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Rev J. Lozano wrote:

Hi guys,

  • I'm a (AME) African Methodist Episcopal Minister and would like to know what the difference is between the Catholic denomination and the AME?
  • What is the difference between the Catholic Bible and the King James Bible?
  • How are they similar and different?

Thank you in advance for your answers.

Rev J. Lozano

  { What are the differences between the Catholic and (AME) African Methodist Episcopal Churches? }

Richard replied:

Dear Pastor Lozano —

Thanks for writing. Of course there are differences between the Catholic Church and various other churches and Christian communities, but what we have in common is more central, and thinking about that can help put the differences in perspective.

While I know the basics of how the AME Church arose from the Methodist movement, there are some things I'm not really sure about, so maybe you can fill us in.

Maybe we can get around to talking about the four great areas of Christian life:

  1. doctrine
  2. worship
  3. morality, and
  4. prayer

and talk about some things that are common or distinct in each part. That four-way breakdown is a classic idea: it's the way that catechisms are traditionally structured.

Oh — speaking of catechisms, probably the best reference book around on Catholic teaching is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. It's published on the internet at various places; you might look around, because some web sites have better search engines than others.

There's a full-length version and a shorter "compendium" version at the official Vatican web site:

I came to the Catholic faith after spending my student years in a Baptist church, so I still appreciate an "outsider's" perspective.

The central doctrines we hold about God are what you can find in the Nicene Creed. I assume that is part of your church's faith tradition as well.

I could be wrong about that; I understand that some Christian bodies don't hold any official creeds to present their understanding of divine revelation.

How about taking a minute to look over that creed page, and maybe it'll spark some questions.
In the meantime, perhaps I can do best by giving my personal understanding of what makes the Catholic vision distinctive.

As you probably have experienced, unbelievers sometimes look at Christianity and they meet the "scandal of particularity" — they ask,

  • How can we say that *this* man, *this* teaching, and *this* event is where God revealed Himself?
  • How can we say that these particular things are decisive for our salvation?

Well, the Catholic Church holds to that "particularity", that concreteness, very firmly. The Church tends to put great emphasis on "the Word became flesh". Many things about our relationship with God become concrete and tangible in Catholic life.

We emphasize Christ's Incarnation and Birth as salvation events as prominent as the Cross and Resurrection. We hold firmly that the salvation won for us is not a mere say-so by God the Father (as in some erroneous interpretations of justification), but was gained for us precisely because Christ became truly human, having a human body; by this He became the mediator of God and man.

The early Church spent centuries clarifying what it knew about the humanity and divinity of Christ — in response to the early heretics who denied that "Christ has come in the flesh". (1 John 4:2-3) Our worship has concreteness too: it is not only teaching, but is full of bodily worship, with:

  • song
  • incense
  • processions, and
  • gestures.

That particularity is also found in our understanding of what the Church is: we believe that Christ left us not an invisible, unstructured, church-community, but a real, visible, tangible fellowship of believers who live out their oneness in faith and love every day. It reaches its summit in sharing the Eucharist.

The Eucharist brings my thoughts to all the Sacraments, the concrete, bodily ways that God gives himself to us:

  • Baptism
  • the Eucharist
  • Confession
  • Marriage
  • Confirmation
  • Ordination, and
  • the Anointing of the Sick.

Just as salvation came to man through the body of Jesus, He continues to sanctify, redeem, empower, and heal us through these bodily events of holiness.

Of course some of that vision, which I've described in my amateur-theologian way, is shared by non-Catholic communities such as the AME church, but of course there are differences as well.

  • Maybe we can go further from there?

— Richard Chonak

Fr. James Yeboah from Nigeria replied:

Dear Pastor Lozano —

Thanks for writing. The Roman Catholic Church is the single Christian body composed of Christians who acknowledge the Authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

The word comes from the Greek 'Katholikos' meaning Universal. It is the only Church which has unbroken Episcopal succession and power conferred by Christ on the twelve Apostles. It has since 1990 a population of 995.8 million.

It may interest you to know that we have also the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite, called the Syro-Malabar Rite and also the Eastern Orthodox Catholics.

The history of Protestantism and the African Episcopal Church: The 16th century revolution by Martin Luther met with the emergence of religious bodies under the theology of Protestantism, which is a term attached to all Christian churches that are not Roman Catholic, or are not part of the Eastern Christian Tradition with founders such as:

  • Luther
  • Zwingli
  • John Calvin
  • Henry VIII, and
  • movements like:
    • Pietism
    • Rationalism
    • Revivalism and
    • Methodist.

The Methodist church was founded in reaction against intellectualism and formalistic tendencies in Protestantism, and it led to Pietism in the 18th century. It also led towards emotional religious experience by John and Charles Wesley, who separated from the Anglican Church.

The African Episcopal Church however, is a religious body, Protestant in nature, founded by the Semi Freed Black Africans in the United States. After their freedom, they started to found their own social and religious institutions to improve the condition of their Race.

In the early 19th century, the Blacks in Philadelphia, under the leadership of one Richard Allen, therefore founded what became known as the African Episcopal Church, while those in New York formed the African Methodist Zion Church.

The Church derives its ministry-Liturgy and Doctrine from the Church of England, the Anglican Church and the Methodist Church. (cf. Encarta Encyclopedia)

— Fr. James

Mike replied:

Hi, Pastor Lozano--

You said:

  • What is the difference between the Catholic Bible and the King James Bible?
  • How are they similar and different?

A similar question we answered should cover everything:

May God bless your work in spreading the Good News of Our Lord Jesus.

Side note:

  • The Catholic Faith is not a denomination. It's the only Church Jesus established on
    St. Peter in 33 A.D. The word denomination comes from Latin for "to give a name to; denote; designate". In 1517, Catholics broke from Rome and started their own "man made" religious groups or denominations. They made up their own set of man-made beliefs. Some were Catholic Teachings, some were not.

  • The very sad thing about Protestant denominations is that when the reformers broke from Rome they changed the Rites for Holy Orders.

    • What does this mean?

    It means most Protestant denominations have invalid Holy Orders. There are only two ways I know to receive valid Holy Orders today:

    • within the Catholic Church and
    • within the Orthodox Churches.

Mike

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