Monday, April 02, 2007

Exploring your faith

I recently had a student asking me what the diferences between denominations are. They attend a non-denominatinal congregation once or twice a month. They asked their pastor what tradition or background he came from and he told her Pentacostal.

Here is some of what I wrote her:

Here is a website that has a chart that compares some to the different doctrines and positions of the different mainstream Christian denominations.

Maybe it's a little too complicated (or too boring), but I thought you might be interested since you were asking me about it the other day. "Non-denomination" basically means that your congregation, or pastor can sort of pick and choose what you believe to be the closest to what God would have us believe without having to have the rest imposed on you by some higher-up governing organization.

Because many Pentecostal denominations are descended from Methodism, most Pentecostals believe that the ability to believe in Jesus is a power of the human free will. We Lutherans think that you can't come to believe and confess Jesus with out the help of the Holy Spirit- Ironic since Pentecostals put more emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit, thus their name, which comes from when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples on Pentecost (50 days after the Passover).

Most Pentecostal denominations are aligned with Evangelicalism in that they emphasize the reliability of the Bible and the need for the transformation of an individual's life with faith in Jesus. Pentecostals also adhere to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. That much is the same as Lutherans. If I remember right, the biggest organized Pentecostal denomination is the "American Foursquare Church." Pentecostalism pretty much started in the U.S. in the late 1800's and really got going int he 20th century. But obviously, your church isn't called "non-denominational" for nothing. I assume that they want to put Jesus first and any other theology or doctrine second. When I lived in LA, it did seem like most non-denominational churches were Baptist, Fundamentalist, or "Vineyard" which is actually kind of a modernized form of Quaker. Most Pentecostal churches either called themselves Pentecostal or Foursquare.

I don't know if this helped any or just made things even more confusing. The most important thing is that you know that Jesus loves you and died for you and rose again from the dead. That and that He wants you to grow in your relationship with Him and the best ways to do that are reading the Bible, praying, worshiping Him, and having fellowship with other believers. I think that you can worship Him, learn more about Him, and develop friendships with other believers at just about any Christian church, no matter what denomination. Although, be aware that Mormons and Jahovah's Witnesses aren't actually Christian, even if they seem like it. I would ask God to provide you with Christian fellowship and to guide you to a Church family near home that He thinks is right for you. Meanwhile keep asking questions and getting involved at your church in Omaha.

I teach the high school Bible Study at my Church in Charter Oak, St. John's. It's at 8:50 in the kitchen in the basement, if you ever want to come sit in, you're always welcome.

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