What is Christian Literacy?
Literacy refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.
Religious literacy means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.
I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Why are there so many different denominations?
I have two answers:
One is, Different Strokes for Different Folks
Even if there was only one official institutional church there would still be many different kinds of churches. It's because Christians, like all people, come in many different varieties. Some like formality; others not so much. Some like jazz or classical music, while others listen to country, rock or folk. Some like an organization where everyone shares the same views, while others appreciate a church that is intentionally diverse. So it's only natural that we have a variety of flavors when it comes to this thing called "church."
Here's my other answer: It's Europe's Fault.
Most of the different denominations today got their start in Europe centuries ago. Folks simply brought their brand of Christianity to the New World. The Italians, Polish and Irish brought their Catholicism. The Scots brought Presbyterianism. The Germans brought Lutheranism. The British brought the Anglican/Episcopal Church as well as Congregationalism. So it's all Europe's fault!
Question, II - How do you think God feels about the variety of religions, denominations and sects found on planet earth?
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you that the family of Christ is a large one. Thank you for the freedom to be who you made us to be and for the privilege of worshipping you in many and various ways. Increase our sense of oneness with Christ-followers everywhere. In His Name. Amen.
Church History Timeline - some dates might help
451 AD - the Coptic Christians were separated from Roman Christianity by
the Council of Chalcedon.
1054 AD The church splits into East & West. The West was Roman Catholic.
The East was Eastern Orthodox.
Key figures = Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox
1520s - Anabaptist Movement begins - Baptists, Quakers, Mennonites
1533-34 Anglican Church separates from Rome due to Henry VIII marital issues
1560s Non-Conformist Movement = Puritans, Congregationalists, Methodists,
1630-1780s - Puritan movement dominates America
1730s & 40s - Great Awakening in America, religious revival
1790s - 1850- Second Great Awakening in America, religious revival but
also included social issues such as the abolitionist movement, temperance
and women's rights.
1900s to present - Pentecostal movement worldwide (Assemblies of God,
Nazarenes, charismatic movement), Ecumenical movement in US, great
cooperation among churches, mergers of denominations such as the formation
of the United Church of Christ.