I know there are many splinters of different churches after the reformation, some that seem to be different kinds of Christians and some that seem to be opposed to the previous Christians, while still taking the name ‘Christian’.

Of all these false splinters (as viewed by the originals) they also obviously disagree with each other on important matters, otherwise they would not be a separate group. The question ‘is there any unity or common reformed doctrines that they all deny?’ In other words are there some basic doctrines that the Protestants hold that separate them from what they would call ‘heretics’ without having to go into the details of each splinter groups favorite topics? A sort of short-cut if you will that groups them all together in a more direct fashion. Or are they holding a whole host of differences without a common root that makes it impossible to form such a simple grouping?

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    It is clear that, among what calls itself 'Christian' there is a real Church. It is for each of us to find that and to find their own place in the real Body of Christ under the real Headship of Jesus Christ. I suggest that the Westminster Confession is a statement that defines Protestantism (at a certain stage of its development) setting forth the 'basic doctrines' that separate Protestants from what Protestants would label 'heretics'. The Strict Baptists (1800s) and the Gospel Standards, are often overlooked, which is ill-judged as that movement was a significant development. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 4 at 12:07
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    @Mark. The way I understand your question the one common "denial" (in my opinion and experience) of groups who claim to be Christian is the denial of Jesus Christ being God. There are some who do believe He is God but they have what the Apostle Paul says is a "different Jesus and a different gospel. 1 Corinthians 11:9 and Galatians 1:6.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 4 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


There were common denials arising even before the end of the first century, and the Bible goes into those. As those denials have continued to this day, the authority of the Bible is foundational to answering this question.

Jesus warned that false 'Christs' and 'false prophets' would arise. One false doctrine would be their teaching that Christ's return had happened (Matthew 24:23-26). Even today, from the mid 1800s on till now, some groups teach that Christ's return has happened - invisibly. Another one is that the resurrection has already happened, confirmed by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:7-18, naming two men who had come into the congregation but whose heretical teaching spread like gangrene.

The strongest warning comes from the aged apostle John who also spoke of heresies going on even then:

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist... Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." 1 John vss. 7-11 A.V.

However, it's not simple, because one of the groups mentioned earlier expresses belief that Christ did come in the flesh. They are not of a Gnostic bent. Yet they fall down at the second hurdle of orthodoxy, that of sticking to the biblical gospel of Christ. Consider this warning Paul gave:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him... For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 & 13-15 A.V.

Already, it should be obvious that - despite those specific identifications of false doctrines - the subtle deceptions of the one at back of all heresies will succeed in getting them infiltrated into the Church of Christ, to rise up and elbow out (as it were) those holding fast to the biblical gospel of Christ. They will eventually take over in some places, so that those who are faithful to the word of God will find no place any more with them in control. That is where we are at today, after nearly 200 years (in the West) of tolerating slight deviations from God's word. This has allowed the thin edge of the wedge to be inserted, and now it has been shoved right in, the door now being wide open to all sorts of heretical ideas and un-Christian practices.

So, my answer to the question is, "No, there is no one denial common to them all that Protestants of the Reformed tradition could use to identify all heresies in their midst." There is a sort-of "shape-shifting" invisible entity at back of all heresy, which has been successful for about 2,000 years now in polluting the pure doctrine of Christ that is detailed in the Bible. That's what Christians are up against.

Of course, that points to a big identifying clue. Taking God's word, the Bible, to be the rule of faith and practice, as it alone details the true doctrine of Christ for those determined to follow him alone, and not any individual leaders, or religious organisations. Of course, many heretical leaders and organisations will insist that they do believe the Bible, but they always seem to have their own literature (in addition) that explains their heretical doctrines, and they seem inclined to equate loyalty to their leaders and organisation with loyalty to God. Hmmm... spiritual antennae ought to be twitching at that. Time to get stuck into the Bible to be sure of WHO you believe, and WHO you are entrusting your eternal future to. If you are not following the Christ of scripture, you are spiritually blind and will be deceived into following the claimed 'light' of that angel of light. "If the light within you be darkness" Christ said, "how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:23)

"For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 1:12-13 A.V.

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    @Nigel — what got me thinking about a singularity is 2 Pet 2, ‘ denying the sovereign Lord who bought them’ If a person denied Jesus is God, or man, or that he is fully able to save us from sin, without special books or special persons, wether Pope, or Prophet Biff, he effectively denies the Lord. So maybe they all just deny Christ and the shape-shifting is their way to just wiggle around that fact to distract us to think it is about something else and there favorite strange set of Bible verses.
    – Mike
    Commented May 4 at 15:43
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    @Mike Your comment makes sense, given Nigel's comment, "...that scripture should be the judge of 'orthodoxy'... that the opposition is 'shape-shifting' because it is all from one source (the Enemy) which source cares nothing for truth. whose only motive is hatred for the Son of God (whose place the Enemy seeks to gain, or, if failing to gain, seeks to destroy)."
    – Anne
    Commented May 5 at 7:57

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