United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a mainline Protestant denomination and a major part of Methodism. In the 19th century, its main predecessor, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a leader in evangelicalism; the present denomination was founded in 1968 in Dallas, Texas, by union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley in England, as well as the Great Awakening in the United States; as such, the church's theological orientation is decidedly Wesleyan. It embraces both evangelical elements; the United Methodist Church has a connectional polity, a typical feature of a number of Methodist denominations. It is organized into conferences; the highest level is called the General Conference and is the only organization which may speak for the UMC. The church is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, other religious associations. With at least 12 million members as of 2014, the UMC is the largest denomination within the wider Methodist movement of 80 million people across the world.
In the United States, the UMC ranks as the largest mainline Protestant denomination, the largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention, the third largest Christian denomination. In 2014, its worldwide membership was distributed as follows: 7 million in the United States, 4.4 million in Africa and Europe. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 3.6 percent of the US population, or 9 million adult adherents, self-identify with the United Methodist Church revealing a much larger number of adherents than registered membership. The movement, which would become the United Methodist Church, began in the mid-18th century within the Church of England. A small group of students, including John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, met at Oxford University, they living a holy life. Other students mocked them, saying they were the "Holy Club" and "the Methodists", being methodical and exceptionally detailed in their Bible study and disciplined lifestyle; the so-called Methodists started individual societies or classes for members of the Church of England who wanted to live a more religious life.
In 1735, John and Charles Wesley went to America, hoping to teach the gospel to the American Indians in the colony of Georgia. Instead, John became vicar of the church in Savannah, his preaching was legalistic and full of harsh rules, the congregation rejected him. After two years in America, he returned to England dejected and confused. On his journey to America, he had been impressed with the faith of the German Moravians on board, when he returned to England he spent time with a German Moravian, passing through England, Peter Böhler. Peter believed a person is saved through the grace of God and not by works, John had many conversations with Peter about this topic. On May 25, 1738, after listening to a reading of Martin Luther's preface to Romans, John came to the understanding that his good works could not save him and he could rest in God's grace for salvation. For the first time in his life, he felt the assurance of salvation. In less than two years, the "Holy Club" disbanded. John Wesley met with a group of clergy.
He said "they appeared to be of one heart, as well as of one judgment, resolved to be Bible-Christians at all events. The ministers retained their membership in the Church of England. Though not always emphasized or appreciated in the Anglican churches of their day, their teaching emphasized salvation by God's grace, acquired through faith in Christ. Three teachings they saw as the foundation of Christian faith were: People are all by nature dead in sin and children of wrath, they are justified by faith alone. Faith produces outward holiness; these clergy became popular, attracting large congregations. The nickname students had used against the Wesleys was revived; the English preacher Francis Asbury arrived in America in 1771. He became a "circuit rider", taking the gospel to the furthest reaches of the new frontier as he had done as a preacher in England; the first official organization in the United States occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1784, with the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the Christmas Conference with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the leaders.
Though John Wesley wanted the Methodists to stay within the Church of England, the American Revolution decisively separated the Methodists in the American colonies from the life and sacraments of the Anglican Church. In 1784, after unsuccessful attempts to have the Church of England send a bishop to start a new church in the colonies, Wesley decisively appointed fellow priest Thomas Coke as superintendent to organize a separate Methodist Society. Together with Coke, Wesley sent a revision of the Anglican Prayerbook and the Articles of Religion which were received and adopted by the Baltimore Christmas Conference of 1784 establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church; the conference was held at the Lovely Lane Methodist Church, considered the Mother Church of American Methodism. The new church grew in the young country as it employed circuit riders, many of whom were laymen, to travel the rural nation by horseback to preach the Gospel and to establish churches until there was scarcely any village in the United States without a Methodist presence.
With 4,000 circuit riders by 1844, the Methodist Episcopal Church became the largest Protestant denomination in the
Doctor of Divinity
Doctor of Divinity is an advanced or honorary academic degree in divinity. Doctor of Divinity should not be confused with the Doctor of Theology degree, a research doctorate in theology awarded by universities and divinity schools, such as Duke Divinity School and others. However, many universities award a PhD rather than a ThD to graduates of higher-level religious studies programs. Another research doctorate in theology is the Doctor of Sacred Theology, in particular awarded by Catholic pontifical universities and faculties; the Doctor of Ministry is another doctorate-level religious degree, but is a professional doctorate rather than a research doctorate. In the United Kingdom, the degree is a higher doctorate conferred by universities upon a religious scholar of standing and distinction for accomplishments beyond the PhD level; the candidate will submit a collection of work, published in a peer-reviewed context and pay an examination fee. The university assembles a committee of academics both internal and external who review the work submitted and decide on whether the candidate deserves the doctorate based on the submission.
Most universities restrict candidacy to academic staff of several years' standing. In the United States, the degree is conferred honoris causa by a church-related college, seminary, or university to recognize the recipient's ministry-orientated accomplishments. For example, Martin Luther King subsequently received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Chicago Theological Seminary, Boston University, Wesleyan College, Springfield College. Billy Graham was addressed as "Dr. Graham", though his highest earned degree was a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Wheaton College. Under federal law, a 1974 judgement accepted expert opinion that an "Honorary Doctor of Divinity is a religious title with no academic standing; such titles may be issued by bona fide churches and religious denominations, such as plaintiff, so long as their issuance is limited to a course of instruction in the principles of the church or religious denomination". However, under the California Education Code, "an institution owned and operated and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation pursuant to Part 4 of Division 2 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code" that offers "instruction... limited to the principles of that religious organization, or to courses offered pursuant to Section 2789 of Business and Professions Code" may confer "degrees and diplomas only in the beliefs and practices of the church, religious denomination, or religious organization" so long as "the diploma or degree is limited to evidence of completion of that education".
In a 1976 interview with Morley Safer of the TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes, Universal Life Church founder Kirby J. Hensley professed that the church's honorary Doctor of Divinity degree was "...just a little piece of paper. And it ain't worth anything, you know, under God's mighty green Earth—you know what I mean?—as far as value." In 2006, Universal Life Church minister Kevin Andrews advised potential degree recipients not to misrepresent the title as an educational achievement to employers, recommending instead that it would be appropriate to list such credentials "under the heading of Titles, Awards, or Other Achievements" on curricula vitae. As of 2009, 20 U. S. states and Puerto Rico had some form of exemption provision under which religious institutions can grant religious degrees without accreditation or government oversight. In the Catholic Church, Doctor of Divinity is an honorary degree denoting ordination as bishop. Christopher St. Germain's 1528 book The Doctor and Student describes a dialogue between a Doctor of Divinity and a law student in England containing the grounds of those laws together with questions and cases concerning the equity thereof.
Bachelor of Divinity Doctor of the Church Master of Divinity Lambeth degree The Doctor and Student pdf files
The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the New Testaments together as sacred scripture; the New Testament has accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated into the various Christian liturgies; the New Testament has influenced religious and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature and music. The New Testament is a collection of Christian works written in the common Greek language of the 1st century AD, at different times by various writers, the modern consensus is that it provides important evidence regarding Judaism in the 1st century. In all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books: the four gospels, The Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one epistles, Revelation.
The united Catholic Church defined the 27-book canon. The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is by the 4th-century eastern Catholic bishop Athanasius; the first time that church councils approved this list was with the councils of Hippo and Carthage in North Africa and Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under pope Damasus gave the same list first. These councils provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books; the original texts were written in the first century of the Christian Era, in Greek, the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the conquests of Alexander the Great until the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD. All the works that became incorporated into the New Testament are believed to have been written no than around 120 AD. John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Others give a final date of 80 AD or of 96 AD.
Collections of related texts such as letters of the Apostle Paul and the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John were joined to other collections and single works in different combinations to form various Christian canons of Scripture. Over time, some disputed books, such as the Book of Revelation and the Minor Catholic Epistles were introduced into canons in which they were absent. Other works earlier held to be Scripture, such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Diatessaron, were excluded from the New Testament; the Old Testament canon is not uniform among all major Christian groups including Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Slavic Orthodox Churches, the Armenian Orthodox Church. However, the twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament, at least since Late Antiquity, has been universally recognized within Christianity; the phrase new testament, or new covenant first occurs in Jeremiah 31:31. The same Greek phrase for'new covenant' is found elsewhere in the New Testament.
In early Bible translations into Latin, the phrase was rendered foedus,'federation', in Jeremiah 31:31, was rendered testamentum in Hebrews 8:8 and other instances, from which comes the English term New Testament. Modern English, like Latin, distinguishes testament and covenant as alternative translations, the treatment of the term Διαθήκη diathḗkē varies in Bible translations into English. John Wycliffe's 1395 version is a translation of the Latin Vulgate and so follows different terms in Jeremiah and Hebrews: Lo! Days shall come, saith the Lord, I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel, with the house of Judah. For he reproving him saith, Lo! Days come, saith the Lord, when I shall establish a new testament on the house of Israel, on the house of Judah. Use of the term New Testament to describe a collection of first and second-century Christian Greek scriptures can be traced back to Tertullian. In Against Marcion, written c. 208 AD, he writes of: the Divine Word, doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel.
And Tertullian continues in the book, writing: it is certain that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, as alien from the law and the prophets. By the 4th century, the existence—even if not the exact contents—of both an Old and New Testament had been established. Lactantius, a 3rd–4th century Christian author wrote in his early-4th-century Latin Institutiones Divinae: But all scripture is divided into two Testaments; that which preceded the advent and passion of Christ—that is, the law and the prophets—is called the Old.
Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline in universities and seminaries. Theology is the study of deities or their scriptures in order to discover what they have revealed about themselves, it occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but especially with epistemology, asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship. Theology is derived from the Greek theologia, which derived from Τheos, meaning "God", -logia, meaning "utterances, sayings, or oracles" which had passed into Latin as theologia and into French as théologie.
The English equivalent "theology" had evolved by 1362. The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in patristic and medieval Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts. Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity"; the term can, however, be used for a variety of fields of study. Theology begins with the assumption that the divine exists in some form, such as in physical, mental, or social realities, that evidence for and about it may be found via personal spiritual experiences or historical records of such experiences as documented by others; the study of these assumptions is not part of theology proper but is found in the philosophy of religion, through the psychology of religion and neurotheology. Theology aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, to use them to derive normative prescriptions for how to live our lives.
Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument to help understand, test, defend or promote any myriad of religious topics. As in philosophy of ethics and case law, arguments assume the existence of resolved questions, develop by making analogies from them to draw new inferences in new situations; the study of theology may help a theologian more understand their own religious tradition, another religious tradition, or it may enable them to explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition. Theology may be used to propagate, reform, or justify a religious tradition or it may be used to compare, challenge, or oppose a religious tradition or world-view. Theology might help a theologian address some present situation or need through a religious tradition, or to explore possible ways of interpreting the world. Greek theologia was used with the meaning "discourse on god" in the fourth century BC by Plato in The Republic, Book ii, Ch. 18. Aristotle divided theoretical philosophy into mathematike and theologike, with the last corresponding to metaphysics, for Aristotle, included discourse on the nature of the divine.
Drawing on Greek Stoic sources, the Latin writer Varro distinguished three forms of such discourse: mythical and civil. Theologos related to theologia, appears once in some biblical manuscripts, in the heading to the Book of Revelation: apokalypsis ioannoy toy theologoy, "the revelation of John the theologos". There, the word refers not to John the "theologian" in the modern English sense of the word but—using a different sense of the root logos, meaning not "rational discourse" but "word" or "message"—one who speaks the words of God, logoi toy theoy; some Latin Christian authors, such as Tertullian and Augustine, followed Varro's threefold usage, though Augustine used the term more to mean'reasoning or discussion concerning the deity'In patristic Greek Christian sources, theologia could refer narrowly to devout and inspired knowledge of, teaching about, the essential nature of God. The Latin author Boethius, writing in the early 6th century, used theologia to denote a subdivision of philosophy as a subject of academic study, dealing with the motionless, incorporeal reality.
Boethius' definition influenced medieval Latin usage. In scholastic Latin sources, the term came to denote the rational study of the doctrines of the Christian religion, or the academic discipline which investigated the coherence and implications of the language and claims of the Bible and of the theological tradition. In the Renaissance with Florentine Platonist apologists of Dante's poetics, the distinction between "poetic theology" and "revealed" or Biblical theology serves as steppingstone for a revival of philosophy as independent of theological authority, it is in this last sense, theology as an academic discipline involving rational study of Christian teaching
Catechesis is basic Christian religious education of children and adults. It started as education of converts to Christianity, but as the religion became institutionalized, catechesis was used for education of members, baptized as infants; as defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 5: Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life. In the Catholic Church, catechist is a term used of anyone engaged in religious formation and education, from the bishop to lay ecclesial ministers and clergy to volunteers at the local level; the primary catechists for children are their communities. Protestant churches have Sunday School classes for educating children in religion, as well as adult classes for continuing education. In ecclesiology, a catechumen is a person receiving instruction from a catechist in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism.
The title and practice is most used by Anglican, Methodist, Reformed/Presbyterian, Roman Catholic Christians. Ecumenical organisations such as the North American Association for the Catechumenate are helping to, across several denominations, "shape ministries with adult seekers involving an extended time of faith formation and a meaningful experience of adult baptism at Easter." The word catechumen comes from the passive form of the Greek word κατηχέω, used seven times in the New Testament. In the passive, it means "to be instructed, informed." The catechumenate developed from the development of doctrine and the need to test converts against the dangers of falling away. The Bible records that the Apostle Paul while visiting some people who were described as "disciples", established they had received the baptism of John for the repentance of sins but had not yet heard of or received the Holy Spirit. Further, from the second century it appears that baptisms were held only at certain times of year, indicating that periods of instruction were the rule rather than the exception.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes: "As the acceptance of Christianity involved belief in a body of doctrine and the observance of the Divine law, it is clear that some sort of preliminary instruction must have been given to the converts." See Council of Jerusalem. Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, cites instruction as occurring prior to baptism: As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them, they are brought by us where there is water, are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. The "persuasion" would be carried out by the preaching of an evangelist; that person would receive the sign of the Cross and aspersion with holy water from a minister, indicating their entry to the state of catechumen. In the early church, catechumens were instructed in the basic elements of the faith such as the Apostles' Creed, Lord's Prayer, sacraments in preparation for baptism.
Catechumens were limited as to their attendance in formal services. As unbaptized, they could not take part in any service, for, reserved for those baptized. One practice permitted them to remain in the first part of the mass, but in the earliest centuries dismissed them before the Eucharist. Others had them entering through a side door, or observing from the side, from a gallery, or near the font, their desire for baptism was held to be sufficient guarantee of their salvation, if they died before the reception. In event of their martyrdom prior to baptism by water, this was held to be a "baptism by blood", they were honored as martyrs. In the fourth century, a widespread practice arose of enrolling as a catechumen and deferring baptism for years until shortly before death, when so ill that the normal practice of immersion was impossible, so that aspersion or affusion—the baptism of the sick—was necessary. Constantine was the most prominent of these catechumens. See Deathbed conversion. During the fourth and fifth centuries, baptism had become a several-week-long rite leading up to the baptism on Easter.
During this time, catechumens attended several meetings of intensive catechetical preaching by the bishop himself, accompanied by special prayers and other rites. Catechumens recited the Apostles' Creed on Holy Saturday to show that one had completed catechetical instruction. By the sixth century, most of those presented for baptism were infants, pre-baptismal catechesis was abandoned; the decline of preaching and education in general following the barbarian invasions affected the decline of catechesis. Instructors would teach Christians, baptized as children, to prepare for practicing the religion as thinkin
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization and doctrine. Individual bodies, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by doctrine. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity"; these branches differ in many ways through differences in practices and belief. Individual denominations vary in the degree to which they recognize one another. Several groups claim to be the direct and sole authentic successor of the church founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD. Others, believe in denominationalism, where some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels and practices; because of this concept, some Christian bodies reject the term "denomination" to describe themselves, to avoid implying equivalency with other churches or denominations.
The Catholic Church which claims 1.2 billion members – over half of all Christians worldwide – does not view itself as a denomination, but as the original pre-denominational church, a view rejected by other Christians. Protestant denominations account for 37 percent of Christians worldwide. Together and Protestantism comprise Western Christianity. Western Christian denominations prevail in Western, Northern and Southern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania; the Eastern Orthodox Church, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, is the second-largest Christian organization in the world and considers itself the original pre-denominational church. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church is itself a communion of independent autocephalous churches that mutually recognize each other to the exclusion of others; the Eastern Orthodox Church, together with Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East, constitutes Eastern Christianity. Eastern Christian denominations are represented in Eastern Europe, North Asia, the Middle East, Northeast Africa and South India.
Christians have various doctrines about the Church and about how the divine church corresponds to Christian denominations. Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox hold that their own organizations faithfully represent the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church to the exclusion of the other. Sixteenth-century Protestants separated from the Catholic Church because of theologies and practices that they considered to be in violation of their own interpretation. Members of the various denominations acknowledge each other as Christians, at least to the extent that they have mutually recognized baptisms and acknowledge orthodox views including the Divinity of Jesus and doctrines of sin and salvation though doctrinal and ecclesiological obstacles hinder full communion between churches. Since the reforms surrounding the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965, the Catholic Church has referred to Protestant communities as "denominations", while reserving the term "church" for apostolic churches, including the Eastern Orthodox.
But some non-denominational Christians do not follow any particular branch, though sometimes regarded as Protestants. Each group uses different terminology to discuss their beliefs; this section will discuss the definitions of several terms used throughout the article, before discussing the beliefs themselves in detail in following sections. A denomination within Christianity can be defined as a "recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church". "Church" as a synonym, refers to a "particular Christian organization with its own clergy and distinctive doctrines". Some traditional and evangelical Protestants draw a distinction between membership in the universal church and fellowship within the local church. Becoming a believer in Christ makes one a member of the universal church; some evangelical groups describe themselves as interdenominational fellowships, partnering with local churches to strengthen evangelical efforts targeting a particular group with specialized needs, such as students or ethnic groups.
A related concept is denominationalism, the belief that some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels and practices.. Protestant leaders differ from the views of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, the two largest Christian denominations; each church makes mutually exclusive claims for itself to be t