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This is like whitewash over a rotted fence. It looks good, but under the whitewash...
About the only thing that is accurate is that these are all groups somehow connected to the name "Jesus" and title "Christ". For the overwhelming majority of Europeans, Christianity and church are merely cultural relics with no connection to personal faith. In much of the "Bible belt" in the United States, going to church is a cultural thing to do as a sign of respectability, but many don't really believe it. For the old style liberals in the church, Jesus may not even have lived, but the church grew up based on interesting legends. For the neo-orthodox, they noticed that the words of orthodoxy seem to have power, so they use the same words and sound orthodox, while, like Humpty Dumpty, investing the terms with meanings consistent with old style liberalism (e.g. "Jesus' resurrection from the dead" means his body could still be mouldering in the grave, but in remembering what he stood for, he is resurrected in our hearts). Because of the cultural cachet of respectability, "Christian" is applied to organizations that have no connection to the church or faith.
Why not just admit that "Christianity" in modern usage is an undefined term self identified by different individuals and groups with vastly different belief systems? Then there is no need to argue whether one group is "Christian" or not. The moment restrictions are placed on who legitimately can be called "Christian", where does one stop? At Roman Catholicism? At Southern Baptists? Lutherans? Orthodox (by name)? If one restricts "Christian" to only those who truly believe the literal teachings of the Bible, would there be even 100 million Christians? Even 50 million world wide? Could Wikipedia survive the onslaught of the disenfranchised? But by admitting that "Christianity" is an undefined term, would this article not be more accurate?
Melamed 17:05, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- It seems to me that many of the points you make are already in the article, including Christianity's incredible fragmentation and widespread nominalism. Perhaps you feel that these points should be made more forcefully? I don't think it would be accurate to say that "Christianity" is an undefined term; the problem with understanding Christianity is not the lack of a definition, but rather the abundance of definitions, some of which are complementary, while others are conflicting to the point of being contradictory. Wesley 22:47, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- That's just it, when a term has so many definitions, some of which contradict, so that an individual use almost requires a mini dissertation to specify which definition is operative, the term is de facto undefined. I think the article would be more accurate to admit it up front.
- Secondly, the claim is made that Europe is "Christian" (whatever that means) but already over three decades ago there was talk about the "post-Christian Europe". Only a very tiny percentage of Europeans even claim that "Christianity" (whatever that means) has any relevance to their lives. A higher percentage of Europeans are Muslim, so should we talk of "Muslim Europe"? Melamed 12:32, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
"Why not just admit that "Christianity" in modern usage is an undefined term self identified by different individuals and groups with vastly different belief systems? Then there is no need to argue whether one group is "Christian" or not. The moment restrictions are placed on who legitimately can be called "Christian", where does one stop? At Roman Catholicism? At Southern Baptists? Lutherans? Orthodox (by name)? If one restricts "Christian" to only those who truly believe the literal teachings of the Bible, would there be even 100 million Christians? Even 50 million world wide?"
Personally I have no problem with saying that there are many people and organisations out there that would call themselves Christian, and are enything but. However, The Bible has some statements about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, i.e. Christian -
Luke 9:23 'Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'
Matthew 10:38 'and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.'
I would always be prepared to debate on whether something is Christian or not, based on what The Bible says. I do not believe that the mainstream Roman Catholic church is Christian, not to say that Roman Catholics can't be Christians, I know some myself. This is rather typical of many groups/organisations. As such there may be a general classification of Christian or not, but that does not mean to say that inside that group/church denomination that there are other instances. I attend an Anglican church in Australia, which can be classed as evangelical Anglican, whereas some other churches within the Anglican classification, 'high' anglicans, are not very different from Roman Catholics. The Archbishop of Western Australia (Most Rev Barry James Hickey) does not believe in a literal physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Bible is crystal clear on this matter -
Romans 10:9 'That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.'
Clearly Most Rev Barry James Hickey is not a Christian from this passage and others where Jesus himself says he will be resurrected.
"If one restricts "Christian" to only those who truly believe the literal teachings of the Bible, would there be even 100 million Christians? Even 50 million world wide?"
Yes. The 2001 edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia stated there were 2.1 billion (billion as in 1,000,000,000) Christians in the world, or 33% of the total population. (This includes many denominations that generally wouldn't be considered Christian, as well as many that are considered cults.) I have heard an estimation that around one quarter of all 'Christians' are actually Christians according to The Bible. Thus, taking one quarter of 2.1 billion we would get the approximate number of Christians "who truly believe the literal teachings of the Bible" to be 525 million.
w00tboy 05:43, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
Melamed said: <This is like whitewash over a rotted fence. It looks good, but under the whitewash... >
In the above observation it seems to me, you go through many of the processes that are characteristic and valued in the historical organism of Christianity. First, you denounce Christians for not having the right "connection to personal faith." Second, you warn us that there are those among us who cannot "legitimately be called Christian." Those two Acts, both the denouncing and the searching for the black sheep among us, are very Christian and highly valued by Christians. Paul the Apostle did both your Acts of denouncing and searching for the black sheep among us. And Christians throughout the centuries have loved Paul who would be a saint for it. So it is appropriate perhaps to the subject of Christianity that you do those two Acts here in response to reading about Christianity.
But a Wikipedia encyclopedia page is about much more than the Acts of Christianity, whether the Act of connecting to personal faith or the Act of finding out who among us is not legitimately Christian. A Wikipedia encyclopedia page is about much more than those or any other Acts of Christianity; it is about truth. You either see it or you don't. Seeing truth is something like seeing the cathedral emerge from the midst of all those dots of disconnected color in an impressionist painting. You can deny it; you can criticize the paint; you can call it a "whitewash over a rotted canvas"; you may be right that the workmen setting the bricks and the architect did not have a "connection to personal faith"; and you may be right that all those penitent mothers who scrimped their pennies to pay for that edifice could not "legitimately be called Christian."
Notwithstanding whatever accuracy there may be in what you say, still the Wikipedia page Christianity stands as a masterpiece of truth. It is truth because I recognize it; many people have recognized it, and hence it is a Featured Article. Now the magnificent painting is not the cathedral itself. Nevertheless, the Wikipedia Christianity page evokes the enormity and detail of the historical organism that I have seen, experienced, and studied. And I have no interest in whether Christianity prospers any more than any other organization of people who sometimes hope to do good.
I write this in particular because I did not work on the Christianity page, but I watched it grow paint-dot by paint-dot. And I would say that it is magnificent in portraying the truth in the historical organism of Christianity. You protest that more could be said in more detail, in a different light. Yes, that is so. But that would be a different painting--even as Monet did many paintings of the same façade of the Rouen Cathedral in different lights. And I can see pieces of technique in the economy, scale, clarity, and organization of the Wikipedia Christianity page that I will try to emulate in my own canvases. :)) ---Rednblu 00:31, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Didn't know you are here, too.
What are you talking about? Where do I " denounce Christians for not having the right "connection to personal faith." "? Ditto for the rest of your charges.
Look at my letter again, and my answer to Wesley above. If I denounce anyone, it is the writers of this article for using wishy washy terminology to paper over real differences in meaning and for not admitting what empirical observation tells us, that the terms "Christian" and "Christianity" have become de facto undefined terms. Therefore, it is my contention that the article would be more accurate to admit up front, at the beginning, that the "Christianity" has so many definitions that it is effectively undefined, then list various definitions that have been proposed for the term.
Melamed 13:37, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
That's okay. I used the simile of an impressionist painting to express the misreading that I saw in your critique because, contrasting to what you say, I was impressed by the subtlety of the full portrayal of contradictions in beliefs and practices that I saw in the Christianity page, as Wesley implies above.
Let me point to particular "patches of paint."
When I read in the Christianity page "Jesus's followers were first called Christians by non-Christians in the city of Antioch," I was impressed by the, what to me is accurate, shading in implying that the organism of Christianity is defined by the process of resistance to whatever Christianity is. And that paragraph is so, so efficient in the expression if it. Apparently, the internal contradictions of Christianity do not matter if the opposition is unified against it--whatever it is.
Then later I read, "[Constantine] organized the first of several ecumenical councils for resolving doctrinal issues." How efficiently that captures the processes in the historical organism of Christianity! The conversions were not based on unity of beliefs or clarity of definitions--and that lack of internal consistency and lack of clarity in what was actually being said to the converts would never go away. The contradictions, irrationalities, and inconsistencies in Christian doctrine did not matter.
Now, in those "patches of paint," you are right; there are no bricks, there is no recognition of the gravity against which the very real stone of the "cathedral" strains to remain upright, and there is no attempt to explain how the "cathedral" could stand despite all of those contradictory strains. You either see the truth in the resemblance of the Christianity page to Christianity, or you don't. And that is why I made the indulgence of pulling in that Monet painting, one of many different true perspectives of the same "cathedral," to illustrate the point.
Why don't you write a companion article Christianity (undefined terms)? How would you write that page using the Christianity page as "one of the best examples of the Wikipedia community's work"? :)) ---Rednblu 16:44, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Rednblu, thank you for your support... I think. ;-) We at least agree that the article is not excessively favorable to Christians. As to whether the multiplicity of definitions leaves the term effectively undefined, well, I understand the point, but respectfully disagree. There is enough similarity in so many of the definitions, and generally broad agreement by what is meant that Christianity is still a meaningful term. And while Europe may in some respects be called post-Christian, culturally it still bears more stamps of Christianity's influence than of Islam's. How many employers give time off for Muslim holidays, and how many time off for Christmas etc.? Wesley 04:28, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Wesley, please forgive my perhaps boisterous poetry. I meant only applause. Though from my unbeliever's perspective, I sympathize deeply with Melamed's and others' complaints that Christian and religious are defined inadequately to distinguish them logically from merely secular politics, I applaud with no reservations the magnificent job done by the teamwork that put together the Christianity page. And I would not want the, what I feel is, truth in the portrayal of the magnificence of Christianity to be diminished by questions of definitions on the Christianity page. I personally think the Christianity page demonstrates what Christianity is--more clearly than any approach I could think of that would even mention let alone deal with my feelings that I wish Christianity were somehow more clearly defined and not so amorphous within the multiplicity of definitions. If anybody opens up the question of "multiplicity of definitions," I would hope that that question would be raised in another page, not on the Christianity page. Would you agree? ---Rednblu 07:06, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
My objections to this article starts with the opening paragraph:
- Christianity is a monotheistic, broadly trinitarian religion, encompassing many religious traditions that trace their origins to Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Lord and sole Savior of all humanity as the Jewish Messiah. Over the past two millennia, Christianity has diverged into three main branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox. Collectively, it is the world's largest single religion, with over two billion followers.
This definition was accurate (excepting the numbers), 300 years ago. Today it does not reflect observed reality. Today, the definition on the street (well, in academia, too) has so many definitions, including atheism, pantheism, occult, you-name-it-ism, that it has become an undefined term. This is true even within the "establishment churches". The result is that one often must nail down which definition is being used in a conversation, which occasionally can take several minutes, before a common ground is reached and a fruitful discussion can be made concerning "Christianity".
If I were to rewrite that first paragraph, it would probably say:
- 300 years ago, most people would agree that Christianity is a monotheistic, broadly trinitarian religion, encompassing many religious traditions that trace their origins to Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Lord and sole Savior of all humanity as the Jewish Messiah. Over time Christianity has diverged into three main branches: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox. Today, however, about the only connection between many different groups and even individuals within those groups that call themselves "Christian" is a vague connection to the name "Jesus" and the title "Christ". As a result, the terms "Christian" and "Christianity" have so many definitions today that they have become undefined.
Then I'd probably write the rest of the article reflecting the historical development of the term, from its early definition, through the "victory" or "tragedy" of Constantine's alleged conversion (different groups disagree on the effects of that historical event), the effects of scholasticism and Thomas Aquinas and Renaissance on Roman Catholicism, the Protestant reaction to it, then the development of many different definitions from the late 18th century to the present.
I am not trying to get a definition "favorable" to Christians: to start, favorable to which "Christians"? It is very likely that if I had written the article, it would have been more unfavorable to "Christians" than the present article.
It is not true that the opposition is united against "Christianity". Both communism and Nazism differentiated between different strains of "Christianity" as to how to treat their followers. Even in the U.S., it is a rare group that paints all "Christians" with the same brush and opposes them equally (Islam being one of the few), rather they make a distinction based on the religious ideology espoused by the "Christian".
Wesley, how many countries give holidays for "Christmas"? Except for English, which European language has a word for "Christmas"? German, Scandinavian languages, (if I remember correctly) French all have words for their winter holidays that go back to their pagan pasts, not "Christianity". Oh, Spanish "Navidad" has a "Christian" root, but how many other languages have that connection? And while some social customs reflect a "Christian" past, my original objection to calling modern Europe "Christian" still stands, even most Europeans would agree with it. And yes, European employers give their Moslem employees Moslem holidays off, if they can work it into their schedules, the same as any other group.
Rednblu, my objections are based not on impressions, but on empirical observation and research.
Melamed 17:51, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I would agree that you have something important to say. But what is it?
1) Do you object to there being many different definitions for the word Christianity? Do you want there to be One?
2) Do you want some Certain decision-making mechanism for detecting the fake Christians from those who call themselves "Christian" but are not?
3) Do you think there is some significant disaster that can be avoided only by first acknowledging that "Christianity" is undefined?
Most people who have read the Christianity page apparently would disagree with your statement that "As a result, the terms "Christian" and "Christianity" have so many definitions today that they have become undefined." For example, no standard English non-Christian dictionary would consider either "Christian" or "Christianity" undefined.
So what do you mean by "empirical observation and research"? Do you mean your own personal "empirical observation and research" that contradicts every non-Christian dictionary? Surely the Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own personal "empirical observation and research" that contradicts what is written on the subject; you should find a non-Wikipedia publisher for your original ideas. What scholar says anything even close to the statement: "As a result, the terms "Christian" and "Christianity" have so many definitions today that they have become undefined"? Can you cite to one? ---Rednblu 19:07, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Melamed, further to Rednblu's comments, I'd point out that the World Council of Churches currently consists of 342 churches in 120 countries. To join, a church has to accept the WCC's consitutional basis, which is "The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit." I think this is a good example that most people who would define themself as Christian have some sort of basic common definition. --GRutter 19:37, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Do I want there to be only one definition for "Christianity"? For clarity in discussion, I'd love to have only one definition, I don't care what that one definition is, but one. I can argue for there to be one definition until I'm blue in the face, but that won't change the reality on the street that there are so many definitions as to make the term effectively undefined. Therefore, I bow to empirical observation and say that this article too would be improved by acknowledging that fact.
I don't like discussions where terms have fluid or multiple meanings. I think that investing terms with the meaning of the moment borders on intellectual dishonesty, if not crossing it. That is why I would like to see "Christianity" have a single definition, any single definition, than the present situation where it has multiple definitions: where a Mormon, Christian Scientist, Unitarian, mainstream church theologian teaching evolution and atheism, and a Bible thumping Fundamentalist can all be called "Christian" -- each group's definition of "Christianity" differs greatly from the other groups: if all are correct, then "Christianity" has no definition.
As for a decision-making mechanism to detect "fake" "Christians", each group already has such a mechanism. But one "Christian" group's heretic is another "Christian" group's model "Christian". Like the paragraphs above, the mechanism is defined by which definition of "Christianity" used by the group.
Francis Schaeffer was the first person I heard to claim that "Christianity" is undefined, only a little less undefined than the term "god". Upon further observation and studies in comparative religions at a state university, I have to agree with him.
Is there some significant disaster to be avoided by recognizing that "Christianity" is undefined? Nah, it's just a matter of accuracy. I read a comment by a reporter who said that he once checked an encyclopedia to make sure he had his facts correct, only to find out afterwards that the encyclopedia was incorrect. Does the Wikipedia community want Wikipedia to be known for accuracy, or ideology? Is it to reflect the preferences of ivory towered "great thinkers" or the reality on the street?
The way to evaluate what the WCC means by its constitution is to observe how it practices its constitution. Actions speak louder than words. Member churches have practiced occult, taught pantheism, even atheism, claimed that Jesus never lived but his legend is an inspiration to emulate, and on and on, everything and more that I mentioned in the first paragraph of the first posting I made to open this section, and have remained members in good standing. In short, they have divested the terms their constitution uses of their historical meanings, and invested them with new definitions according to the wishes of each member church without it affecting their membership. True, the definitions they use are not the normal definitions found in dictionaries, but like Humpty Dumpty, it is the user of a term who ultimately defines what he means by that term, whether or not he intends to use a common definition as found in dictionaries. Their actions are a good example why some people, not I alone, claim that the term "Christian" is effectively undefined. Actions speak louder than words.
Melamed 16:14, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Wikipedia ain't a dictionary that tries to pin definitions upon words. Leave such exercises to Mr. Webster. The article should be a NPOV look at the phenomenon of Christianity. ô¿ô 21:43, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Is "Christian" effectively undefined?
I apologize. I meant to write the following.
- What non-Christian scholar says anything even close to the statement: "As a result, the terms "Christian" and "Christianity" have so many definitions today that they have become undefined"? Can you cite to one?
My typo. I concede to you a point--if you feel that you scored a point.
I understand that many Christian scholars keep bemoaning the multiplicity of definitions for Christian. I see in the Christianity page over and over the historical record of Christians bemoaning the multiplicity of definitions and the lack of an effective definition. That is what the First Ecumenical Council was about--fixing that lack of an effective definition. Do want a clearer definition than the non-Christian dictionary definition of Christian? If you do, then you are very Christian.
As Wesley and GRutter keep saying, "All of that Christian bemoaning the lack of an effective definition is all already in the Christianity page."
But it seems to me that the standard non-Christian dictionary definition for Christian works very effectively.
- Christian. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
That definition works just fine. And that is pretty much what GRutter tells us the World Council of Churches has defined as Christian. Definitions always have a quality of extracting a universal quality from many things that are dissimilar. How about the definition of house? There are some communities that have one definition for house, but they are not very interesting to live in. So there are actually many radically different definitions for house.
I sympathize with your wanting the Christianity page to be accurate. But it would be inaccurate to claim that Christian has "so many definitions today that it has become undefined." That pronouncement is so Christian and so wrong. Many Christians have no problem with there being many definitions for Christian. And if you start denouncing the World Council of Churches and throwing out of the church all the Christians that have "practiced occult, taught pantheism, even atheism, claimed that Jesus never lived but his legend is an inspiration to emulate, snd so on, and so on," then you have merely taken the lonely definition of Christian for yourself. ---Rednblu 17:57, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)
So only a non-Christian's definition is authoritative in deciding what a "Christian" believes? And a "Christian's" definition of anything outside of "Christianity" is worthless because it is outside of his beliefs? Does it even matter what non-Christians think, if "Christians" notice that within their ranks that "Christianity" has so many definitions that it is effectively undefined?
What about ecumenical councils? Different ones have contradicted and denounced each other, which was a major point made by Luther in his debate with Dr. Eck. But by acknowledging that "Christianity" is an undefined term, does not that allow anyone to call himself a "Christian" if he so wishes?
And where have I "taken on the lonely definition of Christian" for myself? Show me one place in my entries above! Where have I "denounced the World Council of Churches" or thrown out of the church people who practice other than the narrow definition that you, Rednblu, propose? In fact, did I not even warn against that in my first entry? The very reason I warned against using one definition for "Christian" is because there are so many people using so many different definitions for "Christian" and applying the term "Christian" to themselves that the term has become undefined. Where have I tried to restrict "Christian" to one definition?
How is it inaccurate to acknowledge the fact up front that the standard dictionary meaning is accurate only up to about 300 years ago, and that today there are so many definitions that people use for "Christian" that the term has become effectively undefined? For example, how many "Christians" in Europe even realize that it has something to do with Jesus? Yet it is implied in the article that most Europeans believe the definition from the first paragraph: is not that implication inaccurate?
Melamed 22:43, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- No. The text of Christianity is subtle here to a degree that I admire. The text says, "many Christian-dominated nations, especially in Western Europe" reacted to the Christian-domination. I think the implication is accurate. ---Rednblu 01:46, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- It's very subtle, and contradicted by such statements as "when a military coalition of mostly-Christian countries" invaded Iraq and "In the second half of the 20th century Roman Catholics and Protestants have been killing each other for religious and political reasons in Northern Ireland." (When I met people from Northern Ireland at the height of the fighting, they denied that it had any religious component, but it was entirely based on social and political issues: the social being the conflict between the descendants of colonizers from Scotland (labeled "Protestant") and descendants of Irish natives (labeled "Catholic") and the political whether or not Northern Ireland should be part of the Republic of Ireland.)
- In another discussion you emphasized that a Wikipedia article ought be understood by high school students, and I doubt that such subtlety will be understood by more than a small minority of high school students.
- Melamed 15:35, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Are you suggesting that the sentence should read: "In the second half of the 20th century Roman Catholics and Protestants have been killing each other for social and political reasons in Northern Ireland"? ---Rednblu 17:23, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Melamed, I don't think that saying "Christianity is effectively undefined" in the first paragraph is going to be understandable to the majority of high school students either. The first paragraph gives a definition that I think most people calling themselves Christians could agree with. The section on "Christianity today" then gives a good summary of the problems with that definition, when you try and apply it to individual groups, eg "Not all people identified as Christians accept all, or even most, of the theological positions held by their particular churches." (I think that's possibly over-stating the case, but that's a separate issue). Therefore, I think the article currently gives a good overview of the problems. I think using the word "undefined" in the first paragraph will just cause confusion. I thnk that the words "broadly" and "many religious traditions" point towards the multiplicity of potential definitions covered in the main part of the article. --GRutter 19:30, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I agree than simply saying "Christianity is effectively undefined" in the first paragraph is going to be understandable to the majority of high school students either. Rather it should be further developed. One idea I'm toying with would be like the following:
- "Christianity" is a term in transition. It has had many definitions over its history.
- Historically it was first used to denote those Jews who believed that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish beliefs in the coming of a "Messiah" (Anointed One), translated into Greek as "Christos". This was seen as a continuation of the ancient Jewish belief that there was one God, a God who is three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) yet one God, who had created the universe, perfect but his creation, man, spoiled it by rebelling against God. God then promised a way to repair the breach between God and man, a person who would suffer, taking on the punishment meant for man so that man could be saved, a human yet the son of God at the same time the one God who created the universe. This belief is understood from passages such as Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Micah 5:1 (in Hebrew, 5:2 in English) and many other verses.
- Even as it was the Jewish practice at that time to seek out proselytes to their faith, so the early church sought out proselytes from among those who were not Jews, the proselytes also were called "Christians". While there were a few others who did not follow the teachings of the original church yet called themselves "Christian", the fact that it was a capital crime punishable by death to call oneself a "Christian" tended to limit those who were willing to take that risk.
- The first major change occurred after the alleged conversion of Constantine to Christianity. Suddenly it was not only allowed to be a "Christian" but there were certain privileges to be gained by being members of a church. Thousands joined churches merely for the economic and political advantages conferred, while holding onto their previous beliefs in paganism and polytheism. This was the start of distinctly Roman Catholic church teachings. All of these beliefs are now called "Christian".
- It was from this period onward that there was the attempt to combine the teachings of the Greek and Roman philosophers with the teachings of the Bible. This activity was first carried out by the Scholastics, and later by Thomas Aquinas and his followers. This humanism, because it was under the sponsorship of the church, is called "Christian".
- The Reformation attempted to get back to the purity of the Bible and the early church. They called themselves "Christian" while trying to limit the use of the term to themselves.
- A few generations after the Reformation, there was a new attempt to combine the teachings of the church, this time the European state churches, with emerging philosophic traditions started by Kant, Hegel and other modern philosophers and with a widely held belief in evolution. These people denied almost all the teachings believed by the pre-Constantine church, yet called themselves "Christian".
- Because of state churches, there are millions who are called "Christian" merely because they are citizens of the state, who would not call themselves by the same name. For example, in Northern Ireland, a non-Christian who would not call himself a "Christian", is still listed as a Protestant or Roman Catholic ("Christian") depending on his social class and ancestry.
- Meanwhile, other movements started up that want to call themselves "Christian" including the Mormons and the Christian Scientists as well as other so-called "fringe" groups.
- Millions more call themselves "Christian" merely because they think the name carries with it a cachet of respectability, of tolerance and doing good, doing onto others what one wishes to be done to himself. To such people, the term "Christian" has nothing to do with historic definitions of the term.
- Yet, all these different, contradictory meanings are called "Christian", making the term have so many definitions that many say that it is effectively undefined. It is used to define creationism yet atheistic evolution; Biblical literalism yet Documentary Hypothesis; belief in one God, many gods, agnosticism or even atheism; in short, so many definitions that what does it mean? Can it be limited to one definition? Who has the authority to limit the term "Christian" to those who hold to a particular teaching and disallow all others from using the term for themselves?
- "Christianity", a term in transition, with so many definitions that it has no one definition to which all can agree.
GRutter, this turned out longer than I expected, but it shows in simple terms how the term itself is no longer definable. Do you have an objection to including this either at the very beginning, or at the first entry under the box? I saw the same practice used in other Wikipedia articles where there is a lot of controversy, controversy elicited by the fact that terms have changed meaning over time and/or where one definition is used in one part of the world while another in another part.
Do you admit that the above rough draft, upon editing, should make it understandable even to high school students, why people consider the term undefined. You claim that these ideas are included in the article, but they are so subtle that even I, who has a bit above a high school education, missed it. How do you expect a high school student to catch such subtlety?
Melamed 19:35, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Melamed, thank you for your interesting reply. I've re-read the Christianity article as well and at least some of what you've written above is already in - part in the history and part in the doctrine section (especially the last paragraph).
I think some of what you've written is certainly worth including, but I do have a few specific criticisms. I think one major point you're currently missing is that there have always been groups who would define themselves as Christian, but were classed by the orthodox majority as heretics. If you took all their definitions as part of "Christianity" I'm not sure you'd be able to argue that a very broad definition of the word is recent.
In your last paragraph I think you confuse two separate issues. The creationism, textual criticism, etc doesn't really touch on the central issue of "Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus." (I'd also delete the word "athestic" - evolution is a scientific theory, while athestic evolution is a metaphysical belief. A Christian can fully accept evolution, without disbeliving that God created the universe).
Your claim that "Christian" also encompasses atheism, many gods, etc is more relevant, but you need to back it up with named examples.
I'm still uncomfortable with "effectively undefined" on it's own. If you insist, I'd be somewhat happier with the phrase "so broad as to make it effectively undefined". However, I'm still not sure you've actually proved this. A Buddhist or an atheist (for example) are still not going to call themselves a Christian. If someone calls themselves a Christian, then (unless they're a nominal Christian- see below) at the very least it means someone who has been affected by Jesus' teaching and tries to live their life in accordance with it. So, that gives us a definition of Christian as: "Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the life and teachings of Jesus." This is very, very broad, but is still a definition.
However, I'd suggest that you incorporate some of what you've written into the article. I suggest that you create a subheading over the last paragraph of "Doctrine", called "Current doctrinal problems" or similar, and merge your last paragraph with that. Create another subheading below that called "Nominal Christianity" and put your paras on state churches and respectibility there. Merge your "A few generations after the Reformation" para with the 3rd para of "Christianity today". Add a final sentence to the opening para saying something like: "However due to the diversity of beliefs, there are problems with definiing exactly what is meant by the word Christian (see Current doctrinal problems, below)."
Two alternatives are: 1. Your suggestion: Expand your last paragraph slightly, and insert either as Section 1 "Problems with defining Christianity" (or similar), or in "Christianity today" or "Doctrine". 2. Create a separate article on "Christian: an undefined term" (or similar) and link across from the introduction.
I hope that this helps to move the debate forward! (Apologies for it's length!)
--GRutter 22:08, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Grutter, I think your suggestions are helpful. A section on "current doctrinal problems" would need to specify which denominations or groups of denominations are meant, since not all denoms face the same problems and pressures currently. Ghandi is famous for calling himself a Christian, and a Muslim, and a Hindu, all in one breath; he was influenced by some of Jesus' teachings concerning non-violence. Melamed, I wonder if your history summation would be more appropriate in History of Christianity? And, while it is generally, correct, some details are mistaken, many things you mention began one or several centuries earlier than you claim. Wesley 16:35, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Thanks Wesley. Yes, I agree that named denominations are needed. Ghandi is an interesting point, but could be argued to be "the exception that proves the rule". Also, he still (just about) falls within my definition of "following the life and teachings of Jesus." I still think the best approach for what Melamed wrote would be to partially use it, as I suggested in my previous post. --GRutter 20:00, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)
No need to apologize for the length of your response. A thoughtful response sometimes needs length.
You are right that there have always been people outside the mainstream that wanted to call themselves "Christian", but before about 300 years ago, it was generally conceded that terminology had objective definitions so that even non-Christians could generally agree whether or not a group fulfilled the definition. But today, that is no longer true.
But you bring up another question, what's the "orthodox majority"? How is it defined? How broad is that definition? Before we can continue on in this discussion, we need to define terms.
As for "Christianity" encompassing polytheism, I don't have names of people who were polytheists, but historical sources I read mentioned that the start of the Roman Catholic practice of "praying to the saints" started with the polytheistic pagans who joined the churches after the "conversion" of Constantine. It was they who elevated Mary to be the queen of heaven, and they considered the "saints" to be the lesser gods. Later Roman Catholicism modified it to say that the "saints" are people who, through their special holiness, could still intercede for the living even after their deaths, so they continued the prayers.
As for atheistic theologians (talk about an oxymoron) again I'd have to research to refind names I saw mentioned in news articles, though one place to start is the "Jesus Seminar". The same with pantheists, though they are much more common. The "official" doctrinal statements of even the most liberal churches still use terminology that includes "Jesus" and "God" but *wink* *wink* individual theologians can redefine the terms to whatever they want. Hence, what is "Professing belief in Jesus as Christ"? Or again, "following the life and teachings of Jesus"? What is a "Christ"? Which "Jesus"?
Do you notice that I don't know what you mean by the terminology you used? I notice that you redefined or took someone else's redefinition of "creation", originally defined as belief in a six day event, to include "evolution" that supposedly took billions of years. That redefinition, while accepted by some "Christians", is anathema to other "Christians". And while the connection is indirect, it touches on what is Jesus' message, what was the task he did. So, based on evolution, how do you see who was "Jesus" (if he even existed) and what does it mean that he is a "Christ"?
Notice, even connection to the name "Jesus" is not necessary to be called a "Christian". In European countries that have state churches, even "anti-Christian" activists will be called "Christian" because of their citizenship. With that being the case, how can even your minimal definition be correct?
After this long introduction, what I see lacking in the Christianity article is a history of the term "Christianity" itself, and how it has changed over time. You have a little on the history of the external church, but not on the use of the term.
An example of what I mean is found in right wing politics under A concept that has evolved over time where the right wing originally meant supporters of wealth and privilege while the left was small town store keepers, craftsmen and farmers, to today in the U.S. the left (example, RINO (Republican In Name Only), the left in the Republican Party and the left wing of the Democratic Party) tend to support multinational corporations, wealth and privilege, while farmers, small town shopkeepers and craftsmen tend to identify themselves with the "right wing". It is amazing how a term like "right wing politics" has changed so much in just 200 years, while "Christianity" has been changing for 2,000 years and there is no section in the article on "Christianity" that traces that development of the term itself.
What I suggested in my last message is a history of the term itself. Yes, there will be some overlap with other parts of the article, but the article as presently constituted concerns itself with both the term and the organizations that are connected with the term. Or you may be right that the best way to deal with this question is to have a separate article with mutual tags to this article, dealing merely with the history of the term "Christianity" and how it has changed over the centuries. If included as a section under the "Christianity" article, it should be as brief as possible, but as a separate article, it would need to be fleshed out with more examples and names.
Oh of course, corrections to my proposed section are appreciated (Thanks, Wesley).
What do you think?
Melamed 18:59, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- Melamed, I think you have an interesting point about changing definitions of Christianity. However, I don't agree that "before about 300 years ago, it was generally conceded that terminology had objective definitions". For example, during the Reformation period people on both sides defined themselves as Christians and their opponents as not. Now, I think most Christians would accept that people on both sides were Christians (for example, see Richard Hooker (theologian)).
- I think what has actually happened is that the definition of the term has gone through periods of great fluidity and periods where it was generally fixed. So, it was fluid for the first few centuries, became much more fixed after Constantine, and so on. I think that if you're going to expand upon this properly it'll need quite a lot of work and should be a separate article. I'd encourage you to make the additions I suggested to the Christianity article as well though. --GRutter 09:37, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Common Era or Anno Domini or Gregorian Calendar or nullstring?
I have unilatteraly changed all references from Common Era to Gregorian Calendar. It seemed hypocritical to have discussion of Christianity but reference C.E. as if the calendar in common Western usage were not based on the (miscalculated) year of Jesus' birth. David 23:26, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)
- This is a gross and flagrant error. There are millions of Christians worldwide who do not use the Gregorian Calendar. To presume that we all do is to ignore them completely. Indeed, if any calendar should be cited by name, it would be the Julian Calendar, since that was the Calendar used by nearly all Christianity for a millenium and a half and still used by millions of Christians to the present day. Justify cutting off and ignoring these millions of Christians. Dogface 03:37, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
- Both were errors; the rest of the article contains numerous references, such as 17th Century (enlightenment), 20th Century, which have no mention of CE or AD. This is the correct way to handle references to a date which is:
- single, that is, isolated from other dates, or,
- not being compared with another era, and,
- in the present era
- Because there is no need to spell out AD or CE, I removed it in the two places where it was redundant; exercising Occam's razor for clarity sake. Jds 02:40, Apr 9, 2004 (UTC)
- It's generally a good idea to specify the era when the era has not yet been established and it can't be assumed (e.g. we're talking about multi-millennium-scale history). I normally use BCE/CE everywhere, but when I needed to specify the era (once) for the History section I just wrote, I used AD out of respect for the subject matter. I won't get flustered if someone switches it to CE, but removing it entirely would be unnecessarily confusing. -- Mpt 14:25, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Here is another sentence I would like a consensus on prior to changing:
"However, the precise significance of Jesus' sacrifice, and the scope and meaning of the words "death" and "paradise" are in dispute between the various Christian denominations."
I recognize that different denominations have different views of HOW Jesus’ death redeemed us, so I have no problems with that part of the sentence. However I want to see a list of sects/denominations that dispute the "scope and meaning" of the word “death.” And I feel that “Heaven” should be used in place of “Paradise,” if that portion of the sentence is kept at all. Very little is known of Heaven (correct me if I am wrong, cite verses please) and references to disputes on different beliefs by different denominations should probably not be referenced here. The belief in eternal life with God in a perfect world is (I believe) a universally accepted Christian doctrine. David 19:32, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)
- "Paradise" is a more correct rendering of the Orthodox flavor on the matter, although "Heaven" is accepted as an adequate substitute. Our remembrance of the dead asks that God make us each a "citizen of Paradise", not a "citizen of Heaven". In part, this is because "the heavens" and "Heaven" are not considered as closely synonymous with the state of Salvation as is "Paradise". Dogface 16:59, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)
On the "The belief in eternal life with God in a perfect world is (I believe) a universally accepted Christian doctrine" the only counter-example I can think of is the Jehovah's Witnesses (where heaven is distinct from the perfect earth and God lives in heaven) JWs count themselves as a church but are not in the world council of churches I think because they could not agree "Jesus is Lord" BozMo(talk)
I agree. This is why I (and others) keep taking references to the JWs and Mormons out of the main sections of this article. One of the central doctrines of Christianity is that Jesus is Lord. The Mormons and the JWs do not subscribe to that doctrine. Respectfully - DavidR 22:41, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Anti and Pro Christian Links
I have taken the liberty of removing the anti-Christian and anti-Bible links from the bottom of this page in the interests of NPOV. I did so only after researching Wikipedia articles on Hinduism, Shinto, Islam, Wicca, and Buddhism. Since none of those articles contained such links I felt they violated any pretense of NPOV in this one. David
BozMo, my point is that if this is truely NPOV then each article on a given religion should have the same standards. No one is posting links to sites claiming that "Buddha is fat moron" on the Buddhism page, or "Mohammed is a child molester" (which I could present a reasonable case for, he married a 13 yr old in his 40's or 50's) on the Islam page. Sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. Respectfully - DavidR 22:46, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- Good Point, DLR, although I would have no objection to anti-Christian links, if pro-Christian links were included as well. There is a deeper problem though. The ovbious POV of the article itself is that it is written from a secularist viewpoint that wistfully thinks the liberal "enlightened" Christianity is the predominant expression today, while the opposite is true (witness the circulation figures of Evangelical Christianity Today as compared to Liberal Christian Century). Even within the mainline Protestant churches, there tends to be three groups, a liberal minority who control much of the church structure, a (larger) group of conservative Christians, and an equally large group that doesn't care. Outside North America and Europe, we find that Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity has maintained rapid (in some areas extremely rapid) growth, and there is no doubt that conservative Christianity predominates worldwide. Pollinator 17:21, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
- I am afraid I have to agree with you on that. However I have no compuctions about editing this article to bring it into line with real mainstream Christian thinking. I was noticing the lack of metion of the Nicene Creed (and it's attendant discussion on this page earlier) and I guess I'll start by adding a link to the excellent article here on Wikipedia under the Doctrinal section of the Christianity article. I will post my proposed changes here so that our community may have a chance to review them before I make the changes to the article. The two changes I will make with my next edit will be to add the Nicene Creed link and removed the word "alleged" from in front of the word "asencion"(sp?). I will of course spell check everthing prior to making changes. I know where at least one of my weaknesses is. ;) David 14:20, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)
- I do not think the opinion that conservative christianity predominates is self-evident. I would say the conservatives tend to be much more active but I do not think in overall numbers there are more of them. Do not forget you have to include a billion roman catholics into the calculation albeit to be considered a practising RC one only has to attend mass on a small number of days of obligation. I also think that the predominance of liberals within the CoE is almost entirely demographically linked to age: far more students are conservative far more 50 year old bishops are liberal. BozMo(talk)
I would also dispute the inclusion of the Mormons or LDS as Christians since they do not believe that Jesus is Lord, but rather that he is some sort of "super-angel", or at least that my understanding. It seems to me that the belief of Jesus as Lord is central to Christianity. I have not made this an edit yet. This is only the 4th or 5th article I've touched, and this is the first discussion I've joined so if I've not followed protocol please point me to a link where I can read up on the correct proceedures for these discussions.
- It's a hot topic. For background see Mormonism and Christianity and its talk page. Pollinator 17:21, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
- Definitely a hot topic when such misconceptions are asserted. Niether Joseph Smith, his mother Lucy Mack Smith, Brigham Young, his children, Gordon Hinckley, my own mother, nor I would describe the Master as not "Lord, but rather some super-angel". In Mormonism, Jesus Christ is the God of Israel, the Son of God, and God the Son. That is a far cry from "not Lord". See the hymns we have sung every Sunday for 170 years before we take the Lord's Supper. Observe our prayers. Tom 17:29, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
- Having read the link and the earlier discussion I have to agree with you. Nevertheless I feel that just because I say I am He-Man, Ruler of Castle Greyskull does not make me He-Man. I believe that with a link to the Nicene Creed included in the article that slightly stronger language could be inserted stating that Mormons believe they are Christian but their beliefs differ from the central beliefs of Christianity because of their de-throning of Christ. I will post exact verbage of proposed changes here at least a week before making any so that we may discuss them. I can (and plan to be) considerably more diplomatic in my proposed article text, but it's early and I'm not quite awake yet. My appologies in advance if I've offended anyone. David 14:20, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Repsectfully- David 15:54 UTC 24 Jan 04
- I think it is clear that this chart is insufficient. No it appears that the Great Apostasy separated the Protestant movement from the Restorationists. I would argue that the differences between, say Lutheran and Baptists are far larger than those between Eastern and Western Rite Catholic (which are on the chart). Yes there exists overlapping theology between some groups but there is overlapping theology between any two Christian groups. I realize some groups like Calvinist Baptists present problems ut that doesn't mean we should lose all detail. Rmhermen 19:19 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
... All that having been said, I do think that a pure timeline might be better. — Mkmcconn 18:56 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I'd rather see a timeline added to the article, while keeping the chart in some form. As far as the Eastern and Western Rite Catholics, it might be better to consolidate those two; Eastern Rite Catholics didn't exist in 1054, they came along several centuries later when they left Eastern Orthodoxy for Roman Catholicism, and the Pope allowed them to keep much of their liturgy etc. as an incentive to win their allegiance. But that detail probably doesn't need to come up in the chart at all. If you want more detail among the various Protestant groups, I'd suggest a separate chart in the Protestantism article or somewhere similar. The problem is where you decide to draw the line as far as level of detail. Wesley 19:34 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
- A timeline would be useful but maybe more suitable for the history article. A breakdown of the Protestant sects in the Protestantism or similar article would also be useful and would allow a more detailed break down than could be squeezed into the current chart. I don't see any persuasive reason at this point for breaking out Restorationist sects in this chart. I started briefly on the Restorationism article if any have not seen it yet. B
So now the chart says that Restorationism was in the 19th c., and maybe preceded by the Great Apostasy which was maybe as early as the 1st c. Does this strike anyone else as a little too obvious? Of course any event in the first century would precede an event in the 19th century. I think we're trying to cram too much detail into the chart; a lot of this will have to be saved for the actual text of the articles. I'll try to avoid bringing up the logic problems raised by claiming the church was already apostate in the first century... Wesley 20:23 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
- The "19th c" addition has been in the revised version for some time now...the "as early as the 1st c" was added as a suggested alternate to Rmhermen's complaint that the existing Great Apostasy addition made it seem like a break merely b/w Restorationists and Protestant B
- We don't list the causes or rationales for any of the other divisions; I think it makes more sense to remove the mention of Great Apostasy from the chart. It can be discussed better with full sentences in the body of the relevant article(s). Wesley 21:19 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
- I Disagree there is a cause/rational and date for nearly each division, and the Great Apostasy is too noteworthy to ignore, but I'm open to some way of noting Great Apostasy w/ greater brevity that isn't too ambiguous. Right now the way it is is fine, its' not hurting anything and its not inconsistent with the rest of the graph. B
- Why do you refuse to sign your posts?
- How would you establish a date for the Great Apostasy? Can you name the year or the decade that the last clergyman died, or any other specific event? Even if it was a gradual process, there should be some event or narrow time frame you can point to and say, because of historical evidence that such and such was said, or such and such was done, the Great Apostasy was definitely complete by this time. This is the case for the other items on the chart. Wesley 17:05 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)
- By logic problem, I think you mean the ambiguity that it may be read as the Church going apostate before it was formed. What I intended is similar to the Schism which is that it is (presumed as) a gradual process...also presuming that it started as early as the Church itself started to form (not after it formed)...that was the briefest way I could think to state it at the time. B
- Yes... related to that is that you would then have an apostate church before the New Testament was finished being written, let alone canonized, which might call in to question the authority and trustworthiness of the New Testament. And you would have to wonder how effective the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost if the church as a whole immediately started going down the drain. But that doesn't really have anything to do with this article. Wesley 21:19 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Surely it would make more sense to take Anglicanism and the other mainstream Protestanisms as one stream and the various Protestant fundamentalisms as another stream. "Restorationism" as a seperate stream--whatever the heck it is?--would make no sense to most readers. Where are the poor old Mormons in this timeline? Where is the Unification Church? Where are the various African Independent Churches?
The real danger here is in imposing artifical boundaries between denominations and groups of denominations etc.--ideological constructs--that have connection at all to the reality observed by outsiders, by non-Christians.
Section 8: References vs. List of Christian denominations
Does anybody but me think that the list of Christian groups is a redundant, and less helpful list, compared to List of Christian denominations? Can we delete this list from the end of the article, and clean it up visually a bit? Mkmcconn 20:14 22 Jul 2003 (UTC)~
- Yes, it should be deleted, then merged, if there's extra info, to its much clearer counterpart, List of Christian denominations. The TOC shows how misleading that Reference section is, with each "subheading" containing just one "paragraph" that is just a mere list.
- --Menchi 01:41, Jul 30, 2003 (UTC)
I was looking to link to Athleta Christi, but I can't find an article on it. It seems to be the same as Miles Christi and Soldier of Christ so until anyone is willing to write an article on this title, I'm redirecting them to Christianity. The only articles to mention these titles seemed to be Ngô Ðình Thuc Pierre Martin, Confirmation (sacrament) and Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg. Dori 06:11, 31 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I think a specific subheading addressing the "Moral Decay in the Churches" is in order, which would help the reader to understand the reduction of church attendance. I can bring information to bear from sources such as "The Empty Church" by Thomas C. Reeves, as well as other documents of import.
What do you think? -- Corey 20:18, 6 Sep 2003 (UTC)
- It should probably go in a more specific article about Christianity in a geographic area, or in particular denominations or groups of denominations. Unless your sources really cover the full gamut of reasons, as well as reasons for the rise in church attendance in some areas/denominations/etc. for various reasons. Wesley 04:39, 15 Sep 2003 (UTC)
Chart is very pretty, but fyi: it's "separate" not "seperate" thx.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Christian denomination??????
moved to Talk:Mormonism_and_Christianity
Unitarian trend in Christianity?
Millions did take these paths, further developing belief systems such as Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and Deism; others created liberal wings of Protestant Christian theology, and the Unitarian trend in Christianity became an acceptable choice for some.
I agree with UtherSRG that most of us Unitarian Universalists don't claim that UUism is a Christian denomination. I've changed this to add Unitarianism, Universalism in before Humanism, with the others, and remove the bit about a Unitarian trend in Christianity, acceptable choice, etc. NealMcB 03:55, 2004 May 10 (UTC)
doctrine without Nicene Creed
Maybe I overlooked it, but I didn't see a mention of the Nicene Creed in the doctrine section. Isn't that rather central ?
- I added a link to the ecumenical councils. You make a good point, though, that the bullet list is a summary of statements that have full approval of most branches of Christianity, but the bullet-list itself is not one of those statements. Mkmcconn 06:58, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- My thought was (with the caveat that I'm not a Christian at all) that the Nicene Creed has more or less stood for the definitive summary of Christian doctrine for centuries, and (I think ?) still stands as such for most Christians (that is, I think that the Catholics and the Orthodox together constitute the bulk of Christendom ?) If so, shouldn't it be central to this paragraph ? As it is, it is not even mentioned.
- It is neither more nor less important to Christians than the other ecumenical councils. Historically, it has an important place as the first of these synods; and for that reason it gets more focus: because it marks the turning point in Christianity, when the Church became an establishment of the Roman Empire. Some, mostly non-trinitarians, might refer to this council as the point at which Christanity was lost (as they suppose) through a politically motivated coup (as they depict it). Otherwise, I don't think that Nicea needs to be mentioned with special prominence. Mkmcconn 08:00, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- Are we talking about the same thing ? I'm not talking about the ecumenical council per se, but about the creed, which I think is still recited in the Catholic mass and in the Orthodox liturgy (modulo the Filioque difference), as a recapitulation of faith; if I'm correct here, wouldn't that make it the single most influential summary of Christian doctrine, and therefore deserving of some mention at the least ?
- Oh, in the unlikely chance that you're not familiar with the Nicene Creed, wikipedia has an article on it, including its text in Greek, Latin, and English (hmm, I wonder if a Slavonic version should be there). Of course I refer to it as used in the masses and liturgies today, which version is, as therein mentioned, called the Nicea/Constantinople Creed.
I can confirm that the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is recited, or rather prayed, as part of the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church, whether using St. Basil the Great's or St. John Chrysostom's liturgy. It is also included in several books of suggested daily prayers for private devotions. While my Lutheran catechism focused more on the Apostle's Creed, the Lutheran Book of Worship also included a text of the Nicene Creed which was occasionally used. So yes, the historical significance you're talking about is there. Incidentally, it would help if you signed your posts. :-) Wesley 04:24, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- I agree, the Nicene Creed is the political determinant to the Catholic Church and created the logical hole that led to Mormonism, Islam, etc. Is there a way we can have a section on Arian Christianity, or pre-Nicene creed Christianity?
unexplained dotted line in chart ?
What is that funny dotted line in the chart, that seems to imply there is some other "protestant" church from the first century ? (That doesn't sound like it makes any sense, so it ought to at least be explained, no ?)
- There are some churches which claim not to descend from any other church, but who are traceable historically through Protestantism. That funny line indicates their belief that they descend directly from the first century church, with nothing in-between. They are not "protestants", they are a new "restoration". See Restorationism, and Restoration (Mormonism) Mkmcconn 06:42, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- There's a comment to that effect on the chart, just below "Restorationism", but perhaps it could be moved to a position above the dotted line itself? That might make it clearer what the line represents. Unless anyone objects, I'll see if I can change that. -- Vardion 06:49, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- I've just uploaded a modified version. However, since there was a lot of anti-aliasing in the original file, I ended up remaking it, so it would be easier to edit in future. Just as an experiment, I also tried putting in a bit of colour - if people don't like it, I can undo it. -- Vardion 08:08, 21 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- Color is good. We keep forgetting to use the greater possibilities of this medium. I do a lot of work creating figures for print media. My lab is charged for all color graphics. So I get into the "avoid color at any cost" mindset. Dogface 04:22, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- I like the color very much, but I'll be that not all monitors or color settings will do a good job of displaying the light green. Could a different hue be chosen instead? Mkmcconn 04:50, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- I hadn't considered that, actually. Thanks. But since I don't know a lot about how colours will display, what exactly should I change? Just make the green darker? Or is it a matter of keeping to generally accepted standard brightnesses, rather than somewhere in between? -- Vardion 00:24, 27 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- I like the chart a lot. It's much clearer and easier to read, and seems reasonably accurate for the view from 50,000 feet. I don't recall it showing the line from Eastern Orthodoxy to the Eastern rites of Roman Catholicism before, but that seems about right. It might be nice to put a date or century with that break as well, if someone can find out when that was. Wesley 17:55, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)
- That's a very thorny question. It can refer to several events. The Council of Florence (1438) ended up creating "Byzantine Catholics" (Albanian, Dalmatian, Greek-speaking Italian). The Union of Brest-Litovsk (1596) created "Greek Catholics" (Ukrainian). The Uzhorod Agreement (1646) created the "Byzantine Catholic Church" (Slovakian). In 1908, the "Russian Byzantine Catholics" left the Orthodox Church and entered communion with Rome. Now, when we get to Croats, all bets are off--it entirely depends on who you ask. Either they have always been in communion with Rome or they entered into communion at some time between the "union" of Croatia and Hungary (1102) and its eventual re-emergence as part of Yugoslavia (1918). Dogface 21:48, 23 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Ok... I feel better now for not having that date fixed in my head, since it's several dates. Probably simplest to leave it off the chart. Do the dates and events you just listed above fit into the History of Christianity or another related article? It ought to be recorded somewhere. Wesley 15:21, 24 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I have added some small paragraphs about the effects of Modernism, Consumerism and Postmoderism (also added a page on the Emerging Church). I think some of the effects on the church mentioned in the old paragraphs (i.e. people remembering Christian grand parents but not going themselves) may apply more to the Modernism paragraph now that it is there. I'll give it some thought. Dan 14:54, 29 Jan 04 (UTC)
I'm sorry, the wording on the first paragraph is... well it's cumbersome, and it's incorrect. Christianity is not "...a group of religious traditions...", it is a faith based on the historical existence of a person, and of an event in history. I am opening a discussion on this issue with the hopes of cleaning up that first paragraph. Suggestions anyone?
- Christianity is a group of religious traditions that trace their origins to Jesus Christ, a Jew of the first century Gregorian, and assert that he is the son of God and the Lord and sole Saviour of all humanity as the Jewish Messiah.
Also see the top of this Talk page for my thoughts on including a link to the Nicene Creed. I have decided to start at the top of this page get an actual NPOV that expresses what Christian beliefs are. I am aware that there will be controversy because of the many different sects of Christianity. However I plan to take a minimalist approach and not delve into grey areas such as Purgatory. I also intend to post sections I believe need change prior to making the changes, and post proposed changes for discussion prior to implementing them. David 02:07, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- Hey David this is User:Technopilgrim -- I'm responding to a request you posted on my user talk page:
"I see that changed an article on Christianity. Your changes are welcome, but please note that some articles are more controversial than others. Please join us on the Talk page for that article (and others) (click on the "Discuss this page" link) as we discuss how to keep an emotionaly charged topic both accurate and NPOV. David 12:57, 17 Feb 2004 (UTC)"
- Hey David this is User:Technopilgrim -- I'm responding to a request you posted on my user talk page:
- Well, I'm here! How can I be of help? I can't imagine you have any quibbles with my actual edit as I simply reverted away the following anonymously-inserted text:
Christianity is the only faith that believes in the death, burial, and ressurection of Jesus Christ. Christianity strickly believes in the Trinity "consisting of the Father,Son,and Holy Spirit.
- In two sentences I counted two spelling errors, three punctuation errors, a historically false statement, and a sore lack of wikification. Had these problems been interspersed in some valuable text I would have unfolded my dental tool kit and done some careful work but seeing as there was so much error in so little space I just went and got the varmint gun. But I'm guessing you like the revert. So what else can I do to help you with here? (I usually work on more obscure topics like the History of Bhutan or Phase-locked loops, but I'm willing to help out with a high-profile page if I'm useful!) technopilgrim 00:02, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- Well, I'm here! How can I be of help? I can't imagine you have any quibbles with my actual edit as I simply reverted away the following anonymously-inserted text:
Hey, sorry to be so long in getting back to you on this. I invited you because part of the quote you deleted talked about the Trinity and I wanted to get a general consensus including someone who may have an opposing view. I see mainstream Christianity as defined by the Nicene Creed and wanted to kick that thought around in here before making any drastic changes. - David 05:16, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- I think the present version of the article has it right: "The most uniform and broadly accepted tradition of doctrine holds..."etc. What I'm opposed to is the previous formulation "Christianity strickly believes in the Trinity". Even if it were spelled correctly. One reason is because it's not clear that all (or even the majority) of Christians of the 2nd and 3rd century could readily express the sophisticated theology of the Trinity that ultimately became commonplace (see the article on Arianism). But do we classify them as something other than Christian? No secular historian would do so, nor should we... technopilgrim 07:08, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Good call. Yes, I agree that the doctrine of the Trinity wasn't recognized until post AD 250 and I would certainly consider the early church fathers to be Christian. Nevertheless, I still feel that the Nicene Creed should be linked to in a later section (with caveats about the early church fathers) and that the Trinity should be mentioned in the introduction as a core belief of Christianity. Let me know what you think about this, and I'll try to get some verbiage formulated for us to kick around. - David 15:59, 24 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Hi, I have another question on the first paragraph. It says
- According to a 1993 estimate, Christianity was the world's most widely accepted religion, with 2.1 billion adherents (1 billion Catholics, 500 million Protestants, 240 million Orthodox and 275 million others), followed by Islam with 1.1 billion and Hinduism with 1.05 billion.
Other articles and cencuses claim the Eastern Orthodox had 3 times population than all of Protestants. And for clarification the source of 1993 estimate is expected IMO. KIZU 07:58, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)
How do you make the idea of heresies NPOV? Isn't one man's faith another man's heresy? When I read the heading Heresies, I think I am about to learn about struggles within Christianity, with one group hurling insults and arrows at another. In fact, I think this is the real NPOV history of heresies: blood and schisms. Is there a way this article can be more NPOV in discussing how Christianity has had internal trouble over the years? For example, I don't see much on Christians shedding each other's blood, though surely this has happened. Most recently in the U.S. the Ku Klux Klan has been violent against African descendants. In the 19th century the Mormons killed several immigrants in Utah over religious disputes, and earlier several Mormons were killed too. And this is only recently. Surely much can be said of the sad story of violent disputes within Christianity over the centuries. Hawstom 07:25, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- Why, or perhaps a better question would be how, would the history of Christian violence against other Christians, or against people of other beliefs make this article more NPOV? This article is about Christian beliefs, not the history of conflict in the Christian church. If you feel that this subject deserves its own historically accurate article please feel free to write one and put links in the Heresy section where applicable. However, in the interests of NPOV, what I would like to see in such an article is that the conflict was over fundament beliefs, not over some other subject and the fundamental beliefs used as an excuse for the conflict (see also Spanish Inquisition). However I feel this information should not to be posted in here to obfuscate what the Christian belief system is. This article is supposed to be a definition of Christianity, no more and no less. David 18:01, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
When I followed nearly all the heresy links, I found descriptions of several beliefs and ideas that have been proposed or espoused by groups or individuals over the years. I found that some of the people have been killed for the beliefs. I wondered who defined the heresies. I ended up asking who defines authoritative Christianity? Heresy seems an appropriate enough term in an authoritative context, such as "The Roman Catholic Church". But Christianity has no authoritative context with it's founder gone and no indisputed heirs. In such a vague, varied, and free context as Christianity, how can heresy have any meaning? Hawstom 20:16, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- This question should probably be explored further in the Heresy article. The short answer is that there were heirs, the apostles, whose identity was well known. Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century pointed out that their successors were also well known, and their teachings remained coherent and consistent. Heresies were defined by councils of bishops, who were the apostle's successors. This is more or less the answer you will get not only from the Roman Catholic Church, but also from the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, who all claim to maintain the same apostolic succession. Wesley 05:29, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)
What the heresy section seems to be doing, and maybe it would be useful or helpful to explain so, is presenting several beliefs that were rejected forcefully at some time by some large group. The intent appears to be showing that the major representation of the adherents of Christianity at some point in its history decided that they would reject certain beliefs and call them heresy. In short, maybe the "Heresy" section needs to explain better just how these beliefs came to be called heresies, why they are called heresies, and why people still maintain and catalogue them. Hawstom 20:16, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Are the heresies of interest to Christians outside of the tradition of the church that originally defined them (like non-Roman churches)? Would other branches of Christianity present an entirely different list? Does the list belong better in an article on Church History? Hawstom 20:16, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- Well that was one of the things I was planning to address in a later edit to this article. Mainstream Christianity is pretty much defined by the Nicene Creed. Generally speaking anything that contradicts that is a heresy. All the Nicene Creed really does is condense the core beliefs set forth in the New Testament. There are some self-proclaimed sects of Christianity that disagree with portions of the Nicene Creed, notably the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons.
- As for making heresies NPOV, stop and consider the article. This article is a definition of Christianity, of Christian beliefs, for those who may not be familiar with those beliefs. If this were an article on Islam then saying that Jesus is Lord would be a heresy to Muslims. You would include that in the article and expect your reader to realize that they are being told what is believed in a certain world view (in this case a religion).
- Heresies are not the sole province of the Roman Catholic church. My denomination is an offshoot of Protestantism and we recognize that what we consider true Biblical doctrine can get corrupted and people start believing things that Jesus and the Apostles did not teach. At least three of the letters in the New Testament are specifically dealing with different heresies that had taken root in early New Testament churches. - David 21:18, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
- Hi, in ja.wiki a similiar problem occured between some contributors and a probabbly faithful of Jehova's Wittnesses. Thus we put a sentence; some groups which think themselves Christianity are not considered so by other denominations(i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses). Definition of Christianity is varied even in self-proclaimed Christianity. in the first paragrath, and on heresies groups whose doctrines are too much different from the mainstream so-called orthodoxy thus are banned. Most of us agree we can therefore avoid to say XX is a heresy as a statement on Wikipedia, but JW claimed these descriptions is biased against JW ... KIZU 08:11, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The solution to that is relatively simple. Start listing all the changes the Watchtower Society has made to a 2,000 year old text. Then list the number of authors of Greek text books who have instructed them not to quote their books any more. I would start by doing this on the Talk page, but should the JW's persist in making unilatteral changes to the article you can just watch the page and constantly revert them. Eventually someone will report them for vandalism.
There is this ugly thing called a "fact" that many Wikipedians don't like to recognize, thinking that their POV is NPOV. However when you dump enough facts on them most people will become reasonable.
I don't know who posted the above text, but please sign your posts. I'd love to visit your Talk page, or have you visit mine despite the fact that there's not much there yet. DavidR 20:29, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Whew! I was just struggling with this Heresy section, and I am amazed at how hard it is to write NPOV. I realized that even the list of Heresies in the Heresy article is POV because it isn't really attributed correctly. I guess we have to attribute everything. When in doubt, attribute it. Attribution and neutral terms are required. I know we can do it! Tom 19:35, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'm kind of amazed there's no description in here of Christian worship. Seems like a complete article on Christianity would have a general overview of what happens at a church service. I realize it's quite different for all the different forms of Christianity, but it does bear mentioning and can be covered in general with specifics left to the pages of specific Christian traditions.
Is there a page on Christian worship I've missed somewhere? Jdavidb 15:23, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)
- I don't think there's one exactly about worship. We do have worship which at present talks mostly about Christian worship but links to other kinds as well, and at some point should be developed to include worship in other religions. There are also Divine Liturgy, Mass (liturgy), prayer, hymn, praise song, Psalms, Eucharist, The Lord's Supper, and probably others. Several of these have links to other related articles. Several of these could use some help. Covering all of them could be tough. Hope this partial list helps. Wesley 05:14, 6 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Islam and Christianity
I have removed the section on Islam and Christianity. While I agree that a section on the relationship between the two religions is needed, the text currently there is patent nonsense, and quite offensive to Eastern Orthodox Christians who suffered under Islamic domination for centuries. The two religions are not even remotely close, there are no EOx clergy seeing union with Muslims (and if there are, who and where are they? Who are their bishops?), and there is absolutely zero chance of the EOx merging with Islam. YBeayf 16:04, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. Sorry about the problem. With the link to the Christianity and Other Religions Article, maybe I was wrong that the section belonged. I propose we delete (or move) the Christianity and Judaism section too. Would that work? Hawstom 19:18, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)
- My opinion is that the problems of relationship between Christianity and Judaism are special, and arguably is a more appropriate topic than "Christianity and Islam". Mkmcconn 03:01, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Hmm. Christianity is an outgrowth (or fulfillment, as we prefer) of Judaism. Christianity dwelt among and as Judaism for many years. I can see that is special compared to Islam. Still, the presence of a Judaism and Christianity section is a magnet to insertions for other religions. You have to think about the entropy potential. The simple link discourages further additions. Tom 17:14, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
European separation of church and state?
Perhaps the most significant change for them was total or effective separation of Church and State, thus ending the state-sponsored Christianity that existed in so many European countries.
I thought a big difference between the US and Europe was that the separation of church and state in the former but not in most European countries. Many have asserted that this very separation actually created religions in the US that were more focussed on their own membership and growth, resulting in a more religious population in the US. Should so many European countries be changed to the US? NealMcB 03:42, 2004 May 10 (UTC)
While the US have long history of legal separation, many European countries have this too, albeit of differing degrees/appearance. I think the stress of the sentence should be on "effective" Refdoc 17:34, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I think the output is excellent whatever the process to get to this page.
I have taken the liberty of adding "and resurrection" after two references to the effects of the death of Christ and our participation in it. I am not sure whether this change will be regarded as pedantry or heresy but if anyone wishes to reverse it they are welcome to do so if they are happy to meet me here and discuss the NT in detail?
- Because the aim of the section is to represent that "wide" tradition the most inclusively, I've removed the second addition but have left the first. Some would contend that baptism is into Christ's death, through which by faith the subject is made a participant in Christ's resurrection. A subtle difference from saying that the subject is baptized into Christ's resurrection, and not one that I would be very insistent on maintaining - but, since you asked ... Mkmcconn 21:41, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I haven't changed it but I personally hesitate to use the phrase "miraculous resurrection"//I agree that in common parlance it was a "miraculous" thing in the sense of not obeying predictable rules of nature etc// however a miracle theologically is a sign or demonstration of something else whereas the resurrection was IMHO more of significance in itself than as a signpost. Is the resurrection actually referred to as a miracle in the NT. It was left out in the places I found. Is anyone very attached to the phrase? BozMo
- I think that common parlance is certainly to be given the nod, here. There is nothing obviously jarring about the phrase "miraculous resurrection", unless it's a bit redundant. I'm not sure that it means much to most people to say that it is not a miracle because it is not a sign. And anyway, didn't Jesus call it the sign of Jonah? Mkmcconn 21:48, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)
The only places I could find where the greek word semeion for a miracle is used for the resurrection is the sign of Jonah reference (Mt 12:39//16:4//Luke 11.29ff although Acts also includes it in 17:31 as a form of proof). But the reference is pretty obscure and in several places the miracles are listed without the resurrection in them.
To be clear what bothers me is that there is a small fundamentalist sect which preaches "the resurrection is not part of the gospel", that Christ's death was a complete transaction and that the only status of the resurrection is as a sign that the cross worked (hence everywhere in the NT where it says if C was not raised etc. they re-read as code for "if the cross was not complete"). We are obviously not talking mainstream christian belief... the sect talks of a miraculous resurrection meaning that it was ONLY a sign=miracle of something else, that it of itself was nothing. Against this is a wagon load of new testament imagery that the resurrection was an event not a proof and that our salvation is our co-participation in the raised Christ. Of course, I doubt getting it stronger worded here would help much, I am just rather sensitised to the wording. I am happy to go through it in some details if there are any takers? But perhaps I shouldn't be on a soapbox on my first day in here though
- Because the word can be removed without changing the meaning at all, I've removed it for your sake. I don't think, however, that any significant number of readers would perceive the difficulty that you indicate. Mkmcconn 22:56, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)
thanks. agree probably only me.
Christian teen forum
Has anyone looked at this link?
- Christian Teen Forum - A Place For Teens to discuss Christianity, ask questions, and share the Bible.
I agree - I think it's rather out of place. If no-one has any objections, can I propose that it's removed? --GRutter 13:46, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It's gone --GRutter 15:45, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Is it honest to call Christianity monotheistic? Shouldn't the first paragraph talk about the triune aspect of how they perceive God? And is it safe to assume that there aren't numerous hidden Buddhists or Confucians in China. The 2 billion Christians claim smells of trying to make non-believers a minority. And lastly, Jesus Christ is not claimed by the Jews to be the messiah; As the Jews who think he was an actual human being see him as one of the many failed messiahs, and those who don't accept the historicity of Jesus Christ consider it a "whisper campaign" to rid the Holy Land of the Romans. - Sparky 17:15, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- I agree. Calling Christianity monotheistic is an ideological claim that doesn't make sense to any outside observer. Rather sad in a way that the article attempting to describe Christianity attempts the slide past the very same contradictions that have stumped Christian theologians for 20 centuries. Perhaps the biggest problem with this article is that it is "essentialist." Christianity isn't just one thing; it is many things to many different groups and individuals. This article describes a unity never existed even in the first decades of the faith.
- Calling Christianity 'polytheistic' would be just as ideological a claim, would it not? As for contradictions having "stumped" Christian theologians, I can only assume you mean they haven't produced answers that non-Christians find intellectually satisfactory. As for the article describing a "unity never existed..." that's not how I read it. On the one hand, Christianity was remarkably united for the first several centuries; on the other, the article is in many places deliberately broad so as to encompass multiple variations and "subsets" of Christians within it, rather than get bogged down describing the 30,000+ different denominations.
Who is the audience for this article? Shouldn't the article should be targeted to them. Do you assume them to be Christians who already have a grounding in the material? And schisms are part of the history of Christianity. And if nobody has an answer to what their label is - then it is unknown. The problem with the Trinity being treated as one God is that it makes a mockery of the term monotheism. - Sparky 20:17, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- [Quote from the Monotheism article says it better than I ] - “… The Christian belief in the Trinity is monotheism, the worship of the one God of Abraham according to Trinitarian tradition. However, many Jews, Muslims, and Unitarian Christians question this classification. Such critics claim that the Trinity is in fact a form of Tritheism, a hypothetical belief system which teaches that there are three gods -- that is, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are, specifically, three distinct Gods.” - Sparky 20:26, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
- If Christians believed in three gods, they would say so. Instead, they repeatedly confess a faith in one God. Sorry if that's hard to understand, but they are monotheistic. And yes, while schisms are part of the history of the church, there was indeed broad unity for several centuries. The church fought internally over Arianism during the fourth century, but without actual schism. The fifth century saw the schism with the monophysites. Then there were no further significant schisms until the East-West schism of 1054, then nothing further until the 16th century Protestant Reformation when the real fracturing began. Wesley 01:34, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Would it be possible to note that Christianity describes itself as a monotheistic faith, but that seom non-Christians dispute this? RhesusmanRhesusman 17:35, 19 Sept 2004 (EST)
- That sounds fair to me. The idea of proving Christianity is monotheistic and the similar idea of making sure it is monotheistic has been an important theme of Christian history. Obviously it is a debatable point, and can well be characterized as you suggest. Tom 20:57, 23 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Saint Jude Help ;)
Hello. Can some who knows the Bible please put Saint Jude in proper context? The original draft said he was one of the original apostles but it's hard to figure that out in relation to what all the different denominations believe and all the different Judes. I can copy edit but my knowledge of Christian saints is slim to none. Thanks! jengod 20:18, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)
cut text ebionites
I removed following text == Alternative views ==The Ebionites originated as an ancient sect of Talmidi Jews (Followers of the Way) who held Jesus of Nazareth to have been a fully human Jewish prophet. They rejected notions of his divinity, the virgin birth, and opposed the teachings of Paul of Tarsus. while interesting, IMO, the proper place is among the other ancient heresies, rather than under a separate heading "alternative views" Refdoc 17:31, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)