On denominations

1. The number of Christian denominations is stated at around 33000-39000. Well, it really depends on how you look at it. Presbyterian Church in Singapore and Presbyterian Church in Malaysia will be listed as two different denominations, so sometimes it is simply due to technical and geographical issues and not for more despicable and abhorred reasons such as power-seeking and wealth-gaining. So different people will look differently at this number. Personally I will classify them according to the twelve major branches: Catholics (Latin rite and Eastern rite), Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians, Lutherans, Anglicans, Calvinists (Presbyterian/Reformed), Anabaptists, Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics. The number is coincidental and has nothing to do with the tribes of Israel or the disciples of Jesus. No need to waste your time to find the Judas Iscariot among the twelve of them.

2. An important litmus test for church unity is the sacraments. Do you acknowledge the baptism held in other churches? Do you require those who have been baptized in other churches to be re-baptized again when they want to be members of your church? Who can participate in the Eucharist? Do you allow those who are baptized in other churches to take the bread and the wine? For which churches would you answer Yes and for which churches would you answer No (by the way, the answers don’t need to be universal for all questions; some could be Yes and some could be No)? For example, personally, I have been barred once from receiving the Eucharist in the Catholic church and it does show basic disunity among us.

9 thoughts on “On denominations

  1. Andy Prima

    Hello my brother!

    First of all I want to say

    HAPPY Belated Birthday!

    Great blog! hehe I like the lay out, but I like the content more!

    regarding this post, I am wandering why do you feel barred to participate Mass?

    Sorry what is litmus test (I tried to google it but still couldnt understand :(

    Reply
    1. septian Post author

      oi ndy haha eh sala bukan mass deng tp eucharist nya. i’ve changed it accordingly.

      well, my understanding of the bread and the wine is different from the official position of the Catholics. for me, even if they “become” the body and blood of Christ, they do so only by the virtue of being united with the body and blood of Christ.

      so once i went to the parish church with my father (who is a Catholic), and before the Eucharist he said that i shouldn’t take the host since my understanding implies that i don’t believe in the body and blood of Christ. fair enough, i think, for us to disagree about this thing (and other things, as well).

      thx for the greetings btw haha.

      Reply
      1. Valent

        Taken from Catechism of Catholic Church paragraph 1400:

        Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, “when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.”

        Reply
        1. septian Post author

          oit lent haha thanks for the reference from the CCC. well, I guess it shows that my father is faithful to the teaching of the Catholic church and it also underscores my previous point about Eucharistic con-celebration being the litmus test of unity or communion between the churches.

          sometimes i do think it is ironic that we can share a meal together as fellow human beings and yet we could not share the Eucharist in the Table as fellow Christians. but i guess it highlights the reality of human religious conviction which can’t be and shouldn’t be trivialized.

      2. Andy Prima

        Your welcome!

        Hm.. but why do you understand it that way for the body and blood of Christ?
        Is that possible that the bread and wine are really the body and blood of Christ? I mean not to see it as what the catholic people claim, but it is really the work of Jesus.

        For me it is possible because when God chose to be born as human (creator become the creation), then it is also possible that Jesus chose to be bread and wine.

        Btw theme nya bagus bener haha. source nya bahasa jepang lagi, gmn nyari nya bro? :)

        Reply
        1. septian Post author

          I read somewhere that religious beliefs only make sense from within their respective community of faith. An extreme example would be the 9/11. We can never make sense on why the hijackers crashed the planes into WTC, well, unless we come from the community of faith where the hijackers came from. Nevertheless, even if it makes sense for some, it does not necessarily be true. It can make sense and be totally wrong as well.

          So, even in the beginning inter-faith discussions have hit a brick, since it requires participation from within to understand the beliefs involved in respective faith. However, it does not render inter-faith discussion impossible. In fact, I’ve tried to understand as much as I could about the transubstantiation (to use the technical term). Nevertheless, I still can’t hold that particular belief in good conscience.

          And actually we are in a better starting point, since we are fellow Christians and at least I do believe that, in some sense, the blood and wine is the body and blood of Christ. It is a much better starting point to discuss about the Eucharist than, say, if I want to do it with a Buddhist (which might need a different approach, as well). We have shared a lot of common grounds, indeed.

          And I guess what we could do is to articulate our positions from our own distinctive. For example, the Protestants are well-known with their emphasis on the Scriptures (and sometimes admittedly borderline bibliolatry), and that’s the very least that I could do. Perhaps I will write on some related passages (and perhaps some posts from the perspective of the church!) and we could have further constructive discussions about this matter.

          By the way, good to have you and Valent commenting here. More perspectives are better! :)

          PS: theme nya otomatis dari wordpress haha gw tinggal pilih aja.

        2. Andy Prima

          Bibliolatry! what a term! Lol, I learn two words from one blog. Proud of you sept! haha

          I really believe that we can have further constructive discussion.

          I am trying to put more emphasis on bible in my faith journey as well :p (reducing my ignorance toward scripture)

          Since I am a convert, may be I dont know much about catholic, even worse Presbyterian teaching. So I hope I can learn more from you bro!

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