Compare Christian Denominations: Beliefs and Theology

March 5, 2005 · updated February 13, 2021

AnglicanBaptistsEastern OrthodoxyLutheranismMethodismPresbyterianRoman Catholicism
scripture Contains all things necessary for salvation. (CofE) "Written by men and divinely inspired. "God's inspiration is confined to the original languages and utterances, not the many translations." (GOAA) "While the Bible is treasured as a valuable written record of God's revelation, it does not contain wholly that revelation." (GOAA) Inspired and inerrant. (LCMS)

Inspired but not inerrant. (ELCA)
Inspired and inerrant in original manuscripts, "and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine." (WC) The Bible is inspired. "For some, that means the Bible is inerrant. For others, it means that even though the Bible is culturally conditioned and not necessarily factual or even always true, it breathes with the life of God." (PCUSA) "The books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Catechism, 2nd ed.)
religious authority "The Scriptures and the Gospels, the Apostolic Church and the early Church Fathers, are the foundation of Anglican faith and worship." "We hold the Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as our final authority. We accept no humanly devised confession or creed as binding." (ABC) "The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, along with Sacred Apostolic Tradition." Seven Ecumenical Councils. (GOAA) Bible alone "The Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation. " (UMC) "Our standards of belief are to be found in the Bible and in the Church's historic Confession of Faith." (CofS) Bible, church fathers, popes, bishops; Seven Ecumenial Councils; Trent, Vatican, and other Catholic councils
creeds 7). "We have tended to avoid embracing prepared creeds or other statements that might compromise our obligation to interpret Scripture as individuals within the community of faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." (ABC) Nicene Creed is "the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church." (GOAA) Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Augsburg Confession, Formula of Concord (ELCA) (LCMS) Nicene and Apostles' Creeds (UMC) Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Westminster Confession Many, but special focus on Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed (Catechism, 2nd ed.)
Jesus "Jesus is the complete revelation of God to us, and as such, Jesus, although fully human with us, is also fully God—fully divine." (ECUSA) Christ "is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man." (SBC) "Christ was born with two perfect natures, the divine and human, as God-man." (GOAA) "True God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, [and] Lord." (Sm. Catech.) "The Son, who is the ... very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature... so that two whole and perfect natures... 2). "fully human, fully God." (PCUSA) "The Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God." (Catechism, 262)
Mary varies Theotokos ("God-Bearer"). Honored highly, but no immaculate conception or bodily assumption into the heavens. (GOAA) Mary was the mother of Jesus and one of his disciples. (UMC) Virgin birth affirmed, immaculate conception denied. (UMC) Mary should not be regarded as a mediator between man and God, but she should be honored as "God-bearer" and a model for Christians. (PCUSA) Mary had no original sin, remained free of sin throughout her life, is "Mother of God" and the new Eve. (Catechism, 508-10) Bodily assumption into heaven instead of death. (Catechism, 966)
heaven "A new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other." (BCP) "Heaven with its eternal glory and the blessedness of Christ's presence is the final abode of those who choose the salvation which God provides through Jesus Christ." (WC) "In their spiritual bodies the saints will live forever in rapt adoration of God." (PCUSA) "Blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ" (Catech 1027) and "the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." (Catech 1024)
hell believed by most "Hell with its everlasting misery and separation from God is the final abode of those who neglect [God's] great salvation." (WC) Affirmed by some. "In a 1996 Presbyterian Panel survey only 51 percent of members and 46 percent of pastors said they believed in hell." (PCUSA) "The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God." (Catech 1030)
predestination "Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God... to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour." (Art. 17) "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man." (SBC) Seeks a middle ground between Pelagianism and Augustinian predestination. (GOAA) Predestination to heaven only. "There is no... predestination to damnation." (LCMS) Affirmed, but understood in terms of God choosing those he knew would freely believe "We are able to choose God because God first chose us." (PCUSA) Some modern Presbyterians are "very concerned about the few statements in the confessions" suggesting predestination to hell. (PCUSA) Predestination to heaven only, and related to God's foreknowledge. "God predestines no one to go to hell." (Catech 1037)
AnglicanBaptistsEastern OrthodoxyLutheranismMethodismPresbyterianRoman Catholicism