant denominations. Is is going through a period of considerable internal dissention:
The Roman Catholic Church forms the largest single Christian denomination in North America. Their dissention is largely related to sexual matters: female ordination, married clergy, birth control, abortion, pre-marital sex, etc. Here the split is largely between the People of God (the general church membership) and Vatican policy.
There have been a few topics that have seriously divided mainline denominations in the past. Perhaps the four most important were frictions between:
Whether the Bible should be interpreted as the inerrant Word of God, or as a historical document subject to critical analysis. Those who believed that God favored segregation on the basis of race, and those who favored racial integration.
History has shown that mainline denominations have been able to accommodate considerable internal division over long periods of time. However, conflict can become so serious and prolonged that a schism was the only way to resolve the debate. Schism is now being actively discussed in some mainline denominations, mainly concerning the role of gays and lesbians within the denomination.
2002 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-JUL-6
Author: B.A. Robinson
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