Christian Faith“Universal/Worldwide = catholic” Jesus Christ 30 A.D.
Click: Denomination Family Tree to see the information Below in a "Family Tree" Format.
The following List is in chronological (not alphabetical) order of each denomination’s place in history: from the date of its formation to its historical relation to the Christian Family Tree.
There are three lines of demarcation within the Christian church: Either a Christian is Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. Within Christianity overall, there are 7 branches or "families" whereby all denominations find their roots:
• 1.Orthodox - Eastern Byzantine empire - primarily represented by Greek, Serbian and Russian Orthodox churches
• 2.Oriental Orthodox - Not to be confused with the Orthodox faith - this is a group of churches which broke off in the earliest of schisms in Church history. Some were Nestorians, others were "monophysites" (a complex understanding of Christology declared heretical (unfairly).
• 3.Roman Catholic - This group emerged distinctive at the point of the Great Schism in 1054, but had been forming for hundreds of years via the dogma of "Papal Primacy" under Pope Leo, and authoritatively enforced under Pope Gregory the Great (c.AD 600)
• 4.Moravian or Unity of the Brethren - began by secret small study groups formed by John Hus, the Czech pre-reformer - originally called "Hussites", they closely mirrored the reform teachings of John Wycliffe who died prior to Hus' martyrdom at the hands of the Roman Catholic faith. Half of the "Hussites" or "Unity of the Brethren" fled the persecution of Czechoslovakia to join the Moravians - both groups are still in existence today.
• 5.Lutheran - started by Martin Luther and although some Lutheran pastors have left to join or start other movements, there have been no significant denominations that trace their roots to Lutherans. This is to the Lutherans credit.
• 6.Anglican - Began as a state issue and not a doctrinal issue, King Henry VIII "seceded" from Roman Papal authority, declaring himself as "Head of Church and State". The Church of England would endure hardship at the hands of the Roman Catholic Mary Stuart or "Bloody Mary" but eventually, reformers like Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and compromiser Elizabeth I would bring about distinction for this Christian family. Most denominations trace their roots to this branch: Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc.
• 7.Reformed - A large number of denominations consider the Reformed church as their historical foundation: Presbyterians, Amish, Evangelical Free, and Christian and Missionary Alliance.
On the chart of Christian Denominations found on the page called Denomination Family Tree, I have colored each family separately to differentiate the direct and indirect relationships they bear to one another.
The list below gives a greater understanding of the historic origins that the chart could not accommodate. The following information is based on research from individual denominational web pages (when they exist), Bruce Shelley’s “Church History in Plain Language”, Mead’s “Handbook of Denominations” and to some extent “30 Days to Church History” and specific denominational user groups.
Click each Denomination heading box below to reveal a page of information for that particular denomination.
The Original Christian Church
Contrary to popular belief, Christians hold that the "true" church is not a building, nor does it necessarily pertain to a specific group of attendees, but is comprised of those who have trusted in Jesus of the Bible for the forgiveness of their sins and subsequently look to Him as the author and giver of life and life eternal.
To get a more well-rounded definition of church and religion we will give a quick contrast between a Christian Biblical versus the secular understanding.
A. Definitional Compare and Contrast of Church and Religion1. Biblical – Matthew 16:18-19 – “this” rock – Peter’s testimony
- “this” rock (not on Peter the man)
- Gates of Hell will not prevail
- Keys to the kingdom - elements to gain ‘entry’
- Binding and loosing - speaks of doctrine not demons.
B. Essentials vs Non-essentials - From Heresy to Apostasy1. Essentials - Affects Justification , Sanctification & Glorification
- God’s Triunity: Trinity
- Theanthropos – Deity/Humanity of Jesus
- Person of the Holy Spirit
- Christ’s Virgin Birth
- Human Depravity: Nature of Man
- Jesus’ Bodily Resurrection
- Salvation: Grace alone, faith alone in Christ alone
- Christ’s Sinlessness
- Christ’s Atonement
- Christ’s 2nd coming; final judgement
- Papal Authority
- Eternal Security of the Believer
- Water Baptism – methods, etc
- Eschatological elements - Rapture, Millenialism
- Gifts of the Spirit
- Soteriology - doctrine of salvation - Calvinism (predestination) vs. Arminianism (man's choice) vs. Molinism (best possible world)
C. Proprerties of The Early Church:
- Loosely organized
- Participant driven
D. Scriptural Records Of The Early Christian Church
- The Christian assembly usually met in private homes for worship and
instruction(Acts 2:46; 16:40; 18:7; Philem. 1:2)
- in commemoration of the resurrection, the congregation assembled on the "Lord's Day," the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2)
- New Testament suggests that Christian worship incorporated singing of hymns and psalms (Eph. 5:19), prayer (1 Cor. 11:4-5), vocal thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20; Heb. 13:15), and instruction (1 Cor. 14:26; Col. 3:16).
E. Historical Records Of The Early Christian Church1. Justin Martyr (c.151 AD) ANF: Vol. I, First Apology of Justin, Chapter 67
- And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place (Renders the claims by Seventh Day Adventists that "Saturday" is the proper day of worship, a bit untenable)
- The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits
- When the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things
- Then we all rise together and pray
- When our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen
- There is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
- hey who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need
- But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples.
D. Development of Centralization
- Constantine and the Edict of Milan - Declared ALL religions legal to practice • Contrary to common misnomer - this did NOT declare Christianity to be the official "state" religion of Rome. That would not happen until the Emperor Theodosius' decree several years later
- 7 ecumenical councils and notable heresies - All gave clarity - none solved problems.
- Nicaea – called by Constantine – 325 – 318 Bishops
- condemned Arianism - Christ-a created being and therefore subordinate
- Consubstantiality of Christ with the Father (Deity of Jesus)
- Nicene Creed – codified Christian orthodoxy
- official observance of Easter on Sunday
- Constantinople – called by Theodosius I – 381 – 186 Bishops
- Condemned Apollonarius who claimed that Jesus had “divine” and not “human” spirit. – removing Christ’s humanity.
- Consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with Father, Son “proceeds from the Father”; Not subordinate
- upheld the “rulings” of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed
- Constantinople - 2nd See behind Rome
- Christ is human as well as divine
- Ephesus – called by Theodosius II (son)- 431 – over 200 Bishops
- Mary called – Theotokos (Mother of God) to affirm Jesus Deity • Has been misused to venerate Mary to level of sub-deity
- Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople condemned by Cyril of Alexandria • Nestorius denied Jesus’ divine nature was truly unified with his humanity, Mary gave birth to humanity of Jesus only; no theotokos! • Nestorian followers joined the Assyrian Church of the East which held the same views and still exists today – near Baghdad.
- Jesus 2 natures in 1 person - “blended” in perfect unity of one person upheld as orthodox – theanthropos
- List Item 4
- List Item 5
- List Item 3
- List Item 4
- List Item 5
d. Chalcedon – Emperor Marcion & Leo, Bishop of Rome 451 AD – 600 Bishops
i. Condemned Monophysitism of Eutyches – Christ had one ‘fused’ nature, previously condemned for teaching Jesus had ‘one’ nature
ii. 28th Canon declared Constantinople as an equal See to Rome.
iii. Reversed a decision which proclaimed Constantinople on an equal
level of authority as Rome, ecclesiastically. – Leo declared his own See and his successors there as the primary See and being in direct Petrine line of papal primacy. The term “Pope” possibly first used for Leo.
iv. Further defined Christ as 1 person in 2 natures
v. Codified canon law for discipline and organizational methods
e. Constantinople II - Eastern Emperor Justinian I - 553 AD
i. Condemned - Theodore of Mopsuestia - Nestorian teaching
ii. Monothelitism entertained - Jesus two natures and one divine will; iii. Further condemned Monophysitism - 1 nature, divine, not two.
f. Constantinople III - Called by Constantine IV - 680 AD - over 200 Bishops
i. Called in response to rise in Islam
ii. Monothelitism now condemned by "Pope" Leo II - would diminish
Christ's humanity (how can He be tempted as we are if his will is
divine? violates Scripture)
iii. Diothelitism officially affirmed-2 natures 2 wills perfect unity
g. Nicaea II - 787 AD (Media - Paul Icon; 12th century Icon)
i. Iconoclast Controversy- (icon - image; clast - destroy)
Use of Christian "art" or images - statuettes, the cross, etc had been
used as teaching tools to a largely illiterate people for 700 years
prior. But such artwork was never venerated or revered.
• Pictures of Jesus "unlawful" by Eusebius 400 years earlier.
• Some began "kissing", revering, or bowing down to these icons. • The western church claimed they were just giving reverence to
what/whom the icons stood for. Pagans saw this as an identical
worship practice as their own and struggled to convert.
• In the East - Muslims accused Christians of idolatry due to icons
• Emperor Leo III and Eastern Bishops looked to destroy icons and
in 730 ordered all images removed from Christian churches.
• John, Bishop of Damascus, stated that God is in the icons as much
as Christ is in the Lord's supper. -This led to his removal as Bishop by Emperor Leo III
• This controversy would continue for another 300 years and
was largely an "Eastern" church issue as the majority of Eastern
Churches supported the use of icons - Popes Gregory I and II
opposed the Byzantine Emperor & issued anathemas against them
3. 4 stages of Organization– Phillip Schaff vol. 2 - organization and discipline of the early church
a. The apostolic organization of the first century
b. The old Catholic episcopal system
c. Metropolitan Church System
d. Patriarchal Church System
• Here the Greek church stopped, and is governed to this day by a
hierarchical oligarchy of patriarchs equal in rank and jurisdiction
a. The distinction of clergy and laity
b. The sacerdotal view of the ministry becomes prominent and fixed
c. Subordinate church offices are multiplied
d. The episcopate arises
e. The beginnings of the Roman primacy appear
f. The exclusive unity of the Catholic church develops itself in opposition to
heretics and schismatics.
Roman Catholic Church
During the Vatican I council in 1870, the dogma of the infallibility of the pope was officially codified and is still preached and practiced today.
Roman Catholic Resources
Eastern Orthodox Church
entity as a result of the following events which occurred over the course of about 700+ years:
A. Early Schisms – Nestorian, Non-Chalcedonian
1. Nestorian Christology
2. Non-Chalcedonians – Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Mesopotamia
a. Christ unified in His nature and subsequent person.
b. Ecthesis – Monothelitist compromise for Christianity
i. Sergius – Patriarch of Constantinople
ii. Severinus, John IV – Popes condemning Ecthesis
iii. Heraclius – Eastern Emperor promoting Ecthesis
B. Empire Division – separate authorities of state and of church
1. Diocletian – 280 AD divided empire into East and West (see map)
C. Cultural Division – c.f. when the Gospel was taken to the “Greeks”
1. Languages – Latin v Greek
2. Customs – Rome = legal mindset; Greece = philosophical mindset
3. Challenges – Muslims capture Mediterranean; Barbarians capture Italy, Europe
D. Council of Chalcedon
1. Constantinople declared equal to Rome – highly opposed – reversed
2. Leo – fought for the primacy of Roman papacy – term “Pope” came into use as
designator of papal primacy.
E. Iconoclastic Controversy – icon = image; clast = destroy (see icon pics)
1. Eastern Emp. Leo III – 730 AD declared veneration of icons illegal, destroying
them and attacking Bishops and Arch Bishops who supported icons
2. West – Pope Gregory III – Synod – condemned iconoclasts and sent an envoy to
excommunicate them. They were arrested by Byzantine authorities
3. Irene – mother of East. Emp. Constantine VI asked Pope Hadrian I to convene a
council in 787 to address the issue – (7th ecumenical council) where the practice of iconoclasm was officially condemned.
4. Orthodox churches everywhere celebrate iconoclastic defeat 1st Sunday of Lent
F. Papal Primacy vs Power of the State - 860 – 870 AD
1. Ignatius – Patriarch of Constantinople – Confronted Caesar Barda, the uncle of
Eastern Emperor Michael III and was removed from the patriarchy by him.
2. Photius – relative of Michael was appointed to the post and this appointment
was opposed by Pope Nicholas I . Officially deposed at 8th ecumenical council and this was accepted even by the Eastern Orthodox
3. Pope Nicholas I deposed Photius and reinstated Ignatius. Photius then moved to
have the Pope excommunicated based on the grounds of the filioque, papal primacy, and the Bulgarian jurisdiction.
4. Basil the Macedonian, the new Byzantine emperor deposed Photius yet again
in an effort to curry alliance with the Latin pope and Western Emperor
5. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne, a Frankish King, as Emperor in 800 AD –
considered an “intruder” by the East, he was not accepted by Byzantine and the appointment was considered an insult to them
G. Filioque - Latin for “and the Son” – originally to defend consubstantiality of Jesus w/ Father
1. Tertullian – 216 AD The Spirit proceeds from the Father THROUGH the Son as
“fruit is the third from the root of a tree” Against Praxeas, 4:1
2. Taught by St. Augustine of Hippo in 408: “if the Son has of the Father whatever He
has, then certainly He has of the Father, that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from Him.” - On the Trinity, XV:26,47
3. Spanish Church council of Toledo 587 added filioque to the creed first
4. Charlemagne petitioned Pope Leo III to add filioque and was soundly refused.
5. Added to Nicene Creed by Pope Benedict VIII 1024 AD but did not appear in
official liturgy for several years
II. The Great Schism
A. Pope Leo IX – Pope of Catholic Church – fought against Normans in 1052 taken captive
1. Suppressed Greek liturgy in his domain
2. Sent legate Cardinal Humbert to give evidence from Constantine’s “donatio” that Rome held primal papacy. It was refused by Celularius
3. Cardinal Humbert laid Papal Bull of Excommunication on altar of Hagia Sophia
B. Michael Cerularius – Archbishop of Constantinople
1. Suppressed Latin liturgy in his domain
2. Refused Popes envoy demanding his recognition of the supremacy of Rome
3. Excommunicated Humbert from the Eastern Church (Leo IX was already dead)
III. Final Nail(s) in the Coffin
A. Massacre of the Latins – 1182 Constantinople orthodox populace killed or sold the
Latin population into slavery to the Turks
1. Latin widow of Eastern Emperor Manuel I, ruled as regent and was hated
2. Andronikos Komnenos “liberated” Constantinople and the celebration turned to
violence against the Latins – murders of young, old, clergy commenced.
B. 4th Great Crusade – 1202-1204 1. Pope Innocent III – wanted to free Jerusalem from Saladin’s rule
2. Began as a “commercial” venture to repay dept to Venetians by killing Muslims
3. Innocent III forbade violence by the Crusaders against their Christian brothers
4. Desecrated Hagia Sophia – something even the Muslims would not do.
IV. Orthodox Expansion – 863 Cyril and Methodius evangelize the Slavs A. Moravian - Cyrillic alphabet invented to create written Slavic language (still used today)
B. Bulgarian – 864 – Khan Boris adopts Orthodox faith and the Bulgarian nation follows
C. Russian – 988 – Prince Volodymyr (Vladimir) of Kievan Rus accepts Orthodox faith –
• 1794 Sent missionaries to Alaska, established first Orthodox Church in N America
* 125 million Russian Orthodox today
D. Armenian Orthodox – Armenia adopted Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD
1. Claims apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders (not St. Gregory)
2. St Gregory The Illuminator evangelized Armenia in 301 AD – 1st patriarch
3. Persecutions in Armenia 110, 230, & 287 are reported by Tertullian & Eusebius
E. Greek Orthodox – name “Greek” coined circa 10th century under nationalism vs Islam
• continues to be “primary” see of Orthodox faith – 18 million today
F. Serbian Orthodox – 870 AD – possibly by missionaries sent by Cyril and Methodius
• 11.5 million Serbian Orthodox today
Orthodox Church Resources
Unity of The Brethren and Moravian Church
Unity of The Brethren Resources
Today, the liturgy would be considered “high church” or “orthodox” in practice, however, in America there is a movement among many Lutheran churches to provide a contemporary worship - with guitars, drums, and contemporary worship music. Ultimately, the main differences between this and the Catholic church is the authority of Scripture superseding the authority of the Pope and Catholic Church (both of which hold no authority in the Lutheran Denomination), the absence of “Icons” (religious statues - often given a sort of “mediator” status whereby they can receive honor and prayers on behalf of the Saint they (the statues) represent.), Lutheran Ministers can marry, Salvation to the Lutheran is by Grace through Faith as opposed to Sacramental observation and adherence to Church authority.
Church of England or Anglican Church
The churches of the Anglican Communion have their historical beginning when King Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547) wished to obtain a divorce from Anne Boleyn that the pope would not grant. Seizing upon the spirit of emancipation sparked by the boldness of Hus and Luther, the King of England would make an historic proclamation. Through the Act of Supremacy of 1534, the king made himself the "supreme head" of the Church of England in place of the Pope.
When Henry’s daughter, Mary Tudor, ascended the throne, she brought the English country back into the Roman Catholic fold. By this time there were many in England that opposed the idea of going back to papal authority and when they raised their voice in protest, many of them lost their lives. This internal martyrdom earned Queen Mary the title of “Bloody Mary”.
In 1558, Mary grew ill and eventually died. Henry’s other daughter (under Anne Boleyn) Elizabeth succeeded her and restored the Church of England as the official church for England, never to return to Catholicism.
The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the “English Church”. The liturgy of the Anglican church closely resembles that of Catholicism in that it is considered ‘high’ church or a church of orthodoxy. Today, there is a move within the Anglican church to modernize worship and interaction resulting in a greater appeal to a younger generation in the UK.
Zwingli contended that when Jesus declared “This is my Body, take from it and eat.” He was speaking symbolically of the bread and that the Lord’s supper is a memorial as opposed to the Catholic (and to some extent Lutheran) understanding that the bread is transformed literally into Jesus body and the wine transformed into Jesus blood (transubstantiation).
One of the most famous Reformers of all time is a man named John Calvin from Geneva, France whose idea of double pre destination has spurred theological debate regarding God’s role in the salvation of man, and man’s role in his own salvation. From the Reformed Church came denominations known today as Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, and Evangelical Free.
Church of Scotland
Anabaptists - Hutterites, Amish, and Mennonites
Perhaps the most famous of Baptist preachers is John Bunyan (1628-1688) who was arrested on a number of occasions in England for “preaching without a license”. Bunyan is responsible for writing the second best-selling book in history called “Pilgrims Progress” - an allegory about the journey of discipleship for the everyday Christian. Bunyan believed in water Baptism as a consenting Christian but had a sharp disagreement with many in the Baptist movement in England over this same issue.
Perhaps the most famous of recent Presbyterian preachers was the late Dr. D. James Kennedy who was famous for his daily radio broadcast, apologetics for Christianity, and his desire to see Christians involved in making a difference politically.
Church of Christ
structure among its many churches. They seem to each exist to themselves and answer to no “main office” however, they tend to share a common bond of doctrine, practice, and liturgy across the thousands of churches around the world. A Church of Christ website (I am not sure if it is THE Church of Christ website) gives an explanation for this characteristic with the following statement:
We are undenominational and have no central headquarters or president. The head of the church is none other than Jesus Christ himself (Ephesians 1:22-23). Each congregation of the churches of Christ is autonomous, and it is the Word of God that unites us into One Faith (Ephesians 4:3-6). We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his holy Apostles, and not the teachings of man. We are Christians only!
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant denominations: the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. Each of these was, in turn, the result of a union of two earlier traditions.
The Congregational Churches were organized when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation (1620) and the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629) acknowledged their essential unity in the Cambridge Platform of 1648.
The Reformed Church in the United States traced its beginnings to congregations of German settlers in Pennsylvania founded from 1725 on. Later, its ranks were swelled by Reformed immigrants from Switzerland, Hungary and other countries.
The Christian Churches sprang up in the late 1700s and early 1800s in reaction to the theological and organizational rigidity of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches of the time.
The Evangelical Synod of North America traced its beginnings to an association of German Evangelical pastors in Missouri. This association, founded in 1841, reflected the 1817 union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in Germany.
The UCC is considered by many to be the most liberal of all Christian denominations today. The most famous of UCC current events is the Reverand Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Southside Chicago. He repeatedly preached tirades against the evils of all white people, and the evils of the United States in particular. Wright considered the attacks of 9/11 to be some sort of righteous punishment on an evil nation, “The chickens have come home to roost” is a direct quote from a sermon given only 5 days after the horrific loss of life. His fanatical racist preaching of this UCC minister would have gone largely unnoticed were he not the pastor for 20 years to a man named Barrack Hussein Obama who would eventually be elected the 44th President of the United States. Barrack Obama distanced himself from the preacher and left the Chicago church only after the racist doctrine of his church was exposed by the mainstream media - Wright and Obama Controversy.
International Church of Christ
Many great denominations came from this movement: Salvation Army, Church of the Nazarene, Free Methodist Church, Church of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and at the turn of the 20th century, pentecostalism. Contrary to popular myth Holiness Churches are still in operation today and tend to be more traditional evangelical in doctrine and liturgy and are not “Pentecostal” in practice. c.f. Pentecostal-Holiness churches.
Seventh Day Adventists
Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA)
Perhaps the most well known CandMA preacher was A.W. Tozer who was both an author and Christian theologian. His books “Knowledge of the Holy” and “The Pursuit of God” are still incredibly influential and even instrumental in Christian discipleship across most denominations.
Church of the Nazarene
It was founded primarily by a Methodist minister named Phineas F. Bresee, who pastored a “Nazarene” church in 1895 and Pentecostal Missions leader Hirum F. Reynolds. The theology of this Nazarene offshoot from The Holiness Movement greatly resembled, and still resembles, Wesleyan Methodist theology in that it is Arminian in regards to man’s free will and salvation and that Sanctification is a separate event from justification. The Church of the Nazarene position on sanctification is a bit peculiar compared to many Christian denominations in that sanctification is believed it to be, although separate, a one-time event and not necessarily a process.
The Pentecostal influence still remains with the liturgy of this denomination in the form of anointing with oil, laying on of hands for healing, and other practices of the gifts, However, the gift of tongues is not necessarily practiced in the vast majority of Nazarene churches. In fact, they are most often said to resemble a Methodist liturgy more than anything else.
One of the most famous members of the Church of the Nazarene is a radio minister named Dr Charles Dobson. He conducts a conservative Christian radio program called “Focus on The Family”. and is regarded as a sound leader of the church on the whole regarding matters of the family and possesses inter-denominational influence and respect within the Christian Community.
Church of God
Church of God - Indiana Based
Church of God - Cleveland, TN
Church of God in Christ - (COGIC)
Outside of the sanctification error, this denomination holds to Biblically-based belief structure. Today, this is a staunchly Pentecostal denomination that teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit will be evidenced by speaking in tongues.ll COGIC reports 5.2 million adherents, near doubling in the 25 years.
Although the central focus of COGIC was sanctification by the one-time outpuring of the Holy Spirit, Mason and COGIC were not pentecostal or charismatic in practice whatsoever. This would happen 10 years later when at a meeting in Los Angeles led by WJ Seymour in 1907, CH Mason would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues on a regular basis. Mason’s new-found pentecostalism did not bode well with his fellow COGIC leaders and there was an attempt to shut him out of the movement altogether. Mason called a meeting of all his leaders who believed in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the re-organized Pentecostal Denomination called Church Of God In Christ was born.
Assemblies of God
A gathering of church delegates from independent churches, Association of Christian Assemblies, Church of God in Christ and in Unity with the Apostolic Faith Movement, met in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914 to bring about greater organization and accountability to this new Pentecostal movement. Immediately, this young AG movement found itself confronted with the decision of whether or not to accept the heresy known as “modalism” (God is not Triune but One revealed as a different Person or ‘mode’ over time - OT times - Father, Early ministry of Jesus - He is no longer “Father” but “Son” to us all, at Pentecost - God is no longer known as son but is now to be related to as “Holy Spirit”). This “Oneness” theology is embraced even to this day by the Oneness Pentecostal cult.
Fortunately, the Assemblies of God in their infancy, were wise enough to reject this error and affirm the sound, Biblical doctrine of a Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One God in three persons. Today, the Assemblies of God claim to have 2.8 million adherants across 12,300+ churches. There wasn’t a clear cut “founder” as this was a delegation of several churches. The first Chairman/ General Superintendent elected by the first AG council was a man named Eudorus N. Bell.
Foursquare Church - (International Church of Foursquare Gospel)
Robert Semple died shortly after his marriage to Aimee, while on a short term mission to China. Aimee Semple McPherson returned to the U.S., remarried, and continued to travel and preach in tent revivals. She divorced her second husband, Harold McPherson, and in 1918, she settled in Los Angeles, again went on the revival tent preaching circuit for 5 years and returned to Los Angeles to build Angelus Temple. She then founded a radio station and established herself as the first woman to regularly preach the Gospel via mass communication. She also established L.I.F.E. Bible College to disciple Christians for a life of Ministry. LIFE Bible College is still the primary college of the Foursquare Denomination to this day.
The Foursquare Denomination is Pentecostal/Charismatic without the necessary dogma of other Pentecostal denominations like Assemblies of God, Church of God, etc. The Foursquare Gospel was not founded by Aimee Semple McPherson, she was just the founder of this denomination that calls itself by the Foursquare concept. The “Foursquare” Gospel is a derivative of AB Simpson’s “Fourfold Gospel” with the four pillars being:
• 1. Jesus Christ the Savior
• 2. Jesus Christ Baptizer in The Holy Spirit (‘Sanctifier’ in the “Fourfold” of Christian
••••• Missionary Alliance-a doctrine that often times resembled a one-time event like the
• ••••Pentecostal “Baptism of the Holy Spirit)
• 3. Jesus Christ the Healer
• 4. Jesus Christ the Soon Coming King
Many Pentecostal denominations had already adopted and preached this Foursquare derivative of Simpson’s “Fourfold” gospel, including the Assemblies of God, by the time that the Foursquare Movement had been made official in 1927. In the early days, this denomination was wrongly accused of being a “cult” due, partly, to its flamboyant founder, but mostly because of the charismatic theology and practice. It is, however, quite orthodox and Biblically centered with the majority of its congregations being charismatic in practice.
Today, there are a purported 30,000 Foursquare Churches with approximately 7 million members. This group carries a strong missions emphasis and a decidedly de-emphasis of uniform liturgy. The denomination is officially Pentecostal/Charismatic but the de-emphasis of set liturgy could mean that many Foursquare Churches are, like Calvary Chapel, Pentecostal in theology only but not in practice. This can be freeing for some congregations to worship in the manner they are accustomed to (i.e. non-charismatic, etc) but can be challenging for members of other Foursquare churches who are looking to worship in a charismatic church (tongues, prophecy, etc) but have no idea what to expect when entering a particular Foursquare church.
Evangelical Free Church (EV Free)
Began with a 1950 merger between the Evangelical Free Church of America (Swedish) and the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church Association. The Swedish group had its formal beginnings in Boone, Iowa, at a conference held in October of 1884. Although, there is historical evidence that a Swedish preacher named Fred Edquist began preaching in McKeesport, PA
As a result of the EVFCA’s direct lineage to the Reformed Church, they are decidedly “Calvinist” in their theology and adhere to Sola Scriptura, Salvation by Faith alone through Grace in Christ Alone.
Calvary Chapel Churches
They are a balanced blend of Calvinism and Arminianism theology (if such a thing could be possible) whereby they believe in a dual role of God’s sovereign choice of an individual for salvation, coupled with that individual’s free will acceptance of God’s offer. They fancy themselves directly in between fundamentalism (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc) and pentecostalism (Assembly of God, Church of God, Foursquare etc). They adhere to sola scriptura and the inerrancy of the Bible while adhering to the fundamentals of the Christian faith: Trinity, Deity of Jesus, Salvation by Grace, etc just as fundamental evangelicals do. The difference is that Calvary Chapel believes in the perpetuity of the spiritual gifts (i.e. tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge etc) as a theological position, but they do not believe in practicing the gifts in their church services. It is this position that caused a friendly “split” by John Wimber and others who broke off from Calvary Chapel to form the Vineyard pentecostal denomination (formerly a ‘movement’)
Willow Creek (Seeker Sensitive) Movement
This “movement” does not consider itself a denomination, however, its late-20th century philosophy and theology termed “seeker sensitive” has permeated many evangelical, pentecostal, and mainline Christian denominations today. It was founded in 1975 by a man named Bill Hybels who was a youth pastor at South Park Church, a non-denominational evangelical church in Park Ridge, IL. According to the South Park Church website, it began in the 1940s as a non-denominational church. However, historical archives of the Chicago Tribune report that there was a Congregational South Park Church in existence as early as 1890. It is safe to say that Bill Hybel’s church began in the early 20th century as a non-denominational offshoot from a Congregationalist and Friends background and still maintains an evangelical liturgy to this day.
In 1975, Hybels and a friend joined together to form a church that would reach out to the “irreligious” by making their church as “irreligious” as they could. Crosses were removed, talk of the atoning blood of Christ, the fallen sinful nature of man and his subsequent need for repentance were also removed and were replaced with pop culture reference and entertainment and state-of-the-art media presentation. They also shortened sermons to 20-30 minutes and praise and worship was reduced to performing bands for 10-15 minutes, all to accommodate that “irreligious” soul with an attention span problem. Biblical terms like “altar” and “sanctuary” are replaced with entertainment cultural terms like “stage” and “auditorium”. The liturgy resembles more of a entertainment variety show than a Christian gathering of corporate worship. The common The term used for this approach in reaching the irreligious or “seeker” is called a seeker sensitive approach. However, this approach has taken on certain negative connotations in recent years and the term for this approach has been changed internally to “culturally relevant church”
This irreligious approach worked in drawing in the numbers and church attendance grew. Today, according to an article on sermoncentral.com listing the top 100 largest churches, the largest church in America is a Pentecostal seeker sensitive church called Lakewood Church at 43,500 visitors per week. Lakewood is followed at a distant second by a Baptist seeker sensitive church called Second Baptist Church with 23,500+ attendees and third by a church called Northpoint Community Church, founded by Andy Stanley, the son of Charles Stanley, a prominent mainstream Southern Baptist Pastor. Willow Creek, founded by Bill Hybels comes in at number four with a weekly attendance of 22,500 but in 2008, according to an article on Willow Creek Shifting Focus, Christianity Today reports that Willow Creek has, through the same straw polls that founded its irreligious approach, recognized the deficiency of the seeker sensitive doctrine in bringing about real fulfilling discipleship and “closeness to Christ” and has begun to move away from the irreligious appeal to offering Bible and theology courses during its mid-week services.
Cultural Relevance = Spiritual Irrelevance
These groups existed in practical anonymity until 1982, when a charismatic seminary professor, Calvary Chapel Pastor, and former professional musician named John Wimber, came to experience the gifts of the Spirit (prophecy, speaking in tongues, word of knowledge, etc) in reality and not just doctrinally. This brought about a new emphasis from Wimber on the day to day use of the gifts in the Christian life which was unacceptable to Chuck Smith, the leader of Calvary Chapel. In Chuck Smith's words, the disagreement was an amicable one and the two "agreed to disagree" and, in 1982, Wimber removed himself and his Yorba Linda congregation from the Calvary Chapel fold.
What began as a few small groups under Gullickson quickly became a nationwide movement and denomination under Wimber.
The denomination has since experienced mixed responses from the rest of Christianity mainly as a result of its affiliation with controversial movements and figures such the Kansas City Prophets and the embarrassing "Laughter in The Spirit" fad of the early '90s. Both of which claimed to be the "great revivals" but in truth, fizzled out with little to no impact whatsoever on their communities, thus negating any possible comparison to true Christian revivals like the first or second "Great Awakenings", or the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles in the early 20th century.
Because of Vineyard's association with these events, many came to mistrust what was formerly a very trustworthy movement. This caused a number of Vineyard churches to openly declare their disassociation with the "Laughter" craze and the Toronto Airport Vineyard in particular.
Shortly after this, in 1997, John Wimber passed away and left behind a legacy of successful Christian churches and a denomination, that for the most part, is consistently and properly balanced between evangelicalism and pentecostalism. He also left behind a collection of Spirit-inspired worship music that has blessed the worship lives of many Christians: Catholic and Protestant alike.
Today the Vineyard denomination has over 1500 congregations worlwide and over 550 in the US alone.
YWAM (Youth With A Mission)
Cunningham then shared his vision with his denomination (Assemblies of God) and they kindly offered to “pray about Loren’s vision” . They returned to him a short time later to claim that Loren’s vision “was not from God”. Cunningham disagreed with their findings and pursued the vision, knowing that it was from God. He began to establish small inter-denominational bases that mobilized young Christians for short term missions. The YWAM movement flourished and by the year 2000, there were 11,000 staff missionaries in/from over 130 countries.
Whereas YWAM is inter-denominational, it is widely regarded from within and from outside the movement as pentecostal. This can be attributed to its Assembly of God roots. There are no “YWAM” churches as the volunteer staff at the various bases, seek out appropriate home churches in their communities of which to be a part.
As a post script: the Assemblies of God, seeing the success of the YWAM movement, attempted their own version of a “youth driven missions and service movement” called “Masters Commission”. With this, its safe to say the Assemblies of God have “reconsidered” their response to Cunningham’s vision from God although they have never publicly admitted it.
Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC)
“CCC” is a sound Christian organization adhering to the primary fundamentals of the Christian faith. The organization came under criticism from atheist groups and others after many cults imitated the approach taken by Campus Crusade.
Bill Bright was a driving force behind CCC and in 1956, he penned the Four Spiritual Laws which provided an easy condensed codification of the Biblical view of Christian salvation.
There are hundreds of thousands of tracts and brochures that are distributed throughout the world that reference the “Four Laws”.
Bright also commissioned the JESUS film in 1979 which documented the life of Jesus according to the Bible which was a departure from the movies about Jesus life that were told from a liberal perspective. The JESUS documentary has, according to billbright.ccci.org, been viewed by over 5 billion people in 234 different countries. According to this same source, Campus Crusade for Christ, as of July, 2003, serves in 191 countries with a staff of 26,000 full time employees and 225000 volunteers.
To see a flowchart of how the denominations above came into existence and inter-relate to one another, visit our Denomination Family Tree page.
Recommended Resources for Further Research
___Lutheran_______Episcopal_______Reformed____Church History__Ancient History
___Presbyterian___Resources___Case For Christ___Holiness___Knowledge of the Holy