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Authentic Christianity
Fundamental Christian Doctrines


Though Christians should believe everything the Bible teaches, not all doctrines (Biblical teachings) are equally essential (fundamental) in defining what constitutes authentic Christianity.  Christian denominations may differ in some non-fundamental (angels, gender roles, fellowship) and even secondary fundamental (baptism, holy communion) doctrines.  However, if a religious group disagrees with the Bible on primary fundamental doctrines (the Trinity and the Gospel) it places itself outside of historic orthodox (true/authenic) Christianity.  The reason primary fundamental doctrines are essential is that if you have the wrong  god or the wrong gospel, you are wrong enough not to get to heaven (Exodus 20:3, John 14:5, 1John 2:23; Galations1:6-9).


Types of Doctrines

fundamental christian doctrinesThe distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental doctrines and the further distinction between primary and secondary fundamental articles is not a dispensation from accepting certain doctrines of the Bible. ... But while all doctrines of Scripture are important and binding, we do well to distinguish between fundamental and non-fundamental doctrines, as Scripture does. ... The knowledge of sin and of the consequences of sin, eternal damnation, is a prerequisite of saving faith. …Saving faith includes the knowledge of the Person of Christ; it knows that Christ is...God and Man. ... [Saving faith] includes also the knowledge of the work of Christ. ... Primary and Secondary Fundamental Doctrines ... Baptism and the Lord's Supper certainly do belong to the foundation of the Christian faith ... But...A man may, through ignorance of the nature and benefit of the Sacraments, lack that foundation ... but still have the true faith. ... What is absolutely necessary is the hearing of the Word. ... Non-fundamental doctrines ... are those Scripture truths which are not the foundation or object of faith.... [which] makes them children of God... Such doctrines are, for instance, the doctrine of the Antichrist and the doctrine of angels. ... Christian faith should concern itself also with these non-fundamental doctrines. ...Furthermore, the denial of non-fundamental doctrines endangers faith. Pieper, Christian Dogmatics Vol. I, p. 80-92.

Christian Denominations

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that there are 41,000 Christian denominations.  That number sounds overwhelming, but there are only five basic kinds of Christian churches.  There are two kinds of Catholics: 1- Roman Catholic and 2- Eastern Orthodox.  There are two kinds of Protestants: 3- Lutheran and Reformed (including 4- Calvinist and 5- Arminian).  Anglican/Episcopal may be categorized as Reformed, since it includes Calvinist and Arminian elements.




Sources for World Christianity pie chart (all except Lutherans):
Encyclopedia Britannica Religions: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1731588/Religion-Year-In-Review-2010/298437/Worldwide-Adherents-of-All-Religions

Lutherans, from the Lutheran World Federation:
http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/LWF-Statistics-01-2010.pdf
Protestants – Other:
Britannica’s Protestants (419,795,000) minus Lutherans (for the sake of the pie chart).

 

The Visible Church

The Christian church was divided into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox about a thousand years ago  (Great Schism: 1054).   About five hundred years later, Protestants separated from the Roman Catholic church.  The Lutheran Church was the first Protestant church, and the Protestant Reformation dates back to Martin Luther's posting of his "95 Theses" on October 31, 1517.


In the table below, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are grouped under non-Christian groups. The Encyclopedia Britannica categorizes them (and some others) as marginal Christians: “Members of denominations who define themselves as Christians but on the margins of organized mainstream Christianity (e.g., Unitarians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and Religious Science).”

 

Visible Church
1,999,560,000 “Christians”         1,888,437,000 Affiliated
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic
(Western Catholic)

Important summaries of Catholic doctrine: Council of Trent
(Dec. 15, 1545 – Dec. 4, 1563)
Vatican I
Pope John XXIII
1,059,327,000
  Eastern Orthodox Church
(Eastern Catholic)

Four Ancient Patriarchates
1) Constantinople (modern Istanbul)
2) Alexandria (over Greece)
3) Antioch
4) Jerusalem 

Five Junior:
1) Bulgaria
2) Georgia
3) Serbia
4) Moscow
5) Romania
 (Great Schism: 1054)
215,128,000

Protestant

Protestant Letter of protest (April 20, 1529) by Lutheran Princes against decision of the 2nd Diet of Speyer (April 19, 1529), reaffirming Edict (May 5, 1521) of the Diet of Worms April 16-18, 1521) which placed Luther and his writings under an imperial ban.)
421,648,000
Reformed “branch of …Reformation … characterized by …non-Lutheran … sacramental theology …little regard for … tradition that is not traceable to the Scriptures or the earliest church…in…Swiss free cities…non-Lutheran Germany… Hungary, Bohemia, and…France”
Institute for Reformed Theology
352,120,000
Lutheran
(95 Theses: Oct.  31, 1517)
Martin Luther
(Nov. 10, 1483 -
Feb. 18, 1546) 
69,527,817
Calvinist
John Calvin
(July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564)
 Westminster Confession of faith:
1648
Arminian
Jacobus Arminius
(Oct. 10, 1560 –
Oct. 19, 1609)
Arminian theology condemned by Calvinist Synod of Dort: 1618-1619
ELCA
4,984,936
Reformed churches   LCMS (1847)
2,488,936
Synodical Conference
(1872-1963)
15th century
Johan Huss,
Radical Reformation
Thomas Muntzer
WELS
(1850)
400,622
Anabaptists:
Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites
ELS
(1918)
(Norwegian Synod: 1853)
21,319
Reconstructionists
Alexander Campbell
(1788-1866 )
5,400,000
Confessional Evangelical
Lutheran Conference: 21 Synods
2nd Great Awakening
Adventist
William Miller  (1840)
Ellen G. White  (1827-1915)
12,000,000
CLC (1960) (withdrew from WELS, ELS, LCMS)
Quaker
(1647)
George Fox
LCR (1964)
(withdrew from LCMS)
Church of England
Henry VIII
(1533)
AALC (1987)
(withdrew from ELCA)
Anglican
(“Episcopalian” in USA)
79, 469,000
AFLC
39,319
CLBA
8,860
“Anti-Missourian”
225,000 oversees
Baptist
John Smyth
(1570-1612)
70,000,000
Missionary/
Anti-Missionary
General Baptists
(1611)
(Free Will Baptists)
Thomas Helwys
Pietism
Philipp Jakob Spener
(1635-1705)
Congregational
John Wycliffe
(1324-84)
(Pilgrims 1620)
Savoy Declaration
1658UCC: 1960
Methodist
John Wesley
(June 28, 1703 –
March 2, 1791)
70,000,000
Evangelical Free Church
(1884)
Evangelical Covenant (1885)
Presbyterian
Scotland,
John Knox
(1510 – 1572)
Pentecostal
Azusa St. Revival
(April 14, 1906)
105,000,000
 
Other  411,810,000
Other Christian Non-Christian
Oriental Orthodox
(Non-Chalcedonian)
Accused of Monophysitism
36-50,000,000
Assyrian Church of the East    
(Non-Chalcedonian)
Nestorian, condemned by Council of Ephesus,
431
(AIC) African Indigenous Churches
110,000,000
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Charles Russell
(1852-1916)
14,800,000
Unitarian Universalist
120–600,000
Christian Science
Mary Baker Eddy
(1821-1910)
numbers not publ.
Independents,
Post- denominational,
Crypto-Christians
Latter-day Saints  “LDS / Mormon”
Joseph Smith
(1805-1844)
2009:13,824,854
Double-Counted
297,126,000
Unity School of Christianity
1,500,000
Unaffiliated
111,124,000
 Way International
20,000
Unification Church
250,000-3,000,000



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types of doctrines

Christian denominations

the visible church