A quick survey of our readers: Religious affiliation

We here at the Orthosphere are interested in learning a little bit more about our readers. As a first step, we’d like to know our readers’ religious affiliation. I did my best to be comprehensive here, but if I left out a critical option, just hit “Other” and identify yourself in the comments. Otherwise, do the best you can jamming yourself into one of these options. Thanks!

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36 thoughts on “A quick survey of our readers: Religious affiliation

  1. I’ve just ‘voted’ myself as a Christian (Protestant), but that just a nominal description because the truth is I’m out of sympathy with institutionalized Christianity.

    • I read/hear this one rather often, but it always strikes me as strange. I mean, there are hundreds of different protestant churches. Are you absolutely sure that none of them fit your belieths? Or what else is that causes your lack of trust?

  2. I think of myself as an aspiring Christian, yet I belong to no congregation or Christian community. So I put ‘undecided’.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I suspect our Protestant readers are mainly from the confessional tradition. I had originally thought of splitting up “Protestant” but, frankly, I wasn’t sure how best to do it.

  3. It is hard to believe, seeing the horrors of the modern Episcopalians, but most traditional Anglicans are/ were both Catholic and Protestant (Reformed), and so close to Eastern Orthodoxy that the churches combined as recently as the 1950s. I would want to tick all three divisions.

    • Misprint – in “the churches combined as recently as the 1950s.” – of course I meant *nearly* combined. I was very surprised how close this was. Eastern Orthodox in London (Russians) were actually turning away Anglican converts in expectation that it would soon be unnecessary. In retrospect people might argue they were deluded, but that was not how it seemed at the time.

      • Sadly, political considerations and personal ambitions led hierarchs such as Meletios Metaxakis of sorrowful memory to engage in reprehensible and irresponsible behavior. These “Orthodox” bishops caused much confusion, and the ever deeper apostasy of Western Protestants, especially Anglicans, is a stone upon their necks

  4. I do not belong to any faith officially but am studying Roman Catholicism. There are also things about classical paganism and Buddhism that I find not only very beneficial but are good additions to Christian scripture. Basically Pagan Catholic would be the best description of my beliefs.

  5. I voted Christian (Protestant). I was raised in the United Church of Canada. I left the United Church because of its liberalism after I underwent an evangelical conversion experience at age 15. I was baptized in a congregation of the Baptist Union of Western Canada about a year and a half after that, and am now a member of the Anglican Church of Canada. I joined the Anglican Church of Canada a few years ago when I realized that the reasons for my leaving the United Church (it no longer believed and taught what Christians have historically and traditionally believed and taught) if given a larger application than to theology and ethics pointed me in the direction of liturgical worship (worshiping, as Christians have historically and traditionally worshiped).

  6. Bruce, I’m a big fan of yours, but this is one subject where your angle isn’t very convincing. This is one of the easiest times in history for someone to become Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, or switch between the two, if they so choose, so there’s no excuse there. Of course any Christian can then make claims about holding to the lowercase ‘catholic’ or ‘orthodox’ faith from their position but let’s not muddy the waters. Let our yes be yes and no be no?

    Regarding the poll, I was expecting slightly more Orthodox and slightly fewer Protestants.

  7. I’m Anglican Catholic but clicked Protestant since I know by “Catholic” you mean Roman Catholic.

    BGC is right. Up until recent times when the Anglican Communion went screwy, the EO allowed their members to receive communion in Anglican churches.

  8. I voted “other” – I’m a Mormon, so I don’t really fit into Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. I suppose from a Catholic viewpoint I’d fall under protestant (and from an evangelical viewpoint, I’d probably fall under “cult”). Still, a category for LDS or Christian – other would be nice =).

  9. Claims that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly referred to as the Mormons) has only recently asserted its Christianity are simply false, as attested by its scriptures, doctrine, and practice.

    Our early critics agreed. Robert Millet describes the early history of the matter this way: “Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians in the area knew that the followers of Joseph Smith believed in doctrinal matters that deviated somewhat from traditional Christianity. Folks seemed to assume, however, that Mormonism fit under the umbrella of Christianity.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/are-mormons-christian/2012/06/04/gJQAxEzkDV_story.html)

    Of course, people of good will can differ over the definition of “Christian.” If you define Christianity as consisting of only Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant branches, you automatically exclude Latter-day Saints, who claim no direct descent from or affinity to distinctly Protestant doctrines. But who gets to decide who is a Christian? If you Google “Are Catholics Christian?” you will find a variety of conflicting answers, some of which Catholics would strongly disagree with.

    Are Mormons Christian? I recommend the following article that appeared in the ecumenical on-line journal, First Things: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/mormonism-obsessed-with-christ or you can judge for yourself by reading the eponymous book (online at http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng).

  10. Overall it’s breaking out pretty much how I would expect, except slightly fewer Catholics and more Protestants.

    It seems the vanguard of the zeitgeist lies in the protestant domain. Perhaps they simply feel it more.

  11. I selected “Other.” Adherents of the Lutheran Confessions, such as myself, are often not happy with being categorized as Protestants, because we have such sharp differences with Calvinists, Wesleyans, etc. about doctrine and practice. Lutherans are sometimes called Evangelical Catholics. Here’s Wikipedia (!):

    “In Lutheranism, the term evangelical catholic has a specific meaning.[2] Lutheran Protestantism differs historically from most other kinds of Protestantism in that Lutheranism (along with Anglicanism) is the only historical Protestant denomination that confesses belief in the efficacy of the sacraments: regeneration in Holy Baptism, Confession as the sacrament of Absolution, and the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Eucharist. The Book of Concord states, contrary to “Enthusiast” belief, that salvation can be received only through means of grace: God’s Word and sacraments. The Augsburg Confession stresses that “in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Catholic Church.” Article XXIV of the Augsburg Confession “Of the Mass” states: “Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence.” ….[Some early Lutherans] compiled the first modern critical history of the world, the Magdeburg Centuries, to show that the Lutheran Church was a continuation of the Christian Church throughout its history, though stripped of abuses originating from the pope,” etc.

    I don’t think the much-flouted diversity of Protestantism is as real as Orthodox and Roman Catholic polemicists make it out to be (22,000 denominations or whatever it is), since many of these groups are virtually the same in doctrine and practice, freely share ministers, and so on. My guess is that the real number of Protestant varieties is more like ten than twenty-two thousand, hence your posting of “Protestant” without further subdivision is not too bad. But it would have been good to break it down a little — “Lutheran,” “Reformed – Calvinist,” “Reformed – Arminian,” and one or two others, including “Pentecostal.” Pentecostals see themselves as very different from non-Pentecostals, and after years of exhausting discussion with a very articulate Pentecostal, I am convinced that this is true.

    • I thought “Protestant” originally referred specifically to Lutherans after they protested the Diet of Augsburg (or was it Worms?).

      I didn’t become a Lutheran because I couldn’t affirm the “priesthood of all believers” doctrine and couldn’t be comfortable with the rejection of the three-fold ministry of the ancient Church and the rejection of sacramental Apostolic Succession. I chose Anglicanism instead.

  12. Yes, Lutherans were called “Protestant” 500 years ago. In America, though, “Protestant” generally suggests a non-sacramental congregational Christianity that doesn’t fit what Lutherans stand for and even still do.

    Bruce B, I could have seen myself choosing Anglicanism too. As Nichols’ study The Panther and the Hind shows, however, from its beginnings the Church of England has had difficulties standing for and remaining faithful to a firm doctrinal stance, hence its chronic problems. It must be added that much of most world “Lutheranism” isn’t Lutheran, but this is easily seen because of the relationship to the Lutheran Confessions. There isn’t any comparable confession of faith in Anglicanism, not even the 39 Articles, or so it seems to me — but I would see my tradition as closer to conservative Anglicanism than almost any other Christian tradition.

    For my part, I don’t see the threefold ministry that you mention as something that is clearly apostolic; you can even see St. Jerome recognizing that bishops and pastors are not two distinct orders. Likewise I don’t think the episcopacy is the sine qua non of Apostolic Succession. All of the denominations that do place it as absolute seem to have had doctrinal divergences, so it isn’t functioning the way it is supposed to. In fact the threefold ministry may make for good order but it is not of the essence of the Church.

    Or anyway that’s what my research over about 30 years leads me to think.

    • Thanks Mr. Nelson for the thoughtful response. If I understand the (continuing) Anglican position correctly, the Bible teaches Apostles, bishops/presbyters (not distinct in Biblical usage) and deacons. Very shortly after Apostolic times, bishop came to be used exclusively as the term for the successors of the Apostles. The office of Bishop/Presbyter didn’t diverge into two offices. A Bishop is for all intents a Presbyter who is the successor of the Apostles which is necessary since part of Jesus’ ministry was the commission of the Apostles. “Bishop” was used to separate apostolic successors from the first generation of apostles (THE Apostles so to speak.)

      Yes, they have doctrinal divergences but analogous to mere Christianity they have mere Catholicism.

      • Bruce B., thank you for the clarification.

        There appears to be a significant difference between Anglicans and Lutherans about the episcopacy, with, in Anglicanism, bishops as successors of the apostles in some way that an ordinary pastor is not.

        Lutherans would say that pastors (including bishops) are called to the faithful public transmission of the Gospel, but would generally question the idea that these ministers have a charism lacking in the members of the Faithful who are not bishops or pastors. However, the liturgy at my church does retain a distinction:

        Pastor:The Lord be with you.
        Congregation: And with your spirit. (not: “And also with you”)

        I think some Lutherans allow that the pastor does have a special anointing by virtue of his call to the Holy Ministry. But if so it is not something that makes his celebration of the Eucharist “valid” and without which that celebration would be empty. All believers are priests, but only pastors (and only males are pastors) have the call to exercise that priesthood in the public ministry of preaching and celebrating the Eucharist. Likewise, the pastor may pronounce the forgiveness of sins — “I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” — and a layman may not.

        But imagine a scenario in which all the pastors are killed — let’s say during a time of persecution. The people would not have to be left bereft of the Eucharist forever. They could call a man to the office of the Holy Ministry and he would then rightly be able to celebrate the Eucharist, and the Sacrament that he distributed would be the true Body and Blood born of the Virgin and that were given for us on Calvary, just as much as if the hands of Ss. Peter, James and John had been laid on him. Likewise his pronouncement of the forgiveness of the penitent believer’s sins for Christ’s sake would be as real as if the very lips of Jesus pronounced it.

        Lutherans think in terms of the divine call to the ministry, i.e. men (males only) are called by God to be pastors. The pastor’s divine call is confirmed in the call by a congregation of a man to be their pastor. The congregation’s call of this man as a trustworthy minister is confirmed, and he is exhorted and required to preach the Gospel faithfully, when he is publicly installed by brother ministers at a ceremony at the church. This is how things are usually done.

        In discussions with Dr. Bruce Charlton, I have expressed the opinion that, in possible coming times of severe persecution, it may not be possible for a man’s brothers in the ministry to install him. In such an emergency, the people may still choose a man to be their pastor. Let’s face it, don’t we all figure that such times are probably coming, maybe in the lifetimes of some of us?

      • Mr. Nelson,

        I think it’s not just charism that they’re given, but also authority. An authority that the laity doesn’t have.
        It seems to me that the Church in ancient times did suffer mass persecution and the murder of clergy but that didn’t lead to the ancient Church abolishing the Apostolic, three-fold ministry despite the impracticalities. I think both positions can lead to practical difficulties. You’ve described the practical difficulties with sacramental AS ministry. Difficulties with the priesthood of believer’s ministry could be as follows: Why isn’t a host consecrated by a woman the body and blood of Christ so long as the proper intent to celebrate the Eucharist is there? What if all the men are killed? Can a woman consecrate the host then? Why can’t I celebrate at my home with my family every night when we have dinner so long as the proper intent is there?

  13. Bruce B., when I introduced the prospect of severe persecution into the discussion, I didn’t mean to imply that it was the impetus for my understanding of the Holy Ministry. I meant to highlight some of the differences implied between your understanding of the HM and mine. We both take our beliefs about the HM to be based on Holy Scripture and the practice of the ancient Church, etc. It’s a fascinating topic that I don’t have time to explore in depth now. I have learned much from the writings of Hermann Sasse, Arthur Carl Piepkorn, Kurt Marquardt, and others. (This isn’t to say that I didn’t read some of the best Anglican writing at one point in my research.)

    In answer to your questions: 1.Women do not receive divine calls to the office of the Holy Ministry, and it is a sign of the confusion and rebellion of our time that some have fancied that they have. 2.The father especially has the calling to instruct his family in Christian doctrine, but fatherhood as such does not constitute a divine call to the office of the HM.

  14. PS I’m writing blog comments here, not theological treatises, and I’m well aware that better-informed people might well correct some of what I have said, and especially some of what I may appear to have implied, about the Lutheran Confessions’ understanding of these matters. So don’t take me too seriously.

  15. Christian (Orthodox) here, though, of course, we consider ourselves Catholic — as opposed to heretics (“choosers”), which was the original name for those enticed by cafeteria-style Christianity.

    Specifically, Russian Orthodox.

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