To some extent, Christian denominations can be seen as ways to ‘do church’ differently. Usually, what sets denominations apart is their take on certain biblical subjects, beliefs, interpretations, and practices. Variations on a recipe, if you will. In some denominations, the style of the church gathering is different; others have different perspectives on topics such as the meaning of baptism or the proper response to contemporary cultural issues. In each magazine issue, weíll highlight a couple of denominations and try to sum up some of the differences, some subtle, some more major. Only you and God can decide which denomination is the best fit for you, but itís important to know what different denominations believe and practice.
Notable Distinction: The Seventh-day Adventist Church denomination, considered a branch of Protestant Christianity, came out of the 19th-century “Millerite movement”. William Miller, a Christian convert, was convinced that the Bible contained information regarding the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus and he tried to predict this date. Though his specific predictions were incorrect, his followers continued with the belief that Christ would return very soon and called themselves Adventists. The Adventists later gained a member regarded as a prophet, Ellen G. White, whose teachings inspired growth in the church. She emphasized education and health and was an advocate of vegetarianism. In addition to their view that the end time is near, the Adventists also observe the Sabbath on the seventh day, Saturday. This distinction led to the group later being known as the Seventh-day Adventists.
In addition to their Adventism and focus on the teachings of Ellen G. White, the Seventh-day Adventists also believe that after death, a person has no conscious form of existence and must wait until the resurrection, otherwise known as the Second Coming of Jesus or the end of time, before they arrive in heaven or hell.
Written Statements of Beliefs: The Seventh-day Adventists support that “the Bible is the standard that all teachings and experience must be tested.” (Adventist.org)
Baptism: “Seventh-day Adventists practice adult baptism by full immersion in a similar manner to the Baptists. Infants are dedicated rather than baptized, as it is argued that baptism requires consent and moral responsibility.” (Adventist.org)
Notable Seventh-Day Adventists: Paul Rusesabagina (hotel manager who saved many from genocide in Rwanda), Magic Johnson (professional basketball player), Brian McKnight (R&B singer)
For more information about the Seventh-day Adventist denomination or to find a church near you, visit www.adventist.org
ANGLICANS or EPISCOPALIANS
Notable Distinction: Anglicans, often referred also as Episcopalians, can be described as halfway between Catholicism and Protestantism. Based on the tradition of the Church of England, Anglicans are not dependent on the Pope and are in most areas Protestant, but retain many Catholic forms of worship and hierarchy. Within the church, there is much freedom and diversity with regards to reason, tradition, and scripture. For some, the spectrum of differences within the denomination can lay the ground for a distinction between Anglicans and Episcopalians, but there remains no defined or official separation in the denomination with regard to which name is used.
Written Statements of Beliefs: “We understand the Apostles’ creed as the baptismal symbol, and the Nicene creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.” (AnglicansOnline.com)
Primarily, the Book of Common Prayer is used in ritual, but there continues to be much diversity and many different prayer books are available today. Anglicans regard the Bible as truth and use the Apocrypha (a set of religious texts that does not appear in the Protestant Bible) only for edification.
Baptism: Supports infant baptism as “marking the start of a journey of faith, which involves turning away from the darkness of self-centeredness, turning towards Christ and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family.” (COFE)
Notable Anglicans or Episcopalians: William Butler Yeats (Irish poet), C.S. Lewis (essayist and novelist), George Washington (first U.S. president), John Wesley (founder of the Methodist
For more information about the Anglican or Episcopalian denomination or to find a church near you, check out The Church of England at www.cofe.anglican.org
Sources: ReligionFacts.com, Adherents.com