Christian history is marked with schisms and divisions that have led to the hundreds of denominations we have today. The Protestant Reformation, for example, created several protestant denominations, such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans and more. Divisions and movements within these traditions led to even more denominations, such as the Methodists splitting away from the Anglicans. Catholics, Protestants and Methodists share some key beliefs, but each has unique beliefs as well.
Key Christian Beliefs
Certain core doctrines define Christianity. Whether Catholic, Protestant, Methodist or any other Christian denomination, these key beliefs remain central. One key Christian belief is the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine teaches that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit are one God, yet three separate, equal "persons." Other key beliefs of Christians include the death and resurrection of Christ, the authority of Scripture and the virgin birth.
Key Catholic Beliefs
The Roman Catholic Church holds several beliefs not found in other denominations. Some of these distinctive Catholic beliefs were at the core of disagreements during the Protestant Reformation. Catholics believe in the eternal virginity of Mary, for example. They also believe in the Bishop of Rome's primacy over other clergy and refer to him as the Pope. Catholics believe there is no salvation outside the institutional Roman Catholic Church. They teach that the Church has the final say in all matters of faith. They believe good works play a role in salvation. Catholics hold saints in high regard, and even ask saints to pray for specific needs. Purgatory is a uniquely Catholic view, too.
Key Protestant Beliefs
Protestants separated from the Roman Catholic Church over theological as well as political issues. The Reformation created three distinct Protestant beliefs. Protestants believe in the sole authority of the Bible in all matters of faith. They believe faith alone, not good works, is necessary for salvation. They believe any Christian can communicate directly with God without the aid of a priest or saints. These three key Protestant beliefs -- scripture alone, faith alone and the priesthood of all believers -- define all Protestant denominations.
Key Methodist Beliefs
Methodism is a Protestant movement founded by John Wesley in 18th-century England. Methodists hold to key Protestant beliefs, but they also have their own unique ideas. Methodists emphasize humanity's free will to choose whether to follow Christ, whereas many Protestants believe God predestines a person's faith. Methodists also have a distinctive view on holiness or Christian living. They believe God sanctifies the believer (makes the believer holy) as the Christian matures in the walk of faith.
- Reasons to Believe: The Distinctives of Protestant Christianity Part 1
- Ancient and Future Catholics: Basic Catholic Beliefs and Practices
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Bible At Core Of Catholic Beliefs
- General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church: Methodist History and Methodist Beliefs
- Seeking God: Basic Methodist Beliefs
- Christianity in View: Protestantism
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