Families of Christianity: Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and others; one faith,
Christianity is a tremendously diverse movement that
is often seen as being divided into several family groups. While it is difficult
to describe or depict this diversity, the table below is a good a place to start.
Those who identify with the Catholic Church, centered
in Rome, represent by far, the largest of these families.
Second in numerical strength are the Protestants, a far
more diverse group including Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, and so on.
There are large bodies of Christians who cannot
be identified as either Protestant or Catholic, however. These include the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Jehova's Witnesses. These fall into
the "Other" category below.
Then there are the Orthodox Christians who tend to be concentrated in Russian
and Eastern Europe.
Finally, the Anglicans
(known as Episcopalians in the US).
at it from another perspective, while the Roman Catholic Church is the largest
single denomination, there are as many Christians in denominations that do not
accept the primacy, or even the legitimacy of the Pope, as there are within the
bounds of the Catholic Church.
If the question were taken up by
a referendum among the entire Christian community around the world, God only knows
whether the institution of the Papacy would survive by popular vote of the world's
two billion Christians.
(source: Encyclopedia Britannica)
these families down by "denomination," begins to uncover even greater
African indigenous sects
Latter Day Saints
Stone-Campbell ("Restoration Movement")
New Thought (Unity, Christian Science,
Brethren (incl. Plymouth)
It is also interesting to
see where these Christian families are located, and how the statistics on Christianity
compare with those of the other world religions. For another article comparing
Christianity with other religions in terms of membership statistics: Christians:
Who are They, Where are They This article also includes maps showing where
the major Christian groups are located.
a still greater level of detail, one need only look at facts on
the ground in the United States, where the number of denominations continues
to proliferate with some groups growing rapidly, while others are experiencing
line: rather than making steady progress toward Christian unity, as some hoped
would happen during the 20th Century, in the 21st Century the wider Christian
family is more diverse, and perhaps more divided that ever.The
Denominations of North America.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.