Who are the Mainline Protestant churches?

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    Andres Ortiz

    Right now I am taking a class on the influence of religion in public life in the United States and it is a really interesting class – it is [b:23rrtmct]by far[/b:23rrtmct] my favorite this semester.

    Anyway, we were talking about where the term “mainline” came from as in the mainline Protestant churches. I guess it came from a rail network in Philadelphia that is called Mainline that went from downtown to all of the suburbs. On this Mainline route in the suburbs there were a bunch of churches.

    The following churches are part of that Mainline group:
    American Baptist Churches
    Episcopal Church
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Presbyterian Church (USA)
    United Church of Christ
    United Methodist Church
    I think the term “mainline” has new connotations for today and includes a lot of the Evangelical churches.

    It’s so interesting where we get some of our terms or lingo from.



    I found this forum while searching for Google for info (actually, I was looking for a listing of which denominations are considered mainline). Sorry if I’m replying to a topic that is over a month old.

    Anyways, this is what I can say about divisions of Protestantism as covered in social science research. Keep in mind that social science definitions of what a person’s religion is depends on how the person self-identifies. Theologically, some religious groups will be more exclusive. Orthodox Jews won’t necessarily believe that practitioners of Reform Judaism are all Jews, for example.

    In the beginning of survey research, Christians were generally divided into Catholics and Protestants (and other). Over time, social scientists have divided Protestants into mainline and evangelical. In papers and books from the past ten years or so, I’ve noticed a new trend of separating out a third group of Protestants: charismatic Christians.

    Generally, the mainline churches are Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, American Baptist, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ. The stereotype is that they are denominations that were mostly strong during the birth of the nation. They are often described as liberal and, politically, their members are left-of-center. (Evangelical Christians are decidedly right-of-center and Catholics are somewhere in the middle.)


    Andres Ortiz

    Welcome to the board, Phaedrus! <img src=” title=”Smile” />

    It’s no problem if you respond to a topic that’s over a month old, we don’t mind here. <img src=” title=”Wink” />

    It’s nice that you provided that extra information. I learned most of that in my class that I took too. Do you study sociology?

    I wasn’t aware of the third group about charismatic Christians, but we did talk a bit about charisma and charismatic leaders.



    I majored in political science and my main area of interest in college was the political behavior of American Catholics. To do a reasonable job of that, I had to spend time learning about the sociology of religion.

    There have always been charismatics, I think it has only been recently that the group has been growing to a size large enough from which to draw statistically significant conclusions.


    Andres Ortiz

    So why American Catholics? Are you Catholic? (it’s ok, if you’re not or if you decline to answer).

    So what kinds of trends have you found in American Catholic voting? Have you published any studies?



    Regarding the topic, I thought I heard of a trend of the rapid decline of the Mainline churches and a boost in Catholic Churches (and I don’t mean that Catholics are having more children than Protestants <img src=” title=”Wink” /> ). Is this true?


    Andres Ortiz

    It’s possible. What I heard (not to say you heard anything wrong, I just heard something different) is that there was a return to the traditional churches instead of the flighty Evangelical and Baptist churches.

    So basically people were returning to the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Methodist Churches.



    I just thought of my sister, who is ordained (she’s a hospital chaplain) and attends a Southern Baptist church. She’d be pretty indignant that you don’t consider them, “Mainline.”


    Andres Ortiz

    Well, that’s just what I leanred on class. I don’t think her church fits the original definition. <img src=” title=”Wink” />


    So what kind of group would a Charismatic Christian church be?



    this one is easy — usually, they are not mainline, although there has been charismatic outbreaks in mainline churches. Usually, someone decides to become a preacher without bothering with anything like denominational affiliation or that pesky old m.div. in a seminary (they make you study Greek!!! Yikes!), or they want to show up the dry mainline churches.

    Usually the next step is to approach a Holiday Inn or similar for use of a room…


    Andres Ortiz

    [quote:1l9xvndb] although there has been charismatic outbreaks in mainline churches.[/quote:1l9xvndb]
    There are charismatic outbreaks in the Catholic Church too!


    [quote:1trud5nh][quote:1trud5nh] although there has been charismatic outbreaks in mainline churches.[/quote:1trud5nh]
    There are charismatic outbreaks in the Catholic Church too![/quote:1trud5nh]
    And weren’t there several charismatic outbreaks in the Catholic Church [i:1trud5nh]leading[/i:1trud5nh] to Protestant churches?


    Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
    Charismatic Renewal is one of the best thing that ever happened in the Catholic church. I was one of those Catholic’s that ignorant about the early church history. The Protestant embrassed this Culture of Worship & Praising. Even Pope John Paul ll recognized the example of this movement. My Catholic faith was renewed because of the Charismatic Movements. Many Catholics welcome the idea but as soon as they get what they need like “Evangelization Retreat”, they turn their back on many good people and disbandit the Charismatic. I have seen many Catholics are dishonest & not sincer. Today, there are many Charismatic Movement around the world and they are bringing many former Catholics and Non Catholics back to the Mother Church. It is ashamed that in the City & State I live, Charismatic Renewal died 10 years ago. Just before I can reach them, this is due to some Catholics do not like the idea. I met so many good people that was once Catholic/Charismatic Renewal & now belong to Non denomination Chrisitian Church and this is what they shared to me why the charismatic renewal fade away years ago.
    God Bless :cry:



    Risktaker, your zeal for the charasmatic movement is to be applauded. I am from southern California and have also seen this movement rush through the Hispanic community. Being Mexican-American myself, I jumped on the band wagon and started to shout, move, and boogie for Christ. I did this in a Hispanic Pentecostal church. I am now Catholic after years of struggles and reading. Although I enjoyed the movement I also enjoy kneeling before the Eucharist without a peep near by. Just me and my Lord. The point being that both styles of worship are ok as long as you have the correct doctrines and sacraments to accompany it. Some Catholics like it quite and traditional, while others like the more social and verbal type.

    In Christ
    ~Victor Mesina



    AS a good old fashioned Protestant, I run the other way when I’m approached by anybody with Charismatic leanings. I can’t speak for the Roman church, but, in the evangelical community, it gave rise to great error. I’d give more time to a Mormon. Sorry!


    Andres Ortiz

    [quote:1zhhnblt]I can’t speak for the Roman church, but, in the evangelical community, it gave rise to great error.[/quote:1zhhnblt]
    The Catholic Church has more checks and balances in terms of keeping doctrine in line and proper. We do not choose our own pastor and people are not allowed to start their own parish with different ideals and the like. In fact, I think the charismatic renewal in the Church is quite conservative and deeply interested in preserving the Catholic elements of faith.



    Happy Easter everyone! Christ is Risen! Yesterday, at the Easter Vigil, I was fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Church!

    The mainline churches are those who broke off of the Roman Catholic Church but still maintained some of the elements of the Mother Church. But a lot of these break-offs are break-offs of break-offs… hope I’m not confussing anyone.

    From RCC — Church of England (Episcopal)

    From Church of England –> Methodist

    From Church of England/Scotland–> Presbyterian

    From RCC — Lutheran

    From ?? — Church of Christ

    But I don’t think that the Baptists actually broke away from the Catholic Church though right?

    Baptist –> Evangelical –> House Churches?

    Maybe I’m totally wrong, but it seems that the Protestant churches collectively continue to break from each other when someone feels the doctrine is not right in their own mind.

    We, must as Catholics, believe what the Church teaches us because it is the same Faith that has been handed down from the Apostles. We don’t have the freedom to choose what we believe because we hold fast to the truth.



    This is what a nominally Jewish friend of mine called the Baptist Church when he was trying to map out the religious chaos that is his family. You gotta admire his sincere and loving error!

    I come from a Southern Baptist home, and suffered a slight fall from grace when I joined the Presbyterian church. I’m not sure about the history of the Baptists, frankly. They do sum up a lot of the negative opinions I hold about Protestant churches! No one will split as fast as a Baptist congregation, in my experience.

    I just finished reading, HOW THE REFORMATION HAPPENED, by Belloc, and I have to admit that the “every man his own Pope” thinking of the non-Catholic churches has led to a startling propensity to disunite.

    My own church — meaning my particular local congregation — is to celebrate its ninetieth birthday next Sunday, and there is talk of a church split simmering quietly in the background. This is because authority is derived from a democratic process, so, if a minority of a congregation believes, oh, say, that homosexual marriage is wrong, they can be voted down. The only choice you have in a democracy is to go form your own democracy. It’s how the Holiday Inns get their conference rooms filled on Sunday mornings, apparently…

    Doctrinally, in the sense of personal belief and practice, I lean toward the Catholic. I would likely be in RCIA right now if it weren’t for the promise of disowning by my mother and a wife that can’t understand the worship-of-Mary thing.

    That aside, I will look around and see what history of the Baptist church I can find, if that is of interest. However, I don’t think that “house churches” are directly out of the Baptist tradition. It is more complicated than that. It comes from the Pentecostal beginnings in the early 20th century, I would think.

    Oh, and don’t get your backs up — I know Catholics don’t worship Mary. But you should try explaining that in the South.

    Happy Easter to you all.


    Andres Ortiz

    When researching the history of Baptists look up the Anabaptists. Also, there is some fake stuff out there about how the Baptists have been around since the birth of Christianity but were an underground movement. I’ve found some pretty whacko things on the net in regard to religious histories.

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