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 Definition The largest world religion, which centers around the worship of one God, his son Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Religion and History [Editors asked to check categories]
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Adverts for products, books, services, organisations etc. are strictly prohibited here at CZ. That was a gross violation of CZ guidelines. Please do not do it again.

Thomas Simmons 15:12, 23 February 2009 (UTC) CZ Constabulary.

FYI, this discussion page is the place to make reading recommendations though.Thomas Simmons 15:48, 23 February 2009 (UTC)


Is it the largest religion or the most practiced? Is this a regional statistic or a world statistic? --Robert W King 14:52, 7 May 2007 (CDT)


With regards to this paragraph:

  • Theology [edit]
  • Christianity is monotheistic; that is, Christians believe in one God, who is in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This God is understood to be identical to the Jewish understanding of God in the earlier portions of the Bible. Christianity asserts that God is ethically perfect, or holy, and that God is immutable; that is, God does not change[2].

God is ethically perfect? Not sure why this does not say, morally perfect? Ethics are what we know, morals are what we do - the knowledge as opposed to the act. The ethical man knows he should not deceive. The moral man does not deceive. Ethics, properly speaking, are the study of morals. In this sense, the paragraph says, God knows what he should do, but that does not mean he does so. I am just saying this is ambiguous and sustains a common misuse of the two words. There are a lot of pairs like this and we should try to avoid falling into this trap. Arrogance and conceit are another example, the former requires that act, the latter is the state of mind or attitude.Thomas Simmons 20:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Added multiple sections. Quite possibly biased because I'm a Christian; let me know if anything needs to be changed. Jonathan Beshears 04:20, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Hello Jonathon. No problem with bias there at all—I think the sections are very well written and from a neutral point-of-view. It's good to have you on the wiki. Mark Jones 10:17, 18 January 2008 (CST)

I'm curious why Michael Formica removed a reference to a biblical passage, with the comment "not comfortable with the Bible as a reference." When describing the beliefs of a religion (a problematic phrase, I admit), why is the content of the religion's central holy books off limits as evidence of what those beliefs are? Of course, a secular encyclopedia like CZ should not use the biblical passage in question as evidence for the theological claim that "God does not change," but it seems reasonable to use it as evidence for the secular sociological claim that "Christianity asserts that God does not change." Also, if the Bible is off-limits as evidence of Christianity's beliefs, what else is off-limits? The Summa Theologica? Papal "definitions"? Various denominations' catechisms? And how does this exclusion apply to non-religion CZ articles? May an article on the U.S. Democratic Party not cite the party's own platform as evidence of its election promises? May an article on the marketing of cigarettes not cite tobacco companies' own advertisements as evidence of what claims the companies made about their products? Of course, you could not cite these sources as evidence that "the Democrats increased employment," or that a particular cigarette brand actually caused "not a cough in a carload,'" but why omit them as evidence that the party or the corporation made those claims? Bruce M.Tindall 19:09, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Bruce: With all due respect and good faith held forth, kindly be mindful that proper etiquette would dictate that you address questions about a specific editors actions to that editor, rather than in a public forum.
Michael: Thank you for your assumption of good faith. I'm not sure I understand where the violation of etiquette lies. I was raising a question about an issue -- what does CZ consider appropriate sources to cite? -- that would seem to affect all authors and editors of this article (and, for that matter, of any article describing the beliefs or positions of a religion, political party, etc.), so it seemed to me that the "Discussion"/"Talk" page of that article would be an appropriate location for the discussion. And, as it has turned out, several people besides me do seem to be interested in discussing this question here. And since, as an Editor, you're laying down official CZ policy, it would seem to make sense to do it here where everybody can hear and obey, so that there doesn't have to be an endless series of private rebukes about individual violations of policy, and so that the article can go forward in what the Editor has decided is proper CZ style. So thanks for leaving the discussion here, where everyone could see it. Bruce M.Tindall 12:38, 19 January 2008 (CST)
Regards your question, from an academic standpoint, assuming we all agree that this project is an academic endeavour, it seems to me that, given the commentary nature of the material, it would be more appropriate to reference a commentary, rather than the source material itself. This is not a direct quote of James, it is an interpretation of catechism, and, by rights, the source of the interpretation should be referenced.
To whit, if I state that naming the unnamable sullies a thing that is indefinable because in defining it I have robbed it of its essence, I can quote the Tao Te Ching. If, on the other hand, I state that Taoism holds forth the idea that when you talk about a thing directly you rob it of its immutable nature, I need to reference Jane English, Thomas Cleary, or Eva Wong.
Referencing an interpretative statement with source material is just bad form. I have a half a dozen books on my shelves from Thomas Merton to Meister Eckhert that make the same statement. Quoting James, especially given that James is a canonical tract and, by definition, eschews the non-canonical codex', is, to my mind, suspect. Tort, if you's just an opinion. I think it brings up a good point. Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 19:35, 18 January 2008 (CST)
I additionally would like to add that because the Bible is an extremely loose document-of-fact, and the words or "scriptures" within are largely faith-based, it probably should not be accepted as physical "proof" of anything other than what the adherents to it believe. Within the bible lies no physically conclusive evidence that a metaphysical "God" exists other than through proposal that the written word is fact, and the only document required as proof is the document itself--that is, the bible is largely self-referencial. --Robert W King 23:15, 18 January 2008 (CST)
CZ's job is to tell readers what the Christian theology says, not to tell readers what God is like. In Christianity, Biblical citations are the standard technique used to discuss theology and should be included. So I added: Theologians quote James 1:17, "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Richard Jensen 23:45, 18 January 2008 (CST)
Richard: True...however, Christianity, like all religions, is a mythology, not a fact. And that is someone speaking as an amateur pan-theologian, not a skeptic. If we quote the mythology, then we are guilty of faith-based POV. If we quote commentary on the mythology that quotes the mythology, then we are being objective, and reporting as witness. I have no objecction to the content, I am objecting to the manner in which that content is referenced. As I stated in my edit note, quote the theologian.
This brings up an additional question. Where do you draw the line between your constructs of "mythology" and "commentary on mythology"? Some of the Christian epistles, for example, quote and then interpret passages from the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets. Is that "commentary," permissible as evidence of how (some) Christians have interpreted the Jewish scriptures, even though it appears in the Christian Bible? Is the Talmud a "commentary" on the Torah, or is it itself "mythology," since it was written by people who presumably believed in the truth of the Torah as much as the authors of the Torah did? (Or are the different "layers" of the Talmud in different categories?) How are commentaries written by theologians who are themselves Jews and Christians -- Thomas Aquinas, for example, or Martin Buber -- any less "mythological" than the scripture they're commenting on, if the theologians themselves operate from a "faith-based POV"? With modern scholarship, I may not even know whether the author of a commentary on biblical literature is a believer or not, so how do I determine whether his or her writing is tainted with a contagious "faith-based POV"? In an article about Confucianism, am I guilty of "faith-based POV" if I quote the Analects, or perhaps may I quote the Mencius (even ignoring the question of whether the social construct called "Confucianism" belongs to the social construct called "faith")? Is CZ's existing article on Hitler commiting a violation by paraphrasing Mein Kampf to illustrate Hitler's beliefs, rather than citing a commentary on it? Bruce M.Tindall 12:38, 19 January 2008 (CST)
Hitler's "Mein Kampf" isn't a mythological text. --Robert W King 12:53, 19 January 2008 (CST)
"Mythological" is a social construct with many competing definitions. Which one are you using? Historians often use the term "myth" when talking about narratives that do not necessarily have any supernatural content. It could definitely be argued -- has been argued, in fact -- that Hitler was trying to found something very like a religion, with events such as the Nuremberg Rallies as its rituals, the planned monstrous buildings in Berlin as its equivalent of holy structures, its attribution of non-scientifically-measurable qualities to so-called "racial" groups (the existence of which, in itself, could be called mythological), the replacement of the colloquial greeting "Gruess Gott" by "Heil Hitler" (notice whose position Hitler is put into by means of this replacement); in this view, "Mein Kampf" could certainly be classified as a sort of "scripture." More importantly, which definition of "mythological" does CZ require authors to use when determining what can be cited as evidence of some person's or group's beliefs or opinions? Bruce M.Tindall 13:47, 19 January 2008 (CST)
Also, regards that reference you added, kindly stick to the format. With all due respect to your credentials (Yalie!...I'm a Columbia man, myself - do they still say stuff like that?), your entry smacks of positionality, rather than scholarship, and the whole reason we are all here is get away from the Wikipedia-weirdness. Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 06:28, 19 January 2008 (CST)
I'm not sure I can agree that it is biased to directly quote the bible to support the idea that Christians believe a certain thing. It seems to me like the bias would have to be in how the actual text we're writing is phrased, not neccesarily in what we reference. Jonathan Beshears 04:17, 20 January 2008 (CST)
We're not talking about God, we're only explaining how theologians think. When we say they use a quote that does not assert the quote is true. You need to show some respect for theologians, they work hard at it. :) At CZ we are not allowed to use the term "POV" -- it's strictly forbidden. In any case we are agreed that we should quote thetheologians, which is what I did. So I added a Hodge cite. Richard Jensen 07:08, 19 January 2008 (CST)
Cool. But where's the cite? Or are we cross-editing? As for the use of POV, it was an intended breach of protocol to make a point! :-) Blessings...
I just added some theologians.Richard Jensen 07:26, 19 January 2008 (CST)

Is it okay to cite primary texts, when they are agreed by most scholars to support a position? i.e. Is it okay to reference Galatians directly to support the idea that Christians believe salvation by grace alone, or should we quote a theologian saying that? It feels too wikipedia to me to require a theologian to cite a text in order for us to cite it, if it is very commonly used by Christian scholars. Or could we put something in the text like "Christians believe, based on texts like X that Jesus is the son of God"? Jonathan Beshears 04:03, 20 January 2008 (CST)

It's probably fair to talk about salvation by faith, justified by Galatians, in the context of Protestant theology, but only in that context. To my mind, there should be at least three separate discussions (though not necessarily in separate articles)-- a discussion of Galatians vis-a-vis Protestant theology, a discussion of Galatians vis-a-vis non-Protestant theology (I am thinking primarily Orthodox and Catholic), and a discussion of the modern scholarly understanding of Paul's own thought. I think they need to be differentiated thusly, but that's just my sense. Brian P. Long 01:08, 21 January 2008 (CST)
I think Catholic and Orthodox theologians accept salvation by grace alone, although they also emphasize James much more: "show me your faith without works". Does anyone have any sources on this? I have to admit I haven't studied Catholic soteriology very much.Jonathan Beshears 16:17, 21 January 2008 (CST)
When getting in to Roman Catholic soteriology I believe it gets a little bit more complicated than that—you would probably have to account for such things such as mortal and venial sins, purgatory and perhaps more. The catechisms would give some more detail and are generally held as offical Church dogma. My experience of Roman Catholic doctrine is limited, though, mostly to childhood schooling (and limited investigation thereafter) so I can't speak authoritatively on it here. Mark Jones 17:16, 21 January 2008 (CST)

I was wondering if it's fair to have Trinitarianism in the introduction in such an unqualified way. That is definitely a subject to be taken up and discussed in the central text of the article, but having it in the introduction seems sort of unfair to me. Brian P. Long 01:08, 21 January 2008 (CST)

Not sure how the word "fair" applies here. Could you be more specific? The Trinity is a primary aspect of the Creed that a great many churches still read in service today.--Thomas Simmons 19:50, 6 April 2008 (CDT)

Change in Theology. Question: There was a vote?

Read this section and tell me it does not imply that traditional beliefs in all Christendom have changed because of the decision of one guy:

"Christian theology centers around several main beliefs. Christianity is monotheistic; that is, Christians believe in one God, who is in 3 persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). Christians believe that Jesus was both fully human, and fully divine. Christianity asserts that God is ethically perfect, or holy, and that God is immutable; that is, God does not change[2]. God was traditionally seen as infinite, as well as omnipotent, or all-powerful, but in the early 19th century Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768 –1834) merged all God's characteristics into the idea of causality; his Romantic treatment shaped liberal Protestant thought. "

Is this a peon to the Liberal Protestant theology or an article about Christianity? It needs to be identified correctly either way.

And to be honest, going from all powerful and infinite to causality is not very straightforward either. --Thomas Simmons 06:44, 5 April 2008 (CDT)

the statement says Schleiermacher is the founder of liberal Protestant thought, which is correct. It is not a statement about God. Richard Jensen 07:40, 5 April 2008 (CDT)
As it's currently written, the theology section is imprecise, and could use a lot of work. The bits about Schleiermacher are not the best parts of the section, but they are not the most problematic, either. Someone really needs to go through and qualify all of the theological statements in the section, or give a detailed account of when and how these beliefs entered the Christian mainstream. Brian P. Long 08:16, 5 April 2008 (CDT)
It would be a good idea to delineate the "mainstream."--Thomas Simmons 18:48, 5 April 2008 (CDT)

Original SIN

Along those lines Thomas, is there any way you can spell out current Eastern Orthodox thought on original sin? I can mention that Augustine made the definitive statement of original sin in the Western church, but it would be nice to have the Orthodox perspective as well. Thanks, Brian P. Long 08:03, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
Well, Augustine is a biggee and should certainly get a mention. I will work on an informed section for the Orthodox with scholars of that area in the meantime.--Thomas Simmons 19:50, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
Sorry I never got back to this (nearly 3 years!) Original sin is not an Eastern Orthodox principle as such. You may have heard the phrase, "In Adam's fall, we sinned all. Can't find anyone in the Church who identifies it as such. It is a Roman Catholic principle or belief - at least from the Orthodox Catholic perspective - that original sin is the belief that we are guilty of the sin of Adam. The Orthodox think of this in terms of Romans 5:12-21[1] and 1 Corinthians 15:22[2], Adam is identified as the person through whom death came into the world. Being born into sin - and this is an ambiguous way to put it - as such is a tendency towards sin and is something passed down but not that we are condemned by Adam's sin. We suffer the consequences, but are not guilty of the act. In the Orthodox Church, the term used is "ancestral sin" (the Greek is προπατορικό αμάρτημα)Thomas Simmons 20:35, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
See [1] for current RC teaching. Peter Jackson 11:37, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Peter. This would seem to support the Orthodox interpretation of the Roman position.
  • "261 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin."
This would seem to be saying Adam is the source of all sin and not simply the consequences. This part
  • "263 knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ."
does not seem at all clear in this regard other than to tell us that we can unravel the revelation and thus alter - adversely - the mystery. Don't get the impression that last part is an integral part of the concept of original sin.Thomas Simmons 17:23, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
I also went over the New King James version and compared Romans 5:12. The New KJV is preferred in many Orthodox Diocese in the States, and got this variant from the KJV
  • "12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— "
whereas the KJV puts it
  • "12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"
To me there is a clarity or even a difference. Thomas Simmons 17:23, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

As for the Roman Church's understanding, and I might add the Orthodox understanding of the Roman Church's position, this document, "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised"[3] (which is approved by the Ufficii di Curia but which office I am not sure) spells out the current thinking in the context of a specific application. Thomas Simmons 17:58, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

2 Billion adherents

Really? That just seems... too high. Is there anyone knowledgeable on the subject that could confirm or deny this? Richard Pettitt

And the answer is Check this out.... 2.1 billion is the correct number, but it includes everything from Cathlics and Protestants to Monophysites and Quakers. The number makes sense, given that all the sects are included in it...Monophysites??? Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 14:45, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Ah yes, that does make sense. Thanks. Richard Pettitt 15:47, 19 January 2008 (CST)

A query about sources--sources are important--what is and why are they considered correct?--Thomas Simmons 22:54, 11 April 2008 (CDT)

Maybe the real question should be Who is David Barrett and why is he considered correct?

From "David B. Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia (1994 update) gives an oft-cited figure of 1.9 billion Christians (or about 33% of the world population), and projected that by the year 2000 there will be 2.1 billion Christians in the world. The 2001 edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia stated there were 2.1 billion Christians in the world, or 33% of the total population. Regardless of the degree of accuracy of this figure, Christianity, if taken as a whole, is unarguably the largest world religion - the largest religion in the world. (Keep in mind that although Christianity is the world's largest religion, it is an umbrella term that comprises many different branches and denominations.)" --Thomas Simmons 23:04, 11 April 2008 (CDT)

Three years later, I read this and wonder what I was thinking. Then I realise it was late. I would not say that,"Regardless of the degree of accuracy of this figure, Christianity, if taken as a whole, is unarguably the largest world religion - the largest religion in the world." There is no way that I could support this statement. I do wonder though, given that so many people make claims about their 'religion,' without really ascribing to any dogma or vague precepts. Thomas Simmons 18:14, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Michael McClymond of St. Louis University (Missouri) reviewed Barrett's encyclopedia in vol. 70 no. 4 of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (2002). While he pointed out that taking censuses is often a political act, and raised some questions about some of Barrett's methods of classification, his review was generally positive and did not question the general correctness of Barrett's total.
A bit more on Barrett: he is an Anglican priest and has a Ph.D. from Columbia; his encyclopedia is published by Oxford University Press. Other sources include the article in the World Book by Peter W. Williams of Miami University ("about 2 billion"), and the article in the Encyclopedia of Religion by the late Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale, who gives a more conservative number ("a billion or more").
My rather old print copy of the Britannica contains an article by Pelikan that also uses his number; but the 2009 TIME Almanac, which is published by the Britannica, cites Barrett and his co-editors instead, with a figure of 2.25 billion. Bruce M. Tindall 21:04, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Also, according to the review, Barrett lays out his methodology clearly in the encyclopedia. He discusses such issues as different numbers given by governments' census reports and religious organizations themselves; people who claim adherence to two or more religious or denominations; people who misreport their affiliation because of social or political pressure for or against membership in a particular religion in a particular country; etc. Bruce M. Tindall 21:10, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
The above review should be somewhere in [2] for anyone subscribed or networked into it. Peter Jackson 11:05, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
WCE has been criticized for overstating Christians in some countries. There are some concerns over their methodology. The basic principle as stated is to count people in the religion they claim to belong to without trying to decide whether they're a "real" Christian or whatever. This has some problems in itself, in that some people answer differently according to the phrasing or context of the question. And, as you mention, there's the question of multiple allegiance. But there's also the fact that they don't actually follow that principle consistently. They have a category called New Religions, numbering over 100,000,000 people, most of whom in fact call themselves Muslims or Buddhists. Contrariwise, they classify Unitarians in the total for Christianity, even though the main Unitarian body disclaimed the Christian label some years earlier. Peter Jackson 11:13, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Then there's the question of how they arrive at their figures for Christians. Basically, they start with two figures for a country: the census or public opinion polls; and the total of people on the books of churches. In nearly all cases they use whichever of these numbers is larger. If public adherents are more numerous than churches this is attributed to "non-affiliated" Christians (called "nominal" in the 1st edition). In the reverse case it's attributed to "crypto-Christians" who hide their faith for fear of persecution, discrimination or whatever. In only a few countries do they decide this is absurd, such as Brazil, where total church membership is larger than total population, or Sweden, where the idea of crypto-Christians seems rather far-fetched. But those examples bring the whole method into doubt. Peter Jackson 11:19, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
All that said, as long as you stick to the round number, I don't think there's much serious disagreement with it for that definition. Peter Jackson 11:21, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Gnostic Christianity

I currently have two areas of interest both related to and outside of my chosen field of psychology and the social sciences; Ken Wilber's work on Integral Consciousness, and Gnostic Christianity. If any of you here have an interest in the Nag Hammadhi and the non-canonical gospels, I'd appreciate a hand as I begin to develop articles. Thanks! --Michael J. Formica 06:44, 19 January 2008 (CST)

Before you ask, Carl Jung, who was a theologian by training, was deeply influenced by the Gnostics, and I, in my turn, have been deeply influenced by Jung...that's how... --Michael J. Formica 06:45, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I'm not sure it belongs in the Christianity article. Probably would be more appropriate as a separate article, because they have very different theologies and christologies. Maybe it could be mentioned if we had parts about Christian history, and talked about Nicea and other early Christian debates. Jonathan Beshears 03:54, 20 January 2008 (CST)

I respectfully disagree with Jonathan. I believe an article on Christianity needs to balance the synchronic and the diachronic aspects of religious practice; that is to say, I believe it first needs to provide a fair, comprehensive and accurate picture of what adherents today believe. At the same time, though, it needs to provide a historical picture of the development of Christian doctrine. I believe that many first-millennium theological debates could plausibly have gone the other way. It does not seem fair to me to short-change Monophysites (e.g.) because, at this point in time, they happen to be in the minority.
Gnostics are a special case, granted...
In a perfect world, we would split the articles into discussions of mainline Christian doctrine, and have separate articles on Gnostic theology or whatever, without giving either pride of place in the 'Christianity' article. This seems to be unrealistic, though, and perhaps the best way to resolve this is to carefully qualify each substantive theological statement. Something to the effect, "Christians in the Western European tradition tend to believe that human beings inherit Sin with their humanity; this idea was (first?) formulated (popularized?) by the Latin-writing Augustine of Hippo, however. His writings were never popular in the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire, and this belief never became a part of Orthodox doctrine."
I realize that this is awkward, and the amount of qualification tedious, but at least it's fair.
In re:Gnosticism, perhaps the fair way to do things is to mention Gnosticism (when appropriate) when discussing a particular theological position X (can't think of examples off the top of my head, sorry), when Gnostics also happen to believe X. It would be nice to provide Gnostic counter-readings to mainline Christian interpretations of scripture, but this would probably be too cumbersome. Brian P. Long 01:35, 21 January 2008 (CST)
Both of you are correct. A reference to Gnosticism belongs within the Christianity article because the shape of Christianity before the hereticologists got their hands on it was, in fact, Gnostic. That should be made clear as we role out a conversation about Irenaeus' selection and codification of the gospels, as well as Jerome's selection of our current 27 biblical codex.
In addition, the Gnostic cycle needs to be sepearate from the 'orthodox' Christian cycle because it is, as Jonathan mentions, the tenets of the theologies and christologies are much different. In addition, we have 36 gospels to discuss, not 4...and, as scholars, while we can accept discussion of the Gospel of Judas, I am not sure it'd fly within an article on 'orthodox' Christianity. :-) Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 08:57, 21 January 2008 (CST)
Let's start by putting the Gnostics in a separate article, to which this article will link. Richard Jensen 13:35, 21 January 2008 (CST)
Well, I would like to make sure that we have a description of Christian orthodoxy (as in "correct" belief, not eastern Orthodoxy) in the article. Articles can be very confusing if we try to describe the mainline and the dissenting views all together. But if we want to mention the Nestorians and Gnostics, and even Latter-Day-Saints or Jehovah's witnesses, we could. I just would prefer that they be in a separate section to avoid confusion. I also think Gnosticism may be more appropriate in a section about the history of Christianity, because I don't believe it's a widely held position today (correct me if I'm wrong). Jonathan Beshears 16:14, 21 January 2008 (CST)

Not sure I understand the assertion, Well, I would like to make sure that we have a description of Christian orthodoxy (as in "correct" belief, not eastern Orthodoxy) in the article. My opinion is that since there are a rather large number of people who identify themselves collectively as Orthodox, that label should be avoided unless writing specifically about those people who have used the appelation for more than a millenia. Also loaded words like mainstream which are clearly undefinable should be avoided unless someone is asking for an out and out quarrel.

As for identifying the correct belief, how would that be stated honestly without referring to specific traditions?

On the other hand, moving polarised issues to other articles is very constructive in my opinion. We do need to define which group we are addressing when we say "Christian," or it just gets overly complex. The Gnostic Christian, what is that really? The Baptist Moslem, The Buddhist Jew, The Monotheistic Pantheist? It gets a bit unwieldy. If anyone is thinking of writing this as mythology, that is also a problem. The Muslims and the Jews and the Christians do not think it is mythology. Consider, universities have been teaching the Bible as Literature or The Bible as Myth for yonks but they identify their take on it and correctly label it.

This article should be extremely general, identify specific disagreements and then drop those discussions in the appropriate article, avoiding their placement here in an article entitled "Christianity." Wrapping this all up in one article will cause no end of grief. Identify your POV, write to that with articles like Religion as Myth, or Christianity (Gnostic tradition)

Unless we act cautiously, this article could end up in a very WP type morass of conflicting egos and politics. CZ Constables will be deleting large sections, people will be getting warnings, editors will be facing off, people will leave in a huff - spend some time over at WP and you will see what I mean.

I do not think it is categorically possible to avoid points of view in any discussion on religion. (That is a WP myth and I am sure they got it from the media who makes statements like "we don't make the news, we only report it" Yea, right.) Why? All religions are adamant, that they are entitled to their POV and anyone that says otherwise is not being honest. Here, we should identify the POV, who holds that POV and stick to their sources clearly identifying their perspective. R. Jensens's phrasing "some scholars cite/quote" etc. should be an integral approach to statements made here about virtually everything.

By the way, my understanding is that the only editors who can edit here are those who do not contribute content to this article. That is stipulated by CZ policy. I think that those editors will also find that if they bring their personal beliefs into this they will pouring fuel on the fire. --Thomas Simmons 20:41, 6 April 2008 (CDT)

By the way, my understanding is that the only editors who can edit here are those who do not contribute content to this article. That is stipulated by CZ policy. I think that those editors will also find that if they bring their personal beliefs into this they will pouring fuel on the fire.
Hi Thomas, To make sure we are all on the same page, anyone can 'author' anywhere on the wiki, including here. Some interpret Citizendium policy to mean that editors who edit the article give up their rights as editors and then become authors, but this has been discussed several times on the forums without decision. I suppose we could bring it through the proposal system, but as a constable, I can't enforce your position and would still have to consider an editor as having editor rights whether he/she edits the article or not. If I am wrong, please point me in the direction. Now obviously, once a constable has taken a position, he/she should give up his/her constable duties on this page. PS, --D. Matt Innis 21:01, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
I'm on a slow link at the moment, so I can't search for the right page to quote it, but policy at the moment is that if an Editor works on an article (i.e. becomes an author) in their area of Editorship in any but the most trivial way (e.g. spelling), they can no longer single-handedly Approve that article. However, at that point, they can still be part of a group of similar 'have-modified-the-article' Editors who jointly approve it (it's 3 or 4 needed at that point, I forget the exact number). J. Noel Chiappa 08:44, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

missing editors

Does CZ have any active religion editors--?? I added History as a category (Christianity is covered in all the history textbooks).Richard Jensen 13:32, 19 January 2008 (CST)

Isn't Michael Formica one? He refers to himself as one in his yesterday's posting to this page. Bruce M.Tindall 13:52, 19 January 2008 (CST)
Michael is a psychology editor, not a religion or history editor. Richard Jensen 14:33, 19 January 2008 (CST)
This is a matter of definition.  :-) I am sure that you could get a response from a few different religion editors, if you put a specific question to them. --Larry Sanger 09:01, 20 January 2008 (CST)
Clarifying...I referred to myself as an amateur theologian, and an editor, yes...but I by no means meant to imply that I am qualified to be a religion editor or that I am one. Forgive me for being unclear, or causing confusion. Blessings... --Michael J. Formica 11:56, 20 January 2008 (CST)

"Orthodox" vs. liberal positions

How should we integrate the differences between "orthodox" (as in traditional beliefs, not eastern orthodox) and liberal theology. Should we just write about orthodox theology, and have a separate paragraph about how liberal theology disagrees? Right now I feel like we're stuffing other viewpoints into the theology section, and the structure feels awkward. Jonathan Beshears 04:07, 20 January 2008 (CST)

good point. what sort of outline do you think works best? I recommend breakdown by theologian [which is easier to control] rather than topic [which can sprawl into 1000 topics] Richard Jensen 04:18, 20 January 2008 (CST)

I suggest that you consult a religion editor (i.e., try to rope one in!). This is precisely the sort of thing in which a specialist's guidance would be helpful. See the list linked from Religion Workgroup. --Larry Sanger 09:00, 20 January 2008 (CST)

Strange distinction and possibly vexed, Re: Jonathan Beshears 04:07, 20 January 2008 (CST) comment -

  • "How should we integrate the differences between "orthodox" (as in traditional beliefs, not eastern orthodox) and liberal theology.

How orthodox is orthodox and who decides what is orthodox or not. How traditional is traditional and who is traditional? The language here is very obscure. Are the Baptist Churches orthodox? What about the Presbyterians or the Methodists? Churches forming in the 3rd-5th centuries in Asia, Afrika, and Europe are what--not traditional? But churches and congregations forming in the 17th through the 19th in Western Europe and North America are traditional? How about a Post-modern versus Modern versus Post-reformation versus Counter-reformation versus Reformationist versus, Liberal versus Orthodox theme? We could support and thereby eschew objectivity by sticking with the pretense of calling the Presbyterians traditional or even orthodox or we could simply label them by the names they give themselves, making it far more objective and use a timeline, century by century or use an event's theme. --Thomas Simmons 16:43, 5 April 2008 (CDT)


This presents a problem:

"Most Christian denominations today agree that salvation is "by grace alone", meaning that a person is not required to do good works to get into heaven, although good works will generally be a by-product of salvation."

Need serious sources here. Sounds like post-reformation theology and that means the Orthodox and the Roman Churches have positions on this that seriously predate this no-works-required interpretation.--Thomas Simmons 06:50, 5 April 2008 (CDT).

Yes, as I suspected. If the article continues this way it will need to be relabeled or rewritten. Here is a comment from Father Theodore Niklasson, a deacon in the Georgian Church and a student at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox seminary in Boston:

"The statement that you made strikes me as one with a heavily Protestant orientation. All of us will be saved--whether we like it or not.

Another source:

"From the Orthodox viewpoint, salvation is more than Christ simply having paid some penalty to satisfy the Father's wounded "honor." Salvation is the will of the Father, that we return to Him so He can love us with an everlasting love. (Fr. George Grube. The Orthodox Church A to Z Pp 9-10. cited in How Does Christ Save Us? Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church of America, Diocese of the Midwest)

Fr. Grube provides the following as a guide to the Biblical concept of salvation Scriptural references:

  • St. John 3,
  • Rom. 5:1-5,
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16,
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17,
  • 1 Peter 2:4-10,
  • Ephesians 2:8-9,
  • Philippians 2:12-13,
  • James 2:14-26

Another source, Father Paisius Alschul, St. Mary's of Egypt, KCMO, Serbian Orthodox Church, (New Gracanica Diocese)

It sounds "reductionistic".

How shall we deal with this sort of divergence? Subheadings might be a way to go, e.g

  • Protestant perceptions of Soteriology
  • Eastern Orthodox perceptions of Soteriology
  • Roman Catholic perceptions of Soteriology

Be easier than writing several versions. It will get longer however until each section will have to have its own article which would be great.--Thomas Simmons 16:29, 5 April 2008 (CDT)

I don't think this is really that much of a problem. Keep the current structure (one section on soteriology) but incorporate the range of doctrinal positions into the text of the article. I'm not sure why 'perceptions' matter here, either (though it's a fascinating subject). We can just restrict our discussion to the major branches of doctrine. By all means, go ahead and rework the section! Brian P. Long 08:17, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
It really is a problem if the comments made in the article are incorrect or otherwise misleading. The article starts by saying there are billions of people who are Christians and then the article places a specific perspective up front as a mainstream view when in fact it is not. That is a problem.
As for reworking the section, I will place comments about Orthodox soteriology in the Orthodox Church article because I will be taking their perspective as the starting point. I would not presume to ascribe beliefs about God to any group unless they concur.
That is why an article like this is inherently problematic. If anyone does not see a problem with making assertions that only hold for a fraction of the group identified then we have a problem.--Thomas Simmons 20:53, 6 April 2008 (CDT)
Let's compromise here. What if we cite some Orthodox and Catholic scholars who have different views? My understanding was that the Catholic church had accepted salvation by grace alone, albeit with a strong emphasis on sanctification (good works) after salvation. Jonathan Beshears 11:23, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
By all means, Jonathan, feel free to add Orthodox and Catholic scholars to this article, although it does not look like Thom has gotten around to adding soteriology to the main Eastern Orthodox Church article. Augustine was pretty central to the early formation of Catholic soteriology; Peter Brown's 'Augustine of Hippo' is a little light on theology, but towards the end of the book Brown does discuss Augustine's writings on grace, in contrast to the Eastern Fathers and Pelagius. Hope this is helpful, Brian P. Long 08:28, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
The statement "Let's compromise here. What if we cite some Orthodox and Catholic scholars who have different views? " comes as a surprise to me. I think we need to point out that this is not an ad hoc compromise but a normal operating protocol. --Thomas Simmons 10:29, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
Well, the majority position would be salvation by grace alone, would it not? Jonathan Beshears 19:30, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
Is the assertion, "51% of all Christians believe in salvation by grace alone"? (possibly limited only those who adhere to the Nicene Creed for example). While that is being considered, what of the alternate assertion, "51% of Christian history shows an adherence to salvation by grace alone"?--Thomas Simmons 20:38, 2 May 2008 (CDT)
What about hashing this out in the soteriology article? You could have a history of soteriological beliefs, and current views of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox scholars. Jonathan Beshears 13:54, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

The statement made in this section:

Soteriology is the theology of salvation. Mainstream Christians believe that, as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve, all humans are sinful."

is at odds with some of the oldest theology. 'Born in sin' is not the same as 'Born sinful'. Again this is overwhelmingly reformation theology . Thomas Simmons 15:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)


JA Knapp's edit - RE:

" The differences between the two bodies had been building for centuries: the East used Greek as a liturgical language, the West used Latin; "

is incorrect in that the Eastern Churches have used the native language for quite some time. Prior to the Great Schism Pope Adrian, for example, confirmed the use of Slavonic in Moravia against the wishes of the German Bishops. The predominate language in the Levant and North Africa at the time of the Seven Ecumenical Councils was Greek. However the missions to the Slavs, Armenia, Georgia (e.g. Cyril and Methodius) always resulted in scripture and liturgy being translated into those languages.--Thomas Simmons 19:38, 6 April 2008 (CDT)

Use of "He"

One contributor decapitalized 'He/His' because "the pronoun isn't capitalised elsewhere, and this usage implies CZ is pro-Christian". I lean towards the position that this is the right call, but wanted to see if that was the consensus. How is Allah referred to, when the name is not used directly? (I have no idea, this is an educational question.) Similarly for other monotheistic religions, not just the Jewish/Christian/Islamic triad. If there is some similarity of style, perhaps we could adopt it in all cases. (I have no axe to grind on this point, just want to do what's 'right'.)

Also, a related point; Orthodox Jews find it troubling to see the complete name of G-d given, and usually spell it as I just have. Do we want to defer to their sensibilities, or what? (Again, no ax...)

(I imagine eventually we might have a software switch that says 'if you're an Orthodox Jew, click this box, and you will see the term "G-d" used everywhere', and software could convert on the fly. And if we have that, we might be able to have the page sources contain "He", but automatically down-convert unless the 'I am a Christian' flag is checked. Anyway, a thought for the far future!)

Print encyclopaedias must have these issues too? What do they do? J. Noel Chiappa 08:55, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

the Chicago Manual of Style says lowercase the pronouns for God, noting the Bible itself does that. Richard Jensen 09:12, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
Did a scan of several databases and nowhere in the King James Version did I find the lower case used. Same for Revised Standard Version. Not sure where CMS gets this information.--Thomas Simmons 15:04, 10 April 2008 (CDT)
Capitalised pronouns for God are a much less common practice now (indeed, many modern Bible translations don't do it and consider it an archaic form). The neutral approach would warrant the lower-case pronoun (along with standard English forms in all other cases where religious usage differs, in my opinion). I doubt many people would be offended, particularly given Citizendium's clear status as a non-partisan publication, and if anyone is offended we would point out that it is not a universal practise amongst believers, anyway. Mark Jones 09:38, 7 April 2008 (CDT)
If we choose the lower case, we should post a short explanation simply saying that this is modern use and no offense intended etc.--Thomas Simmons 15:04, 10 April 2008 (CDT)
the Associated Press Stylebook also says lower case the pronouns (but upper case the nouns). from a theological website for a conservative denomination:
"We follow the style which does not capitalize pronouns relating to deity. This intends no disrespect to God; it is the usage of the historic English Bibles: Wyclif (1380), Tyndale (1534), Cranmer (1539), Geneva (1557), Rheims (1582), and King James Version of KJV (1611). Moreover, it is the style followed by the New International Version (NIV) and English Standard Version (ESV), as well as by our denominational magazine New Horizons. The NASB and NKJV do capitalize pronouns relating to deity (introducing something which is not in the Greek or Hebrew, I might add)." sourceRichard Jensen 15:56, 10 April 2008 (CDT)
Not at all sure why the Associated Press is presented as a standard here or why the Orthodox Presbyterian Church source] should be setting style policy here. The APA Pub Manual does not mention God or pronouns specifically. I have mislaid my Chicago Manual of Style so I do not know what it says. I personally do not have a copy of the 1611 (I would note that it does include the Deuterocanon which many Protestant churches do not accept so that is a problem). The rest are all compiled and translated sometime ago and not a few by people who held to views that were certainly not accepted by the Roman or the Orthodox churches.
Anyone have a copy of the Septuagint? It is certainly older than the ones cited above. Did the Greek and Hebrew scholars take any special measures to denote 'god' from 'God' or 'he' from 'He'? What we will have to do is capitolise quotes from sources that do and use lower case in those that don't with the note above and the addendum that we simply follow the lead of the source in those quotations. --Thomas Simmons 23:20, 11 April 2008 (CDT)
I wish Tom Simmons would look for some modern evidence that supports an alternative position instead of ridiculing multiple statements by serious resources. What style the Greeks followed 2000 years ago seems irrelevant for a 21st century reference work like CZ. Richard Jensen 23:53, 11 April 2008 (CDT)
Quote: "Did the Greek and Hebrew scholars take any special measures to denote 'god' from 'God' or 'he' from 'He'?"
Reply: No they didn't - least not the Greek. I'm of the impression that in Hebrew there is no such thing as a capital letter (though I don't read Hebrew). In fact this leads to some confusion as there are several passages where it is not clear who the pronoun in the original text refers to. The concept of capitalizing pronouns that refer to God is a relatively modern one. Further, the very concept to translating the Bible in to English was considered heretical so you can't complain that the translations were done by people who the Roman and Orthodox churches disagreed with. The very fact that they were translating the texts put them outside the orthodox. Derek Harkness 04:52, 12 April 2008 (CDT)
Just so we are all on the same page here, there is at least one personal attack above and the depiction of the attempts at reaching an informed and respectful policy on how to deal with this being inaccurately and inappropriately depicted as ridiculing or complaining does not advance the discussion. Just a warning, keep the personal element out of the discussion please.
A further note, translating scripture has been common for some time now, what source is there that says the translating of scripture is in fact heretical? In the Christian tradition and in the Book of Acts it is quite clear that communicating in many languages is the norm.--Thomas Simmons 18:04, 13 April 2008 (CDT)

Use of capitolisation in pronouns - Father John Matusiak, Orthodox Church of America responds
Generally, in liturgical texts, pronouns used in reference to God are capitalized: "Jesus went to the garden with His disciples."
--Thomas Simmons 20:43, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

A standard Bible translation?

I don't think there is any reasonable justification for the use of "He" in the text of our articles. As the introduction to the NRSV points out, "such capitalization is an unnecessary innovation that has only recently been introduced into a few English translations of the Bible." (And for the record, Hebrew does not have capital letters) Furthermore, there are definitely cases where capitalization/non-capitalization makes an unnecessary interpretative choice and disambiguates the Hebrew. So "He" is pretty clearly out, unless you are quoting from a source which does use the capitalized form-- in that case, it's pretty clearly in. Right?

Seems to me that this can provide us the rationale for lower case. We have an authority in the field that is recognised by a great many groups and the point is also made that the original did not in fact make such concessions. This is what I think we need to put in our note on capitolisation.

A separate question is whether we want to make use of other orthographic conventions used to translate terms for God in the Bible. In particular, there is the question of how to translate the tetragrammaton. One solution would be to just follow the usage of one of the good translations of the Bible-- the NRSV seems to be pretty standard for scholars, and we could just follow its usage. (In good scholarly articles, there will obviously be many points where authors will want to bring up different translations of the bible, but I think it would be useful to have a standard. For example, I'm pretty sure we want to deprecate the usage of the KJV as a standard translation.) Thomas, I'm sure you have a considered opinion about Bible translations-- what are your feelings about having a standard one? Brian P. Long 09:38, 12 April 2008 (CDT)

  • "I'm pretty sure we want to deprecate the usage of the KJV"
Oh no. Not me. Would not touch that with a ten foot pole. We note the differences, use the NRSV for say Methodist and Presbyterian sources, and other versions for Roman and Orthodox etc. Adapt to the source, accommodate their perspective and point this out when quoting. We would do the same if we were quoting sources in Middle English, for example.--Thomas Simmons 18:04, 13 April 2008 (CDT)
I am not trying to start an argument, here, Thom, I am just trying to figure out which Bible we should use. First off, there is no justification that I can see for permitting people writing articles on the Hebrew Bible to cite the KJV-- scholars in the 17th century just didn't understand what the Hebrew means. If folks working on Hebrew Bible articles are only going to use one translation, they should probably work out of the NRSV or JPS. These are modern, scholarly translations, and working with them is at least tractable in a way that the KJV isn't.
Right. Not what I am saying though. The article is "Christianity." If a source from a protestant group quotes the KJV, then we use their format and style in relation to that quote. If they quote from a Hebrew text then we use that reference. This is not an article on the Hebrew Bible though it will employ scholarship that does reference the Hebrew Bible. So, if a representative of a religious group uses an English translation, that is what we reference. Same goes for other groups. We do not decide what they should and should not use, we just accept their choices and move on. Otherwise this becomes something else and not an encyclopaedia article on Christianity. The same will go for any other religion. This covers statements that translating is an act of heresy, or liturgy is given in one language. These are incorrect for a number of reasons. We stick to their story when we convey their perspective. It is a comparison and not a critique in other words.--Thomas Simmons 10:20, 14 April 2008 (CDT)
As far as other stuff is concerned, you're right-- we may need to tailor our guidelines to allow for confessional sensibilities. It may be the case that we end up using a separate translation in our Eastern Orthodox articles than we do in our Catholic articles. What translation do Orthodox scholars use? Brian P. Long 18:49, 13 April 2008 (CDT)
And that is exactly what I am saying too.--Thomas Simmons 10:20, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

Asking about I have gotten a fairly standard reply from the Russian, Greek (including the Ecumenical Patriarchate), Georgian, and Serbian Orthodox. If an English translation is used (they work predominalty in their own language and have for more than a millennia), the accepted translation nowadays is the New King James Version. Pronous are capitolised. For example:

  • Revelation 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

--Thomas Simmons 18:42, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

I think we're talking past each other a little bit, Thom. I am not specifically talking about the upper-case 'He' debate, or even about the Christianity article. I am talking about some basic Religion workgroup guidelines for Bible translations. Are there particular, substantive issues Orthodox scholars have with other modern translations? (For example, I know that the translation of Gk. ergon in the NT is a contentious issue between Protestants and Catholics...)
Along these lines, and given the collective intelligence on this talk page, I think it would be a good idea to start up an article on English-language Bible translations. I tend to think highly of Citizendium contributors, but it would be useful to have a summary of these issues that we could point newcomers to. Is there someone on Citizendium who really knows their Biblical Hebrew? Brian P. Long 20:07, 14 April 2008 (CDT)
I see the point. It will be a very long article. I would naturally go to the source. Contact with seminaries, for example, what they use and teach would be a logical step. For the article on Eastern Orthodox I source as many Orthodox jurisdictions as I can and use primary sources when making comparisons - those approved by the Vatican for the Roman Point of View, for example. Getting the skinny on Methodists and Presbyterians and non-affiliated groups is far more complicated since they often eschew the appearance or the reality of a centralised authority.
The Septuagint was written in Greek and it has been argued that the early church would have been referring to the Septuagint in the New Testament.. The Assyrian Church insists that the oldest manuscripts are written in Aramaic (sometimes referred to as Syriac). There is good evidence that the Early Church used Aramaic in many places, including the Christ. Pushing a Hebrew only point of origin is fraught with theological ramifications. It would need more than one reference point.--Thomas Simmons 20:43, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

I have approached the Orthodox Church of America and received their input from Father John Matusiak:

Dear Thomas,
While there is no single "official" translation, the preferred and most widely used translations are the King James, the New King James, and the Revised Standard. The popular Orthodox Study Bible employs the New King James translation.
In Christ,
Father John Matusiak, OCA web team

--Thomas Simmons 20:29, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

That's rather remarkable, given
  1. NKJV is produced by an extreme fringe group of Protestant fundamentalists
  2. its text disagrees with both the standard scholarly editions translated in standard modern versions and, even more, with the Septuagint
  3. it omits the deuterocanonical books
Just goes to show that all sorts of surprising things go on in religion. (Did you know that Khomeini decreed that sex change operations were not un-Islamic?) Peter Jackson 16:02, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I read that a while back and decided not to get involved. But looking at it now I can't help but wonder if it was meant to be humorous. Just in case, loading the debate with phrases like "extreme fringe group of Protestant fundamentalists" is probably not an ideal tact to take here. I would counsel against it--strongly.Thomas Simmons 15:32, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

I was referring to the fact that they claim that the late manuscripts used in Erasmus' edition of the NT, translated in the KJV/AV, are correct, and the centuries-older manuscripts used in modern editions and translations are wrong. In effect, they insist the KJV is infallible (apart of course from the Apocrypha, which they cut out). They just translate it into modern English. Peter Jackson 11:42, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
An interesting parallel occurs to me. When it's at home, the EOC uses the Septuagint and versions derived from it. Yet it seems to have been quite happy to approve the RSV Common Bible, and I think the NRSV complete edition, even though it's based on the Masoretic text, which differs substantially from the Septuagint in some books. This, together with the case you mention above, suggests that the EOC isn't particularly bothere which text you use, or perhaps even about minor inaccuracies of trnslation, but is mainly concerned with the spirit. Doe sthat sound plausible to you as an insider? Peter Jackson 10:17, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Not sure any EOC jurisdiction has made a formal statement along those lines. There is practice which is to use the text in their own language - a hallmark of the EOC - and there is what one hiermonk referred to as grudging consent. In fact, I have had this conversation in several jurisdictions and they would simply point out that A) the stranslations can become ambiguous over the generations and there is a need for revisions only in so far as it clarifies and B) the Church is where these ambiguities are sorted out. They do not ascribe to sola scriptura. Thomas Simmons 18:01, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
RSV Common Bible, 1973, page xi:
Endorsement has also been received from the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras of Thyateira and Great Britain, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, Russian Orthodox Archbishop in London.
Peter Jackson 16:52, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Just noticed reference to OSB above. This is NKJV only for NT. It has its own translation of the Septuagint (SSAS: Wikipedia doesn't mention this but I think it's Society of Saint Athanasius Septuagint). On further thought it seems to me that what's happening here is that the EOC prefers the traditional text, that is, the form the text evolved into. Erasmus' Textus Receptus, AV/KJV and NKJV represent this, while most modern versions go back to older manuscripts. The above endorsements imply that they're not rigid about this. Peter Jackson 17:06, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Pre and post

The statements: "This (premillennialism) position downplays social action because nothing mankind can do will hasten the Second Coming. In opposition the ostmillennialism....position strongly encourages Christians to reform the world in order to hasten Christ's coming." Are in accord with all the scholarship over the last half century. (My analysis appeared in 1971 in "Winning of the Midwest"; see also Kleppner, Third Electoral System (1979). Richard Jensen 10:54, 7 April 2008 (CDT)

Ambiguity robs the article of significance

This is a problem. Huge sweeping statements about Christians are being made while very specific but unattributed points of view are being projected as the examples.

  • There is very wide disagreement among Christians about the Second Coming.

Which ones? Where? If you are talking about a few million in North America and omit much more established perspectives that have existed for more than a millennia for the overwhelming majority of Christians it leads the reader to think there is a major dispute out there. Establish this as fact rather than simply throw these terms around.

  • The disagreement is on when exactly Christ will return to Earth, . . ..

Is it? Can we have some sources here?

  • Some Christians adopt a preterist interpretation of eschatological Biblical prophecies,

Some? Who are they. This is really not supporting the premise to begin with. This is an encyclopedia and not intended as a personal exegesis on the end times.

  • . . . a statement most scholars take to mean that Paul believed the return of Christ . . .

Most? Really? This section needs good representative sources cited. It is becoming something other than what it purports to be. Hope someone is working on this.--Thomas Simmons 20:59, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Well, Thomas, I agree with you on there being problems with ambiguity in the article, and some tendencies toward sweeping generalisations which I have, in part here and in other Christianity articles, tried to address but I don't always find others in agreement. I would support you going ahead and changing the article where you feel it is unbalanced.
Regarding the sentence (which I wrote), "Some Christians adopt a preterist interpretation of eschatological Biblical prophecies" I believe this is a truthful and accurate statement; even if it lacks a citation I believe it's fairly well-known. It could do with expanding on but this could be done in Preterism article.
As for supporting the premise "There is very wide disagreement among Christians about the Second Coming", well, it wasn't really meant to and, personally, I don't really support the use of "...very wide..." as a quantifier here—there is disagreement, sure, but as to how "wide" is meant to be interpreted in this context is not clear. Also as Thomas says, it depends on where and where you look, historically, geographically etc. etc. The disagreement tends to fall into a small number of categories that have already been pointed out in the article (preterist, futurist, pre-, post-, a-milleniallism) and I am not sure the disagreement here is any more "wide" here than other secondary theological differences that would probably not be noted as strongly. I would argue for the use of "notable differences" (or even "strong disagreement") but "wide", as a quantifier, is too ambiguous. I think the "disagreement" is often more judged on the hullabaloo and concern it causes in some small sections of some societies rather than the breadth or strength of theological feelings.
Regardless, I prefer to avoid the use of superlatives in encyclopedic writing unless it can be fairly strongly qualified with citations. I would support changing this statement to just "There is disagreement among Christians about the Second Coming..." to avoid any of the above concerns or, indeed, making the whole section less about the Second Coming and more general eschatology as there is more to eschatology, and the disagreements, than just the Second Coming of Christ. So perhaps "There is disagreement among Christians about how eschatological prophecy should be interpreted..." is a good compromise? Mark Jones 08:55, 17 April 2008 (CDT)
Sorry I did not respond to this. Has this last sentence been put into the article? I believe it to be more accurate. Thomas Simmons 18:24, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Meaning & neutrality

It's important to avoid slithering between different meanings. When the intro says 1/3 of the world's population are Christian, that's true in a very precise sense: they call themselves Christian. That doesn't mean they conform to any definition of Christian other than this purely nominalist one. This meaning at least satisfies neutrality: it doesn't take sides in disputes over who's a "true" Christian. Of course, if experts have other definitions, they can be taken into account.

However, we have to be very careful about statements saying "Christians believe ..." What do they actually mean? Is it really true that (virtually) all those people above mentioned believe that? Sometimes, perhaps. But remember we have to cover all significant views. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, "marginal" Christians, ie mainly Mormons & Jehovah's Witnesses, amount to about 26 million, or 1.3% of total Christians. Is that "significant"? Policy also holds that we must cover all significant views, not just those of experts. In this context, we have to cover widespread beliefs among Christians even if no major church officially teaches them. For example, lots of nominal Christians in the West have syncretistic beliefs, eg reincarnation. Peter Jackson 11:14, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

In that case, and I believe your statement to be fair and accurate Peter, we simply note the divergence and spell it out.

Doctrines and the great commandment of Christ

Shouldn't the doctrines section include the great commandment of Christ (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:28-31 and John 13:34-35)? - Robert Badgett 04:25, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

I'd have to say, yes Robert, you have a point. Thomas Simmons 18:28, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Theological developments

This section is chronologically myopic and, to a very real extent, incoherent. It begins out of nowhere with Friedrich Schleiermacher and quickly detours into a God-is-dead pseudo-Christian, quasi-theology. The very least the author of that section could do is properly title the subsections and begin with some sort of historical or chronological preface. The section makes the definition of Christian so ambiguous as to render it meaningless. Thomas Simmons 05:18, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Rather than complain, I am putting an outline here taken from various sources. These areas may overlap. If so, let's discuss it here and possibly a change in the hierarchy of the titles.Thomas Simmons 18:42, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

The listing seems to mix together different sorts of things:
  1. different methodologies, e.g. scholastic
  2. different subject matter, e.g. moral
  3. different schools of thought, e.g. postmodern
Peter Jackson 10:22, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Probably better as a separate article. Peter Jackson 10:31, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. It would best be developed as such under a rubric such as "Theological developments in Christianity". However, the point here is to direct the reader, as is customary, to articles in greater detail, some of which have already been started, while noting this area as it relates to the overall topic. Otherwise it would overwhelm this article. The fact that it is mixed reflects the reality of the massive topic which, as is noted elsewhere here, can be rather amorphous. The reality is that we are dealing with competing schools of thought. I have drawn this from the Roman and the Eastern traditions. I am sure there are more and this can be explained to the reader. Thomas Simmons 17:25, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
  1. Romans 5:12-21 (King James Version) 12-Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13-(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14-Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15-But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16-And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17-For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18-Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19-For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20-Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21-That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
  2. (King James Version) 22-For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
  3. THE HOPE OF SALVATION FOR INFANTS WHO DIE WITHOUT BEING BAPTISED*} International Theological Commission, Roman Curia