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Religious Denominations Analysis

Introduction: A brief historical background of Christian Denominations

Considering the first stages of Christianity development, humanity knew no ‘denominations’ within the church; in 1504 there was first Christendom division between the Eastern and Western Churches with ‘Great Schism’. It is necessary to underline the fact that this stage appeared to be the first step to the formation of two greatest Christianity branches, the Orthodox Church and the Catholic one. Over the centuries, there were formed a number of various denominations in accordance with the beliefs and religious traditions; nevertheless, all of them were regarded to be the same religion branches through their basis on the following fundamentals, the Trinity, the Bible, and the Nicene Creed teachings.

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The paper will be concentrated on the detail analysis of Christian denominations through the highlight of their common and distinctive features and symbolic elements; the comparative study of Catholic and Lutheran denominations will be expressed through their principle positions, expressed in definite Christianity practices.

Catholicism as Denomination

Over the first centuries of Christianity existence, the notion of ‘Roman Catholicism’ was not known to the humanity; people knew only Catholic Church serving the Christian believers’ body throughout the world united by common church structure, beliefs, traditions and worship. Nowadays, being a Catholic church is considered to absorb the features of a Christian, nevertheless having the characteristics and beliefs making to be different from other Christians. Catholic Church strives to support the apostolic church true tradition, regarding dissenting groups to be heresies, rather than alternatives. Nevertheless, according to the Second Vatican Council, all baptized Christians are considered to be in a certain communion with Catholic Church.

It is necessary to underline the fact, that Catholicism as denomination is perceived as the greatest Christian group; its practices and beliefs are considerably different from Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Special features characterizing this denomination are saints’ ability to intercede on believers’ behalf and peculiar pope’s authority, as well as Purgatory concept importance. The doctrine of transubstantiation is concentrated on the belief that the blessed bred of Eucharist is regarded to be the trued Christ’s body.

Lutheranism as Denomination

Lutheranism is referred to the oldest denomination of Protestantism; the key beliefs and practices are related to the views developed by Martin Luther, who is considered to be the father of Reformation. This branch appeared to be the result of 16th century reformation taking place in Western Europe. The main argument of this denomination is concentrated on the contradictions between the Catholic Church practices and the Bible; it should be stressed that Martin Luther strived to stimulate church reformation by abuses and corruption exposing. Most of the Catholicism aspects have been rejected by this denomination; nevertheless the atmosphere and appearance of Catholic Church have been reflected. Besides, Lutheranism is known for the special stress on education that is why there are a lot of institutions referred to this religion throughout the world.

The Roman Catholic doctrine concepts are based on the following beliefs: sacraments can be valid as faith aids providing grace to their participants; the redeeming work of Christ is the method of human access to salvation; the Scriptures reflect the guide to truth; and firm belief in the individual’s God reaching.

Lutheranism and Catholicism practices: comparative analysis

The comparative analysis of two significant denominations Lutheranism and Catholicism is to be considered on the basis of the central religion practices characterizing the branches of Christianity. The central practices to be analyzed are considered to be the following:

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  • Clergy role and type;
  • Sacraments view;
  • The resurrection of Christ.

In accordance with Catholicism denomination, Christ entrusted the office of sanctifying, teaching and governing by his power to the apostles. Nevertheless, ‘the laity is made to share in the priestly prophetical and kindly office of Christ.’ (Jones, 135) The successors of the apostles are also entrusted the power of Christ to act in his name. In contrast to this denomination position, Lutheranism sticks on the point that all the believers are the priests, having direct access to God. The Lutheranism practices consider clergy to be ministers or pastors, in accordance with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (Stump, 230)

Catholics outline seven sacraments to be regarded as basic religious rituals commanded by God and being effective in believer’s conferring grace. The denomination conveys grace on the basis of sacraments operation; they are never regarded as outward or symbolic signs. Luther supported the idea that sacraments are the means of grace in case they are received with faith. This position regards only feeding and initiating faith providing aid to those having faith and participating in sacraments.

And finally, the resurrection of Christ is to be analyzed as one of the basic God and Spirit practices characterizing the Christianity denominations. In accordance with the Catholicism position, the Christ’s resurrection mystery is considered to be a real event; this phenomenon included various manifestations being historically verified. In contrast to this, the representatives of Lutheran Church support the idea that the historical flow demonstrates the resurrection faith of disciples. Their testimony and witness to post-death appearances of Jesus stimulate the clear picture of the resurrection, being the apostolic proclamation’s primary object from the very start. (Jones, 111)

The analysis of above practices demonstrates the denominations fitting to the Christianity beliefs and spiritual views; the recognitions of religious differences between the branches can be considered on the basis of sin and salvation beliefs study. Catholicism sticks to the point that every individual possesses the person’s dignity being in the God’s image; person ‘is capable of self possession and self-knowledge, and of freely coming into the community’ (Comfort, 134) The concept of human nature in Catholicism is based on the individual’s being called by grace to Creator’s covenant offering him faith response together with love which cannot been given by other creator. Considering Lutheran position, the human nature is created in the image of God; initially, person had no intellectual capability.

Practices Catholicism Lutheran Denomination
Saints’ prayer Accepted Rejected
Baptism Accepted Accepted
Original sin Rejected the point of Lutheran Church Free will is dissolved after the first parents’ fall; everyone sins in every done action; people are sinners by their nature being inclined to evil.

The table above underlines basic differences and similarities in the Christian concepts perception; the treatment of original sin and human nature appeared to be the indicator of denomination’s background in the development of religious beliefs, demonstrating the key positions in spirituality treatment.

Conclusion

The evaluation of Christianity denominations has been based on religious historical overview, brief tradition analysis and identification of their relation to Christian beliefs and practices. The paper managed to depict the most important practices viewed in Christian religion, and contradict them on the basis of Catholicism and Lutheran branches study. The study has shown some similar elements of the analyzed denominations with Orthodox and Protestant positions; it means that beliefs and practices are closed to the original Christianity religion. The paper was focused on the detail analysis of Christian denominations through the disclosure of their common and distinctive features and symbolic elements; it is necessary to underline the fact that brief historical overview of denominations roots of formation allowed to determine the basic positions of Catholicism and Lutheran religions.

References

Comfort, P. Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.

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Jones, G. Christian theology: a brief introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Stump, J. An Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2006.

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