List of Christian denominations

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A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity.[1] Some groups included do not consider themselves a denomination (e.g., the Catholic Church considers itself the one true church and the Apostolic See, and as pre-denominational).[2] Some groups viewed by non-adherents as denominational actively resist being called a denomination and do not have any formal denominational structure, authority, or record-keeping beyond the local congregation; several groups within Restoration Movement fall into this category.

Some groups are large (e.g. Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans or Baptists), while others are just a few small churches, and in most cases the relative size is not evident in this list. Modern movements such as Fundamentalist Christianity, Pietism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism and the Holiness movement sometimes cross denominational lines, or in some cases create new denominations out of two or more continuing groups, (as is the case for many United and uniting churches, for example). Such subtleties and complexities are not clearly depicted here.

Note: This is not a complete list, but aims to provide a comprehensible overview of the diversity among denominations of Christianity. As there are reported to be approximately 41,000 Christian denominations (figure includes overlap between countries),[3] many of which cannot be verified to be significant, only those denominations with Wikipedia articles will be listed in order to ensure that all entries on this list are notable and verifiable.

Between denominations, theologians, and comparative religionists there are considerable disagreements about which groups can be properly called Christian, disagreements arising primarily from doctrinal differences between groups. For the purpose of simplicity, this list is intended to reflect the self-understanding of each denomination. Explanations of different opinions concerning their status as Christian denominations can be found at their respective articles.

There is no official recognition in most parts of the world for religious bodies, and there is no official clearinghouse which could determine the status or respectability of religious bodies. Often there is considerable disagreement between various churches about whether other churches should be labeled with pejorative terms such as "cult", or about whether this or that group enjoys some measure of respectability. Such considerations often vary from place to place, where one religious group may enjoy majority status in one region, but be widely regarded as a "dangerous cult" in another part of the world. Inclusion on this list does not indicate any judgment about the size, importance, or character of a group or its members.

Contents

Main branches of early Christianity[edit]

Early Christianity is often divided into three different branches that differ in theology and traditions, which all appeared in the 1st century AD. They include Jewish Christianity, Pauline Christianity and Gnostic Christianity.[4] All modern Christian denominations are said to have descended from these three branches. There are also other theories on the origin of Christianity. [5]

Catholicism[edit]

These are the churches which claim continuity (based upon Apostolic Succession) with the early Church.

Catholic Church[edit]

The Catholic Church is composed of 23 Churches: the Western or Latin Church and the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches.

The Latin Church[edit]

The Latin Church (not to be confused with the Roman Rite, which is one of the Latin liturgical rites, not a particular Church) is the largest and most widely known of the 23 sui iuris Churches that together make up the Catholic Church.

Eastern Catholic Churches[edit]

All of the following are Particular Churches of the Catholic Church. They are all in communion with the Bishop of Rome and acknowledge his claim of universal jurisdiction and authority. They have some minor distinct theological emphases and expressions (for instance, in the case of those that are of Greek/Byzantine tradition, concerning some non-doctrinal aspects of the Latin view of Purgatory).[6] The Eastern Catholic churches and the Latin church (which together compose the worldwide Catholic Church) share the same doctrine and sacraments, and thus the same faith.

The Catholic Church considers itself the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.[7] As such, the Catholic Church does not consider itself a denomination, but as pre-denominational, the original Church of Christ.

Roman Catholic orders[edit]

Marian movement[edit]

Miscellaneous Catholic organizations[edit]

Other churches and movements[edit]

Independent (self-identified as Catholic)[edit]

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

List provided in order of precedence. Indentation indicates autonomy rather than autocephaly.

Eastern Orthodox Church[edit]

The Eastern Orthodox Church considers itself to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.

Other churches[edit]

Some Orthodox Churches with not universally recognized autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:

Oriental Orthodoxy[edit]

Oriental Orthodoxy comprises those Christians who did not accept the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). Other denominations often erroneously label these Churches "Monophysite"; however, as the Oriental Orthodox do not adhere to the teachings of Eutyches, they themselves reject this label, preferring the term Miaphysite.

Historically, many of the Oriental Orthodox Churches consider themselves collectively to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded. Some have considered the Oriental Orthodox communion to be a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, a view which is gaining increasing acceptance in the wake of the ecumenical dialogues.

Other Churches[edit]

The following Churches affirm a Miaphysite christological position but are not in communion with any of the ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches for various reasons:

Church of the East[edit]

The Church of the East is said to have been formed by St Thomas. It has also been known as the Persian or Sassanid Church. The Church did not attend the Council of Ephesus (AD 431). Historically, it has often been incorrectly referred to as the Nestorian Church. Although at some points throughout their history, Assyrian Christians have been willing to accept the label of Nestorians, they now consider this term pejorative. Recent Christological agreements with the Roman Catholic Church and some of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches have substantially resolved this semantic debate permanently, clearing the way for ecumenical relations.

In the twentieth century, it was divided into two groups which have recently been working towards reunification:

The Church of the East considers itself to be a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.

Other early Christians[edit]

Christian groups appearing between the beginning of the Christian religion to the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

Protestantism[edit]

These are the churches "which repudiated the papal authority, and separated or were severed from the Roman communion in the Reformation of the 16th century and of any of the bodies of Christians descended from them."[8]

Diagram showing major branches and movements within Protestantism

Pre-Lutheran Protestants[edit]

Groups of Christians appearing between the First Council of Nicaea and the Protestant Reformation.

Lutheranism[edit]

Anglicanism[edit]

Anglican Communion[edit]

Anglicanism has referred to itself as the via media between Catholicism and Protestantism. It considers itself to be both Catholic and Reformed. Although the use of the term "Protestant" to refer to Anglicans was once common, it is controversial today, with some rejecting the label and others accepting it.

The Anglican Communion also includes the following united churches:

Other Anglican Churches[edit]

Calvinism[edit]

Continental Reformed churches[edit]

Presbyterianism[edit]

Congregationalist Churches[edit]

Anabaptists[edit]

Brethren[edit]

Methodists[edit]

Pietists and Holiness Churches[edit]

Baptists[edit]

Note: All Baptist associations are congregationalist affiliations for the purpose of cooperation, in which each local church is governmentally independent. The most prominent Baptist organizations in the United States are the American Baptist Association, tending to be more liberal, the National Baptist Convention, tending to be more moderate and the Southern Baptist Convention, tending to be more conservative.

Spiritual Baptists[edit]

Note: The Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese of New York, Inc has congregationalist affiliations for the purpose of cooperation, in which each local church is governmentally independent.

Apostolic Churches – Irvingites[edit]

Pentecostalism[edit]

Charismatics[edit]

Neo-Charismatic Churches[edit]

African Initiated Churches[edit]

Messianic Judaism / Jewish Christians[edit]

United and uniting churches[edit]

Churches which are the result of a merger between distinct denominational churches. Churches are listed here when their disparate heritage marks them as inappropriately listed in the particular categories above.

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)[edit]

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), is considered historically to be a Protestant Christian denomination. It has gone through a small number of doctrinal schisms in its history as a Christian church. Today, the Society exists as several distinct and separate Quaker branches, and it also has an emphasis on Christian belief which ranges from evangelical to liberal.

Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement[edit]

Southcottites[edit]

Millerites and comparable groups[edit]

Adventist (Sunday observing)[edit]

Adventist (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)[edit]

Church of God movements (Sunday observing)[edit]

Church of God movements (Seventh Day Sabbath/Saturday observing)[edit]

Sabbath-Keeping Movements, Separated from Adventists[edit]

Sacred Name groups[edit]

Movements not related to the Millerites but comparable to them[edit]

Sabbath-Keeping movements, predating the Millerites[edit]

British-Israelism[edit]

Christian Identity[edit]

Miscellaneous/Other[edit]

Nontrinitarian groups[edit]

Christians who do not believe in the traditional hypothesis of a Triune God ("one God in three co-equal Persons")

Latter Day Saints[edit]

Most Latter Day Saint denominations are derived from the Church of Christ established by Joseph Smith in 1830. The largest worldwide denomination, and the one publicly recognized as Mormonism, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although there are various considerably smaller sects that broke from it after its relocation to the Rocky Mountains in the mid-1800s. Several of these broke away over the abandonment of practicing plural marriage after the 1890 Manifesto. Most of the "Prairie Saint" denominations (see below) were established after Smith's death by the remnants of the Latter Day Saints who did not go west with Brigham Young. Many of these opposed some of the 1840s theological developments in favor of 1830s theological understandings and practices. Other denominations are defined by either a belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet or acceptance of the Book of Mormon as scripture. Mormons generally consider themselves to be restorationist, believing that Smith, as prophet, seer, and revelator, restored the original and true Church of Christ to the earth. Some Latter Day Saint denominations are regarded by other Christians as being nontrinitarian or even non-Christian, but the Latter Day Saints are predominantly in disagreement with these claims. Mormons see themselves as believing in a Godhead comprising the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as separate personages united in purpose. Mormons regard traditional definitions of the Trinity as aberrations of true doctrine and emblematic of the Great Apostasy[9] but they do not accept certain trinitarian definitions in the post-apostolic creeds, such as the Athanasian Creed.

Original denomination
"Prairie Saint" denominations
Rocky Mountain denominations
Other denominations

Oneness Pentecostalism[edit]

Unitarianism and Universalism[edit]

Bible Student groups[edit]

Swedenborgianism[edit]

Christian Science[edit]

Other non-Trinitarians[edit]

New Thought[edit]

The relation of New Thought to Christianity is sometimes murky spiritually; some of its adherents see themselves as practising a true form of Christianity, while adherents of Religious Science says "yes and no" to the question of whether they consider themselves to be Christian in belief and practice, leaving it up to the individual to define oneself spiritually.

Esoteric Christianity[edit]

Syncretistic religions incorporating elements of Christianity[edit]

The relation of these movements to other Christian ideas can be remote. They are listed here because they include some elements of Christian practice or beliefs, within religious contexts which may be only loosely characterized as Christian.

Other[edit]

Christian Movements[edit]

Internet Churches[edit]

LGBT-affirming Christian denominations[edit]

Interdenominational (ecumenical) churches and organizations[edit]

Non-denominational churches and organizations[edit]

Revivals[edit]

Misc.[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/denomination
  2. ^ "Dominus Iesus". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  3. ^ Appendix B: Methodology for Estimating Christian Movements, "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population", The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, December 19, 2011. "The figures on Christian movements in this report were commissioned by the Pew Forum from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. CSGC researchers generated their estimates based in large part on figures provided by Christian denominations and organizations around the world. CSGC has obtained denominational membership information from about 41,000 organizations worldwide."
  4. ^ http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_brief2.htm
  5. ^ http://www.earlychristianhistory.info/frac.html
  6. ^ Anthony Dragani, From East to West
  7. ^ "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 
  8. ^ "Protestant, I.2.a" Oxford English Dictionary
  9. ^ "Articles of Faith, no. 1". 
  10. ^ The United Church of Christ

Websites[edit]