WE ARE THE NEW SPIRITUALISTS’ SOCIETY CHURCH! Just like Methodists, Baptists and other denominations of Christianity, we are Spiritualists. It was mooted at a meeting of bishops, archbishops and interested laypeople in England before the last World War that there might be another [Christian] Church formed by Spiritualists in the future…
There always have been Spiritualists who consider themselves to be basically Christian anyway – and as the established religion in the country is the Church of England with 1,091,484 of its inhabitants recorded as attending one of its 16,000 churches every week in 2011, and over two and a half million going to its Christmas Services – that in itself is unsurprising.
It’s also no surprise that there have been many independent Spiritualist churches that have been set up over the years that either mention the word ‘Christian’ in their title or are similar in their services to those in both the Church of England in some respects and those that are non-denominational congregations. Then there is ‘The Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association’ – was ‘League’ and the ‘White Eagle Lodge’ who are markedly Christian although the latter less overtly than the former.
The other large and similarly old established administrative body with around 2,000 individual direct subscription paying members and an indirect membership through their affiliated church membership’s own annual paid-up list of their own members, is an overtly non-Christian, or come to that non-any other religion, Spiritualist organisation called the Spiritualists’ National Union or SNU. This bears a distinct resemblance to the National Association of Spiritualist Churches in the United States with its claim to be a stand-alone religion and heavily bureaucratic structure of presidents, committees and ministers.
It was granted a charter under the United States freedom of worship legislation as a religion. There are also many other Christian Spiritualist religious groups and organisations that are less emphatically marketed…The divisions between all these go largely unremarked although there has been a continuous dissension as there has been in the UK. There are nearly two hundred million people who call themselves Christian who belong to the many different denominations in the USA.
Throughout the time that Spiritualism as an option has been in existence in England it has been riven by internecine arguments that have occasionally attempted to find resolution by the establishing of ‘Councils of Spiritualists’ that have been convened to bring together all the variously constituted major Spiritualist groups with best intentions, but have all foundered within a short space of time.
There is said to be that world-wide there are 38,000 Christian denominations, 38,000 different sets of people/churches who have their own definitions of Christianity. 38,000 who have at least one factor in common, that they accept the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, the designation Christ being the shortened version of the Latin Christianus and Greek Christianos, meaning the anointed one, from which their very name emanates.
The first use of the appellation Christian was recorded by Paul in the Bible in Acts 11:26 and Chapter 26:28, and in 1 Peter Chapter 4:16. In fact the followers of the spiritual way espoused by Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) were called Nazarenes and Jesus himself Nazoraean for many years. In the Arabic language Christians are called Nasrani, basically if they hail from a Christian culture in general, or Masihi if known or assumed to be of the Christian faith. In Hebrew Messianic Jews who do not call themselves Christians are called Meshihi’im. Christians are still called Notzrim by today’s Israelites – meaning Nazarenes.
As for the numbers of Christians currently on the planet, there are hundreds of millions. Huge percentages of the populations of the North and South Americas, Europe, Australia, some African countries and Asia’s China and the Philippines are followers of Jesus Christ. These all make up the many and various versions manifest in that aforementioned figure of 38,000 different sects within that following.
There is a simple definition of religious belief in what is called Christianity. Past the obvious avowel to follow the lead and example of Jesus – the anointed one of the Lord as the Christ – we come to the pronouncements and apparently authoritative statements as to what constitutes the practice of actually being recognised as a Christian, and within which faction, for factions there are.
A major problem is that some of those factions, large in number or small, are wedded to the interpretation of some passages within the canon of books that comprise together the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. These have given rise to not only schisms in the Christian Church itself, but has led to persecution of other Christian factions, and indeed perhaps even more seriously of followers of other faiths.
There is evidence that there were written texts circulating among those early Christians and their churches from AD50 to 150. These were collections of teachings, epistles and memoirs – some attributable to the actual apostles – homilies and the Gospels as we know them. Justin Martyr writing in the period AD143 to 163 refers to the memoirs of the apostles (gospels) and Paul’s letters to the churches: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossaeans, 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, Titus and 1Timothy…And gives an account of Jesus’ baptism by his cousin John: ‘When Jesus went down in the water – fire was kindled in the Jordan and when he came up from the water the Holy Spirit was upon him. The apostles of our Christ wrote this.’
Iranaeus who was connected to Polycarp thus to John so we can assume an authority, said that the Four Gospels instituted the Four Pillars of the Church. All the evidence points to the New Testament existing as a canon of books by 200AD/CE.
As for the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and other councils of the priesthood of certain sections of Christianity, they were concerned with administration and emplacing rules of religious observation orders of services and much else besides – including excommunications for transgressing their edicts, dogma and doctrine.There are no records of much discussion of the contents of the Bible.
At the Synod in Laodicea in 363 it was decided on which books should be read in churches. 22 Old Testament and 26 books of the New omitting Revelation.
It is more than possible to follow the original spiritual way, as it was originally called, revealed by Jesus as a Spiritualist. It would seem harder to deny his simple philosophy than to declare an acceptance. And if that translates to Christian then that would appear to be that.
As for those who would impose their rules and regulations echoing those ancient councils and synods ad nauseam, let us leave them to ponder in their own complexities while we move on.
We shall be that ‘new Church’ contemplated in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s committee on Spiritualism back in 1939. We are the New Spiritualists’ Society, the Spiritualist Church, a Christian denomination. You are invited to consider and discuss all the previous points with friends in love and fellowship.