Christian Denominations



"Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is his only Son."
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Over the centuries, Christianity has divided into numerous denominations. Each denomination has its own distinctive beliefs or practices, but they are commonly considered branches of the same religion because they agree on such fundamentals as the Bible, the Trinity, and the person of Christ. The way in which members regard other denominations varies from mutual respect and acceptance to suspicion and denial that the other group is really "Christian." (See a Comparison Chart of Christian denominations.)

The three main branches of Christianity are Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant (some say Anglican is a fourth). Most of the denominations that exist today developed in the 500 years since the Protestant Reformation and fall under the "Protestant" branch. This section provides information on some of the major denominations that exist today, along with a brief history of how there came to be so many. (Comparison Chart of Catholics and Protestants here.)





Brief History of Denominations


Trace the history of Christian denominations, from early offshoot groups to the explosion
of new churches in the 16th century Reformation.


Denomination Comparison Charts


See the similarities and differences between denominations with charts comparing history,
beliefs, practices and ethical views.


Roman Catholic


Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian group that exists today,
with more than a billion adherents.


Eastern Orthodox


The Orthodox Church became a distinct branch in the 11th century "Great Schism."
It is prominent in Russia, Greece and nearby areas.

 
Protestant


Protestantism encompasses numerous denominations and embraces a wide theological spectrum, but all share certain distinctives.


Anglican/Episcopalian


Anglicanism is characterized by a via media (middle way) between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Amish

Amish


The Amish are members of an Anabaptist Christian denomination who are especially known for their separation from society and rejection of modern technology.


Baptists


Baptists are the largest of the Free Church denominations and are characterized by adult baptism and encouraging religious freedom and separation of church and state.


Lutheran


Lutheranism, based on the teachings of Martin Luther, is one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world today.

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Pentecostalism


Pentecol Christianity, just over 100 years old, is the largest Christian denomination in the world.


Presbyterian


Presbyterian and Reformed churches share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin.


Quakers


Quakers are a 17th century Reformation movement started by
George Fox well-known for their peace testimony.

Seventh-day Adventists

Seventh-day Adventists



A group known for its Sabbath observance, expectation of Christ, and emphasis on physical health.


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