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Protestantism in the United States

Protestantism in the United States

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Mainline vs. Evangelical


In typical usage, the term mainline is contrasted with evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

. Theologically conservative critics accuse the mainline churches of "the substitution of leftist social action for Christian evangelizing, and the disappearance of biblical theology," and maintain that "All the Mainline churches have become essentially the same church: their histories, their theologies, and even much of their practice lost to a uniform vision of social progress."

The Association of Religion Data Archives
Association of religion data archives
The Association of Religion Data Archives is a free source of online information related to American and international religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997, and online since 1998, the archive was initially targeted at researchers interested in American religion...

 (ARDA) counts 26,344,933 members of mainline churches versus 39,930,869 members of evangelical Protestant churches. There is evidence that there has been a shift in membership from mainline denominations to evangelical churches.

As shown in the table below, some denominations with similar names and historical ties to Evangelical groups are considered Mainline.
Protestant: Mainline vs. Evangelical
Family: Total: US% Examples: Type:
Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

38,662,005 25.3% Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. Mainline
Pentecostal 13,673,149 8.9% Assemblies of God Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Lutheran 7,860,683 5.1% Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

Mainline
Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Presbyterian/
Reformed
5,844,855 3.8% Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Presbyterian Church , or PC, is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. Part of the Reformed tradition, it is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S...

Mainline
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Church in America
The Presbyterian Church in America is an evangelical Protestant Christian denomination, the second largest Presbyterian church body in the United States after the Presbyterian Church . The PCA professes a strong commitment to evangelism, missionary work, and Christian education...

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Methodist 5,473,129 3.6% United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

Mainline
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, or AME Zion Church, is a historically African-American Christian denomination. It was officially formed in 1821, but operated for a number of years before then....

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Anglican 2,323,100 1.5% Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

Mainline
Anglican Church in North America Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Adventist
Adventist
Adventism is a Christian movement which began in the 19th century, in the context of the Second Great Awakening revival in the United States. The name refers to belief in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It was started by William Miller, whose followers became known as Millerites...

2,203,600 1.4% Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Holiness
Holiness movement
The holiness movement refers to a set of beliefs and practices emerging from the Methodist Christian church in the mid 19th century. The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's doctrine of "Christian perfection" - the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin - and...

2,135,602 1.4% Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Nazarene
The Church of the Nazarene is an evangelical Christian denomination that emerged from the 19th century Holiness movement in North America with its members colloquially referred to as Nazarenes. It is the largest Wesleyan-holiness denomination in the world. At the end of 2010, the Church of the...

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Other Groups 1,366,678 0.9% Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren
The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination originating from the Schwarzenau Brethren organized in 1708 by eight persons led by Alexander Mack, in Schwarzenau, Bad Berleburg, Germany. The Brethren movement began as a melding of Radical Pietist and Anabaptist ideas during the...

Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

Friends General Conference
Friends General Conference
Friends General Conference is a North American Quaker organization primarily serving the Quaker yearly and monthly meetings in the United States and Canada that choose to be members...

Mainline

Evangelicalism



Evangelicalism is a Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 movement in most adherents consider its key characteristics to be: a belief in the need for personal conversion (or being "born again"); some expression of the gospel in effort; a high regard for Biblical authority
Biblical authority
The term biblical authority refers to the extent to which propositions within the Old and New Testament scriptures are authoritative over human belief and conduct, as well as the extent to which their propositions are accurate in matters of history and science...

; and an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus
Death and Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

. David Bebbington
David Bebbington
David W. Bebbington , is professor of history at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. An undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge , Bebbington began his doctoral studies there before becoming a research fellow of Fitzwilliam College...

 has termed these four distinctive aspects conversionism
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

,
activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism, saying, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism."

Note that the term "Evangelical" does not equal Fundamentalist Christianity
Fundamentalist Christianity
Christian fundamentalism, also known as Fundamentalist Christianity, or Fundamentalism, arose out of British and American Protestantism in the late 19th century and early 20th century among evangelical Christians...

, although the latter is sometimes regarded simply as the most theologically conservative subset of the former. The major differences largely hinge upon views of how to regard and approach scripture ("Theology of Scripture"), as well as construing its broader world-view implications. While most conservative Evangelicals believe the label has broadened too much beyond its more limiting traditional distinctives, this trend is nonetheless strong enough to create significant ambiguity in the term. As a result, the dichotomy between "evangelical" vs. "mainline" denominations is increasingly complex (particularly with such innovations as the "Emergent Church" movement).

The contemporary North American usage of the term is influenced by the evangelical/fundamentalist controversy of the early 20th century. Evangelicalism may sometimes be perceived as the middle ground between the theological liberalism
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

of the Mainline (Protestant) denominations and the cultural separatism of Fundamentalist Christianity
Fundamentalist Christianity
Christian fundamentalism, also known as Fundamentalist Christianity, or Fundamentalism, arose out of British and American Protestantism in the late 19th century and early 20th century among evangelical Christians...

. Evangelicalism has therefore been described as "the third of the leading strands in American Protestantism, straddl[ing] the divide between fundamentalists and liberals." While the North American perception is important to understand the usage of the term, it by no means dominates a wider global view, where the fundamentalist debate was not so influential.

Evangelicals held the view that the modernist and liberal parties in the Protestant churches had surrendered their heritage as Evangelicals by accommodating the views and values of the world
World (theology)
-Christian views on the World:In Christianity, the concept connotes the fallen and corrupt world order of human society. The world is frequently cited alongside the flesh and the Devil as a source of temptation that Christians should flee...

. At the same time, they criticized their fellow Fundamentalists for their separatism and their rejection of the Social Gospel
Social Gospel
The Social Gospel movement is a Protestant Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the early 20th century United States and Canada...

 as it had been developed by Protestant activists of the previous century. They charged the modernists with having lost their identity as Evangelicals and the Fundamentalists with having lost the Christ-like heart of Evangelicalism. They argued that the Gospel needed to be reasserted to distinguish it from the innovations of the liberals and the fundamentalists.

They sought allies in denominational churches and liturgical traditions, disregarding views of eschatology and other "non-essentials," and joined also with Trinitarian varieties of Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism
Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

. They believed that in doing so, they were simply re-acquainting Protestantism with its own recent tradition. The movement's aim at the outset was to reclaim the Evangelical heritage in their respective churches, not to begin something new; and for this reason, following their separation from Fundamentalists, the same movement has been better known merely as "Evangelicalism." By the end of the 20th century, this was the most influential development in American Protestant Christianity.

The National Association of Evangelicals
National Association of Evangelicals
The National Association of Evangelicals is a fellowship of member denominations, churches, organizations, and individuals. Its goal is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelicals in the United States. Today it works in four main areas: Church & Faith Partners, Government Relations,...

 is a U.S. agency which coordinates cooperative ministry for its member denominations.

Mainline Protestantism



The mainline or mainline Protestant Christian denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

s are those Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 denominations that were brought to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by its historic immigrant groups; for this reason they are sometimes referred to as heritage churches.
The largest are the Episcopal (English), Presbyterian (Scottish), Methodist (English and Welsh), and Lutheran (German and Scandinavian) churches.

Many mainline denominations teach that the Bible is God's word in function, but tend to be open to new ideas and societal changes. They have been increasingly open to the ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

.
Mainline churches tend to belong to organizations such as the National Council of Churches
National Council of Churches
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is an ecumenical partnership of 37 Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, and historic peace...

 and World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

.

Baptists


Today, with 16.3 million adherents (5.3% of the total population), the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 is the largest Protestant denomination.

Baptists have been present in the part of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 that is now the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 since the early 17th century. Both Roger Williams
Roger Williams (theologian)
Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America,...

 and Dr. John Clarke
John Clarke (1609-1676)
John Clarke was a medical doctor, Baptist minister, co-founder of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, author of its influential charter, and a leading advocate of religious freedom in the Americas....

, his compatriot in working for religious freedom, are credited with founding the Baptist faith in North America. In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is the capital and most populous city of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region...

 and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

. According to a Baptist historian who has researched the matter extensively, "There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of 'first' Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking." Baptist churches exist in each of the United States today. It is estimated that more than 70% of all Baptists worldwide reside in the United States.

Though each Baptist church is autonomous, Baptists have traditionally organized into associations of like-minded churches for mutual edification, consultation, and ministerial support. The constituency of these associations is based on geographical and doctrinal criteria. Many such associations of Baptist churches have developed in the United States since Baptists first came to the continent.

Until the early 19th century these Baptist associations tended to center around a local or regional area where the constituent churches could conveniently meet. However, beginning with the spread of the Philadelphia Baptist Association beyond its original bounds and the rise of the modern missions movement, Baptists began to move towards developing national associations. The first national association was the Triennial Convention
Triennial Convention
The Triennial Convention, founded in 1814, was the first national Baptist denomination in the United States of America. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it was formed to advance missionary work...

, founded in the early 19th century, which met every three years. The Triennial Convention was a loose organization with the purpose of raising funds for various independent benevolent, educational and mission societies. Over the years, other nationwide Baptist associations have originated as divisions from these two major groups. There are a few smaller associations that have never identified with any of the national organizations, as well as many Independent Baptist churches that are not part of any organization, local or national.
  • Southern Baptist Convention
    Southern Baptist Convention
    The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

    , Evangelical
  • National Baptist Convention
    National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
    The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. is the largest predominantly African-American Christian denomination in the United States and is the world's second largest Baptist denomination...

    , Evangelical
  • American Baptist Churches USA
    American Baptist Churches USA
    The American Baptist Churches USA is a Baptist Christian denomination within the United States. The denomination maintains headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The organization is usually considered mainline, although varying theological and mission emphases may be found among its...

    , Mainline

Lutheranism


With 4.7 million members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

 (ELCA) is the largest American Lutheran denomination, followed by the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS) with 2.4 million members, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is a North American Confessional Lutheran denomination of Christianity. Characterized as theologically conservative, it was founded in 1850 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As of 2008, it had a baptized membership of over 389,364 in more than 1,290 congregations,...

 (WELS) with 410,000 members. The differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

 (ELCA) and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) largely arise from historical and cultural factors, although some are theological in character. The ELCA tends to be more involved in ecumenical endeavors than the LCMS.

When Lutherans came to North America, they started church bodies that reflected, to some degree, the churches left behind. Many maintained until the early 20th century their immigrant languages. They sought pastors from the "old country" until patterns for the education of clergy could be developed in America. Eventually, seminaries and church colleges were established in many places to serve the Lutheran churches in North America and, initially, especially to prepare pastors to serve congregations.

The LCMS sprang from German immigrants fleeing the forced Prussian Union
Prussian Union (Evangelical Christian Church)
The Prussian Union was the merger of the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Prussia, by a series of decrees – among them the Unionsurkunde – by King Frederick William III...

, who settled in the St. Louis area and has a continuous history since it was established in 1847. The LCMS is the second largest Lutheran church body in North America (2.7 million). It identifies itself as a church with an emphasis on biblical doctrine and faithful adherence to the historic Lutheran confessions. Insistence by some LCMS leaders on a strict reading of all passages of Scripture led to a rupture in the mid-1970s, which in turn resulted in the formation of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, now part of the ELCA.

Although its strongly conservative views on theology and ethics might seem to make the LCMS politically compatible with otherEvangelicals
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 in the U.S., the LCMS as an organization largely eschews political activity, partly out of its strict understanding of the Lutheran distinction between the Two Kingdoms
Doctrine of the two kingdoms
Martin Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms of God teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world and that he rules in two ways....

. It does, however, encourage its members to be politically active, and LCMS members are often involved in political organizations such as Lutherans for Life.

The earliest predecessor synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was constituted on August 25, 1748, in Philadelphia. It was known as the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States. The ELCA is the product of a series of mergers and represents the largest (4.7 million member) Lutheran church body in North America. The ELCA was created in 1988 by the uniting of the 2.85 million member Lutheran Church in America
Lutheran Church in America
The Lutheran Church in America was a U.S. and Canadian Lutheran church body that existed from 1962 to 1987. It was headquartered in New York City and its publishing house was Fortress Press....

, 2.25 million member American Lutheran Church
American Lutheran Church
The American Lutheran Church was a Christian Protestant denomination in the United States that existed from 1960 to 1987. Its headquarters was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Upon its formation in 1960, the ALC designated Augsburg Publishing House , also located in Minneapolis, as the church publisher...

, and the 100,000 member Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches
Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches
The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches was a U.S. church body that existed from 1976 through the end of 1987. The AELC formed when approximately 250 dissident congregations withdrew from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in 1976, and ended as an independent body when it became part...

. The ALC and LCA had come into being in the early 1960s, as a result of mergers of eight smaller ethnically-based Lutheran bodies.

The ELCA, through predecessor church bodies, is a founding member of the Lutheran World Federation
Lutheran World Federation
The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of national and regional Lutheran churches headquartered in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The federation was founded in the Swedish city of Lund in the aftermath of the Second World War in 1947 to coordinate the activities of the...

, World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 and the National Council of Churches USA
National Council of Churches
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA is an ecumenical partnership of 37 Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, and historic peace...

. The LCMS, maintaining its position as a confessional church body emphasizing the importance of full agreement in the teachings of the Bible, does not belong to any of these. However, it is a member of the International Lutheran Council
International Lutheran Council
The International Lutheran Council is a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran denominations. It is to be distinguished from the larger Lutheran World Federation, which is an association of the more theologically moderate to liberal Lutheran churches, all of which are in full communion with...

, made up of over 30 Lutheran Churches worldwide that support the confessional doctrines of the Bible and the Book of Concord.

Presbyterianism


  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
    The Presbyterian Church , or PC, is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. Part of the Reformed tradition, it is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S...

    , Mainline
  • Presbyterian Church in America
    Presbyterian Church in America
    The Presbyterian Church in America is an evangelical Protestant Christian denomination, the second largest Presbyterian church body in the United States after the Presbyterian Church . The PCA professes a strong commitment to evangelism, missionary work, and Christian education...

     Evangelical

Pentecostalism


Pentecostalism is a renewalist religious movement within Protestantism, that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

, a Greek term describing the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 and Pentecostals tend to see their movement as reflecting the same kind of spiritual power, worship styles and teachings that were found in the early church.

Pentecostalism is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of different theological and organizational perspectives. As a result, there is no single central organization or church that directs the movement. Most Pentecostals consider themselves to be part of broader Christian groups; for example, most Pentecostals identify as Protestants. Many embrace the termEvangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

, while others prefer Restorationist. Pentecostalism is theologically and historically close to the Charismatic Movement
Charismatic movement
The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt...

, as it significantly influenced that movement; some Pentecostals use the two terms interchangeably.

Within classical Pentecostalism there are three major orientations: Wesleyan
Wesleyanism
Wesleyanism or Wesleyan theology refers, respectively, to either the eponymous movement of Protestant Christians who have historically sought to follow the methods or theology of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers, John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley, or to the likewise eponymous...

-Holiness
Holiness movement
The holiness movement refers to a set of beliefs and practices emerging from the Methodist Christian church in the mid 19th century. The movement is distinguished by its emphasis on John Wesley's doctrine of "Christian perfection" - the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin - and...

, Higher Life
Higher Life movement
The Higher Life movement was a movement devoted to Christian holiness in England. Its name comes from a book by William Boardman, entitled The Higher Christian Life, which was published in 1858...

, and Oneness. Examples of Wesleyan-Holiness denominations include the Church of God in Christ
Church of God in Christ
The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. With nearly five million members in the United States and 12,000 congregations, it is the largest Pentecostal church and the fifth largest Christian church in the U.S....

 (COGIC) and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church
International Pentecostal Holiness Church
The International Pentecostal Holiness Church or simply Pentecostal Holiness Church is a Pentecostal Christian denomination founded in 1911 with the merger of two older denominations. Traditionally centered in the Southeastern United States, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia, the Pentecostal...

 (IPHC). The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, commonly referred to as the Foursquare Church, is an evangelical Pentecostal Christian denomination. As of 2000 it had a worldwide membership of over 8,000,000, with almost 60,000 churches in 144 countries. In 2006, membership in the United States...

 is an example of the Higher Life branch, while the Assemblies of God (AG) was influenced by both groups. Some Oneness Pentecostal (Nontrinitarian) churches include the United Pentecostal Church International
United Pentecostal Church International
The United Pentecostal Church International is a Pentecostal Christian denomination, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. It is a part of the Oneness or "Apostolic" portion of the Pentecostal Movement, and was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church,...

 (UPCI) and Pentecostal Assemblies of the World
Pentecostal Assemblies of the World
The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World is a Pentecostal Christian denomination. Founded in 1914, it is one of the oldest Oneness Pentecostal organizations in existence. Headquarters are in Indianapolis, Indiana, and The Christian Outlook is the church's official publication...

 (PAW). Many Pentecostal sects are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Conference
Pentecostal World Conference
The Pentecostal World Conference or Pentecostal World Fellowship is a fellowship of Pentecostal believers and denominations from across the world....

.
  • Assemblies of God, Evangelical

Black church


The term "black church" or "African-American church" refers to Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 churches that minister to predominantly African-American congregations in the United States. While some black churches, such as African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Churches
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church, is a predominantly African American Methodist denomination based in the United States. It was founded by the Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the...

, belong to predominantly African-American denomination
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

s, many black churches are members of predominantly white
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

 denominations, such as the United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination primarily in the Reformed tradition but also historically influenced by Lutheranism. The Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957 to form the UCC...

 (which developed from the Congregational Church of New England.)

The first black congregations and churches were formed before 1800 by free blacks - for example, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

;Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg is an independent city in Virginia, United States located on the Appomattox River and south of the state capital city of Richmond. The city's population was 32,420 as of 2010, predominantly of African-American ethnicity...

; and Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

. An industrial city which had attracted workers, Petersburg had the largest concentration of free blacks in the South by 1860.

After slavery was abolished, freed blacks continued to establish separate congregations and church facilities, creating communities and worship in culturally distinct ways. They had already created a unique and empowering form of Christianity that creolized African spiritual traditions. In addition, segregationist attitudes in both the North and the South discouraged and, especially in the South, prevented African-Americans from worshiping in the same churches as whites.

The tradition of African-Americans worshipping together continued to develop during the late 19th century and continues to this day despite the decline of segregationist attitudes and the general acceptability of integrated worship. African American churches have long been the centers of communities, serving as school sites in the early years after the Civil War, taking up social welfare functions, such as providing for the indigent, and going on to establish schools, orphanages and prison ministries. As a result, black churches have fostered strong community organizations and provided spiritual and political leadership, especially during the civil rights movement.

Restorationist


Restorationism, sometimes called Christian primitivism, refers to the belief held by various religious movements that pristine or original Christianity or the Christianity of the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, should be restored, while usually claiming to be the source of that restoration. Such groups teach that this is necessary because Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians introduced defects into Christian faith and practice, or have lost a vital element of genuine Christianity, generally referred to as the Great Apostasy
Great Apostasy
The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to describe a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Papacy, because it allowed the traditional Roman mysteries and deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus and idol worship back into the church,...

. Many of them are Nontrinitarian, that is they reject the Trinity and/or the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. For some of these groups, especially among other Christians, there is no consensus on whether they should be considered Christian or not.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 is Restorationist and the fourth largest church in the USA
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership statistics (United States)
This page shows membership statistics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints within the United States.* Official LDS Membership - Membership count on record provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

. The LDS Church teaches that it is a restoration of the only true and authorized Christian church. Significant differences relate to the church's acceptance of additional doctrine, practices, and scripture (such as the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

) beyond what is found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. The LDS Church rejects the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 and the predominant Christian view of the God as a Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 of three separate persons with one substance
Homoousian
Homoousian is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God...

. LDS theology recognizes a Godhead composed of three separate persons who share unity of purpose, but they are viewed as three distinct beings making one Godhead.

Another major Restorationist religion is that of the Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

. It is estimated that in the US, 1.9 million adults identify themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses. The Jehovah's Witnesses also reject the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

, predominant Christian views on the divinity of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, and God as a Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

.

Restorationism can be contrasted and compared with the Restoration Movement
Restoration Movement
The Restoration Movement is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century...

, that also originated and grew rapidly in the 19th century in the wake of the Second Great Awakening, but that is made up now of Evangelical and Mainline denominations.

See also


  • History of Protestantism in the United States
    History of Protestantism in the United States
    Christianity was introduced to North America as it was colonized by Europeans beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish, French and some British colonists brought Roman Catholicism to the colonies of New Spain, New France and Maryland respectively...

  • History of religion in the United States
  • Religion in the United States
    Religion in the United States
    Religion in the United States is characterized by both a wide diversity in religious beliefs and practices, and by a high adherence level. According to recent surveys, 83 percent of Americans claim to belong to a religious denomination, 40 percent claim to attend services nearly every week or...

  • Demographics of the United States
    Demographics of the United States
    As of today's date, the United States has a total resident population of , making it the third most populous country in the world. It is a very urbanized population, with 82% residing in cities and suburbs as of 2008 . This leaves vast expanses of the country nearly uninhabited...

  • Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches
    Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches
    First published as the Federal Council Year Book in 1916, The Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches is a comprehensive descriptive and statistical listing of major religious bodies and other important religion-related organizations in the U.S. and Canada. The Yearbook contains descriptive...


External links