Sie sind auf Seite 1von 48

Christian denomination

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

This article is about the organization and relationships between individual churches. For the
body of all Christian believers in general, see Christian Church. For others, see Christian
Church (disambiguation).
Part of a series on




Jesus in Christianity

Virgin birth





Old Testament

New Testament





New Covenant





History of theology









Early Christianity




EastWest Schism




Related topics[show]

Holidays (list)





Other religions








Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Catholic
Oriental Orthodox

Jehovah's Witness
Latter Day Saint
Oneness Pentecostal
Christianity portal

A denomination in Christianity is a distinct religious body identified by traits such as a

common name, structure, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use
alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions
between one group and another are defined by doctrine and church authority; issues such as
the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy
often separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations often sharing
broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties are known as branches of Christianity.
Individual Christian groups vary widely 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, however, believe in denominationalism, where
some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their
distinguishing labels, beliefs, 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 is the largest Christian denomination with over 1.2 billion members
over half of all Christians worldwidemaking it the world's second largest religious
denomination after Sunni Islam.[1] However, the Catholic Church does not view itself as a
denomination, but as the original pre-denominational church.[2] Protestant denominations
account for roughly forty percent of Christians worldwide.[3] Together, Catholicism,
Protestantism, Anglicanism, and other denominations sharing historical ties comprise
Western Christianity. Western Christian denominations prevail in Western, Northern, Central
and Southern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, with an estimated 225300 million adherents,[4] is the second
largest Christian organization in the world and also considers itself the original predenominational church. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church is itself a
communion of fully independent autocephalous churches (or "jurisdictions") 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 mostly in Eastern Europe, North Asia, the
Middle East and Northeast Africa.
Christians have various doctrines about the Church, the body of faithful that they believe was
established by Jesus Christ, and how the divine church corresponds to Christian
denominations. Both the Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox consider each of themselves
solely to faithfully represent the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church to the exclusion of
the other. Protestants separated from the Catholic Church because of theologies and practices
that they considered to be in violation of their interpretation. Generally, members of the
various denominations acknowledge each other as Christians, at least to the extent that they
have mutually recognized baptisms and acknowledge historically orthodox views including
the Divinity of Jesus and doctrines of sin and salvation, even though doctrinal and
ecclesiological obstacles hinder full communion between churches.
Since the reforms surrounding Vatican II, the Catholic Church has referred to Protestant
communities as "denominations", while reserving the term "church" for apostolic churches,
including the Eastern Orthodox (see subsistit in and branch theory). There are however some
non-denominational Christians who do not follow any particular branch, though sometimes
regarded as Protestants.[5][6]


1 Terminology

2 Major branches
o 2.1 Denominationalism
o 2.2 Taxonomy

3 Historical schisms and divisions

o 3.1 Antiquity
o 3.2 Middle Ages
o 3.3 Protestant Reformation (16th century)
o 3.4 Eastern churches
o 3.5 Western churches
o 3.6 Christians with Jewish roots

4 Modern history
o 4.1 Quakers
o 4.2 Latter Day Saint movement
o 4.3 Second Great Awakening
o 4.4 Russian sectarianism
o 4.5 Iglesia ni Cristo
o 4.6 New Thought Movement
o 4.7 The Christian Community
o 4.8 Other movements

5 See also

6 Notes

7 References

8 External links

See also: Christian Church Related concepts
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"; major synonyms include "religious group, sect, Church," etc.[notes 1][7]
"Church" as a synonym, refers to a "particular Christian organization with its own clergy,
buildings, and distinctive doctrines";[8] "church" can also more broadly be defined as the
entire body of Christians, the "Christian Church".
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; one then may join a fellowship of other local
believers.[9] Some evangelical groups describe themselves as interdenominational fellowships,
partnering with local churches to strengthen evangelical efforts, usually targeting a particular
group with specialized needs, such as students or ethnic groups.[10] 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, beliefs, and practices.[11] (Conversely,
"denominationalism" can also refer to "emphasizing of denominational differences to the
point of being narrowly exclusive", similar to sectarianism).[12]
Protestants differs greatly from the views of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox
Churches, the two largest Christian denominations, which each teach themselves to be the
exclusive direct continuation of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, from whom other
denominations broke away.[2] These churches, and a few others, reject denominationalism.

Major branches[edit]
Christianity has denominational families (or movements) and also has individual
denominations (or communions). The difference between a denomination and a
denominational family is sometimes unclear to outsiders. Some denominational families can
be considered major branches. Groups that are members of a branch, while sharing historical
ties and similar doctrines, are not necessarily in communion with one another.
Christianity has five major branches:[citation needed] Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental
Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and Protestantism. (Some groupings include Anglicans amongst
Protestants). The Assyrian Church of the East is also a distinct Christian body, but is much
smaller in adherents and geographic scope now than in the past. Each of these six branches
has important subdivisions. Because the Protestant subdivisions do not maintain a common
theology or earthly leadership, they are far more distinct than the subdivisions of the other
five groupings.
There were some movements considered heresies by the early church which do not exist
today and are not generally referred to as denominations. Examples include the Gnostics
(who had believed in an esoteric dualism called gnosis), the Ebionites (who denied the
divinity of Jesus), and the Arians (who subordinated the Son to the Father by denying the preexistence of Christ, thus placing Jesus as a created being), Bogumilism and Bosnian Church.
The greatest divisions in Christianity today, however, are between the Eastern and Oriental
Orthodox, Catholicism, and the various denominations formed during and after the Protestant
Reformation. There also exists a number of non-Trinitarian groups. There also exist some
non-traditional groups that the majority of other Christians view as apostate or heretical, and
not as legitimate versions of Christianity.

Comparisons between denominational churches must be approached with caution. For

example, in some churches, congregations are part of a larger church organization, while in
other groups, each congregation is an independent autonomous organization. This issue is
further complicated by the existence of groups of congregations with a common heritage that
are officially nondenominational and have no centralized authority or records, but which are
identified as denominations by non-adherents. Study of such churches in denominational
terms is therefore a more complex proposition.
Some groups count membership based on adult believers and baptized children of believers,
while others only count adult baptized believers. Others may count membership based on
those adult believers who have formally affiliated themselves with the congregation. In
addition, there may be political motives of advocates or opponents of a particular group to
inflate or deflate membership numbers through propaganda or outright deception.

Denominationalism is the belief that some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of
the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs, and practices.[11] The idea
was first articulated by Independents within the Puritan movement. They argued that
differences among Christians were inevitable, but that separation based on these differences
was not necessarily schism. Christians are obligated to practice their beliefs rather than
remain within a church with which they disagree, but they must also recognize their
imperfect knowledge and not condemn other Christians as apostate over unimportant matters.

Some Christians view denominationalism as a regrettable fact. As of 2011, divisions are

becoming less sharp, and there is increasing cooperation between denominations.[citation needed]
Theological denominationalism ultimately denies reality to any apparent doctrinal differences
among the "denominations", reducing all differences to mere matters de nomina ("of names").
[citation needed]

A denomination in this sense is created when part of a church no longer feel they can accept
the leadership of that church as a spiritual leadership due to a different view of doctrine or
what they see as immoral behaviour, but the schism does not in any way reflect either group
leaving the Church as a theoretical whole.[citation needed]
This particular doctrine is rejected by Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and the Oriental
Orthodoxy. In these churches, it is not possible to have a separation over doctrinal or
leadership issues, and any such attempts automatically are a type of schism. Some Protestant
groups reject denominationalism as well.[citation needed]


A schematic of Christian denominational taxonomy.[14] Protestantism in general, as well as

Restorationism in particular, claims a direct connection with Early Christianity.

Major branches and movements within Protestantism.

Historical schisms and divisions[edit]

See also: Origins of Christianity

Christianity has not been a monolithic faith since the first century or Apostolic Age, if ever,
and today there exist a large variety of groups that share a common history and tradition
within and without mainstream Christianity. Christianity is the largest religion in the world
(making up approximately one-third of the population) and the various divisions have
commonalities and differences in tradition, theology, church government, doctrine, and
The largest schism or division in many classification schemes is between the families of
Eastern and Western Christianity. After these two larger families come distinct branches of
Christianity. Most classification schemes list six (in order of size: Roman Catholicism,
Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Church of the
East, which was originally referred to as Nestorianism but in modern times is embodied by
the Assyrian Church of the East).
Unlike Roman Catholicism, Protestantism is a general movement that has no universal
governing authority. As such, diverse groups such as Adventists, Anabaptists, Baptists,
Binitarians, Charismatics, Congregationalists, Evangelicals, Holiness churches, Lutherans,
Methodists, Moravians, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Reformed, and Unitarians (depending on
one's classification scheme) are all a part of the same family but have distinct doctrinal
variations within each group. From these come denominations, which in the West, have
independence from the others in their doctrine.
The Eastern and Roman Catholic churches, due to their hierarchical structures, are not said to
be made up of denominations, rather, they include kinds of regional councils and individual
congregations and church bodies, which do not officially differ from one another in doctrine.

The initial differences between the East and West traditions stem from socio-cultural and
ethno-linguistic divisions in and between the Western Roman and Byzantine Empires. Since
the West (that is, Western Europe) spoke Latin as its lingua franca and the East (Eastern
Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and northern Africa) largely used Aramaic and Koine Greek to
transmit writings, theological developments were difficult to translate from one branch to the
other. In the course of ecumenical councils (large gatherings of Christian leaders), some
church bodies split from the larger family of Christianity. Many earlier heretical groups either
died off for lack of followers and/or suppression by the church at large (such as
Apollinarians, Montanists, and Ebionites).
The first significant, lasting split in historic Christianity came from the Church of the East,
who left following the Christological controversy over Nestorianism in 431 (the Assyrians in
1994 released a common Christological statement with the Roman Catholic Church). Today,
the Assyrian and Roman Catholic Church view this schism as largely linguistic, due to
problems of translating very delicate and precise terminology from Latin to Aramaic and vice
versa (see Council of Ephesus).
Following the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the next large split came with the Syriac and
Coptic churches dividing themselves, with the dissenting churches becoming today's Oriental
Orthodoxy. In modern times, there have also been moves towards healing this split, with

common Christological statements being made between Pope John Paul II and Syriac
patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, as well as between representatives of both Eastern and
Oriental Orthodoxy.
There has been a claim that the Chalcedonian Creed restored Nestorianism, however this is
refuted by maintaining the following distinctions associated with the person of Christ: two
hypostases, two natures (Nestorian); one hypostasis, one nature (Monophysite); one
hypostasis, two natures (Orthodox/Catholic).[15]

Middle Ages[edit]
Main article: East-West Schism
In Western Christianity, there were a handful of geographically isolated movements that
preceded the spirit of the Protestant Reformation. The Cathars were a very strong movement
in medieval southwestern France, but did not survive into modern times. In northern Italy and
southeastern France, Peter Waldo founded the Waldensians in the 12th century. This
movement has largely been absorbed by modern-day Protestant groups. In Bohemia, a
movement in the early 15th century by Jan Hus called the Hussites defied Roman Catholic
dogma and still exists to this day (alternately known as the Moravian Church).
Although the church as a whole did not experience any major divisions for centuries
afterward, the Eastern and Western groups drifted until the point where patriarchs from both
families excommunicated one another in about 1054 in what is known as the Great Schism.
The political and theological reasons for the schism are complex, but one major controversy
was the inclusion and acceptance in the West of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed,
which the East viewed as erroneous. Another was the definition of papal primacy.
Both West and East agreed that the patriarch of Rome was owed a "primacy of honour" by
the other patriarchs (those of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem), but the
West also contended that this primacy extended to jurisdiction, a position rejected by the
Eastern patriarchs. Various attempts at dialogue between the two groups would occur, but it
was only in the 1960s, under Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, that significant steps
began to be made to mend the relationship between the two.

Door of the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Wittenberg to which Luther is said to have nailed
his 95 Theses on 31st October 1517, sparking the Reformation.

Protestant Reformation (16th century)[edit]

Main article: Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation began with the posting of Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses in
Saxony on October 31, 1517, written as a set of grievances to reform the pre-Reformation
Western Church. Luther's writings, combined with the work of Swiss theologian Huldrych
Zwingli and French theologian and politician John Calvin sought to reform existing problems
in doctrine and practice. Due to the reactions of ecclesiastical office holders at the time of the
reformers, the Roman Catholic Church separated from them, instigating a rift in Western
In England, Henry VIII of England declared himself to be supreme head of the Church of
England with the Act of Supremacy in 1531, founding the Church of England, repressing
both Lutheran reformers and those loyal to the pope. Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of
Canterbury introduced the Reformation, in a form compromising between the Calvinists and
The Old Catholic Church split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1870s because of the
promulgation of the dogma of Papal Infallibility as promoted by the First Vatican Council of
18691870. The term 'Old Catholic' was first used in 1853 to describe the members of the
See of Utrecht that were not under Papal authority. The Old Catholic movement grew in
America but has not maintained ties with Utrecht, although talks are under way between
independent Old Catholic bishops and Utrecht.
The Liberal Catholic Church started in 1916 via an Old Catholic bishop in London, bishop
Matthew, who consecrated bishop James Wedgwood to the Episcopacy. This stream has in its
relatively short existence known many splits, which operate worldwide under several names.

Eastern churches[edit]
In the Eastern world, the largest body of believers in modern times is the Eastern Orthodox
Church, sometimes imprecisely called "Greek Orthodox" because from the time of Christ
through the Byzantine empire, Greek was its common language. However, the term "Greek
Orthodox" actually refers to only one portion of the entire Eastern Orthodox Church. The
Eastern Orthodox Church believes itself to be the continuation of the original Christian
Church established by Jesus Christ, and the Apostles. The Eastern Orthodox and the Roman
Catholics have been separated since the 11th century, following the EastWest Schism, with
each of them claiming to represent the original pre-schism Church.
The Eastern Orthodox consider themselves to be spiritually one body, which is
administratively grouped into several autocephalous jurisdictions (also commonly referred to
as "Churches", despite being parts of one Church). They do not recognize any single bishop
as universal church leader, but rather each bishop governs only his own diocese. The
Patriarch of Constantinople is known as the Ecumenical Patriarch, and holds the title "first
among equals", meaning only that if a great council is called, the Patriarch sits as president of
the council. He has no more power than any other bishop. Currently, the largest synod with
the most members is the Russian Orthodox Church. Others include the ancient Patriarchates
of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, the Georgian, Romanian, Serbian and
Bulgarian Orthodox Churches, and several smaller ones.

The second largest Eastern Christian communion is Oriental Orthodoxy, which is organized
in a similar manner, with six national autocephalous groups and two autonomous bodies,
although there are greater internal differences than among the Eastern Orthodox (especially in
the diversity of rites being used). The six autocephalous Oriental Orthodox Churches are the
Coptic (Egyptian), Syriac, Armenian, Malankara (Indian), Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox
Churches. In the Aramaic-speaking areas of the Middle East, the Syriac Orthodox Church has
long been dominant. Although the region of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea has had a
strong body of believers since the infancy of Christianity, these regions only gained
autocephaly in 1963 and 1994 respectively. The Oriental Orthodox are distinguished from the
Eastern Orthodox by doctrinal differences concerning the union of human and divine natures
in the person of Jesus Christ, and the two communions separated as a consequence of the
Council of Chalcedon in the year 451, although there have been recent moves towards
Since these groups are relatively obscure in the West, literature on them has sometimes
included the Assyrian Church of the East as a part of the Oriental Orthodox Communion, but
the Assyrians, after adopting Christianity in the 1st century AD, have maintained theological,
cultural, and ecclesiastical independence from all other Christian bodies since 431.
The Assyrian Church therefore represents a third Eastern Christian communion in its own
right. It is administered in a hierarchical model not entirely unlike the Catholic Church, with
the head of the church being the Patriarch Catholicos of the Assyrian Church of the East,
since 1976 HH Mar Dinkha IV. Due to oppression, the church's headquarters is in Chicago,
Illinois, rather than the ancient Assyrian homelands in northern Iraq, northeast Syria,
southeast Turkey and northwest Iran, though the core of believers remain there. Even within
the Assyrian Church, there were two splits, with a number of Assyrians breaking away in
1552 and later forming the Chaldean Catholic Church, and in the 1960s another group
forming the Ancient Church of the East, with a rival Catholicos (Patriarch) in California.
There are also the Eastern Catholic Churches, which are counterparts of the various Churches
listed above, in that they preserve the same theological and liturgical traditions as they do.
But they differ from their Orthodox mother Churches (and Church of the East) in that they
recognize the Bishop of Rome as the universal head of the Church. Though adherents of
Eastern Catholicism are fully part of the Catholic communion, most do not to use the term
"Roman Catholic" to describe themselves, associating that name instead with members of the
Latin Church. Rather, they prefer to use the name of whichever Church they belong to
Ukrainian Catholic, Coptic Catholic, Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic, etc.

Western churches[edit]

Christian denominations
in English-speaking countries
International Associations[show]
Australian Christian bodies

Australian Interchurch[show]

Australian Evangelical Alliance

National Council of Churches
Catholic & Anglican[show]

Anglican Church of Australia

Roman Catholic Church
Holiness & Pietist[show]

Christian and Missionary Alliance

Christian Outreach Centre
Church of the Nazarene
Salvation Army
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Historical Protestantism[show]

Australian Friends
Australian Baptist Ministries
Open Brethren
Christian Reformed Churches of
Churches of Christ
Fellowship of Congregational
Lutheran Church of Australia
Presbyterian Church of Australia
Uniting Church in Australia
Wesleyan Methodist Church of

Antiochian Orthodox of Australia

& New Z.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of

Serbian Orthodox of Australia &
New Z.
Coptic Orthodox Church in
Pentecostal & Related[show]

Australian Christian Churches

Christian City Church Intl.
CRC Churches International
Revival Centres International
Vineyard Churches Australia
Worldwide Church of God

LDS Church
Canadian Christian bodies

Canadian Interchurch[show]

Canadian Council of Churches

S. Conference of Orthodox
Bishops in America
North Am. Presbyterian &
Reformed Council
Anabaptist & Friends[show]

Canadian Mennonite Brethren


Canadian Yearly Meeting

Mennonite Church Canada
Baptist & Stone-Campbell[show]

Association of Regular Baptist

Baptist General Conference of
Canadian Baptist Ministries
Canadian Convention of Southern
Fellowship of Evgcl. Baptist
Churches, Canada
North American Baptist
Restoration Movement
Christian Church (Disciples of
Evangelical Christian Church in
Catholic & Anglican[show]

Anglican Church of Canada

Anglican Church in North America
Polish National Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
Holiness & Pietist[show]

Christian and Missionary Alliance,

Church of the Nazarene
Evangelical Free Church of
The Salvation Army
Wesleyan Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church in

Lutheran ChurchCanada
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran

British Methodist Episcopal

Free Methodist Church in Canada
United Church of Canada

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese,

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of
Orthodox Church in America
American-Canadian Macedonian
Orthodox Diocese
Russian Orthodox Church Outside
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of
Armenian Apostolic Diocese of
Coptic Orthodox Church in Canada

Apostolic Church of Pentecost

Canadian Assemblies of God
Church of God of Prophecy
Intl. Foursquare Gospel, Canada
Intl. Pentecostal Holiness Church
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Pentecostal Church of God
Oneness Pentecostal

United Pentecostal Church Intl.

Presbyterian & Reformed[show]

Canadian and American Reformed

Christian Reformed Church in
North America
L'glise rforme du Qubec
Presbyterian Church in Canada
Presbyterian Church in America
Reformed Church in America
United Church of Canada

Messianic Jewish Alliance of

Plymouth Brethren
Seventh-day Adventists, North
LDS Church
Vineyard Canada
Irish Christian bodies

Irish Interchurch[show]

Irish Council of Churches

Churches Together in Britain and
Evangelical Alliance, UK
Church of Ireland (Anglican)
Association of Baptist Churches
Roman Catholicism
Assemblies of God
Elim Pentecostal Church

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Nigerian Christian bodies

Nigerian Interchurch[show]

Christian Association of Nigeria

Fellowship of Churches of Christ
in Nigeria
African initiated[show]

Cherubim and Seraphim Society

Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim
and Seraphim
Church of God Mission
Church of the Lord (Aladura)

The African Church

Church of Nigeria
Baptist, Anabaptist, DC[show]

Church of the Brethren in Nigeria

Churches of Christ in Nigeria
Mambila Baptist Convention of
Nigerian Baptist Convention

Roman Catholic Church

Holiness & Methodist[show]

African Methodist Episcopal

Church in Nigeria
Deeper Christian Life Ministry
Redeemed Christian Church of
United Methodist Church of

Lutheran Church of Christ in

Lutheran Church of Nigeria

The Apostolic Church Nigeria

Christ Apostolic Church
General Council of the Assemblies
of God Nigeria
Gospel Faith Mission
International Church of the
Foursquare Gospel
The Lord's Chosen Charismatic
Revival Movement
New Apostolic Church in Nigeria
Winners' Chapel
Presbyterian & Reformed[show]

Christian Reformed Church of

Church of Christ in Nigeria
Church of Christ in the Sudan
Among the Tiv
Evangelical Reformed Church of
Presbyterian Church of Nigeria
Reformed Church of Christ in
Other Protestant[show]

Evangelical Church of West Africa

QIC-United Evangelical Church

Seventh-day Adventist Church in

Word of Faith Ministries
South Africa[show]
South African Christian bodies

South African Interchurch[show]

South African Council of Churches

Catholic & Anglican[show]

Anglican Church
Reformed Evangelical Anglican
Roman Catholicism
Holiness & AIC[show]

Die Heilsler
Zion Christian Church
Protestantism, Other[show]

Baptist Union
Evangelical Lutheran Church
Methodist Church

Dutch Reformed: NGK

Dutch Reformed: NHK
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church of Africa
Reformed Church in Africa

Reformed Churches: GKSA

United Congregational Church
Uniting Presbyterian Church
Uniting Reformed Church
United Kingdom[show]

Christian bodies of the UK

UK Interchurch[show]
Holiness & Pietist[show]
Methodist & Wesleyan[show]
New Church Movement[show]
Presbyterian & Reformed[show]
United States[show]
Christian bodies of the US

USA Interchurch[show]

National Association of

National Council of

Churches Uniting in Christ

Anabaptist and Friends[show]

Church of the Brethren

Mennonite Church USA



Alliance of Baptists

American Baptist

American Baptist

Baptist Bible
Baptist General

Baptist Missionary
Association of
Baptist Association
of America

General Association
of Regular Baptist

Association of Free
Will Baptists

National Primitive
Baptist Convention
of the U.S.A.

North American
Baptist Conference

Southern Baptist

African-American Baptist

National Baptist
Convention of

National Baptist
Convention, USA,
National Missionary
Baptist Convention
of America

National Baptist

Catholic and Anglican[show]

Anglican Church in North


Episcopal Church

Roman Catholic Church


Orthodox Christian


Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of
Orthodox Church in

Russian Orthodox
Church Outside

Serbian Orthodox


Armenian Apostolic
Diocese of Am.

Coptic Orthodox

Syriac Orthodox

Holiness & Pietist[show]

Christian and Missionary


Church of God (Anderson,


Evangelical Covenant

Evangelical Free Church of


Church of the Nazarene

The Salvation Army

Seventh-day Adventist

Wesleyan Church


Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America

Lutheran ChurchMissouri

North American Lutheran


Wisconsin Evangelical
Lutheran Synod

African Methodist
Episcopal Church

African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church

Christian Methodist
Episcopal Church
Free Methodist Church

United Methodist Church


Assemblies of God

Church of God (Cleveland,


Church of God in Christ

Church of God of Prophecy

Church on the Rock

Full Gospel Fellowship

International Church of the

Foursquare Gospel

International Pentecostal
Holiness Church
Pentecostal Church of God

Oneness Pentecostal
Assemblies of the

United Pentecostal
Church Intl.

Presbyterian & Reformed[show]

Christian Reformed Church

in North America
Congregational Christian

Cumberland Presbyterian

Evangelical Presbyterian

Korean Presbyterian
Church in America
International Council of
Community Churches

National Asso. of
Congregational Christian

National Association of
Congregational Christian

Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church in

Reformed Church in
United Church of Christ

Reformed Church in


Christian Church (Disciples

of Christ)

Christian churches and

churches of Christ

Churches of Christ

International Churches of

LDS Church

Community of Christ

Grace Gospel Fellowship

Independent Fundamental

Churches of America

Jehovah's Witnesses

Messianic Jewish Alliance

of America

Plymouth Brethren

Vineyard USA

The Latin portion of the Catholic Church, along with Anglicanism and Protestantism,
comprise the three major divisions of Christianity in the Western world. Roman Catholics do
not describe themselves as a denomination but rather as the original Holy and Universal
Church; which all other branches broke off from in schism. The Baptist, Methodist, and
Lutheran churches are generally considered to be Protestant denominations, although strictly
speaking, of these three, only the Lutherans took part in the official Protestation at Speyer
after the decree of the Second Diet of Speyer mandated the burning of Luther's works and the
end of the Protestant Reformation.
Anglicanism was generally classified as Protestant, but since the "Tractarian" or Oxford
Movement of the 19th century, led by John Henry Newman, Anglican writers emphasize a
more catholic understanding of the church and characterize it as more properly understood as
its own traditiona via media ("middle way"), both Protestant and Catholic. The American
province of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church USA, describes itself as a
modern via media church in this tradition. A case is sometimes also made to regard
Lutheranism in a similar way, considering the catholic character of its foundational
documents (the Augsburg Confession and other documents contained in the Book of
Concord) and its existence prior to the Anglican, Anabaptist, and Reformed churches, from
which nearly all other Protestant denominations derive.
One central tenet of Catholicism (which is a common point between Roman Catholic,
Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and some other Churches), is its practice of apostolic
succession. "Apostle" means "one who is sent out". Jesus commissioned the first twelve
apostles (see Biblical Figures for the list of the Twelve), and they, in turn laid hands on
subsequent church leaders to ordain (commission) them for ministry. In this manner, Roman
Catholics and Anglicans trace their ordained ministers all the way back to the original

Roman Catholics believe that the Pope has authority which can be traced directly to the
apostle Peter whom they hold to be the original head of and first Pope of the Church. There
are smaller churches, such as the Old Catholic Church which rejected the definition of Papal
Infallibility at the First Vatican Council, and Anglo-Catholics, Anglicans who believe that
Anglicanism is a continuation of historical Catholicism and who incorporate many Catholic
beliefs and practices. The Catholic Church refers to itself simply by the terms Catholic and
Catholicism (which mean universal).
The Catholic Church had traditionally rejected any notion that those outside its communion
could be regarded as part of any true Catholic Christian faith. This attitude changed since the
Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).[16] Catholicism has a hierarchical structure in which
supreme authority for matters of faith and practice are the exclusive domain of the Pope, who
sits on the Throne of Peter, and the bishops when acting in union with him. Most Catholics
are unaware of the existence of Old Catholicism which represents a relatively recent split
from the Catholic Church and is particularly vocal in rejecting their use of the term Catholic.
Each Protestant movement has developed freely, and many have split over theological issues.
For instance, a number of movements grew out of spiritual revivals, like Methodism and
Pentecostalism. Doctrinal issues and matters of conscience have also divided Protestants. The
Anabaptist tradition, made up of the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites, rejected the Roman
Catholic and Lutheran doctrines of infant baptism; this tradition is also noted for its belief in
Many churches with roots in Restorationism reject being identified as Protestant or even as a
denomination at all, as they use only the Bible and not creeds, and model the church after
what they feel is the first-century church found in scripture; the Churches of Christ are one
example; African Initiated Churches, like Kimbanguism, mostly fall within Protestantism,
with varying degrees of syncretism. The measure of mutual acceptance between the
denominations and movements varies, but is growing largely due to the ecumenical
movement in the 20th century and overarching Christian bodies such as the World Council of

Christians with Jewish roots[edit]

Messianic Jews maintain a Jewish identity while accepting Jesus as the Messiah and the New
Testament as authoritative. After the founding of the church, the disciples of Jesus generally
retained their ethnic origins while accepting the Gospel message. The first church council
was called in Jerusalem to address just this issue, and the deciding opinion was written by
James the Just, the first bishop of Jerusalem and a pivotal figure in the Christian movement.
The history of Messianic Judaism includes many movements and groups and defies any
simple classification scheme.
The Nasrani or Syrian Malabar Nasrani community in Kerala, India is conscious of their
Jewish origins. However, they have lost many of their Jewish traditions due to western
influences. The Nasrani are also known as Syrian Christians or St. Thomas Christians. This is
because they follow the traditions of Syriac Christianity and are descendants of the early
converts by St. Thomas the Apostle. Today, they belong to various denominations of
Christianity but they have kept their unique identity within each of these denominations.[17]

An existing community that still maintain their Jewish traditions is the Knanaya. They are an
endogamous sub-ethnic group among the Syrian Malabar Nasrani and are the descendants of
early Jewish Christian settlers who arrived in Kerala in A.D 345. Although affiliated with a
variety of Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox denominations, they have remained a
cohesive community, shunning intermarriage with outsiders (but not with fellow-Knanaya of
other denominations).

Modern history[edit]
Some denominations which arose alongside the Western Christian tradition consider
themselves Christian, but neither Roman Catholic nor wholly Protestant, such as the
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Quakerism began as an evangelical Christian
movement in 17th century England, eschewing priests and all formal Anglican or Roman
Catholic sacraments in their worship, including many of those practices that remained among
the stridently Protestant Puritans such as baptism with water. They were known in America
for helping with the Underground Railroad, and like the Mennonites, Quakers traditionally
refrain from participation in war.

Latter Day Saint movement[edit]

Main articles: Latter Day Saint movement and Mormonism
See also: List of sects in the Latter Day Saint movement and Mormonism and Christianity
Most Latter Day Saint denominations are derived from the Church of Christ (Latter Day
Saints) established by Joseph Smith in 1830. The largest worldwide denomination, and the
one publicly recognized as Mormonism, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
although there are various considerably smaller sects that broke from it after its relocation to
the Rocky Mountains in the mid-1800s. Several of these broke away over the abandonment
of practicing plural marriage after the 1890 Manifesto. Most of the "Prairie Saint"
denominations (see below) were established after Smith's death by the remnants of the Latter
Day Saints who did not go west with Brigham Young. Many of these opposed some of the
1840s theological developments in favor of 1830s theological understandings and practices.
Other denominations are defined by either a belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet or acceptance
of the Book of Mormon as scripture. Mormons generally consider themselves to be
restorationist, believing that Smith, as prophet, seer, and revelator, restored the original and
true Church of Christ to the earth. Some Latter Day Saint denominations are regarded by
other Christians as being nontrinitarian or even non-Christian, but the Latter Day Saints are
predominantly in disagreement with these claims. Mormons see themselves as believing in a
Godhead comprising the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as separate personages united in
purpose. Mormons regard traditional definitions of the Trinity as aberrations of true doctrine
and emblematic of the Great Apostasy[18] but they do not accept certain trinitarian definitions
in the post-apostolic creeds, such as the Athanasian Creed.

Second Great Awakening[edit]

Main articles: Second Great Awakening, Restorationism and Restoration Movement
The Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement began on the American frontier during the
Second Great Awakening (17901870) of the early 19th century. The movement sought to
restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the
church of the New Testament."[19]:54 Members do not identify as Protestant but simply as
The Restoration Movement developed from several independent efforts to return to apostolic
Christianity, but two groups, which independently developed similar approaches to the
Christian faith, were particularly important.[23]:2732 The first, led by Barton W. Stone, began at
Cane Ridge, Kentucky and called themselves simply as "Christians". The second began in
western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia) and was led by Thomas Campbell
and his son, Alexander Campbell; they used the name "Disciples of Christ". Both groups
sought to restore the whole Christian church on the pattern set forth in the New Testament,
and both believed that creeds kept Christianity divided. In 1832 they joined in fellowship
with a handshake.
Among other things, they were united in the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
that Christians should celebrate the Lord's Supper on the first day of each week; and that
baptism of adult believers by immersion in water is a necessary condition for salvation.
Because the founders wanted to abandon all denominational labels, they used the biblical
names for the followers of Jesus.[24]:27 Both groups promoted a return to the purposes of the
1st-century churches as described in the New Testament. One historian of the movement has
argued that it was primarily a unity movement, with the restoration motif playing a
subordinate role.[25]:8
The Restoration Movement has since divided into multiple separate groups. There are three
main branches in the US: the Churches of Christ, the Christian churches and churches of
Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Other U.S. based groups affiliated with
the movement are the International Churches of Christ and the International Christian
Churches. Non-U.S. groups include the Churches of Christ in Australia, the Evangelical
Christian Church in Canada, the Churches of Christ in Europe. The Plymouth Brethren are a
similar though historically unrelated group which originated in the United Kingdom. Some
churches, such as Churches of Christ or the Plymouth Brethren reject formal ties with other
churches within the movement.
Other groups originating during the Second Great Awakening include the Adventist
movement, the Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science (which had roots in
Congregationalism, but regarded itself as restorative). Each of these groups, founded within
fifty years of one another, originally claimed to be an unprecedented, late restoration of the
primitive Christian church. Some Baptist churches with Landmarkist views have similar
beliefs concerning their connection with primitive Christianity.

Russian sectarianism[edit]

The Russian Orthodox Church has a long history of opposing heresies, beginning with
Bogomilism and the Old Believers, a sect opposing the reforms introduced in Tsarist Russia
under Patriarch Nikon in 1666.
In 18th to 19th century Imperial Russia, there arose a new type of denominational schism
grouped as Spiritual Christianity ( ). Traditionally, the following sects
are considered "spiritual Christians": Molokans, Dukhobors, Khlysts, Skoptsy, and
Ikonobortsy ("Iconoclasts"). These sects often have radically divergent notions of spirituality.
Their common denominator is that they sought God in "Spirit and Truth", (Gospel of John
4:24) rather than in the Church of official Orthodoxy or ancient rites of Old Believers.
Rejecting the official church, they considered their religious organization as a homogeneous
community, without division into laymen and clergy.
In the 1830s, Ivan Grigorev Kanygin founded religious communities with communal
practices in the Novouzensk region. They called themselves Communists or Methodists, but
from the 1870s became known as "Mormons", by comparison with the contemporaneous
American movement. An unrelated community known as "Samara Mormons" developed near
the Volga city of Samara. They avoided alcohol, tobacco, and swearing, cooperated in
commercial enterprises, and governed themselves by "apostles" and "prophets".
A more recent charismatic movement in Russia is the "Church of the Last Testament", which
established a substantial settlement in the Siberian Taiga in the 1990s.

Iglesia ni Cristo[edit]
Due to a number of similarities, some Protestant writers describe the doctrines of the
Philippines originating Iglesia ni Cristo as restorationist in outlook and theme.[26] INC,
however, does not consider itself to be part of the Restoration Movement. On the other hand,
some Catholic leaders viewed Iglesia ni Cristo as an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church,
since the then first leader or Executive Minister (Felix Ysagun Manalo) was a former
Catholic member. However, INC is working and functioning spiritually and financially on its
own, thus, completely independent from any religious body and communion.
The church hierarchical administration (Filipino: Pamamahala),[27] centralized church
governance, theological orientation, places of worship architectural design, adaptation to
modern technology, very strong and strict discipline, and country of origin or establishment,
are some of the INC features, polity and organizational structure that identify itself different
from Restoration Movement, Protestantism, Catholicism and mainstream Christianity. Iglesia
ni Cristo members are noted for bloc voting in political elections[28] which is unique to the
church due to their doctrine on unity and a practice that cannot be found outside INC.

New Thought Movement[edit]

Main article: New Thought
See also: History of New Thought
Another group of churches are known under the banner of "New Thought". These churches
share a spiritual, metaphysical and mystical predisposition and understanding of the Bible
and were strongly influenced by the Transcendentalist movementparticularly the work of

Emerson. Another antecedent of this movement was Swedenborgianism, founded in 1787 on

the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who claimed to have received a new revelation from
Jesus Christ through continuous heavenly visions which he experienced over a period of at
least twenty-five years.[29]
The New Thought concept was named by Emma Curtis Hopkins ("teacher of teachers") after
Hopkins broke off from Mary Baker Eddy's Church of Christ, Scientistthe movement had
been previously known as the Mental Sciences. The New Thought movement includes
Religious Science founded by Ernest Holmes; Divine Science, founded by Malinda Cramer
and the Brook sisters; and Unity founded by Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore. The
founders of these denominations all studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins. Each of one these
New Thought Churches has been influenced by a wide variety of ancient spiritual ideas.[30]
Each of these churches identify to different degrees with Christianity, Unity and Divine
Science being the most explicit in the use of the Bible.

The Christian Community[edit]

The Christian Community is a movement for religious renewal. It was founded in 1922 in
Switzerland by the Lutheran theologian and minister Friedrich Rittlemeyer, inspired by
Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and founder of anthroposophy. Christian
Community congregations exist as financially independent groups with regional and
international administrative bodies overseeing their work. There are approximately 350
worldwide. The international headquarters are in Berlin, Germany.
The Christian Community does not require its members to conform to any specific teaching
or behaviour.[31] Seven sacraments are celebrated within the Community: the Eucharist,
generally called the Act of Consecration of Man, and six other sacraments: Baptism,
Confirmation, Marriage, The Last Anointing, Sacramental Consultation (replacing
Confession), and Ordination.[32]

Other movements[edit]
Protestant denominations have shown a strong tendency towards diversification and
fragmentation, giving rise to numerous churches and movements, especially in AngloAmerican religious history, where the process is cast in terms of a series of "Great
Awakenings". The most recent wave of diversification, known as the Fourth Great Awakening
took place during the 1960s to 1980s and resulted in phenomena such as the Charismatic
Movement, the Jesus movement, and a great number of Parachurch organizations based in
Many independent churches and movements considered themselves to be nondenominational, but may vary greatly in doctrine. Many of these, like the local churches
movement, reflect the core teachings of traditional Christianity. Others however, such as The
Way International, have been denounced as cults by the Christian anti-cult movement.
Two movements, which are entirely unrelated in their founding, but share a common element
of an additional Messiah (or incarnation of Christ) are the Unification Church and the
Rastafari movement. These movements fall outside of traditional taxonomies of Christian
groups, though both cite the Christian Bible as a basis for their beliefs.

Syncretism of Christian beliefs with local and tribal religions is a phenomenon that occurs
throughout the world. An example of this is the Native American Church. The ceremonies of
this group are strongly tied to the use of peyote. (Parallels may be drawn here with the
Rastafari spiritual use of cannabis.) While traditions vary from tribe to tribe, they often
include a belief in Jesus as a Native American cultural hero, an intercessor for man, or a
spiritual guardian; belief in the Bible; and an association of Jesus with peyote.
There are also some Christians that reject organized religion altogether. Some Christian
anarchists believe that the original teachings of Jesus were corrupted by Roman statism
(compare Early Christianity and State church of the Roman Empire), and that earthly
authority such as government, or indeed the established Church, do not and should not have
power over them. Following "The Golden Rule", many oppose the use of physical force in
any circumstance, and advocate nonviolence. The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote The
Kingdom of God Is Within You,[33] and was a Christian anarchist.

See also[edit]


Great Church

Religious denominations

List of Christian denominations

List of Christian denominations by number of members

Christian tradition

One true church


Jump up ^ The Oxford Dictionary's full list of synonyms for "denomination"

includes: "religious group, sect, Church, cult, movement, faith community, body, persuasion,
religious persuasion, communion, order, fraternity, brotherhood, sisterhood, school; faith,
creed, belief, religious belief, religion. rare: sodality."

Born again (Christianity)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In some Christian movements (especially Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism), to be born

again is to undergo a "spiritual rebirth", or a regeneration of the human spirit from the Holy
Spirit. This is contrasted with the physical birth everyone experiences. The term "born again"
is derived from an event in the New Testament in which the words of Jesus are
misunderstood by his conversation partner, Nicodemus: "Jesus answered him, 'Very truly, I
tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said
to him, 'How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into
the mother's womb and be born?'"[Jn 3:3-4 NRSV] The Greek phrase in the text is in itself ambiguous,
resulting in a wordplay in which Jesus' meaning, "born from above," is misunderstood by
Nicodemus as "born again." In contemporary Christian usage, the term is distinct from
sometimes similar terms used in mainstream Christianity to refer to being or becoming
Christian, which is linked to baptism. Individuals who profess to be "born again" often state
that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.[1][2][3] The phrase "born again" is also
used as an adjective to describe individual members of the movement who espouse this
belief, as well as the movement itself ("born-again Christian" and the "born-again

1 History and usage


1.1 Origin

1.1.1 Biblical foundation

1.1.2 Interpretations

2 Denominational positions

2.1 Catholicism

2.2 Protestantism

2.2.1 Lutheranism

2.2.2 Anglicanism

2.2.3 Reformed

2.2.4 Methodism and other Evangelicals

2.3 Nontrinitarianism

2.3.1 Jehovah's Witnesses

3 Disagreements between denominations

4 Public stances

4.1 Chuck Colson

5 Born-again and US politics

6 Criticism

6.1 Biblical arguments

7 Names inspired by the term

8 See also

9 References

10 External links

History and usage[edit]

Part of a series on


John Wesley









John Wesley
Charles Wesley
Richard Allen

Francis Asbury

Thomas Coke

William Law

William Williams Pantycelyn

Howell Harris

Albert Outler

James Varick

Countess of Huntingdon



Related groups[show]
Other topics[show]
Methodism portal

Historically, Christianity has used various metaphors to describe its rite of initiation, that is,
spiritual regeneration via the sacrament of baptism by the power of the water and the spirit.
This remains the common understanding in most of Christendom, held, for example, in
Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism,[4] Lutheranism,
and in much of Protestantism. However, sometime after the Reformation, Evangelical
Protestants began to understand being born again[5] as an experience of religious conversion
(Heb 10:16), symbolized by deep-water baptism, and rooted in a commitment to one's own
personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This same belief is, historically, also an integral
part of Methodist doctrine,[6][7] and is connected with the doctrine of Justification.[8]
Such "'Rebirth' has often been identified with a definite, temporally datable form of
'conversion'." Its effects vary with the type of person involved:

With the voluntaristic type, rebirth is expressed in a new alignment of the will, in the
liberation of new capabilities and powers that were hitherto undeveloped in the person
concerned. With the intellectual type, it leads to an activation of the capabilities for
understanding, to the breakthrough of a "vision". With others it leads to the discovery of an
unexpected beauty in the order of nature or to the discovery of the mysterious meaning of
history. With still others it leads to a new vision of the moral life and its orders, to a selfless
realization of love of neighbour. ... each person affected perceives his life in Christ at any
given time as newness of life. [9]
According to Melton:
Born again is a phrase used by many Protestants to describe the phenomenon of gaining faith
in Jesus Christ. It is an experience when everything they have been taught as Christians
becomes real, and they develop a direct and personal relationship with God.[10]
According to Purves and Partee,[11] "Sometimes the phrase seems to be judgemental, making a
distinction between genuine and nominal Christians. Sometimes ... descriptive, like the
distinction between liberal and conservative Christians. Occasionally, the phrase seems
historic, like the division between Catholic and Protestant Christians." Furthermore, the term
"usually includes the notion of human choice in salvation and excludes a view of divine
election by grace alone".
The Oxford English Dictionary, finding examples going back to 1961, defines the adjective
"born-again" as:
Of, pertaining to, or characterized by (an experience of) new birth in Christ or spiritual
renewal; of a Christian: placing special emphasis on this experience as a basis for all one's
actions, evangelical.[12]
Biblical foundation[edit]

The King James' Version uses the phrase born again three times. Two appear in chapter 3 of
the Gospel of John. Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee described as "a ruler of the
Jews", who says that, because of his miracles, Jesus is known "to be a teacher come from
God". Jesus immediately replies: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God."[Jn 3:3][13] A few verses later the Gospel quotes Jesus as
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. / The wind bloweth where it listeth,
and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:
so is every one that is born of the Spirit.[Jn 3:7]
John's Gospel was written in Greek, and the Greek word translated as again is
(anothen), which could mean again, or from above. The New Revised Standard Version

prefers this latter translation,[13] and both the King James Version and the Revised Version give
it as an alternative in the margins. Hoskyns argues that it is to be preferred as the fundamental
meaning and he drew attention to phrases such as "birth of the Spirit (v.5)", "birth from God
(cf. Jn 1:12-13; 1Jn 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:18)" but continues to claim that this necessarily carries
with it an emphasis upon the newness of the life as given by God himself.[14]
The third and last mention of the phrase occurs in the First Letter of Peter. The King James
Bible translates this as:
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love
of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: / Being born again,
not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for
ever.[1 Peter 1:22-23]
Here, the Greek word translated as "born again" is (anagegennemenoi).[15]

The traditional Jewish understanding of the promise of salvation is interpreted as being

rooted in "the seed of Abraham"; that is in the physical lineage from Abraham. Jesus
explained to Nicodemus that this doctrine was in errorthat every person must have two
birthsthe natural birth of the physical body, the other of the water and the spirit.[16] This
discourse with Nicodemus established the Christian belief that all human beingswhether
Jew or Gentilemust be "born again" of the spiritual seed of Christ. The Apostle Peter
further reinforced this understanding in 1 Peter 1:23.[15] The Catholic Encyclopedia states that
"[a] controversy existed in the primitive church over the interpretation of the expression the
seed of Abraham. It is [the Apostle Paul's] teaching in one instance that all who are Christ's
by faith are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. He is concerned, however, with
the fact that the promise is not being fulfilled to the seed of Abraham (referring to the
Charles Hodge writes that "The subjective change wrought in the soul by the grace of God, is
variously designated in Scripture" with terms such as new birth, resurrection, new life, new
creation, renewing of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, and translation from
darkness to light.[18]
Jesus Christ used the "birth" analogy in tracing spiritual newness of life to a divine beginning.
Contemporary Christian theologians have provided explanations for "born from above" being
a more accurate translation of the original Greek word transliterated anthen.[19] Theologian
Frank Stagg cites two reasons why the newer translation is significant:
1. The emphasis "from above" (implying "from Heaven") calls attention to the
source of the "newness of life." Stagg writes that the word "again" does
not include the source of the new kind of beginning
2. More than personal improvement is needed. "...a new destiny requires a
new origin, and the new origin must be from God." [20]

An early example of the term in its more modern use appears in the sermons of John Wesley.
In the sermon printed under the title of A New Birth he writes "none can be holy unless he be
born again", and "except he be born again, none can be happy even in this world. For ... a
man should not be happy who is not holy." Also, "I say, [a man] may be born again and so
become an heir of salvation." Wesley also states infants who are baptized are born again, but
for adults it is different:
... our church supposes, that all who are baptized in their infancy, are at the same time born
again. ... But ... it is sure all of riper years, who are baptized, are not at the same time born
Denominational positions[edit]

For American Christians The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics notes:
"The GSS ... has asked a born-again question on three occasions ... 'Would you say you have
been 'born again' or have had a 'born-again' experience?" The Handbook says that
"Evangelical, black, and Latino Protestants tend to respond similarly, with about two-thirds of
each group answering in the affirmative. In contrast, only about one third of mainline
Protestants and one sixth of Catholics (Anglo and Latino) claim a born-again experience."
However, the handbook suggests that "born-again questions are poor measures even for
capturing evangelical respondents. ... it is likely that people who report a born-again
experience also claim it as an identity."[22]

The use of the term "born again" to refer to Christian conversion is modern, presumably
developing out the teachings of John Wesley and popularized in the ministry of 19th century
tent meeting revivalists such as Billy Sunday, and D. L. Moody. An individual was
encouraged to change their life and 'come to Jesus.' Even with these early revivalists, the use
of the term "born again" to describe this experience of conversion is still not wide spread.[23]
Historically the classic text from John 3 was consistently interpreted by the early fathers as a
reference to baptism.[24] Modern Catholic interpreters have noted that the phrase born from
above or born again (John 3:3) is clarified as 'being born of water and Spirit' (John 3:5).
Catholic commentator John F. McHugh notes, Rebirth, and the commencement of this new
life, are said to come about , of water and spirit. This phrase (without
the article), refers to a rebirth which the early Church regarded as taking place through
baptism (1 Pet 1.3, 23; Tit 3.5).[25]
Setting these facts aside for the moment, what does the Catholic Church teach about
conversion? In the book of Acts we have the record of a sermon preached by the Apostle
Peter at Pentecost. Upon hearing this message a large number of pilgrims are cut to the
heart and ask Peter and the other apostles, What are we to do? Peters response is a
summary of rites of conversion and initiation in Acts. Repent and be baptized, every one of

you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of
the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the essential elements of Christian initiation
are; proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of
faith, Baptism itself, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic
communion (CCC 1229). In response to primary proclamation of the Word, we see four
elements to conversion-initiation: conversion or repentance, faith, Baptism, the reception of
the Holy Spirit. These four essential elements then result in the person being admitted to
Eucharistic communion as the completion of the sacraments of initiation: Baptism,
Confirmation, and First Holy Eucharist.
In Acts 2:28 Peter specifically links Baptism to the forgiveness of sins, Repent and be
baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins . . .
Almost identical words are used by Jesus at the Last Supper stating that His blood of the New
Covenant will be shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:28). These are also the exact
words professed in the Nicene Creed, I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
Catholics believe that the grace offered through baptism literally forgives sins. It is not
merely an outward symbol. Later while recounting his conversion, Paul recalls the words of
Ananias, Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his
name (Acts 22:16b). In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses typology to say that the
Israel was baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). The Apostle
Peter later uses the example of Noah to say that just as eight people were saved through
water so this prefigures baptism, which saves you now (1 Peter 3:20-21).
Baptism gives the grace of forgiveness of all prior sins; it makes the newly baptized a new
creature and adopted son of God (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4); it incorporates them into
the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:25) and creates a sacramental bond of unity leaving an
indelible mark on our souls. (CCC 1262-1274). The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes;
"Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism
seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No
sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.
Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated"(CCC 1272).
As part of this complex series of events we also receive in a more profound way the gift of
Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is involved with each aspect of the movement of grace. "The first
work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion. . . Moved by grace, man turns toward God
and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high (CCC 1989).
What one might call the normal Christian birth involves faith, repentance, baptism and the
reception of the Spirit. The Catholic Church also recognizes that under special circumstances
the need for water baptism can be superseded by the Holy Spirit in what is often called a
baptism of desire. Such is the case when catechumens die or are martyred prior to receiving
baptism. (CCC 1260).

Returning to the experiential dimension of conversion. Is it possible to be baptized as an

infant and yet not to have made a decision to make this faith a personal attachment? St. Pope
John Paul II wrote about this more than thirty years ago when he noted the problem of
children baptized in infancy [who] come for catechesis in the parish without receiving any
other initiation into the faith and still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus
Christ" (Catechesi Tradendae 19).[26] He notes further that being a Christian means saying
yes to Jesus Christ, but let us remember that this yes has two levels: It consists in
surrendering to the word of God and relying on it, but it also means, at a later stage,
endeavoring to know better - and better the profound meaning of this word (CT 20).
Comparing this to contemporary theologies of being born again one could say that baptized
Catholics also need explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ. In many cases Catholics may
still need to hear the preaching of the gospel with a call to conversion in order to be reevangelized and reach the fullness of their salvation. Helping Catholics to achieve this
'fullness of faith' has been termed the New Evangelization. The term 'New Evangelization'
became a characteristic expression of St. Pope John Paul II during his pontificate. Earlier
Pope Paul VI called evangelism the deepest identity of the Church and St. Pope John Paul II
continued and extended this vision.[27]
Pope Francis recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is
truly an inspiring manifesto for the missionary reform in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis
wishes firstly to to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of
evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel and secondly to point out new paths for the
Churchs journey in years to come in relation to this evangelical mission (EG 1).[28]
Pope Francis issues a challenge; I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a
renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him
encounter them (EG 3). It is principally through our personal encounter with Christ that we
gain the love and joy which is the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization
(EG 8).[29]

The Lutheran Church holds that it "thoroughly teaches that we are cleansed of our sins and
born again and renewed in Holy Baptism by the Holy Ghost. But she also teaches that
whoever is baptized must, though daily contrition and repentance, drown The Old Adam so
that daily a new man come forth and arise who walks before God in righteousness and purity
forever. She teaches that whoever lives in sins after his baptism has again lost the grace of

The phrase is mentioned in the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church in article XV, which is
headed "Of Christ alone without Sin". In part, it reads: "sin, as S. John saith, was not in Him.

But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and
if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."[31]

The Reformed churches reject both the Catholic/Lutheran and Methodist/Evangelical

concepts of being born again. Here, "regeneration, the equivalent to being 'born again,' is the
inward working of the Spirit which induces the sinner to respond to the effectual call". This is
"the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our
minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to
embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel."[32]":[33]
In Reformed theology, "regeneration precedes faith."[34] Samuel Storms writes that "Calvinists
insist that the sole cause of regeneration or being born again is the will of God. God first
sovereignly and efficaciously regenerates, and only in consequence of that do we act.
Therefore, the individual is passive in regeneration, neither preparing himself nor making
himself receptive to what God will do. Regeneration is a change wrought in us by God, not
an autonomous act performed by us for ourselves."[35]
Methodism and other Evangelicals[edit]

In Methodism, the "new birth is necessary for salvation because it marks the move toward
holiness. That comes with faith."[36] John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, held
that the New Birth "is that great change which God works in the soul when he brings it into
life, when he raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness" (Works, vol. 2,
pp. 193194).[36] The Articles of Religion, in Article XVIIOf Baptism, state that baptism is a
"sign of regeneration or the new birth."[37] The Methodist Visitor in describing this doctrine,
admonishes individuals: "'Ye must be born again.' Yield to God that He may perform this
work in and for you. Admit Him to your heart. 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou
shalt be saved.'"[38]
The belief in the New Birth is something that Methodists share with other evangelicals.[39] In
The Encyclopedia of Protestantism, JG Melton states that "In churches that emphasize
evangelism, the 'born-again' experience tends to become the norm, and everyone is expected
to recount such an experience."[40]
"Although many evangelicals allow that conversion can be a process, generally they see it as
a specific, identifiable moment of time when a person simply and sincerely trusts in Jesus
Christ as savior."[13] They understand Romans 10:9 to indicate a requirement of salvation:
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God
raised him from the dead, you will be saved." So, "to be born again" means "to be saved"
because to be saved, one must confess Jesus is Lord with one's mouth and believe it in one's
heart. Also, to be born again means to follow Romans 10:10 that "with your heart that you
believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved".


Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that individuals do not have the power to be born again, but that
God calls and selects his followers "from above". They interpret Jesus' statement that one
must be born from "water and the spirit" to enter the kingdom of God, as a necessity rather
than as a command.[42]
Disagreements between denominations[edit]
This section contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an
encyclopedic entry. Please help improve the article by editing it to
take facts from excessively quoted material and rewrite them as
sourced original prose. Consider transferring direct quotations to
Wikiquote. (June 2014)

The term "born again" is used by several Christian denominations, but there are
disagreements on what the term means, and whether members of other denominations are
justified in claiming to be born again Christians.
A Catholic website says:
Catholics should ask Protestants, "Are you born againthe way the Bible understands that
concept?" If the Evangelical has not been properly water baptized, he has not been born again
"the Bible way," regardless of what he may think.[43]
On the other hand, an Evangelical site argues:
Another of many examples is the Catholic who claims he also is "born again." ... However,
what the committed Catholic means is that he received his spiritual birth when he was
baptizedeither as an infant or when as an adult he converted to Catholicism. That's not
what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus he "must be born again" (Jn 3:3-8). The
deliberate adoption of biblical terms which have different meanings for Catholics has become
an effective tool in Rome's ecumenical agenda.[44]
The Reformed view of regeneration may be set apart from other outlooks in at least two
First, classical Roman Catholicism teaches that regeneration occurs at baptism, a view known
as baptismal regeneration. Reformed theology has insisted that regeneration may take place at
any time in a person's life, even in the womb. It is not somehow the automatic result of
baptism. Second, it is common for many other evangelical branches of the church to speak of
repentance and faith leading to regeneration (i.e., people are born again only after they
exercise saving faith). By contrast, Reformed theology teaches that original sin and total
depravity deprive all people of the moral ability and will to exercise saving faith. ...
Regeneration is entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit - we can do nothing on our own to
obtain it. God alone raises the elect from spiritual death to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10).[45]

Public stances[edit]

In recent history, born again is a term that has been widely associated with the evangelical
Christian renewal since the late 1960s, first in the United States and then later around the
world. Associated perhaps initially with Jesus People and the Christian counterculture, born
again came to refer to a conversion experience, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in
order to be saved from Hell and given eternal life with God in Heaven, and was increasingly
used as a term to identify devout believers.[13] By the mid-1970s, born again Christians were
increasingly referred to in the mainstream media as part of the born again movement.
In 1976, Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson's book Born Again gained international notice.
Time magazine named him "One of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America."[46][dead link]
The term was sufficiently prevalent so that during the year's presidential campaign,
Democratic party nominee Jimmy Carter described himself as "born again" in the first
Playboy magazine interview of an American presidential candidate. Modern musicians such
as Little Richard,[47] Mark Farner, Dan Peek, Donna Summer, Bob Dylan,[48] Kerry Livgren,
Dave Hope, Dave Mustaine, Nicko McBrain, Roger McGuinn, Ted Nugent, Kanye West,
Carrie Underwood, Johnny Cash, Brian Welch, Keith Farley, Cliff Richard, Charlie Daniels,
Randy Travis, Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon, and Lou Gramm[49]
were artists whose born again conversions had an impact on modern culture. Others such as
department store magnate James Cash Penney, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy,
actor/martial artist Chuck Norris, wrestlers Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, Ted
DiBiase and Sting, and actors Jesse McCartney, Kirk Cameron, and Mr. T are also mentioned
as being born again. Born-again athletes like quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and
former Rams Super Bowl XXXIV-winning quarterback Kurt Warner, Olympic hurdler Lolo
Jones, boxer Katie Taylor and Houston Rockets player Jeremy Lin. Former Alabama
governor and American presidential candidate George Wallace became born again in the late
1970s, which led him to apologize for his earlier segregationist views.
Chuck Colson[edit]

In his book Born Again (1976 and 2008), Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson describes his
path to faith in conjunction with his criminal imprisonment and played a significant role in
solidifying the "born again" identity as a cultural construct in the US. He writes that his
spiritual experience followed considerable struggle and hesitancy to have a "personal
encounter with God." He recalls:
... while I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand
or say fell from my lips: "Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I accept You. Please come into my life.
I commit it to You." With these few words...came a sureness of mind that matched the depth
of feeling in my heart. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new
assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself in the world around me.[50]
Born-again and US politics[edit]

The first President of the United States to publicly declare that he was born-again was Jimmy
Carter in 1976.[51] "In the 1980 campaign, all three of the major candidates ... stated that they
had been born-again"[52]
Sider and Knippers[53] state that "Ronald Reagan's election that fall [was] aided by the votes of
61% of 'born-again' white Protestants."
The Gallup Organization reported that "In 2003, 42% of U.S. adults said they were bornagain or evangelical; the 2004 percentage is 41%." Also, "Black Americans are far more
likely to identify themselves as born-again or evangelical, with 63% of blacks saying they are
born-again, compared with 39% of white Americans. Republicans are far more likely to say
they are born-again (52%) than Democrats (36%) or independents (32%)."[54]
Haiven, in speaking of "born-agains",[55] refers to them as having "a type of intolerance". She
says, "The instant and thoughtless panaceas of born-again Christianity will be seen as a vast
sanctuary by millions of North Americans." She asks, "Is this sanctuary really a recruitment
camp for right-wing movements? It would be naive to think otherwise."
The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics,[56] referring to several studies,
reports "that 'born-again' identification is associated with lower support for government antipoverty programs." It also notes that "self-reported born-again" Christianity, "strongly shapes
attitudes towards economic policy."
Biblical arguments[edit]

The quotation from the Gospel of John has raised some questions about the meaning and
authenticity of the phrase "born again". In the chapter, Nicodemus is puzzled and asks Jesus
what he means by saying that "Ye must be born again". He questions: "How can a man reenter his mother's womb?" Scholar Bart D. Ehrman says that this confusion is because in
Greek (the language of the gospel) the word again is ambiguous. It might mean again or a
second time or from above, which would explain Nicodemus' confusion. However, the Jews
at Jesus' time were actually speaking Aramaic, in which language there would not have been
a double meaning. Ehrman says that this raises questions about the authenticity of the
dialogue, the meaning of the words, and, therefore, the use of the phrase.[57]
A 19th-century source notes that the phrase was not mentioned by the other Evangelists, nor
by the Apostles except Peter. "It was not regarded by any of the Evangelists but John of
sufficient importance to record." And, without John, "we should hardly have known that it
was necessary for one to be born again." This suggests that "the text and context was meant
to apply to Nicodemus particularly, and not to the world." Otherwise, it would have been
mentioned more often. [58]
Names inspired by the term[edit]

Main article: Renatus

The idea of "rebirth in Christ" has inspired[59] some common European forenames: French
Ren/Rene. lso used in Belgium the Netherlands and Great Britain, Dutch Renaat/Renate,
Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Renato/Renata, Latin Renatus/Renata, which all mean
"reborn", "born again".[60]
See also[edit]
Christianity portal

Altar call invitation to become a Christian; given at a church service or


Baptism referred to in Jesus' born-again discourse with Nicodemus ("born

of water and spirit")

Baptismal regeneration overview of doctrinal debate about the effect of

the baptism rite.

Born-again virgin a person who, though not still a virgin, chooses to live
as one.

Dvija, or twice-born in Hinduism, a person who has formally taken on the

roles of one of the first three castes.

Evangelism the preaching of the Christian Gospel to others with the

object of conversion.

Holy Spirit referred to in Jesus' born-again discourse with Nicodemus

("born of water and spirit")

Monergism the belief that being born again is entirely God's work (and
not the believer's work)

Sinner's prayer the prayer of a person seeking forgiveness and wanting

to become a Christian.

Justus Velsius a 16th-century Dutch dissident who promoted the view

that through a new birth man could become like Christ