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List of Christian denominations (or Denominations self-identified as Christian) ordered by historical and doctrinal relationships. (See also: Christianity; Christian denominations; List of Christian denominations by number of members).
Some groups are large (e.g. Catholics, 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. Also, 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. Additionally, 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.
- 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 38,000 Christian denominations, 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.
- Note: 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.
- Note: 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.
Major divisions within Christianity. The different width of the lines (thickest for "Protestantism" and thinnest for "Oriental Orthodox" and "Nestorians") is without objective significance.
Main article: Catholicism
These are the churches which claim continuity (based upon Apostolic Succession) with the church before separation into Greek or Eastern and Latin or Western. (Lutheran churches have also identified themselves as catholic on the basis of continuity in doctrine with the Early Church.)
Roman Catholic Church
The Latin Rite or Church is the largest and most widely known of the 22 Rites of the Catholic Church. In the past, Catholics in France and Germany have claimed a measure of ecclesiastical independence from Rome (see Febronianism, Gallicanism), but not to the extent of forming Churches distinct from the Roman Catholic Church as a whole (as happened with the Church of England) or even from the Latin Church.
Eastern Catholic Churches
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 aspects of the Latin depiction of purgatory).
The Roman Catholic Church considers itself part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.
Eastern Orthodox Church
List provided in order of precedence. Indentation indicates autonomy rather than autocephaly.
The Eastern Orthodox Church considers itself to be the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.
Oriental Orthodox Church
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.
The Oriental Orthodox Church considers itself to be the One Holy Catholic Orthodox and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East is said to have been formed by St Thomas. The Church did not attend the Council of Ephesus (AD 431). It is incorrectly referred to as Nestorianism; Assyrian Christians do not consider themselves Nestorians, and recent Christological agreements with the Catholic and some of the Orthodox churches have resolved this debate permanently, clearing the way for union.
Other churches self-identified as Catholic
Main article: Anglicanism
Anglicanism has referred to itself as the via media between Roman 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:
The Anglican Communion considers itself to be part of the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded, which also includes the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Old Catholic Church (Union of Utrecht).
Continuing and Independent Anglican
These are the churches "which repudiated the papal authority, and separated or were severed from the Roman communion in the Reformation of the 16th cent., and of any of the bodies of Christians descended from them."
Diagram showing major branches and movements within Protestantism
Main article: Anabaptists
Pietists and Holiness Churches
Note: All Baptist associations are congregationalist affiliations for the purpose of cooperation, in which each local church is governmentally independent.
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
Main article: Pentecostalism
African Initiated Churches
United and uniting churches
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)
Note: The Religious Society of Friends is historically considered a Protestant denomination. While Evangelical Friends and most members of the Friends United Meeting would consider themselves Protestant Christians, many Quakers today consider their faith to be a distinct, non-Protestant form of Christianity, with no compulsory beliefs or creeds. Some Friends General Conference Quakers are "post-Christian" and some non-theists.
Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement
Millerites and comparable groups
Sabbath Keeping Churches, Adventist
Sabbath-Keeping Churches, Non-Adventist
Sacred Name Groups
Latter Day Saints
Most Latter Day Saint denominations are derived from the Church of Christ established by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830. The majority of "Prairie Saint" denominations were established after the death of Smith by the remnants of the saints who did not go west with Brigham Young. The Rocky Mountain denominations are various sects who broke from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after its abandonment of polygamy in 1890. Other denominations are defined by either a belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet, or acceptance of the Book of Mormon as scripture. Mormonism is generally considered restorationist, believing that Smith restored the original Church of Christ to the Earth. Some Latter Day Saint denominations are regarded by other Christians as being nontrinitarian, but generally do not accept that label themselves, in contrast to the groups labelled "nontrinitarian" below.
"Prairie Saint" denominations
Rocky Mountains denominations
Various denominations whose self-understanding denies trinitarian theology held by other Christians.
Unitarianism and Universalism
Bible Student groups
Main article: New Thought
The relation of New Thought to Christianity is sometimes murky; some of its adherents see themselves as practicing a true or correct form of Christianity, or as doing what Jesus did, while others are more distant from Christian self-expression. In particular, Religious Science says "yes and no" to the question of whether it considers itself Christian. The two groups listed below include a clearer statement in which they identify themselves as Christian.
Syncretistic religions incorporating elements of Christianity
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.