Let’s just say I’ve experienced a divine intervention, I have met god face to face and I am left with no doubt of his existence, and let’s just say this particular experience left me 100% certain that the real god is the christian god, rather than one of the other 1000’s of potential deities we know of. So now what do I do?
I know that being a christian means you need to need to live life according to the gospel, and the best place to learn how to do this is church. Church is also essential because christianity is not something you’re supposed to be alone in, it means you are a member of the body of christ and have a duty to be involved in that community unless you’re literally unable to do so, which I am not!
So now I need to decide on a church, which christian denomination suits me best? And most importantly, which one teaches the gospel correctly, as god intended? While the lord might have let me know he existed, he gave me no specific information on where or how to worship! I know all of my christian friends are going to tell me only their church is the right one, so that’s no help. I think my only option is to sift through the different types of christianity and see which one most fits my personal experience of god and the bible.
I’ve made decision the limit my choices to only 8 of 41,000+ different types of christianity (yes that’s FOURTY ONE THOUSAND different christian denominations) because if I try to study them all, I will likely die before having the chance to join any. Seeing as these different denominations have come about because disagreements regarding the interpretation of the gospel/scripture and god’s laws, especially when it comes to salvation and lifestyle, I must be sure to choose wisely and correctly.
The christian churches my friends belong to are: catholic, lutheran, pentecostal, baptist, anglican, mormon, salvation army and 7th day adventist - so I might just check them out so no matter what church I join, I’ll have a friend to sit with, and seeing as they’re the ones who inspired me to try and connect with god, I’m sure one of them must have it right!
Catholic - Kicked off around 300AD. These guys believe the pope represents Jesus. They consider the virgin mary to be the queen of heaven and she must be worshipped along Jesus and god. They also pray to mary and all the saints as well as Jesus and god. Services are ultra-traditional. They believe that entry into heaven is not a sure thing, even if you are a good christian. Salvation can only be achieved through baptism, adhering strictly to the sacraments and constant repentance - and you must work for/earn your salvation, faith alone wont save catholics or get them into heaven. Constant child sex abuse allegations is a massive negative. They have priests.
Lutheran - Started by Martin Luther in 1520AD. They worship god through Jesus and believe that faith in Jesus and the grace of god are the only ways to achieve salvation. The Lutheran church considers the traditions and rituals of other christian denominations a bad thing, a distraction that can prevent people from achieving salvation. They believe these traditions distract people from truly living a christian lifestyle by replacing works/service with christian traditions. They have pastors.
Pentecostal - The pentecostal church has muddled origins but it’s establishment as a distinct charismatic christian denomination traces back to the year 1900 and a guys called Charles Parham. These guys are all about Jesus and believe faith in Jesus is the only way to god, and salvation. They have an emphasis on the spirit and things like spiritual healing, intercessory prayer and knowledge of the holy spirit. They are known for casual dress, secular style worship and being a very socially orientated church. They are also know to preach the prosperity gospel which teaches that faith in god will achieve wealth. A lot of churches don’t like the ideology of the pentacostal church as it goes against biblical teachings. They have pastors.
Baptist - An amalgamation of other churches that started in the 1600s. They believe that faith in god and his grace alone lead to salvation and that it can’t be earned. Consider scripture their sole authority, any other laws don’t matter. They don’t believe that kids should be baptised, only people who are professed believers. Only people who have been born again can go to their church. They have pastors.
Anglican (Episcopal) - AKA: The church of England. The church of England was founded by St Augustine in 957 AD and was originally part of the catholic church. Separation from the RC church happened when King Henry III couldn’t get an his marriage annulled so he created a new denomination that would allow the annulment. A lot of the anglican church traditions and beliefs are the same as the catholics. Some differences are, anglicans don’t believe Mary remained a virgin and believe she had other children after Jesus, catholics believe the opposite. The pope has no authority in the anglican church. Anglicans don’t uphold all the catholic sacramental traditions, only baptism and holy communion remain. Unlike catholics, anglicans don’t believe works (doing good things) are necessary in order to attain salvation, it can be achieved by faith alone. They have traditional church services but are loosening up on their worship style and allowing more secular elements, catholics aren’t. They have priests.
Mormon (Church of Latter Day Saints) - On of the newer christian denominations. Founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s, mormonism is quite a unique brand of christianity in that they not only have the holy bible but they are also in possession of something called the ‘Latter Day Scripture’, also called ‘the book of mormon’. This book contains new witness testimony about Jesus and says he visited north america after his resurrection. They follow strict lifestyle rules that prohibit things like, coffee, tea, alcohol, dancing, drugs, dating etc. They often dress very conservatively and believe polygamy is the way god intended marriage. They believe in 2 types of salvation, the first says that everyone gets salvation, and that people are assigned to different levels of heaven based on their lives, there is no hell. The second type of salvation is conditional and rewarded to those who obey the gospel diligently and do many works. These people enter the highest level of heaven. They have priests.
Salvation Army - William Booth founded the Salvos in the 1860s. The salvation army church believe that church and charity are one and the same and always endeavour to help people in need. They don’t belief in smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. They don’t practice baptism or communion as they believe these rituals lead people to believe there is no reason to live a life of service. They are vehemently against homosexuality and have been known to turn away gay people from their churches and refuse them charity even in the most desperate of situations, unless the gay person agrees to change their sexual orientation. They believe salvation is achieved through repentance towards god, faith in Jesus and being regenerated by the holy spirit. They church is very social in nature and is moving toward a more secular worship style. They have officers.
Seventh Day Adventist - The newest of the 8 christian denominations I’m looking at. Stemming from the Millerite (names after it’s founder William Miller) movement of the 1840s. Like Mormons 7DAs are very conservative and have very specific dietary requirements including the prohibition of smoking and alcohol. They also adhere to a kosher diet and are often vegetarian. They believe in modesty and conservative dress, not allowing jewellery beyond a watch or wedding ring. They prohibit piercings and tattoos, though many young adventists are rebelling against these rules. They believe in the entire bible OT and NT. They believe Jesus return is imminent. They believe in salvation the faith and grace alone. They have ministers.
So there are my choices. I can see pro’s and con’s in all. I like the idea of the catholic church because it’s the oldest christian denomination, there’s got to be something said for that. Lutheran seems good because they’re not focused on rituals and traditions, just having faith which does seem pure…but then again according to the catholics not performing these rituals means I might not be saved. Anglicans seem to meet both these denominations in the middle, the believe in a couple of the traditional rituals, but also emphasise that faith in the gospel is the most important part of salvation. I am a bit deterred by the origins of the anglican church though, it seems to have been created because of one guys desire to not be with his wife, and went against the gospel to get his way. I don’t see that as a solid foundation for biblical teachings.
Mormonism appeals to me quite a bit, they do have some crazy laws, but they are in possession of the most recent gospels. They most recent words from Jesus christ. Surely that should mean their teachings are the most relevant. Then again the seventh day adventist church is even newer than the mormon church and they don’t believe in those things, even though they share similar lifestyle guidelines. Advenists make it easier to reach salvation though, which is a plus. It would be hard to choose between both these denominations, they both seem to be the most legitimately focused on following the bible.
Then there’s Pentecostal and Salvation Army. These both seem like really fun churches. Both are very socially orientated, they don’t have any strict rules or regulations. The path to salvation is based on faith alone. I’d probably lean more towards the salvation army, as I don’t really like the way pentecostal churches reinterpret the gospel, I mean that’s the word of god, if all these other churches believe the word of god is perfect as it is, I don’t see why this church feels the need to change it. Even if it does make it easier to live a life in line with gospel teachings, that just seems dishonest. The Salvo’s seem to be more into taking the gospel at face value and backing that up by living lives of service. They also follow some of the clean living guidelines that mormons and adventists adhere too, which is cool. But I really don’t agree with the discrimination they put into the world and then judgement they put upon people who don’t fit into their version of the gospel. I might not have learned much about Jesus yet, but I know he wasn’t the kind of guy to turn someone away. So, based on that I don’t think the salvo’s are the right choice for me.
So what am I to do? Each of these institutions have good and bad points, and each one conflicts with the other in vital ways. It almost makes me think that maybe none of these churches have it right. Maybe I should just read the bible myself and pray to god for guidance and that will be enough. Although, the bible makes it very clear that the church isn’t really about going to a building to pray, it’s about being a part of a community, the body of christ - an essential part of christianity. That makes individual fellowship a non-option.
I have a couple of friends who claim to be non-denominational and just follow Jesus, but from everything I’ve read in the bible, that lifestyle can not lead to salvation as they’re not submitting to the gospel 100% and therefore not real christians, just really nice people who think Jesus is a good example to follow because he is the son of god. They do adhere to some of the bibles teachings, but only the ones that work for them, and only things in the new testament.. It’s almost like they consider the bible just an old book of suggestions rather than the concrete word of god. I’m really not sure that’s what I’m looking for.
I guess I’ll have wait for someone to explain to me which one (if any) of these denominations will teach me the correct things in order to be a good christian. Which makes me very happy this is just a hypothetical situation, I fear I would be waiting a long time before someone could show me why any particular christianity is the right one.
MIssing Tumblr. But not enough to return.
crowleesi asked: If you've got time to squeeze it in - could you ask them when they're returning to the UK (not including Reading festival)? X
No problem! Shall be asked! :)
If you have any questions for Billy Talent, it’d be easier to message heroesandharmonies directly rather than fuckyeahbillytalent cause we have to pass on the messages and if we miss them, your question won’t get asked! <3
That’s me, send any questions you like to mah ask! Will include the best ones in my interview! :)