Christian Denominations: A Review on the Three Major Sects of Christianity

Christian Denominations- A Review on the Three Major Sects of Christianity

Christianity is the world’s largest religion, as reported in an article on NPR. The number of adherents still continues to rise today with no signs of stopping.

In fact, a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2015 reports that Christianity will continue to be the largest religious group over the next four decades.

There are plenty of denominations that are under Christianity’s large umbrella. If you’re asking just how many Christian denominations are out there, the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has an answer for you.

They reported that there were around 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide back in 2012.

And just like the number of adherents, the number of denominations keep rising as well. In fact, according to some surveys, the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is established every 10.5 hours (or 2.3 denominations per day).

 

Knowing the different denominations may help you understand the different beliefs.

With so many Christian denominations existing around the world, one may wonder why there are so many of them. What exactly are the similarities and differences between each denomination? This list of the different major Christian denominations has got you covered.

  1. Catholicism

General Facts

Date founded: AD 1054 (the period of Great Schism between the East and West)

Origin: Rome (Western Roman Empire)

Founders: St. Peter (Catholic view); different bishops of Rome

Number of adherents: According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, there are 65 million Catholics in the United States alone. Adherents.com reports a number of 1.5 billion adherents of the Catholic church worldwide.

Dominant regions: France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, USA

Original language: Latin

Worship guide: Roman Missal

Church government: Episcopal

Rituals and Practices

Priests practicing Catholicism are celibate. However, there are priests in the Eastern Rite Catholicism side that are already married. There are even some cases where priests were already married upon the time of their ordination.

Infant baptism and prayers to saints are accepted rituals and practices. Icons and images are accepted as well.

Views and Stances

The Catechism of the Catholic Church regards the Holy Trinity as the central mystery of both Christian faith and life. Its adherents also believe that Mary had no original sin and was sinless all throughout her life.

As they look to her as the Mother of God, they also believe that her body was assumed to heaven instead of death.

According to the second edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, divorce is usually not permitted. However, there are instances where it is granted due to abandonment.

Separation may also be allowable if certain circumstances arise.

As stated in the Guideline for Pastoral Care, the Catholic church does not view homosexual attraction as sinful. However, the same guideline says it sees homosexual acts as something that contradicts both the will of God and natural law. The Catholic church opposes abortion as well.

 

  1. Eastern Orthodoxy

General Facts

Date founded: Similar to Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy was founded during the time of Great Schism between the East and the West (AD 1054).

Origin: Constantinople (Eastern Roman Empire)

Founders: various eastern church fathers; Patriarch Michael Cerularius

Number of adherents: Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that there are 5.9 million people who practice Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States. According to Adherents.com, there are 225 million people who are members of this church worldwide.

Dominant regions: Russia, Greece

Original language: Greek

Worship guide: N/A

Church government: Episcopal

Rituals and Practices

In Eastern Orthodoxy, priests may be married. Like the Catholic church, infant baptism and prayers to saints are also accepted. In this sect, icons and images are emphasized. The church is also considering to add the role of deaconess in their group.

Views and Stances

According to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Eastern Orthodox church believes that its fundamental truth is “revealed in the True God: the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The GOAA also states that the “god-bearer” (Theotokos) is honored highly.

However, they do not believe in the Immaculate Conception and bodily assumption into heavens.

Divorce, although usually opposed, is sometimes granted. As stated in the GOAA, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes that divorce is justified if the spiritual well-being of Christians is confined in a “broken and essentially nonexistent marriage.”

As for their view toward homosexuality, the Eastern Orthodox church deems that it should be treated as a sinful failure by religion. It also has a strong stance against abortion.

 

  1. Lutheranism

General Facts

Date founded: This sect was established back in 1530.

Origin: Germany

Founders: Both Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon are responsible for establishing this denomination.

Number of adherents: The Lutheran World Federation reports that there are 66 million adherents of Lutheranism worldwide.

Dominant regions: Germany, Scandinavia

Original language: German

Worship guide: Book of Concord

Church government: Episcopal

Rituals and Practices

Ministers of Lutheranism may be married. Baptism of infants is an accepted practice. However, offering prayers to saints is rejected. Icons and images are mostly rejected as well.

Views and Stances

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod states that the one true God is the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Although the three entities are distinct persons, they are of one and the same in divine essence. They are also equal in terms of power, eternity, and majesty because each of them have that one divine essence.

Although the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America sees divorce as a tragic happening, they consider it as the best option in some cases.

Regarding homosexuality, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod states that both the Old and New Testament prohibit homosexual behavior. They deem such as “intrinsically sinful” and “contrary to the Creator’s design.”

As for the denomination’s stance on abortion, it strongly discourages it. However, the sect considers it as a “last resort” type of option.