It could be said that there is no faith quite as fragmented as Christianity. Across the planet, there are a wide assortment of denominations that essentially believe the same thing, but believe in different ways. While this has caused a great deal of problems in the past, today it generally accepted and no one is persecuted for their beliefs anymore.
Currently, Christianity is the world's largest religion with 2.2 billion people following the religion. Christians generally follow the belief that Jesus was the Son of God, who was prophesized in the Old Testament. Most Christians refer to Christ as the Messiah.
There are many denominations of Christianity these days, with the three largest being the Catholic Church, The Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestants. The Roman Catholic Church split from Eastern Orthodox in the 11th century, while Protestantism came about during the reformation in the 16th century.
The Catholic Church comprises churches that are headed by a bishop, who are in communion with the Pope, who is the highest authority in the faith. Similar to Eastern Orthodox, the Catholic Church traces its origins to the Christianity community founded by Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church maintains that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church that was founded by Jesus, but they also acknowledge the other denominations and work to reconcile with all Christians.
In total, there are 2,834 sees that are grouped into 23 particular rites, with the Latin Church being the largest. In total, 1.1 billion people are baptized as Catholic, making Catholicism the largest denomination among the Christians. In all, one out of every six people on the planet are Catholics.
The Eastern Orthodox traces its roots back to the foundation of Christianity and all churches who are in communion with the Patriarchal Sees of the East are comprised within this church.
Over time, there have been a number of conflicts with Western Christianity over the questions related to the doctrine, which resulted in the Great Schism that formed the church nearly 1,000 years ago. Currently, Orthodox is the second-largest church in denomination with 200 million followers.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther created Protestantism with Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin. This would result in the reformation movement and the creation of several denominations including Lutherans, Calvinism, Anglicanism and Anabaptists. Other denominations created as a result of the Protestant movement includes Methodists and Pentecostals. Pentecostals and non-denomination Christians emphasize the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, which grew out of Methodism. Methodism and Pentecostals all accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior and those who are born-again tend to follow these movements.
The estimates of the number of Protestants is hard to peg because of the difficulty in determining where denominations should be placed. It is clear that after Catholicism, Protestantism is the second-largest group of Christians on the planet with 800 million followers.
Some Anglican churches consider themselves to be both Protestant and Catholic, while Anglicans also consider their church to be a branch of the Catholic Church, but this is rejected by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Some individuals state that they are born-again, or simply Christians, and they are referred to non-denominational. These are founded by individual pastors who have little affiliation with the historical denominations.
Generally, this is how the Protestant Movement created several denominations:
The Reformation Movement created Lutherans, Anglicanism, Presbyterians, Calvinism, Reformed Churches and Anabaptists. All this happened early in the 16th century. By the early part of the 17th century, Baptists, Congregationalists formed, while Puritans branched off from the Anglicans. In the mid-part of the 17th century, Pietism branched off of Lutherans. In the early part of the 18th century, Methodists branched off of Anglicism and Adventists formed from Methodists, as did the Holiness Movement. In the late 19th century, Pentecostalism came off the Holiness Movement.
The Second Great Awakening occurred in the early 1800s and created several unrelated churches. These churches saw themselves as restoring the original church of Jesus Christ, rather than reforming an existing church. Some of these churches include Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists. The Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Christian Church of Canada, and the Latter Day Saint Movement all began from this. Esoteric Christians see Christianity as a mystery religion and profess existence of esoteric doctrines hidden from the public.
All in all, there is a great deal of subsets of Christianity and it can get quite confusing. More or less, they all follow similar beliefs but some are more conservative than others. Some see the Pope as the representative of God, while others do not. Some do not associate with other denominations, while others do for the most part.
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