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Christian Denominations

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1. Eastern Orthodox

The Eastern Orthodox Church has always reflected a more philosophical branch of Christianity. Part of their beliefs is that religion is a personal experience; there is often no exact definition of religious truth for all individuals. The Orthodox Church is lead by the head bishops (although these bishops don’t have the same power as the Pope does in Catholicism). They have a slight difference in their view of the Trinity; other branches view Jesus Christ’s human form as the second part of the Trinity, but the Orthodox Church believe it’s the divine preexistent nature of Christ. The Orthodox Church originated after the Great Schism between the western and eastern parts of Constantinople; today the greatest Orthodox population remains in that area (Greece, Turkey, Russia).

2. Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is, by far, the biggest denomination of Christianity with more than one billion followers. Catholicism is dominant in Western nations like Italy, Spain, Latin America, and even the United States (if you count each branch of Protestantism individually). The Catholic Church there is one universal church (Latin meaning of Catholic is “universal”), by which all Christian denominations lie under. There aren’t many differences between Roman Catholicism and other sects of Christianity; just like all other branches Catholic followers believe in the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the Bible. With that said there are a few essential differences. Distinctive Roman Catholic beliefs include the special authority of the pope, the ability of saints to intercede on behalf of believers, the concept of Purgatory as a place of afterlife purification before entering Heaven, and the doctrine of transubstantiation – that is, that the bread used in the Eucharist becomes the true body of Christ when blessed by a priest.

3. Anglican

The roots of the Anglican Church lie within its first church, the Church of England; in fact the Medieval Latin meaning of Anglican is “of England.”  Just like Protestantism, Anglicanism was formed in an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church (Anglicanism formed just 20 years after Protestantism). In Anglicanism, there is no central source of power: no Pope, no Patriach, and no worldwide Anglican Church (the connections with Protestantism are clear). However, unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer book forms the historical basis for most Anglican liturgy around the world.

The Anglican Church was originally spread through English colonization, but this also led to the several independent Anglican Churches. The most notable of the Anglican Churches are the Church of England and the Episcopalian Church. The Episcopalian Church originated through the War of Independence in America; after the war Americans didn’t want to be associated with the English Church, so they derived the Episcopalian Church. The Episcopalian Church has many similarities to the Church of England, but one vital difference is the lack of monarchial ties in the Episcopalian Church. This process was repeated through English colonies; although the Church of England was the first branch of Anglicanism, today there are over 40 independent national Anglican Churches.

4. Protestant

The Protestant church goes directly to the Word of God for instruction, and to the throne of grace in his devotions. Protestantism was formed on three fundamental principles: scripture alone, justification by faith alone, and universal priesthood of believers. Scripture alone states that the Bible is the only source of authority for the church and that the priest’s word are insignificant. Justification by faith alone allows salvation only through faith, this was an attempt to reform the Church’s accepting of donations. Lastly, the universal priesthood of believers encourages followers to read the Bible and take action in all church related activities and government. Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, which called the church out on all its immoral actions, played a vital role in the foundation and progression of the Protestant Church. Today, the Protestant Church has grown to many different denominations including but not limited to Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian.


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