Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Christian Denominations

Many people these days speak of there being many denominations within Christianity. This opinion represents a lack of information concerning the true nature of Christianity, the true nature which Jesus Christ founded nearly 2,000 years ago. In this short essay, I will explain some of the fundamental truths about Christianity and I will hopefully clear up many of the misconceptions surrounding this area.

Before his death and resurrection, Jesus spoke often of the church he would establish on Earth. He spoke about how this Church would look. It would be visible and universal. And so it was. The name Peter means "rock", and we know that Jesus said, it is upon this rock that I build my church. Peter's name used to be Simon bar Jonah. Jesus changed that when he named him Peter. This was to make completely clear the fact that Jesus would build his church upon Peter. Throughout the Bible, especially in the acts of the apostles after this point, Peter is always mentioned first among the apostles. It is also quite clear that Peter always has the final say in all matters of faith and morals. His role in the early church is exactly the same role as today's Pope. This point is crucial in understanding how Christianity is meant to be organized.

Much of the practices of the church have been handed down through the Apostles and orginally from Jesus himself. Not everything was written in the Bible concerning our beliefs. Consider for a moment the nature of the Church during its first decades and centuries before the canon of the Bible was authoritatively established. Matters of faith could not be referred to the Bible as we know it today, because it simply did not exist. The method to discern truth used then is the same as it is now, and rests on the authority of the church and its leaders or Magisterium. Magisterium comes from the Latin word meaning to teach. The church fulfills the role of teacher of the faithful. This is clearly evidenced in the Acts of the Apostles, because disputes are always brought to the apostles.

A note must be made here. Nothing in Sacred Tradition can or will ever contradict what is in the Bible, nor vice verse. It can, however, elaborate on what is said in the Bible or give teachings which, although not in the Bible, work in harmony with it. This is very necessary, especially in today's age, which is much different from the age in which the Bible was written. We face many social issues today which simply did not exist in those times.

The authority of the Pope is something that went without question for around 1500 years. That is when the reformation occurred. This is a very sad time for the church, for it marks the time when many left the Church and splinter it into many groups. Of course, at first, there were only three or four new churches, however, the bad genes which these churches had, its children would acquire as well. The children of course are the dozens of churches which splintered from these original three or four splinter groups. Needless to say, the next generation would be even more numerous, until today when there are thousands of splinter churches, each with its own doctrines and philosophies. As is clearly evident, the system established by Christ, which has a leader, and a Magisterium, is the only effective system.

To conclude, the idea of denominations is actually a false one. There is only one true church on Earth, established by Jesus Christ himself, and that is the Roman Catholic Church. Any other organization that calls itself a church is a man-made organization, and each one has a different set of values and beliefs.

Note: Some may be wondering why the church is called the Roman Catholic Church. It is called Roman, because Rome is where the Pope resides, and it is the home of Christianity. It is where Peter established the church and where he died (by being crucified upside-down). The Church is called Catholic because catholic is a word meaning universal. The earliest Christian writing attest to the practice of referring to the Church Christ established as universal. This was done in order to distinguish the Church from Judaism, for Jews believed they were a chosen people and that only they were chosen. Jesus Christ came to preach that everyone is called to follow him and his teachings and to become Christian, and that rather than being exclusive, the Church is universal, in other words, open to all.

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