Origination of One-God Belief Systems

All of the major modern religious systems that believe in a single God had a common origin. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all based on belief in "the God of Abraham". The following is a brief outline indicating the history and relationships. All of these believe in the same God, although they call Him God, Father or Allah, depending on whether they consider themselves Jewish, Christian or Muslim. They all recognize and revere the same Old Testament figures, including Adam, Abraham, Moses and many others.

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Such an outline as this certainly has inaccuracies in it. A great number of organizations listed as sub-categories are actually groups that broke away from the earlier group. Often that breakaway involved adding some beliefs from a different main group.

In addition, there are groups such as Baptists, whose beliefs include both Calvinist and Zwinglian ideas. Traditionally, they are considered an offshoot of the earlier Anabaptists, so they were put there in this outline.

There are also a great number of religious organizations that could not be included in this outline. Many were some original combinations of various existing beliefs, often with some new ones added in. The Quakers are an example of this, combining English Puritanism and Anabaptist traditions with new ideas such as an Inner Light.

Other organizations originated on the basis of some human prophet, such as the Mormons. Or they originated as a totally independent organization, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses or The Way International. Such organizations may or may not have based some or all of their beliefs on previously accepted beliefs. Such organizations generally seem to consider themselves as "islands" and do not generally acknowledge any relationship or similarity to any other organizations.

Finally, there are individual Churches whose names imply some combination of traditions and beliefs. I do not know if there is any Charismatic Lutheran Amish Church, but you get the idea. Such an individual Church could not be included in this outline.

In the United States, there are over 330,000 individual houses of worship. The vast majority of them worship the one same God, whether He be called God, Father or Allah. The general categories in the outline table above should give an overall view of the relationships between them. (Wherever available, the outline includes a date of organization and an approximate current number of followers).


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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