The authors on Conciliar Post hail from a variety of Christian traditions and use this website to host an intentional community, with the goal of facilitating the exchange of ideas and encouraging loving action.
With this in mind, from time to time we write articles that expound on or argue for a particular dogmatic theological position. In order to organize these thoughts for you, we have placed these articles into collections centered around theological traditions. These categories serve as the jumping off point for your own exploration. They bring together thoughts either dealing with the distinctives of each tradition or flowing directly from those distinctives. Part of interacting with someone else’s thoughts is investing the time to understand what they are saying and why. Our hope is that these collections will enhance your understanding of Christ, His Word, and others who are pursuing Him.
The Anglican Church began in England in 16th century, when King Henry VIII broke from Rome. Anglicans trace their tradition back to Saint Augustine of Canterbury, who came to England in 596 AD under Pope Gregory I. The Anglican tradition bases their faith in the Scripture, tradition (especially the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds), and reason. They uphold Baptism and Communion as the sacraments and worship in a liturgical “high Church” manner. Bishops, priests, and lay synods are the primary groups in the Anglican governance. The Book of Common Prayer and Thirty-Nine Articles are two of the primary texts of the Anglican tradition.
The Catholic Church traces its heritage back to Jesus and the Apostles, particularly Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Catholic Church is comprised of Roman Catholics, which is the dominant communion in America, and Eastern Catholics. Catholics affirm that revelation comes from Scripture, tradition including the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, and reason. The Catholic Church has an organized hierarchy that includes the Pope, magisterium, bishops, and priests. Catholics practice the seven sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. The Roman Catholic Church worships in a high liturgical tradition in the vernacular language (the Roman Rite), while the Eastern Catholic Church worships in rites specific to their church (Byzantine Rite and Syrian Rite are the most prominent).
Charismatic Christianity features a wide range of churches that emphasize the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and prophecy, and miracles. Charismatics do not uphold any particular doctrines but instead emphasize personal conversion and spontaneity in worship services. The three main churches within Charismatic Christianity are Pentecostalism, the Charismatic movement, and neocharismatic movements.
The Eastern Orthodox Church traces its roots back to Jesus and the Apostles. In 1054 the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western Churches split, and now the Eastern Orthodox church encompasses several national churches including Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, and more. The Eastern Orthodox Church has a hierarchical organization of patriarchs and bishops, with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the head. Distinctive beliefs and practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church the Divine Liturgy, the use of icons, reverence of Mary the Mother of God and the saints, and fasting. The Eastern Orthodox Church reveres scripture, adheres to the Nicene Creed, but without the Western addition of the filioque, and emphasizes the decrees of the 7 Ecumenical Councils. Orthodox practice the seven sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Orders, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick. These are often referred to as Holy Mysteries.
Of the many churches lay claim to a Lutheran identity, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is the most liturgically and theologically conservative. It traces its heritage back to Martin Luther, who was one of the first to break from Rome during the Protestant Reformation. Lutherans uphold sola Scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide as their primary doctrines—Scripture alone as their authority, salvation through grace, and justification through faith alone. Lutherans uphold a literal interpretation of Scripture and adhere to the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds along with Luther’s Small Catechism as their articulations of faith. Lutherans practice the two sacraments of Baptism and Communion.
Methodism is comprised of several Protestant churches that span across several continents. Methodism emerged out of Anglicanism in 18th century with the teachings of John Wesley and Charles Wesley. Unlike groups such as Lutherans, who believe in predestination, Methodists emphasize free will and prevenient grace. They base their faith off of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience, and they recognize Baptism and Communion as the two sacraments.
These Christians do not identify with any particular Christian denomination. Generally, non-denominational churches encompass a broad spectrum of theological opinions. Despite these differences, however, a number of similarities exist within non-denominational churches, including a Low Church worship style, emphasis on sola scriptura, and an admirable determination to fulfill the great commission. Unlike the High Church Traditions, the physical world is not included in worship or spiritual life. Non-denominational churches tend to stress the role of the individual believer in spiritual life and biblical interpretation to the exclusion of creeds and tradition.
Reformed Christianity traces its heritage to John Calvin, one of the dominant theologians during the Protestant Reformation. As the name indicates, Reformed Christianity began out of the desire to reform the late medieval Roman Catholic Church. Reformed Christianity upholds Scripture alone as the source of faith. Reformed doctrine emphasizes the points known as the Calvinist TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. Reformed Christians practice the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.