Global Gospel

An Introduction to Christianity on Five Continents

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2. Four Christian Traditions

Discussion Questions

  1. C. S. Lewis described “mere Christianity” in terms of the basic beliefs and moral commitments that he believed all Christians everywhere had always affirmed, including Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox Christians. (Since Lewis was generally unaware of Pentecostalism, it did not factor consciously into his thinking.) What beliefs and moral commitments would you include in a definition of “mere Christianity”?

  2. With how many different particular expressions of Christianity are you familiar? How would you describe each of them? Which Christian tradition seems the most normal to you? Which seems the most foreign?

  3. Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe in saints, people who have achieved moral and spiritual perfection while still living on earth. Most Protestants and Pentecostals do not believe anyone can become a saint in this sense while still alive. How morally and spiritually perfect do you think people can be (or should strive to become)?

  4. Catholic and Orthodox Christians show special respect to the Virgin Mary that most Protestants and Pentecostals do not. What do you know about Mary? What are your feelings about Mary? How important a place should Mary have in Christian faith?

  5. Orthodox Christians speak of salvation in terms of theosis or deification. How is this vision of salvation similar to or different from your own?

  6. Catholicism has a pope. Other Christian traditions do not. What are the strengths and weaknesses of recognizing one person as the universally accepted head of a Christian church? In addition to being the head of the Catholic Church, the pope is also the most visible Christian leader in the world. In what ways does the pope represent all of Christianity?

  7. Protestantism was originally based on the three principles of the Bible alone (sola scriptura), grace alone (sola gratia), and faith alone (sola fide). Do the same three principles still form the foundation of Protestantism today? Does anything else (in addition to faith, grace, and the Bible) play a significant role in Protestantism as you know it?

  8. Vocation plays a huge role in the Protestant understanding of the Christian life. To have a vocation is to have a calling in life, a special task or way of life that you feel God is directing you toward and that aligns with your own personal gifts and talents. How strong is your own sense of vocation? Do you feel called to any special kind of work or activity? Do only Protestants have vocations?

  9. Global Gospel argues that while Protestantism and Pentecostalism are similar in some ways, they are sufficiently different to be considered two separate (or separating) traditions. What do you think? How similar and or different do you think these two movements are?