For anyone wondering about the intended scope of this series, I would like to say from the outset that this series is beyond me, not only in wisdom and understanding but also in sheer size. What I hope to do -- and I hope you all will help me -- is map out the fault lines within Christianity. The primary goal is that we at least understand where the other person is coming from, whether we agree or not. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time will already know that I'm not consistently good at that.
When I start mapping out the fault lines within Christianity, in my mind I start in the early days, tracing back to the New Testament and just afterward. Do I count the Gnostics within the scope of this series? No; while the Gnostics are interesting in their own right, my thoughts about the Gnostics are mainly addressed in posts about whether the New Testament contains the best available material on the life and teachings of Jesus. So the controversies in this series will be the controversies among those who adhere to some form of apostolic Christianity -- acknowledging that the people who knew Jesus or knew the apostles are the best sources of information about them.
That much said, the early Christological controversies are still fair game. There are, to this day, non-Chalcedonian groups that have survived from the ancient times. (I'm hoping to make this year's entry into the Trinity Blogging Summit on one of these views.)
At the more recent end of the time scale, what about Mormons? Again, the question is interesting in its own right. For purposes of this series, since Mormons have additional canonical Scriptures that they consider to be on the same level as the New Testament writings, they aren't part of this particular series. That is not to ignore the Mormons; in fact I have a series on the Mormons (already written, but being saved for this summer when I know I'll be too busy at work to write much new material).
I haven't quite decided about the JW's yet, whether they're within the scope.
But the intent of this series is to look at all the groups that are Christian, and all the groups each one considers to be incorrect in their beliefs, and see what exactly is diving us.
Examples of broad families of beliefs:
Church of England / Episcopal
I don't mean to snub any group by not listing it separately. Take, for example, the Church of Christ or the 7th Day Adventists. They aren't listed above mainly because of their size; I'm not really going to list all 30,000+ groups in a blog post, and the sample groups listed above made the "examples" list because of either their commonness or their historical importance. But before the series is done I hope to have discussed some of the controversies that matter to them, too.
What I don't want to do is get into "Group A's laundry list of complaints against Group B". I want to keep it on the level of the controversies themselves, and steer as clear of partisanship and resentments as is possible considering the topics. Within those broad families of beliefs listed, there are internal controversies; many of those internal controversies are fairly repetitive, such as the creation / evolution controversy which has played itself out within each group in different ways. We've even seen modern groups of Christians form alliances and fellowship based on common ground on the liberal/conservative divide, without regard to the differences about understanding God.
Next post in the series will be on the controversies I have in mind to cover. I will need some help with the perspective on controversies where I don't understand how someone could hold one or more of the perspectives. For controversies where I don't get it, the posts will probably have a "Can somebody explain this to me?" approach.