To an outsider – or admittedly some insiders – knowing the difference between the different Christian denominations can be rather difficult. They all seem to have some overlap, but with some major differences. But just what is it that separates these religions? Below is a quick summary of the different groups, and what sets them apart from all of the others.
Anglicanism – This branch of Christianity is historically connected to the Church of England. It is commonly understood as a sort of middle ground between the claims of 16th Century Roman Catholicism and the Protestants of that era. Like other sections, it is founded on the Scriptures and the Gospels. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer. This cook is a collection of services that worshipers in most churches have used for centuries.
Catholicism – Catholicism is used as a broad term for describing specific traditions in the Christian churches. The word Catholicism separates has a different meaning when used by itself, rather than referring to the Roman Catholic Church. It is mainly used to show contrast between this group and Protestants.
Lutheran – Lutheran is a major branch of Protestant Christianity. It identifies with the theology of its founder, Martin Luther. Back in 1517, Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church, and launched the Protestant Reformation as a result. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification “by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone”. Another doctrine is that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith – which contradicted the Council of Trent which stated that authority came from both the Scriptures and Tradition. Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism. In terms of membership, it is only third behind historically Pentecostal denominations and Anglicanism.
Methodism – This denomination is another branch of Protestant Christianity. This branch however, derives its inspiration from the teachings of John Wesley, rather than Martin Luther. It is characterized largely by its emphasis on helping the poor and the average person. It has a very systematic approach towards building the person, and the church and its missionary spirit. Methodists believe that by building loving relationships with others through social service, they can become closer to God’s love.
Presbyterian – Lastly we have a branch of Reformed Protestantism. This denomination can trace its roots back to the British Isles, and they derive their name from the form of church government. The theology of this group focuses on the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. In this denomination, common practice and order are regulated through a “Book of Order.”
As you can see,there are many differences between the different denominations, but they all have several things in common. In the end, though there are differences, all of them believe in Christ and the Bible, making them more closely related than it might seem at first.