Oh okay. Thank you.
So, what different branches of Christianity are there?(Sorry, I don’t know a lot about this )
The three main ones are Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism but there are smaller denominations within those.
There are tonnes of Protestant denominations like Lutherans and Methodists and Anglicans and Calvinists etc.
Catholicism? Well, there’s very little difference since we all follow the Pope, but there is Roman Catholicism and Greek Catholicism and a few others.
Orthodox? It’s mainly Russian and Greek Orthodoxy, but there are others like Ethiopian etc
If you want a full description of why there are so many, I can get on my laptop and explain it
Yeah, that would be great if you are willing. It’s honestly really interesting! I’m also thinking about writing a horror story with the main character being Christian and I want to make sure I portray her correctly if I do decide to do it.
The Origins of Christianity
In the Bible there’s this guy called Simon Peter – he started his life as Simon and he was Jesus’s disciple. When Jesus was captured before he was crucified, Simon was the man to deny that he knew Jesus 3 times (and then the cockerel crowed and Simon was really angry with himself). He did it because he was terrified. But Jesus had predicted it (along with the whole event), which made Simon feel even more guilty.
Then when Jesus rose on Sunday (which is why we celebrate our rest day on the Sunday in most Christian denominations – though some still follow Jewish tradition and celebrate it on Saturday), he then spent a while with his disciples teaching them everything they needed to know to go and spread his message to the world.
He spoke to Simon and made him basically say how much he loves Jesus 3 times (many scholars believe it was once per time that he denied knowing Jesus before). After this, Jesus says the following line to Simon:
This line will go on to divide many Christian circles, but I’ll explain it from a Catholic point of view later on. I want to let you know that I am biased about these things because of my denomination, but I will tell you every time there is something we disagree on.
Then he sent his disciples out to spread the message of Jesus to the world. Jesus had renamed Simon, calling him Peter instead (that’s why he’s known as Simon Peter). These disciples are known as the 12 apostles and they went to different countries to help out.
Well, Peter went to Rome because the Roman Empire was the biggest power in the known world. He wanted to teach everyone in Rome the message of Jesus. Later on, there would be another apostle called Paul, who was a Jew who used to persecute Christians until he had a message sent to him from (I believe) God. He is not one of the 12 apostles, but he does call himself an apostle because he did write part of the New Testament and he was there when the original Christians set out the rules of the new Church. He got messages directly from God and was given a mission.
The Catholic-Orthodox Split
Well, this remained the same way for just over 1000 years. In that time, Christianity had become the religion of the Roman Empire and the head of the Church was always in Rome. However, the Roman Empire had collapsed!
But before that, the new centre of the Roman Empire had become Constantinople, which is now Istanbul (I think). This meant that there were two supposed centres to Christianity, too! The East and the West. The West in Rome and the East in Constantinople. So when the Roman Empire started to fall (it was a very slow thing and the “Roman Empire” lasted for a very long time after that, but it wasn’t even Roman at that point) there was no reason for the East and West to stick together. So there was lots of tension.
Then in 1054, there was the East-West Schism. It happened slowly, too, but it caused the formation of two churches that didn’t accept each other: The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Most of the West and Centre of Europe remained Catholic, while Eastern Europe and parts of Asia were Orthodox – and Greece, which is pretty Eastern.
There are differences! Catholics have a pope. Orthodox peole have Patriarchs (each Orthodox church has their own patriarch, who is similar to a pope, but is not a pope at the same time). We have most of our official ceremonies in Latin, but we’ve mainly switched to vernacular (using the language of the country). They translated most of the Bible into Russian or Greek etc. The Catholic Church accepts 73 books as part of the Bible. It varies across the Orthodox world.
However, we both have saints and believe that the Blood and the Wine during Church services becomes the body and blood of Jesus (which is important for later), but we call it different things. In the Catholic Church, we call it transubstantiation.
Most of these changes happened over time because we’ve been separate for so long. Our denominations evolved separately!
Protestantism’s Split from Catholicism
That’s all I can really say about Orthodoxy. There are so many separate churches that it’s hard to speak about them all in one brush, so I summed up the important things. Let’s go onto the main one.
There’s a guy called Martin Luther (yeah, Martin Luther King Jr’s is named for his father, who was named in honour of this dude). He was a priest in the Catholic Church in the early 16th Century (1500s). But he went to study in Rome and realised that the Catholic priests in Rome weren’t taking the religion seriously anymore. They were doing some pretty awful things. Selling people indulgences – like time off purgatory. Not honouring their own sacred vows etc. The Catholic Church was a mess at the time.
So he becomes quite disillusioned with the Church. in 1517, he writes something known as the ninety-five theses: basically 95 reasons why he thought the Catholic Church was a mess. This was huge.
He started off pretty mild, but ended up forming his own church. He took some books of the Catholic Bible out (actually, he just moved them to the back of the Bible and said they were less important, but still useful to read. It was later Protestants who removed those books completely and made it so that Catholics have to look for their special, longer Bible.
He was a very good speaker and owned a lot of Catholics in debates. He taught people that they need to read the Bible for themselves (the Catholic Church at the time said that it was a priest’s job to read and interpret the Bible for you). He told them that their opinion on the Bible matters just as much as a priest’s and translated the Bible into German. The Catholic Church at the time only used the Latin Bible.
He did lots of other changes, too, but let’s focus on telling people their opinion matters: naturally, when you tell them that their opinion is also valid when it comes to religion, a bunch of different people formed their own opinions that didn’t match Luther’s and formed their own Churches. Pretty much all of them took wives, which is still against the rules for a priest in the Catholic church.
So the Calvinists came. And the Anabaptists. And the Anglicans. And pretty much all other types of Protestantism that aren’t really new.
In England, Henry VIII wanted to marry a new wife, so he broke away from Rome and named himself the head of the Church of England instead of the Pope. The Pope excommunicated him and he took all the land and money from monks in England. A lot of Protestants in England used this to form Protestantism in their Churches. However, I need to stress: Henry still had very Catholic ideas and reinstated a lot of Catholic ideas when he was close to death. Then his son made the Church properly Protestant. His daughter Mary changed it back to Catholic. Then Elizabeth I made it Protestant again.
in the 20th Century, a bunch of new churches formed. They’re called New Protestant Churches, as they largely come from Protestantism and not Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Some others came earlier, like Mormonism, but that’s complicated. Most of them came from America, too, and have a very America-centric view to Christianity. I mean, some believe Jesus went to America 2000 years ago!
The main dilemma between Catholicism and Protestantism is the line that I quoted to you from the Bible. You see, Peter means “rock”. So Catholics (including me) believe that Jesus said “Your name is rock, and on this rock I shall build my Church”. So for us that means that Peter is the head of the Church. I’ve read many explanations that Protestants have for that line, but I don’t feel I can represent them fairly, as they seem a little bit ridiculous to me, no offence ot the Protestants out there. And if Peter is the head of the Church for us, then the people who succeed him should also be the head of the Church. So we believe that Peter is the first pope.
Also, there are other issues, like that word I was talking about: transubstantiation. Catholics and most Orthodox people believe that the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Jesus, because he said “this is my blood… this is my body” during the Last Supper in the Bible. Luther believed that it was kinda infused with the spirit of Jesus. I believe it’s kinda like heating up a loaf of bread for him: the bread and wine stays bread and wine, but is heated with the spirit of Jesus.
Transubstantiation means that we believe that the essence of the bread and wine stays like bread and wine. You taste, see, feel and smell bread and wine, but in terms of the philosophical idea of substance (the thing that makes a thing what it is. The substance of a chair is the thing that makes it a chair and not just a plank of wood. It’s very philosophical!), it becomes Jesus.
And then there are things like the Sacraments. In the Catholic Church, we have 7 sacraments that, even though I know all of this from my Confirmation classes, I can never name in order, so I’ll just list them here:
- Holy Orders (priests, bishops, popes, etc)
- Annointing of the Sick
- Eucharist (the body and blood)
Most Protestant circles only really do the Baptism and Marriage parts of that. The Anglican Church in England can also have Confirmation and Confession depending on the individual church, but most of them don’t really accept all of these as sacraments (things that should be done for God kinda).
The Anabaptists believe you shouldn’t baptise a baby and that it should be a choice in adulthood. The Catholics and most Protestants believe that baptism gives you a clean slate from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve so that babies have no worries about going to Heaven if anything bad happens to them.
Of course, Catholics believe priests should stay unmarried. We also believe in the saints and Mary, who is kinda absent from Protestant practices (but not Orthodox practices).
We are also the ones who have things like pretty churches. Us and the Orthodox Christians. Because most Protestant churches believe that you shouldn’t adorn churches with things like stained glass windows.
And, of course, we’re the ones who have exorcists, too.
Wow! I hope that’s everything!
I believe in saints, but not the same type of god like the one in the bible. More like a holy spirit.
This is probably a loaded question, but why do you choose to believe in such a god and follow those types of rules in the bible? This is something I have always been curious about, because my beliefs are similar to yours, but I could never bring myself to believe in a god or even if I did, follow the god’s rules. Sorry if I’m being offensive but it would really help me understand the religion a little better
This is really helpful!
I’ve actually learnt about the rise of Christianity in ancient Rome.
Hmmm that’s an interesting question. For me, I just see science as a hint to a possible higher power. A Big Bang, unorchestrated? Where did the singularity come from? Why do we stop looking for our origins there?
There are plenty of other personal reasons, but it’s also because I have the belief that all humans have the same moral system.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a good person or a bad person. If you aren’t a sociopath, the chances are that you’re going to need excuses to justify your bad deeds. That to me points to a kinda knowledge we all innately have. A kinda Holy Spirit.
In terms of the rules? There aren’t that many for me. I don’t really believe God has a problem with me having sex before marriage. The rest of it is pretty basic. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Respect your parents. Love your god.
And the LGBTQ stuff isn’t actually in the Bible really. It’s an interpretation of the text I disagree with
Sorry if this is getting off topic…
But Christianity and any other religion where someone believes in a god but also chooses to love them and worship them confuse and also fascinate me. I like to believe that there is some higher power, but like to believe we work together with them to create, well, us. I believe in reincarnation and past lives and that I planned out my life.
It’s hard for me to understand loving a god, but I can understand loving a guardian or an angel, so I guess I have to think of it as loving a guardian- because I believe in them more than I believe any kind of god.
Personally I just don’t really see what spirit is if there’s nothing recognisable of you that gets reincarnated. I believe in God and love him because I don’t really blame him for every problem in the world. I believe that God has given us free will by creating a self-sufficient world. It’s not a perfect world and awful things happen, but it sustains itself so God doesn’t directly interfere with our lives on a constant basis. I think that helps us with our free will. Plus, free will makes people do evil things
If I were to believe in God, that’s exactly how I would believe in him- that he created a world where we get the choice to do things, and that it’s not perfect, but he doesn’t interfere.
So, I’m writing a horror story (I’ve just taken an interest in them lately) and wanted to know how a Christian would react to a lot of high-stress terrifying situations.
And sins… How exactly do they work?
And also- do you have any beliefs about modesty that I should keep in mind with my MC if I make her Christian?
Sorry if I’m asking a lot of questions, I’ll probably research this a bit more later if I choose to write the story.
Bookmarked it . Seems very helpful
I shouldn’t be on this thread
Normally, there’s no set dress code. But when attending Church, it’s considered more appropriate to dress a little modestly (eg. no transparent clothes, crop tops).
This might help you get an idea
Mostly, we’d react like any other person would, maybe say a prayer to God to keep us safe.
It’s ok to ask questions,
Christian’s on the forums: What branch of Christianity are you part of?
I’m a Roman Catholic, as you probably guessed
Cool! I’m a Methodist
Lol! I’m not Christian! My mum would flip