The Church of the Divine Earth


The One True Church (?)
The One True Faith (?)

The One True Church (?)

In the New Testament period, there were no denominations, and the phrase Christian Church or "the church" refers either to all who follow Jesus, or all who follow Jesus in a particular location. As Christianity has divided, some groups or denominations have claimed that they alone represent "the one and only church" to which Jesus gave his authority in the Great Commission. Other denominations believe that "the church" includes members of many denominations, believing in "an invisible church.” A similar theory arose in the 4th and 5th centuries, present in Novatianism and Donatism— both of which were condemned by the mainstream church of their time.

Apostolic succession is sometimes seen as one of the essential elements in constituting the one true church, ensuring it has inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority and responsibility that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles. Other denominations believe they have restored the original church, in belief or practice. The claim to be the one true church is related to the first of the Four Marks of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed: "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

Anglican branch theory

This is the position of those Anglicans who uphold the branch theory that, "though the Church may have fallen into schism within itself and its several provinces or groups of provinces be out of communion with each other, each may yet be a branch of the one Church of Christ, provided that it continues to hold the faith of the original undivided Church and to maintain the apostolic succession of its bishops." The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which according to that theory are, together with the Anglican Communion, the principal branches of the one true Church, reject the theory.

Catholic Church

According to the Catechism, the Catholic Church professes to be the "sole Church of Christ," which is described in the Nicene Creed as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The church teaches that its founder is Jesus Christ who appointed the twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops. Catholic belief holds that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth," and that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession from the apostles. In particular, the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), is considered the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, from whom the Pope derives his supremacy over the Church. The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi as the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus, the Catholic Church holds that "the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic…. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him." Furthermore, the Church holds that "The Catholic Church alone... is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation…. Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ, no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.'

The Church teaches that the fullness of the "means of salvation" exists only in the Catholic Church, but the Church acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to "impel towards Catholic unity" and thus bring people to salvation in the Catholic Church ultimately. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved through the Catholic Church but that people can be saved ex voto and by pre-baptismal martyrdom as well as when conditions of invincible ignorance are present, although invincible ignorance in itself is not a means of salvation.


Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church has identified itself as the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" in, for instance, synods held in 1836 and 1838 and in its correspondence with Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII.


Latter Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or "Mormons" believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. was chosen to restore the original organization established by Jesus, now "in its fullness," rather than to reform the church. This belief is no longer shared by the second largest break-off of the Latter Day Saint Movement, the Community of Christ (formerly The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

As Allen and Hughes put it, "[n]o group used the language of 'restoration' more consistently and more effectively than did the [Latter Day Saints] ... early Mormons seemed obsessed with restoring the ancient church of God." According to Smith, God the Father and Jesus appeared to him and instructed him that the creeds of the churches of the day "were an abomination in his sight" and that through him, God would restore (or re-establish) the true church. Smith taught that the Great Apostasy was complete and required a full restoration of the original church. This included the Aaronic priesthood, the Melchizedek priesthood, and the full church structure consisting of prophets, apostles, evangelists and teachers. Joseph Smith founded the Church of Christ in 1830, serving as the first prophet believed to be appointed by Jesus in the "latter days.”

Smith published the Book of Mormon, which LDS members believe was translated from Golden Plates as directed by the angel Moroni. Members of the Latter Day Saint movement believe that the Book of Mormon contains a record of the original church of Jesus in the Americas between about 600 BC and 421 AD. In addition, Smith claimed that he received the true authority or priesthood directly from those who held it anciently, namely John the Baptist, who returned as an angel and gave him and Oliver Cowdery the authority to baptize. Saint Peter, Saint James and Saint John, the Apostles, returned as angels and gave Smith and Cowdery the authority to lead the church just as they had done anciently.

The church was organized on April 6, 1830 in New York State. Originally the church was unofficially called the "Church of Christ.” Four years later, in April 1834, it was also referred to as the "Church of Latter Day Saints" to differentiate the church of this era from that of the New Testament. Then, in April 1838, the full name was stated as the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”


Churches of Christ

Some among the Churches of Christ have attributed the restorationist character of the Latter Day Saints movement to the influence of a preacher, Sidney Rigdon, who was associated with the Campbell movement in Ohio but left it and became a close friend of Joseph Smith. Neither the Mormons nor the early Restoration Movement leaders invented the idea of "restoration;" it was a popular theme of the time that had developed independently of both, and Mormonism and the Restoration Movement represent different expressions of that common theme. The two groups had very different approaches to the restoration ideal. The Campbell movement combined it with Enlightenment rationalism, "precluding emotionalism, spiritualism or any other phenomena that could not be sustained by rational appeals to the biblical text." The Latter Day Saints combined it with "the spirit of nineteenth-century Romanticism" and, as a result, "never sought to recover the forms and structures of the ancient church as ends in themselves" but "sought to restore the golden age, recorded in both Old Testament and New Testament when God broke into human history and communed directly with humankind."


One True Faith (?)

The concept of a one true faith, one true religion, or one true church, stems from the monotheistic belief in the "one true God,” which implies a degree of exclusivism. The claim that one faith is true, and that by implication other religions are false, is based upon the claim that God has spoken to mankind through a revelation intended for all, revealing the will of the divinity.

The concept of "one true faith" is also based on the basic philosophical law known as the law of non-contradiction: two propositions that contradict each other cannot both be true. Therefore, various religious traditions offering contradictory doctrines cannot be affirmed as equally true.

Christianity
The claim to be the one true church is related to the first of the Four Marks of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed: "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Some Christian churches claim to be the one true church while others claim only to be part of the one true church.

Anglican branch theory
Apostolic succession is sometimes seen as one of the essential elements in constituting the one true church, ensuring it has inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority and responsibility that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles.

This is the position of those Anglicans who uphold the branch theory that, "though the Church may have fallen into schism within itself and its several provinces or groups of provinces be out of communion with each other, each may yet be a branch of the one Church of Christ, provided that it continues to hold the faith of the original undivided Church and to maintain the apostolic succession of its bishops."

The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, according to that theory, are the principal branches of the one true Church, along with the Anglican Communion. Those churches, however, reject the theory, as do Anglicans other than the church faction often termed "Anglo-Catholicism.” Anglo-Catholicism is a point of view that arose during the nineteenth century's Romantic era and which led to a renewed interest in things Gothic. The English Reformation was imagined by Anglo-Catholics to have been only a temporary and artificial interruption in the Catholic history of English Christianity. Anglicans generally do not subscribe to the idea that their church, with or without, any supposed connection to the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches constitute a "one true Church" to the exclusion of other Christian bodies.

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church declared in the Fourth Lateran Council that: "There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation,” a statement of what is known as the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. The Church is further described in the papal encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi as the "Mystical Body of Christ.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church professes that it is the "sole Church of Christ,” the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Nicene Creed. Peter Kreeft has written that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ who appointed the twelve Apostles to continue his work as the Church's earliest bishops. Alan Schreck writes that the Church "is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth,” and John F. Barry that all duly consecrated bishops have a lineal succession from the apostles. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) is the successor to the apostle Simon Peter, and that the pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope. Furthermore, the Holy See has stated: "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community,’ that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. 'This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him.’ In number 8 of the Constitution Lumen Gentium 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth. It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them, which originally came from the Catholic Church and are shared in common with the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church." In Lumen Gentium the Catholic Church teaches that, "many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity,” and also: "Whosoever, [...] knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

In the encyclical Mortalium Animos of 6 January 1928, Pope Pius XI wrote that "in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors" and quoted the statement of Lactantius: "The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation." Accordingly, the Second Vatican Council declared: "Whosoever, [...] knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. In the same document, the Council continued: "The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter." And in its decree on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio it stated: "Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognise the riches of Christ and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in His works and worthy of all praise."

Catholicism also teaches that there are some elements of truth in non-Christian religions, and Vatican II's Nostra Aetate stated: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ 'the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself."

Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church has identified itself as the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church" in, for instance, synods held in 1836 and 1838 and in its correspondence with Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII.

Latter Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or "Mormons" believe that Joseph Smith was chosen to restore the original organization established by Jesus, which ceased to exist shortly after the end of the apostolic age (see the Great Apostasy in Mormonism), now "in the fullness of time,” rather than to reform the church. This belief is not shared by the second largest denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement, the Community of Christ (formerly The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

As Allen and Hughes put it, "[n]o group used the language of 'restoration' more consistently and more effectively than did the [Latter Day Saints] ... early Mormons seemed obsessed with restoring the ancient church of God." According to Smith, God the Father and Jesus appeared to him and instructed him that the creeds of the churches of the day "were an abomination in his sight" and that through him, God would restore (or re-establish) the true church. Smith taught that the Great Apostasy was complete and required a full restoration of the original church. This included the Aaronic priesthood, the Melchizedek priesthood, and the full church structure consisting of prophets, apostles, pastors, evangelists and teachers. Joseph Smith founded the Church of Christ in 1830, serving as the first prophet believed to be appointed by Jesus in the "latter days.”

Smith published the Book of Mormon, which LDS members believe was translated from golden plates as directed by the Angel Moroni. Members of the Latter Day Saint movement believe that the Book of Mormon contains a record of the original church of Jesus in the Americas between about 600 BC and AD 421. In addition, Smith claimed that he received the true authority or priesthood directly from those who held it anciently, namely John the Baptist, who returned as an angel and gave him and Oliver Cowdery the authority to baptize. Saint Peter, Saint James and Saint John, the Apostles, returned as angels and gave Smith and Cowdery the authority to lead the church just as they had done anciently.

The church was organized on April 6, 1830 in New York State. Originally the church was unofficially called the "Church of Christ.” Four years later, in April 1834 it was also referred to as the "Church of Latter Day Saints" to differentiate the church of this era from that of the New Testament. Then, in April 1838, the full name was stated as the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Some Christians have attributed Smith's connection to the Book of Mormon to the actions of a preacher, Sidney Rigdon, who was associated with the Campbell movement in Ohio but left it and became a close friend of Joseph Smith. Neither the Mormons nor the early Campbell movement's leaders invented the idea of "restoration"; it was a popular theme of the time that had developed independently of both, and Mormonism and the Restoration Movement represent different expressions of that common theme. The two groups had very different approaches to the restoration ideal. The Campbell movement combined it with Enlightenment rationalism, "precluding emotionalism, spiritualism, or any other phenomena that could not be sustained by rational appeals to the biblical text." The Latter Day Saints combined it with "the spirit of nineteenth-century Romanticism" and, as a result, "never sought to recover the forms and structures of the ancient church as ends in themselves" but "sought to restore the golden age, recorded in both Old Testament and New Testament, when God broke into human history and communed directly with humankind."

Islam

Islam is the monotheistic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: الله‎, Allah), and the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and Hadith) of Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be the final Prophet of Islam, the Seal of the Prophets.

Muslims believe that God is absolutely singular and absolutely transcendent, the doctrine of tawhid. Muslims also believe that Islam is the original and primordial faith, or fitrah, that was revealed at many times and places before, including through, by co-option, the prophets of other religions, including Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and 'Isa (Jesus). 

Muslims maintain that previous messages and revelations such as the Bible and the Gospel were revealed for a specific time period and specific people and have become corrupted over time, and no longer remain 100% authentic viable revelation but consider the Qur'an to be both unaltered and the final revelation from God. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment.

Judaism

Jews believe that the God of Abraham is the one true God. The Jews believe the God of Abraham entered into a special relationship with the ancient Israelites, marking them as his Chosen People, giving them a mission to spread the concept of monotheism. Jews do not consider their chosenness to be a mark of superiority to other nations, but a responsibility to be an example of behavior for other nations to emulate.


Religious Exclusivism

Religious exclusivism is the doctrine or belief that only one particular religion or belief system is true. In its normative form it is simply the belief in one's own religion and non-belief in religions other than one's own. Linked with a doctrine of salvation, religious exclusivism teaches that only the members of one religion or sect will reach Heaven or any given soteriological aim, while others will be doomed to eternal damnation or exclusion from a paradisiacal afterlife.

Exclusivism is most prevalent in Abrahamic religions. In the Jewish tradition, it manifests in certain interpretations of the concept of the "chosen people,” in which anyone who does not accept the teachings of Jewish monotheism is excluded from the messianic "world to come,” though this is not a mainstream tenet of Jewish theology. In Christianity, religious exclusivism is seen in the teachings of the Catholic Church and many Protestant Evangelical denominations that only those who adhere to their version or understanding of the faith will reach Heaven, while those outside of the true church will go to Hell. Similarly, most of the major denominations of Islam consider their faith to be the only authentic religion, while followers of other religions (including the other Abrahamic faiths) are destined to Hell (Arabic: جهنم Jahannam) unless they accept Islam.

Historically, religious exclusivism sometimes leads to the justification of religious wars, forced conversions of those outside the faith, bans against inter-religious fellowship and marriage, and the persecution of religious minorities. 

However, it is also possible to practice an exclusivist faith while generally respecting the rights of unbelievers, and this is often the case today. Many religions practice a modified form of exclusivism, in which other faiths are recognized as legitimate to a degree, but not as holy as the true faith.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_true_church
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_true_faith
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_exclusivism