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Article Info:
published: 3/5/05
updated: 2/27/14

Comparison of Christian Denominations' Practices

This chart compares the similarities and differences between the rituals and practices of major denominations in Christianity. Please note that the brief summaries and excerpts provided here do not reflect all individuals or churches in each denomination, but they are believed to represent the majority practice and are taken from official statements where available. Click here to return to Christianity Charts main page.

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Role and Type of Clergy "To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in his name and by his power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ." (Catech 873)   All believers are priests, in that they have direct access to God. Clergy are "pastors" or "ministers." (ELCA)   Priests and bishops. "The historic episcopate is locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of his Church." (CofE)   "The affirmation of lay leaders as integral to church vitality... underscore the belief that many have been called by God to serve." (ABC)
Marriage of Clergy Priests are celibate, except in Eastern Rite Catholicism or for priests who were already married when ordained. Priests may be married. Ministers may be married.   "Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God's Law either to vow the estate of single life or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness." (Art. 32) "The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion." (UMC)  

Ordination of Women?

No. (Catech 1577)

No, but the role of deaconness is being considered. (GOAA) Yes. (ELCA)

No. (LCMS)
Yes. (PCUSA)

Yes. (ECUSA)

Some parishes. (CofE)

Yes. (UMC) Yes. (ABC)

No. "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." (SBC)
View of Sacraments They convey grace by their operation (ex opere operato). They are not merely symbolic or outward signs. "Special experiences when the perception of God's presence and actions is heightened and celebrated." (GOA) Means of grace only if received with faith. "Through the Sacraments, God seals believers in redemption, renews their identity as the people of God, and marks them for service." (PCUSA) "The two sacraments ordained by Christ himself are administered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution, and the elements are ordained by him." (CofE) " Sacraments ordained of Christ are … certain signs of grace and God's good will toward us, by which he works invisibly in us, and not only quickens, but also strengthens and confirms, our faith in him." Only beneficial when received worthily. (UMC)  
View of Baptism         "By baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church." (CofE) "A sign of regeneration or the new birth." (UMC)

"A symbol of the new covenant of grace... acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ." (WC)
"An act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus." (SBC)

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Infant Baptism Accepted Accepted. (GOAA) Accepted Accepted Accepted. (CofE) (Art. 27) Accepted. (UMC)

Rejected. (WC)
Rejected. (SBC)
View of Eucharist Transubstantiation Transubstantiation "Real Presence" "Real Presence" "In this offering of prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are recalled." (CofE) "The body of Christ is… eaten in the Supper only after a heavenly and spiritual manner." (UMC) "A symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church... memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming." (SBC) Symbolic only. (ABC)
Other Sacraments Extreme Unction (Anointing); Marriage; Holy Orders; Confession; Confirmation Holy Chrism (Anointing) None. None. "Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick." (CofE) None. None.
Other Practices Exorcism Exorcism; Confession          
Prayer to Saints Accepted Accepted Rejected   Rejected (Art. 22)    
Icons & Images Accepted Emphasized Mostly rejected Strongly rejected Rejected (Art. 22)    
Evangelism   "Missionary activity is an essential part of the life of the Church." "Orthodox do not... actively seek to cause the disaffection of others from their non-Orthodox Christian faiths." (GOAA) "It is our privilege to tell the good news about Jesus." (LCMS)   "Following the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Churches are committed to the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel to the whole creation." (CofE)   "...committed to. see Jesus Christ proclaimed as Savior and Lord to all people and nations." (ABC)
"It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ... to endeavor to make disciples of all nations." (SBC)
Tongues and Other Spiritual Gifts   "The Greek Orthodox Church does not preclude the use of Glossolalia, but regards it as one of the minor gifts of the Holy Spirit." (GOAA)       "The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the church and not by the ecstasy produced in the ones receiving them." (WC 15)  


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