Denominations

DenominationsThere is a diversity of doctrines and practices among Christian groups. These groups are sometimes classified under denominations. Christianity may be broadly represented as being divided into five main groupings: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Restorationism.

1. Roman Catholic Church-The (Roman) Catholic Church is comprised of those particular churches, headed by bishops, in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, as its highest authority in matters of faith, morality and Church governance. Like the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholic Church through Apostolic succession traces its origins to the Christian community founded by Jesus Christ. Catholics maintain that the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" founded by Jesus subsists fully in the Roman Catholic Church, but also acknowledges other Christian churches and communities and works towards reconciliation among all Christians. With more than one billion baptized members, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest church representing over half of all Christians and one sixth of the world's population. Various smaller communities, such as the Old Catholic and Independent Catholic Churches, include the word Catholic in their title, and share much in common with Roman Catholicism.

2. Eastern Orthodox Church-Eastern Orthodoxy is comprised of those churches in communion with the Patriarchal Sees of the East, such as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church also traces its heritage to the foundation of Christianity through Apostolic succession and has an Episcopal structure. A number of conflicts with Western Christianity over questions of doctrine and authority culminated in the Great Schism. Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest single denomination in Christianity, with over 200 million adherents.

3. Oriental Orthodoxy- The Oriental Orthodox Churches are those eastern churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils
* Nicaea
* Constantinople and
* Ephesus
They reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedony and instead espouse a Miaphysite Christology.

4. Protestantism- In the 16th century, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin launched what has come to be called Protestantism. Luther's principal theological heirs are known as Lutherans. Most Protestant traditions branch out from the Reformed tradition in some way. In addition to the Lutheran and Reformed branches of the Reformation, there is Anglicanism after the English Reformation. The Anabaptist tradition was largely detested by the other Protestant parties at the time, but has achieved a measure of affirmation recently.

The oldest Protestant groups separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Several Pentecostal and non-denominational Churches, which emphasize the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, in turn grew out of the Methodist Church. Because Methodists, Pentecostals, and other evangelicals stress on accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they often refer to themselves as being born-again.

Estimates of the total number of Protestants are very uncertain. But it seems clear that Protestantism is the second largest major group of Christians after Roman Catholicism in number of followers.Some Christians who come out of the Protestant
tradition identify themselves simply as "Christian", or "born-again Christian". They characteristically distance themselves from the confessionalism or creedalism of other Christian communities by calling themselves "non-denominational".

5. Restorationism- Restorationism is composed of various unrelated churches that believe they are restoring the original church of Jesus Christ and not reforming any of the churches existing at the time of their perceived restorations. They teach that the other divisions of Christianity have introduced defects into Christianity, which is known as the Great Apostasy. Some of these are historically connected to early-19th century camp meetings in the Midwest and Upstate New York.
Mainstream Christianity is widely used to refer collectively to the common views of major denominations of Christianity (such as Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Orthodox Christianity) as against the particular tenets of other sects or Christian denomination. The context is dependent on the particular issues addressed, but usually contrasts the orthodox majority view against heterodox minority views of groups like Restorationists. In the most common sense, "mainstream" refers to Nicene Christianity, or rather the traditions which continue to claim adherence to the Nicene Creed.

Ecumenism
Most churches have long expressed ideals of being reconciled with each other, and in the 20th century Christian ecumenism advanced in two ways. One way was greater cooperation between groups, such as the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of Protestants in 1910, the Justice, Peace and Creation Commission of the World Council of Churches founded in 1948 by Protestant and Orthodox churches, and similar national councils like the National Council of Churches in Australia which includes Roman Catholics.

The other way was institutional union with new United and uniting churches. Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches united in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada and in 1977 to form the Uniting Church in Australia. The Church of South India was formed in 1947 by the union of Anglican, Methodist, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches. Steps towards reconciliation on a global level were taken in 1965 by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches mutually revoking the excommunications that marked their Great Schism in 1054; the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) working towards full communion between those churches since 1970; and the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signing The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999 to address conflicts at the root of the Protestant Reformation. In 2006 the Methodist church adopted the declaration.

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