Various world religions feature diverse sects, denominations, or factions, Christianity being no exception. Understanding these subdivisions is crucial for gaining insight into a specific world religion. For instance, within Christianity, there exist three primary branches of denominations: Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox. While the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches perceive themselves as original, pre-denominational entities, Protestantism splinters into additional denominations like Lutheran and Assemblies of God. Despite these divisions, all branches maintain certain shared beliefs. Continue reading to explore both their commonalities and differences in beliefs.

A hand holding a rosary

Catholic Beliefs

Catholic doctrine holds that it is the original church established by Jesus through Peter (Matthew 16:18). Central to Catholic belief is the conviction that Jesus, the holy Son of God, was both fully divine and fully human, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Though sinless, Jesus suffered crucifixion, death, and resurrected three days later. Forty days post-resurrection, Catholics assert Jesus ascended into Heaven, while his mother, Mary, was assumed into Heaven at the conclusion of her earthly life.

In Catholic Mass, adherents partake in the Eucharist administered by a priest. They maintain that the Eucharist embodies the literal essence of Jesus, including his body, blood, soul, and divinity. To partake in the Eucharist, individuals are required to publicly profess their Christian faith and align with Catholic teachings, including recognition of the pope’s authority.

A statue of martin luther

Protestant Beliefs

The Protestant movement emerged during the Reformation in 1517, led by Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and monk, who aimed to reform the Catholic Church. Eventually, Protestants completely separated from Catholicism, though they maintain fundamental beliefs about Jesus and his actions. However, they diverge on certain doctrines, such as the perpetual virginity of Mary and the nature of communion, which they interpret metaphorically rather than literally.

Protestantism encompasses a spectrum of beliefs. Lutherans, for instance, adhere to their own Large and Small Catechism and practice infant baptism. Conversely, the Assemblies of God hold that only those who profess faith should undergo baptism by immersion, accompanied by the Holy Spirit’s manifestation through speaking in tongues, without subscribing to catechisms.

A priest holding a censer

Eastern Orthodox Beliefs

Similar to the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church asserts its status as the original, pre-denominational institution, particularly in regions once under the Eastern Roman Empire’s sway. While sharing many theological tenets with Catholicism and Protestantism regarding Jesus’ identity and deeds, the Eastern Orthodox Church incorporates traditions and worship practices influenced by Eastern cultures from its historical context. For instance, priests commonly employ Koine Greek and Church Slavonic during communion, reflecting these cultural connections.

Though technically comprising different denominations, Eastern Orthodox churches often bear national or geographical distinctions, with minimal variance in beliefs among them.

Across the three branches of Christian denominations, a consensus remains regarding Jesus, the central figure of the Bible. Whether you align with Catholicism, Protestantism, or Eastern Orthodoxy, the belief in Jesus as the Son of God, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension remains steadfast. Despite doctrinal differences, the overarching devotion to Jesus unites Christians worldwide.

Furthermore, within the diverse landscape of Christian communities, congregations like JCKC CrossBridge in Suwanee, GA, serve as vibrant embodiments of faith. As the English-speaking Adult Congregation within the Johns Creek Korean Church, CrossBridge fosters an inclusive environment where individuals of various backgrounds can connect, grow spiritually, and journey together in faith. Through an interdependent ministry model, they endeavor to deepen relationships with God and one another, transcending cultural barriers and generational divides within their church family.

Join the community at JCKC CrossBridge, a Korean church in Suwanee, GA, and embark on a journey of spiritual growth and community engagement. Let’s walk together in faith, fostering unity and mutual support within our diverse congregation.

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