Definitions of Divisions wthin Christianity

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Jul 28, 2001.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    In an attempt to help everyone understand the variety of terms being "thrown around" on the threads, here are some basic definitions:

    LIBERALISM = Many "Christian" denominations actually deny one or more of the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God, such as revelation, inspiration, creation and fall of man, all miracles, incarnation and virgin birth, atonement of Jesus, bodily resurrection, triune godhead, salvation by grace through faith, reality of heaven or hell.

    With the advent of Darwinism and Higher Criticism in the 1850's many European seminaries dismissed all conservative doctrine as "myth". Its teachers trained the pastors for mainline Christian churches, leading to skepticism and rejection of traditional Christianity. It filtered down to the average church member following World War II and is the basis of the "social gospel" of human works.

    MODERNISM = In the light of science, Church must take a highly critical view of revelation, inspiration, creation and fall of man, historic reality of Jesus.

    Beginning in AD 1900 as a "modernization" of old religious views, it is popular with the liturgical churches. Their theologians are Karl Barth, Reinhold Neibuhr, P. Tillich who hold radical theological views

    NEO-ORTHODOXY = A reaction to theological liberalism and modernism taking control of entire denominations, neo-orthodoxy attempts to reintroduce a transcendent God, responsibility of man's sin and guilt, uniqueness of Christ's grace, and natural/supernatural revelation.

    This group uses Biblical themes of the Reformation without defining them. What is "grace"? What does "inspiration" mean? Using orthodox terms without meaning allowed them to be accepted by all.

    EVANGELICALISM = Commitment to the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel as basis for mission, devoted to the revelation in the Bible as truth and the redemptive work of Christ and acceptance of everyone who claims to be Christian as equal and acceptable.

    Most "dissenters" held to this basic position and left their liberal, modernistic, neo-orthodox main-line denominations. Between AD 1890-1950 this attitude separated believers from non-believers and gave rise to Bible Presbyterian, Free Methodist, Baptist ascendancy.

    NEW EVANGELICALISM = A rethinking of separation from liberalism, and willingness to dialog on issues of inspiration, atonement, creation, miracles. This led to compromise and replacing evangelical terms with non-offensive generics (commitment replaced "born again"; death for "blood"), gaining liberal denominational approval.

    In the 1950's there arose those willing to compromise the historic evangelical position while continuing to use its name (with new definitions). This led to Ecumenical Evangelism and seeking to gain acceptance with liberalism and scholasticism. Billy Graham is a foremost example.

    FUNDAMENTALISM = A conservative movement attempting to return denominations to their historic doctrine of inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, bodily resurrection and second coming of Christ. True fundamentalist also hold an intolerant position on separation from liberalism and unbelief (first degree) and from evangelicals who compromise or work with unbelievers (second degree).

    Rising to prominence in the 1920's in direct opposition to modernism, fundamentalists appeared in every denomination trying to stop liberalism. None gained control; many new groups and associations based on the fundamentalist position were formed.

    Continual infighting over cultural non-issues (clothes, busing, bible versions) and filial fragmentization has caused this movement to lose almost all effectiveness and outreach.

    NEO-PENTECOSTALISM = An outgrowth of the Holiness Movement within Methodism in 1910, the modern Charismatic Pentecostal movement is trans-denominational and based on feeling and experience (tongues, healing, prophecy) rather than dogma or historic doctrine. Old-fashioned holiness is often overlooked in seeking the spectacular "gifts".

    With subjective revelation (God's Word for "you" is more important than the Bible) and doctrinal irrelevance (it doesn't matter if you are Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or Hindu - "gifts" are all that matter) this movement has gone beyond the fundamentals to cult-like positions.

    CULTS = Assuming new revelation from God and new way of living for adherents, Christianity has produced many cults that reject basic doctrine and supplement it with propositional truth from other sources. Almost all center around a charismatic leader or influential personage.

    Rutherford's Jehovah's Witnesses deny God the Son, prophecy, most doctrine, salvation by faith. Smith's Mormon teaching adds many books to the Bible, denies all three persons of the Godhead, false prophecy. Moon's Unification Church accepts him as Messiah having written a new Bible and denying almost every doctrine of Christianity. Eddy's Christian Science bases teaching on new revelation, denying sin, the godhead, evil. Russell's Adventist groups pervert prophecy, add legalism to Christianity, and works to salvation.
     
  2. Barnabas H.

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    Thanks for the definitions Dr. Griffin. Don't stop now. Keep going. Your are on the roll! :D
     
  3. Bible Believing Bill

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    Thank you Dr. Bob. Anybody have any more definitions of terms being thrown around on the BB. Some of us are baby christians and need all the help we can get.
     
  4. CorpseNoMore

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by NewBeliever:
    Thank you Dr. Bob. Anybody have any more definitions of terms being thrown around on the BB. Some of us are baby christians and need all the help we can get.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Other than the fact that Karl Barth also belongs under Neo-Orthodoxy, Dr Bob's definitions are generally accurate, from a fixed historical perspective. Many of these terms and categories however are not relevent for the current scene, except insofar as it is useful to know the history of movements in order to fix better understanding on contemporary situations. This is because these things are constantly in flux. Some movements die out for lack of relevance; others either reform and get better about dealing with errors, or dilute and get further from orthodoxy.

    Traditionally we would divide western Christendom into Roman Catholics and Protestants. However, since the acceptance of enlightenment philosophy into major sectors of protestantism in the mid to late 1800s, a different way to slice western Christianity into a broader context might look something like this...

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Roman Catholicism -- the defintion of which, is obvious.

    <LI>Liberalism -- theological liberalism has a somewhat particular meaning associated with it(though many times it is rather amorphous), which Dr. Bob ably specified up-thread. But there is also a generic way that the term
    liberalism is, and can be, used as an umbrella term for general Christianity that is not Romanist, or evangelical.

    <LI>Evangelicalism -- generically covers those protestants(yes Virginia that includes Baptists, actually it especially includes Baptists) who are distinguished from ROME(and liberalism). It is meant to be in contradistinction to the sarcedotalism of the RCC and the universalism implicit in virtually all forms of liberalism. We evangelicals believe, men MUST be converted by the miraculous interposition of the Holy Spirit, through the means of proclamation of the Evangel.
    [/list]

    (J. Gresham Machen the great Presbyterian theologian of the early part of the 20th century, and one of the principal heavyweights in the fundamentalist movement, said in his famous book: Christianity and Liberalism, that liberalism was another religion, it wasn't Christianity at all.)

    Modern fundamentalism, however, is very seldom about the significant defense of the "fundamentals." Self-proclaimed fundamentalists generally leave that work to those who describe themselves as simply, evangelicals. Modern fundamentalists, are preoccupied with denouncing and separating from whatever the trendy boogieman in broader evangelicalism catches their fancy in a given year. It's not that anyone notices, because they are already so completely isolated and so vastly irrelevent to the body-of-Christ that noone notices their separations anyway, but still they rage on to keep their audiences entertained.

    cordially,

    CNM
     
  5. Raulf7

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    The crux of the matter is they depart from:

    "Faith Alone in Christ Alone" for salvation.

    Theres always something they add like:

    Repenting of sins
    Making Jesus your Lord
    Works
    Baptism
    Church Membership
    Law Keeping
    Public Confession
    Tithing

    and so many other things
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    Interestingly enough, Scripture "adds" two of these.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Repenting of sins<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Luke 13:3 (Christ) "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
    Acts 17:30 (Paul on Mars Hill) "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
    Luke 24:47 (The Lukan Great Commission) ... and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
    Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."
    Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?


    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Making Jesus your Lord<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Acts 16:31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
    Romans 4:24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
    Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

    Many others can be cited in support of biblical salvation but these will suffice.

    It is interesting that in three Great Commission passages (Matt 28:18-20; ; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8), "Believe" is not the message given. It is called making disciples, baptizing, teaching to follow all that I commanded (Matt 28); and Christ (Messiah, Lord, King) as dying and repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46-48)
     
  7. Rev. Joshua

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    Funny how perspective influence these words. Coming from the other side of the fence, here are some other working definitions.

    LIBERALISM - Generally traced to Freidrich Schleiermacher, liberal Protestant theology separates the theological and social messages of the gospel from the cultural context of the periods during which the biblical literature was written. Although a few liberal scholars may challenge some of the core doctrines of the Church which Dr. Griffin named, most do not. Among liberal baptists in particular, there is a strong vein of Pietism that emphasizes personal accountability and moral living while also recognizing that faith and morality are complex issues.

    Believing that faith should have tangible expression in changing the world according to Christ's model, many liberal Christians are committed to the social gospel (working for positive social and political change in the name of Christ). They generally emphasize responsible biblical scholarship and equal treatmenet for people regardless of sex or sexual orientation.

    Modernism - A rather pretentious term coined by self-absorbed people who thought the science and thought of their era was the pinnacle of human existence. Generally, it is reflects the belief that everything can be explained through reason and/or science. Despite charges to the contrary by the extreme right, very few liberal Christians are modernists. In many ways the work of the Jesus Seminar represents a purely modernist perspective on the Bible (one that was anticipated by Thomas Jefferson and Deist colleagues since modernism is the direct product of Enlightenment thought).

    Neo-orthodoxy - A vast area between "orthodoxy" and modernism. Most faithful, liberal Christians find themselves somewhere in this landscape. Neo-orthodoxy recognizes the value of clear reasoning, but also understands that God and faith transcend human reason. Karl Barth is the quintessential neo-orthodox scholar.

    Evangelicalism - The evangelical church of the nineteenth century has little to do with modern evangelicalism. Modern evangelicalism is committed to perpetuating a simplified understanding of Scripture that rejects (against all evidence) contemporary biblical scholarship. Likewise, contemporary evangelicals emphasize, to various extremes, recreating their understanding of the social context of the Bible. Most stop at advocating slavery and polygamy, and are generally selective in only emphasizing those social laws consistent with a conservative, twentieth century political agenda. Folks like Al Mohler are examples in this regard.

    Neo-evangelicalism - In practice very similar to neo-orthodoxy, and many liberal baptists whould be comfortable with this label. Many Christians do not want to throw the baby of evangelical piety out with the bathwater of juvenile understandings of Scripture and history. Those who seek the best of both worlds fall into this category.

    Fundamentalism - Essentially a modernist movement, fundamentalism accepts the modernist paradigm for understanding reality. Consequently, fundamentalists go to great extremes to "prove" the accounts of the Bible in modernist terms. As modernism is gradually replaced by post=modernism this movement becomes increasingly irrelevant.

    Post-modernism - A term that is even more silly than modernism but we seem to be stuck with it for now. Recognizing that rationalism and Enlightenment thinking are not sufficient to explain everything, post-modernism seeks a balance between science and myth (which is not used in a pejorative sense). Post-modernism opens whole new possibilities for the Church, as people come to recognize again that there are things which transcend our understanding.

    I was unaware that there was a neo-Pentecostal movement, and cults pretty much speak for themselves.

    Joshua
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    Thank you Joshua for adding a completely different perspective on these basic divisions.

    Among MY circles - neo-orthodox and new evangelical are two of the harshest epithets you can hurl at your enemies! Yet you place many liberal christians in one and many conservative in the other.

    Interesting! Thanks again. :cool:
     
  9. Rev. Joshua

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    REALLY? I've heard neo-orthodox used semi-jokingly as an epithet, with the context generally being that the person was clinging to some orthodox premise or another; or that the person was stuck in the early twentieth century and refused to read more contemporary theology.

    As I've said before, all of this is really a learning experience for me.

    Joshua
     
  10. Rev. Joshua

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    Bob,

    I just got an e-mail from a friend and I thought of this discussion. In discussing Ph.D. programs he wrote:

    the program is strong
    enough/. It is Barthian and fairly conservative.


    I take it that in your circles that phrase would have read differently.

    -J
     
  11. Raulf7

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    Pastor Larry

    Did you fully repent of all sins before you got saved, to be saved?

    If you did, congradulations because you became sinless, something no one else has done accept Jesus.

    If you became sinless why do you need Jesus?

    If you repented of only some sins, show me in the Bible where it says partial repentance is acceptable?

    True repentance means becoming sinless. That no one can do. God requires a perfect standard. You either repent of all sins or you dont.

    The point is, we are saved by Faith Alone in Jesus. AFTER that the Holy Spirit goes to work in us convicting us of our sins. A non believer does not have the same power over sins as does someone with the residing Holy Spirit.

    You simply cant, as a non believer, properly repent of all sins, whether known or unknown. If they could this would mean a state of sinlessness and therefore we can justify ourselves before God and not have to identify with Calvary.

    Partial repentance is not acceptable, but thats what most people do. Proper repentance in order to meet Gods perfect standard is a state of sinlessness, can you do that?

    If you can, why do you need Jesus?
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Raulf7:
    Pastor Larry

    Did you fully repent of all sins before you got saved, to be saved?

    If you did, congradulations because you became sinless, something no one else has done accept Jesus.

    If you became sinless why do you need Jesus?

    If you repented of only some sins, show me in the Bible where it says partial repentance is acceptable?

    True repentance means becoming sinless. That no one can do. God requires a perfect standard. You either repent of all sins or you dont.

    The point is, we are saved by Faith Alone in Jesus. AFTER that the Holy Spirit goes to work in us convicting us of our sins. A non believer does not have the same power over sins as does someone with the residing Holy Spirit.

    You simply cant, as a non believer, properly repent of all sins, whether known or unknown. If they could this would mean a state of sinlessness and therefore we can justify ourselves before God and not have to identify with Calvary.

    Partial repentance is not acceptable, but thats what most people do. Proper repentance in order to meet Gods perfect standard is a state of sinlessness, can you do that?

    If you can, why do you need Jesus?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Why do you cite no Scripture and address none of the Scripture I post?

    If you are not willing to deal with Scripture then there is no conversation to be had here. If you want to discuss the issue biblically, then let’s start with the Bible and do it another thread so as not to clutter this one. I will not discuss it with you unless you are going to discuss Scripture.
     

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