Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. But while Catholics, Methodists and other Protestants have fundamental tenets in common, every Christian denomination has its own beliefs. Christianity has gone through numerous changes and developments over the past two millennia. During the 16th century, a religious upheaval called the Protestant Reformation divided Europe. Martin Luther and other reformers challenged the power and authority of the Catholic Church. They wanted the Bible to be published and disseminated in European languages, not just Latin. They also objected to the widespread practice in the Catholic Church of selling indulgences, which were official pardons of sin. The Reformation and its protests led to the creation of many Protestant Christian denominations, including the Methodists.
Beliefs of All Christians
Of all the world's religions, Christianity is the most popular faith with more than two billion believers. Central to the Christian religion and a conviction that all Christians share is the belief in Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was sacrificed for the redemption and salvation of humanity from sin. Among the most significant concepts in Christianity are Christ's death and rise from the dead, called the Resurrection. Although Christianity is a monotheistic religion, Christians believe that there are three components of God, known as the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The sacred text for all Christians is the Holy Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments.
The Nicene Creed, a Christian prayer dating from the fourth century, is a succinct statement of fundamental Catholic beliefs. For Catholics, God and the church are inseparable. The church holds spiritual authority because God is always present as the gospel of Christ. In addition to worshipping Christ, Catholics also venerate the Virgin Mary and a number of saints. Catholics celebrate seven sacraments, including Baptism, the Eucharist or Holy Communion, Reconciliation or Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. For Catholics, the Eucharist sacrament transforms the bread and wine of communion into the actual body and blood of Christ. This belief is called transubstantiation, which Protestants reject. In the Catholic Church, priests perform sacraments. Catholic clergy and members of religious orders, including nuns, are unmarried and must take a vow of celibacy.
The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s set off the formation of three main Protestant branches: Lutheranism, Calvinism or the Reformed tradition, and the English or Anglican tradition. Other Christian denominations have since split off from the main branches, while still others have diverged from those. Since the Reformation, Protestants have believed in the Bible as their sole spiritual authority. Protestants also emphasize the individual's relationship with God. Unlike Catholics, Protestants believe it is permissible for clergy to marry and not be celibate. In addition to these key beliefs, each Protestant denomination has its own views and teachings.
The Methodist religion is a Protestant Christian denomination that traces its origins to 18th century England. It is based on the teachings of John Wesley, a member of the Anglican clergy. When early American Methodists founded their own church, Wesley supplied them with a liturgy and a statement of key beliefs, comprising 24 Articles of Religion. Based on similar tenets of the Church of England, there are now 25 Articles of Religion, which serve as the principles for the Methodist faith in North America. Methodists believe in putting their faith into action, doing good deeds and avoiding bad deeds, thereby living a virtuous life. They believe that all Christians ought to share communion and that every church should have the freedom to modify or abolish certain sacraments as they see fit. Fundamentally, however, Methodists share the basic beliefs of all people who are Christians.
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