When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

13 August, 2012

History of Denominations

While I'm finishing up my family tree of heresies (these things always take longer than I'd like them to), I thought I might post a few other things I've been working on lately.  This first one is a look at which sect of theology (in protestantism, that means Arminian, Calvinist, Lutheran or Radical Reformed) our modern denominations trace their theological heritage.  If you notice any glaring errors or thing I've miscategorized something, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.


Christendom began united in the Early Church.  However, quickly, heresy and heterodoxy began creeping into the Christian faith.  That is when various sects began to form and break off from the main church body (Roman Catholic Church).  However, even the Roman Catholic Church sunk into heresy, which was the initial cause of the Lutheran Reformation, and the other reformation movements that followed.  This is a brief guide to who these groups are and when and why they broke off from the Roman Catholic Church, as well as a look at to whom modern protestant churches trace their theology—Lutheranism, Radical Reformed, Arminianism or Calvinism.

Assyrian Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches
After the Council of Ephesus in 431, we see the first major “fracture” in the church, with the Assyrian Orthodox Church (Church of the East) splitting from the rest.  20 years later saw the exodus of the Oriental Orthodox sect.  Both are still in existence, but neither are “major” churches.

Eastern Orthodox Church
The Great Schism occurred in 1054, resulting in the separation of the Eastern Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholic (Western) Church.

Pre-Reformation Sects
Rumblings of reformation began in 1170 in Lyons, France, with the Waldensians.  In the early 15th century, the Hussites emerged, lead by Jan Hus.  The Hussites are known now as the Moravian Church, or “Unity of the Brethren”, a title which became common in 1457 in Bohemia.  It is still an active, though small, sect of Christianity today.  The Utraquists movement was started by Jacob of Mies, a University of Prague philosophy professor, in 1414.  This merged largely with the Hussites, as it was more a dogmatic movement than a denomination.

Anglican Church
While the Reformation was going on in other parts of Europe, the Church of England (Anglicans) broke off from the Roman Catholic Church in the mid 16th century to assert local authority and control over the church.

Protestant Sects
There are essentially four branches of Protestant theology: Lutheranism, Radical Reformation (Anabaptists), Arminianism, Calvinism (of which Zwinglianism is a subset).  To at least one of those each branch of the modern “reformed” or “protestant” church can trace its roots.  Lutheranism is really the only branch of Protestantism that didn’t splinter further into other denominations besides its own.

Modern Sects and Denominations
Anglican, Episcopalian, Orthodox (Eastern, Greek and Russian in particular) and Catholic churches (all originating from Roman Catholicism) still have strong roots in American Christianity.  In America, there are several fairly distinct groups of Protestant churches, under which a number of denominations fall.

Anabaptist and Friends
Anabaptist churches trace back to the original radical reformed movement, including the Amish, Brethren, Friends and Mennonite denominations.

Baptist and Stone-Campbell
The Baptist churches grew out of the Puritan (Anglican) and Anabaptist (Radical Reformed) movements, and include a variety of Baptist denominations (including Southern Baptist and African-American Baptist) as well as Stone-Campbell Restorationist churches.

The Charismatic movement grew out of the Pentecostal church, which traces back to Methodism (Arminianism), and includes denominations such as: Born Again Movement, Calvary Chapel, Faith Christian Fellowship International, Full Gospel, New Life Fellowship Association, and Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Holiness and Pietist
The Pietist movement traces back to unorthodox Lutheranism, while the Holiness movement traces back to Methodism (Arminian), these sects include a variety of denominations, such as the Evangelical Free Church of America, Church of the Nazarene, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist Church and Wesleyan Church.

There are three major Lutheran synods in America: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the latter two are traditional Lutheran synods, while the previous follows fallen Lutheran teachings (such as subscribing to the Variata and picking up on Pietism).

The Methodist church traces back to Arminianism, and there are several Methodist denominations in America, most notably the Free Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church.

The Pentecostal church grew out of the Holiness movement, which traces back to Methodism (Arminianism), and includes the following denominations in their sect: Assemblies of God, Full Gospel Fellowship, Intl. Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Pentecostal Church of God.  Oneness Pentecostalism is an antitrinitarian subset of this sect.

Presbyterian and Reformed (Congregationalists)
The Presbyterian, Reformed and Congregationalist sects are Calvinist in their lineage, and include the following denominations: Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Church in America, and United Church of Christ.

These churches don’t seem to fall into any other category, most (but not all) are heretical and not really Christian at all.  They include: American Unitarian Conference, Church of Christ Scientist (Scientology), Grace Gospel Fellowship, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS Church, Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, Non-denominational churches, Plymouth Brethren, and Vineyard USA.

11 August, 2012

An Introduction

Before I begin posting, I feel it necessary to give you my perspective.  As with any person, I come into everything with a bias.  This bias does not discount the writing, the speech, the discourse, or whatever else it is, but without understanding the worldview that shapes every word that is formed in whatever medium you come across it in, you cannot fully understand what the intent is behind those words.

My name is Sarah, I am 23 (as of this writing) and I am a cradle Lutheran. I was baptized in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs on June 10, 1989, fourteen days after I was born. I was communed for the first time in the same church I was baptize in on Pentecost in 2001, and confirmed three years later in May 2004 (and married in that same church just a few months ago). My parents firmly believe in life-long catechis (as do I), and I have been immersed in God’s Word, the Small Catechism (in particular) and the Book of Concord (in general) for many years (being homeschooled helped significantly with this).

I am what would be considered an extremely conservative, confessional, quia Lutheran. "Quia" means that I believe the Book of Concord to be accurate because it is supported entirely by Scripture (the alternative is to be a "quanteus" Lutheran, which means that they believe the Book of Concord to be accurate insofaras it is supported by Scripture--they are considered to be the more liberal side of Lutheranism and likely subscribe to the Variata, which is the watered-down, Calvinist-flavored Augsburg Confession). I subscribe to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (UAC), which is the one presented by Lutherans at the Augsburg Council in 1530. I believe in extremely traditional services and in-depth exegesis in sermons and Bible Study. I don't want to feel good or get feed fluff in church--I want to be made uncomfortable and challenged just a little bit every Sunday.

I may post commentaries here on various topics, I may pose questions from time to time, I may post lists and I even might be controversial.  I’m not really sure what all I will share, nor how regular it will be.  I’ve never been a faithful blogger.  I’m hoping this will be a better, more constructive outlet than Facebook, though, where I tend to make my friends grumpy with me over theological posts.

When I originally started this blog 5 years ago, it was meant for me and two friends (a Catholic and a Calvinist) to post weekly on the same topic from our differing perspectives.  I’m sad that didn’t work out, but happy to finally make use of this blog that has been sitting here for so long.  One of the things that happened, though, before we decided to try this was one of them, my Catholic friend, asked me which I would pick: the Good, the Beautiful or the Truth. I chose the Truth. Since all three of us chose a different one, we intended to use them here as our names. Mostly I share this because I wanted to tell you why I picked the Truth: because in all things, the good and the beautiful, I find truth. In fact, I don't think I could appreciate the other things without truth. Truth is paramount to me, perhaps because I was a debater, and thus I seek the Truth and evidence of it in everything. So now you know.