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What denomination is closest to the early Christians?

Discussion in 'Christian History' started by UKChristian, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. UKChristian

    UKChristian Junior Member

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    Hello all.

    I'm very new to Christian history or anything outside the Anglican Church really. I was just wondering what modern day denomination, in your opinion, is closest to the early Christians in terms of what they believed and how they worshipped. I know a lot of denominations, including my own, claim to be Apostolic but some of these are very different indeed.
     
  2. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    The one closest to the original would be liturgical but not overly showy, believe scripture to be our only sure guide, have clergy and sacraments, but not try to define all the things of God that we weren't given by him to know.

    In short, it's the CofE or one of its close relatives such as the the Free Church of England or the Methodist church.
     
  3. 1watchman

    1watchman Overseer

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    I believe the most scriptural Christian fellowship in the world is that revival of AD 1827 in Ireland and then England. It has assemblies associated with it worldwide. One can read about the history and the ground of gathering as intended, I see, at www.biblecounsel.homestead.com
     
  4. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF

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    :confused:

    Obviously, everyone will reply "my denomination."
     
  5. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    Have you read any of the writings of the earliest Christians?
     
  6. Clearly

    Clearly Newbie

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    This same basic OP question was beat to death in the prior thread named “Which denomination today is closest to 1st Century Christianity”. (That thread was closed because the posting became uncivil.)

    Though I am not tempted to believe that the oldest schismatics today are “the original” Christianity, still, I do believe the various “old” christianities tend to have many wonderful historic echo’s and doctrinal “debri” from early christian themes. I also think a study of the oldest schisms from rome, Africa, “Byzantium”, etc, are wonderful sources for historians trying to understand HOW certain doctrines were created, changed and how some were lost.



    1) A Loss of prophetic leadership

    I do not think that doctrinal accretions and evolutionary changes to the earliest doctrines was completely unavoidable. For example, once the last authentic apostle, John the revelator, died, then, all congregations such as Antioch, Rome, Jerusalem, Galatia, ephesus (and others not mentioned in NT texts...) were in the position of having no living source of apostolic authority nor prophetic revelatory guidance such authentic leaders [αποστολοι, etc.] had provided in the fledgling Jesus movement.



    2) Early Doctrinal Immaturity of the Jesus Movement

    Once the early congregations were "on their own" to make their own way as best they could without revelatory leadership it was inevitable that all would tend to stray in differing doctrinal directions.

    Origen pointed out that the Christianity of his age had not yet decided whether God the Father had a physical body or not. Such a doctrinal “immaturity” was a difficult situation since many other types of doctrinal details were not spelled out for the christian movement which was coming under increasing pressure for answers to such questions from honest investigators and their antagonists alike.



    3) Christianity attempting to better define itself

    This lack of answers to simple doctrinal questions led to many early arguments and to a proliferation of multiple theories and further schisms were not unexpected. The ancient arguments over doctrines often reminds me of the very, very similar arguments we all see in modern religious and philosophical forums.



    4) "Theologian derived religion" versus "Prophetic and Apostolic transmitted religion"

    Various theologians attempted to fill the doctrinal gap left by the death of Apostles and Prophets. Though I believe many of these theologians were doing their very best to generate answers and theories and doctrines based on their best guesses and logic, I believe that “ theologian-derived” religion was inferior to “Prophet-transmitted” religion that had existed in the early Jesus movement.

    Some theories of the Theologians became more popular than other theories and took on the mantle of “orthodoxy”. It was a situation of later ecclesiastics and theologians attempting to "make do" and “feel their way in the dark” to a certain extent. It was the best they could do, given their circumstances.

    I believe many early theologians' motives involved an honest and good desire to protect and "further christian aims” as they generated ever more theories to fill the early gaps in knowledge though I am sure that ego and pride contaminated many of the early arguments over what was to be taught as “orthodoxy” .

    The resulting doctrinal accretions and evolutions away from early simple doctrines are a study in the difference between the often well-intentioned theologians and the authentic inspirations of apostles.



    5) The resulting doctrinal evolutions that resulted in multiple Christian Movements

    Given a proliferation of various but specific systems of beliefs, it makes perfect sense historically, that doctrines would undergo evolutions.

    a) Some simple, core doctrines would be kept perfectly intact
    b) Some doctrines would evolve away from early versions (but still present in some form)
    c) New Doctrines and practices would appear
    d) Some early Judao-Christian doctrines would be abandoned and ultimately lost



    6) The role of historical principles in answering the Opening Posts question

    To answer the question regarding which modern Christian movement is most similar to the earliest Christian movement, one must FIRST define what the earliest Christian movement was like (else, there is no valid comparison.)

    Legitimate and authentic history attempts to answer the questions regarding what early Judao-Christianity might have looked like; what its doctrines may have been; and what its authentic practices were and the meaning and purposes underlying those practices.

    Modern religious historians are not simply left to arbitrary and modern interpretations of a few memorized biblical verses in a manner batted about in many of the arguments we see between christians arguing for their myriads of competing interpretations. There is a vast amount of early Judao-christian sacred and secular texts available to us. One can learn about what the early Judao-Christianities believed and what their beliefs and practices looked like by reading early Mishnas, early psalms/odes, early Christian Synagogal prayers, early christian diaries, the earliest discourses, early canonical texts that are no longer included in modern (or western) texts; epigrapha, etc, etc. This situation continues to improve.



    7) A THEORETICAL "CUT AND PASTE" OF THE FIRST CHRISTIANITY IN THE TIME OF APOSTLES


    a) Earliest Form of Organization – apostles, prophets, bishops, elders, etc.

    A hypthetical denomination that would be closest to first century Christianity would be (in my opinion) a "cut and paste" of the earliest church into our era. That is, to “cut” the 12 apostles and early prophets (with their on-going revelations) out of the first century and “paste” that sort of organization into our modern era.


    b) Earliest forms of Christian Doctrine, earliest definitions of faith, baptism, etc

    “Cut” the earliest doctrines regarding Gods plan for the spirits of mankind out of the earliest Judao-christian texts and “paste” those doctrines into this hypothetical denomination. “Cut” the earliest doctrines regarding Faith in Jesus, repentance, baptism, gifts of the spirit among their leaders and among the laity and “paste” them into this hypthetical denomination.


    c) Earliest forms of Practices

    “Cut” the earliest descriptions of Baptism, of ordination, of healing and miracles out of the early descriptions of Judao-Christianity and “paste” them into this congregation.


    d) Ability to use the earliest texts of Judao Christianity

    I think that knee-v (in the prior post), makes an interesting point regarding the earliest Judao-christian writings)

    I have come to believe that a hypothetical modern Christian movement that resembles the 1st century Christianity will be mostly oriented to, comfortable with and able to use the greatest amount of the earliest texts in demonstrating their teachings while those less like the earliest Judao-Christians will find the earliest texts disorienting and inconsistent with their doctrines (and will thus be dismissive of the earliest texts and perhaps call the early Christians and their writings, "heretical").

    If one “cut and pasted” early Texts into the midst of this movement, they should be able to make better and more comfortable use of such texts than the denominations to which early Judao-Christin principles would be completely foreign.

    I think that, to discuss "which denomination" is most like the earliest christian movement, one will have to break the question down into discrete and specific comparisons such how close its organization is to the earliest descriptions of Christian organization, how close its doctrines of salvation are to those of earliest christianity (e.g. faith, repentance, baptism, gifts of the spirit; fruits of conversion, etc.), how close its practices are to the earliest Judao-Christians (baptism, eucharistic meal, etc), and how seamless the earliest Judao-Christian texts reflect and could be used by this hypothetical denomination.


    [FONT=&quot]Clearly

    actzrr[/FONT]
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  7. ZaidaBoBaida

    ZaidaBoBaida When do I stop being a Newbie?

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    MY denomination is closest to the early church of course! *rolls eyes*
     
  8. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    The question can, actually, be answered with facts. However, the answer is almost always going to be (one's own church) because who would conclude that it's another denomination...but refuse to join that one.:confused:
     
  9. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis De profundis clamavi et exaudisti me.

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    I don't believe such exists, it's impossible to recreate the unique conditions that existed in the earliest period of Christianity. The apostolic period was unique, as was the patristic period that followed.

    The Church adapted and developed accordingly to meet the needs of an ever-shifting historical climate without ever forsaking its principal calling and the substance of its confession. That is, the Church has always been the Church, and Christianity has always been Christianity.

    The numerous schisms that have taken place over the centuries (since the 5th century with the Nestorian and Miaphysite schisms) have been unfortunate obviously, but I don't believe it right to say that any one modern church tradition is everything as it was in the first century. That's simply unrealistic gas.

    I'm Lutheran, and I'm Lutheran because I believe Lutheranism is exceptionally biblical; but it would be insane to claim that the Apostles and Fathers were Lutherans. I believe Lutheranism captures the heart and spirit of the Apostolic and Patristic Faith, but obviously others disagree--hence our many and varied divisions.

    There is no such thing as a perfect church, and modern romantic notions of Primitivism are neither realistic, healthy, nor good--ultimately amounting to anachronistically forcing modern perspectives onto our spiritual fore-fathers and fore-mothers of two thousand years ago.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  10. Mr Dave

    Mr Dave God Save The Queen!

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  11. ZaidaBoBaida

    ZaidaBoBaida When do I stop being a Newbie?

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    My husband also says our denomination is the closest. :p
     
  12. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Instead of naming our own churches, we could always discuss the reasons or factors involved. Just a thought.
     
  13. RisingSpirit

    RisingSpirit :-)

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    The Westminster Confessions will describe a closer doctrine to the source of Christianity.
     
  14. Mr Dave

    Mr Dave God Save The Queen!

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    For the record, I'm not actually a member of the Syriac Orthodox Church ;)
     
  15. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    But it would be your nominee for "the church closest to the original church?"

    Well, my point was just that whatever church is nominated by any of us, we might do well to start into the WHY of it. That, after all, was part of the OP--the doctrines and worship style.
     
    ktírio likes this.
  16. Clearly

    Clearly Newbie

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    I believe that Albions suggestion is very wise and represents the only way this OP will have any historical context and education for any of us.

    albion suggests in post # 12 that “Instead of naming our own churches, we could always discuss the reasons or factors involved. Just a thought. (Albion #12) and elaborates in post #15 by saying “...my point was just that whatever church is nominated by any of us, we might do well to start into the WHY of it. That, after all, was part of the OP--the doctrines and worship style.

    This is the point I was trying to make in post #6. To have any real educational or polemic value, posters will have to be specific as to WHY they are making their claim, and they will have to provide us with specific information and reasoning as to WHY they are making their claim. Without such comparatives, the claims have no strength nor historical value.

    Thus I suggested in post #6 that in order to discuss "which denomination" is most like the earliest christian movement, “one will have to break the question down into discrete and specific comparisons such how close its organization is to the earliest descriptions of Christian organization, how close its doctrines of salvation are to those of earliest christianity (e.g. faith, repentance, baptism, gifts of the spirit; fruits of conversion, etc.), how close its practices are to the earliest Judao-Christians (baptism, eucharistic meal, etc), and how seamless the earliest Judao-Christian texts reflect and could be used by this hypothetical denomination.

    For examples :

    What was the “ecclesiatical organization” of the church in Jesus’ time and what movement most resembles that organization?

    What was the authentic description of Faith and repentance in the church of Jesus’ time and what movement believes most closely to that early and authentic model?

    What were the authentic ordinances in the church of Jesus’ time (e.g. baptism and laying on of hands, healing, etc) and which movement teaches and practices them most closely to the early church?

    What texts were used by the Church of Jesus time and the era closest to Jesus’ time and which movement is most consistent with the earliest Judao-Christian texts?


    It doesn’t necessarily matter which order one considers such questions in (or even that one remains with these specific questions since multiple other criteria may be considered), but that we try to be historically specific in our comparisons and provide sufficient data to give our claims some strength and logic sufficient for thought and comparisons.

    It matters which specific comparisons one makes, since, if one considers ONLY the decensus period and it’s doctrines, then the Catholics are much, closer to early Judao-christian descriptions on this time doctrine than most other major denominations. If one considers ONLY the early doctrine of repentance then the denomination that is closest to early christian periods may be a different one. The same principle may hold true depending upon which of the specific historical characteristic or doctrine one is comparing. Without DOING such a comparison, we might never know. Simply reflexively claiming that one’s own religion is closest to the original (without data and reasoning) is of no value to anyone in the historical forum.


    Clearly
    eiactwoo
     
  17. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Good work, Clearly. Let's go with that. I'm taking the liberty of numbering your points for the convenience of anyone who replies to one or all of them with their answers.


    1. What was the “ecclesiatical organization” of the church in Jesus’ time and what movement most resembles that organization?

    2. What was the authentic description of Faith and repentance in the church of Jesus’ time and what movement believes most closely to that early and authentic model?

    3. What were the authentic ordinances in the church of Jesus’ time (e.g. baptism and laying on of hands, healing, etc) and which movement teaches and practices them most closely to the early church?

    4. What texts were used by the Church of Jesus time and the era closest to Jesus’ time and which movement is most consistent with the earliest Judao-Christian texts?


    .
     
  18. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Christification cadet Supporter CF Ambassador Angels Team

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    I'm very interested in this subject. I hope it doesn't descend into a debate but more of a forum for discussion and sharing. My objective is to make a post to this thread to receive e-mail updates so I can follow along.
     
  19. Armistead14

    Armistead14 Newbie

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    IMO, Unitarian Universalist would be closest to the early church beliefs as a whole, based on church fathers, creeds, universities, rituals, etc...
     
  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Would you care to show us why that might be so? I know of no creed that denies the divine nature of Christ, for example, and the early church certainly did observe the Lord's Supper and Baptism as sacraments or ordinances essential to the life of the believer.
     
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