Q+A :: List of Christian Denominations and Their Beliefs

Kent Shaffer —  June 22, 2012

QUESTION:
Q+AWhere can I find an extensive list of all Christian denominations and what they believe in?
-Seb :: Australia

ANSWER:
According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there exist roughly 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012. That is up from 500 in 1800 and 39,000 in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025.

Currently, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is formed every 10.5 hours, or 2.3 denominations a day.

Wikipedia does a great job listing the largest denominations. Religion Facts compares the major denominations. And the Hartford Institute for Religion Research has links to hundreds of official denominational websites.

Here is a mashup of some their data. Since Church Relevance focuses primarily on Protestantism, I will elaborate on that data.

Catholicism - (1,200,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Protestantism - (792,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Eastern Orthodoxy - (230,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Oriental Orthodox Church - (82,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Anglicanism - (85,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Nontrinitarianism - (36,000,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Nestorianism - (600,000 adherents) Click for beliefs.

Obviously, there are significant theological differences between the main branches of Christianity – Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglicanism, Nontrinitarianism, and Nestorianism. In fact, many might argue that some denominations are not Christianity at all.

Keep in mind, there are also significant dogmatic differences among churches within each denomination. For example, I know Charismatic Catholics, and I know Charismatic churches that act like Baptists. I know there is a great deal of diversity in the United Methodist Church. And Presbyterians have been divided on homosexuality issues. The list could go on.

The End of Protestant Denominational Identity?

For Protestant churches, asking “What denomination are you?” seems increasingly irrelevant as more churches own their own unique theological DNA. The real question is:

What does your specific church believe?

Since denominations are losing their consistency, some suggest that multi-site churches are the denominations of the future. What do you think is the future of denominations?

If you have a question you want Church Relevance to answer, submit it via our Q+A form.

This question was originally asked and answered in 2008. We’ve updated the answer for 2012.

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

10 responses to Q+A :: List of Christian Denominations and Their Beliefs

  1. What i believe is that God himself is not particular about the Denominations but what count more is about the life we live.

  2. Why not go back to where Jesus started his church in Acts ? and continue in the Apostle’s doctrine ?

    let all men be lier’s and my word be true…. who will explain that verse ?

  3. Donald W. Everage June 7, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Many different religions here on earth.Many sects(differents beliefs) of each religion. Many prophets and teachers preaching and teaching them. Pure: That which is free from being corrupt,polluted,contaminated,weak,ineffective,different,inferior. Original: That which was first before it was copied, imitated,derived from,changed. Christianity: The way that the Almighty God established for all nations of men to return to a good,pure, and perfect relationship with Him, through the exsamples of obedience,faith,rightousness,and truth of His Son Jesus Christ,who did no sin,neither was guile found in His mouth( 1Peter 2:22)who He sent with His apostles,and through their teachings undo the curse(labor,war,physical and mental sicknesses and diseases) brought upon all mankind through the sin(disobedience) of the first man Adam and his wife Eve.PURE,ORIGINAL,CHRISTIANITY(Is there such a thing?) This is absolutely the one and only way to heaven and eternal life by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ and following the exact writings (teaching and doings) of the apostles of Jesus Christ.. Matthew10:40

  4. The first church was not in Rome.the Catholic was the first denominational church.the first church was in jerusalem.on the day of pentacost.If you can’t see man has lost his way with 39000 difrent belief.With one bible one god one way.I would not join up with none of them.Ever what church you go to there going to make you that.that all it can do?Weather it be baptist catholic or whatever.The bible said to belong to christ.Every single one of these is a cut from the Catholic church.Check Church history.They everyone took thing the like from the catholic and pass it on.Who do you think the mark of the beast is.and who the harlot are?The people are worshiping Satan and don’t know it.Now there are christain in those churches they don’t know any better.But it the organization i am agaist.Show me in the bible were there is aposle creed dogmas.there all man made.For if you take one word out the books of these prophecy.his name shall be taking out of the book of life.Brother if you are in these things get to christ has hard has you can.Stay with what the bible says.For they have made my father house aden thieves.that is all they are. Michael Beard

  5. totally….. if the idea of church is to be united in our faith, which is that Jesus IS the son of God, then why so many denominations?????? it is just the little things that seperate us from each others’ faith…. some believe the 7th day to rest is on saturday, others sunday…. some don’t believe that clapping your hands, dancing, speaking in tongues, or jumping to praise is allowed in church…. Jesus once said, “in my father’s house, there are many rooms”….. now, how in the world are we gonna fit the millions of various church denominations without any commotions but with the accpetance of each others’ beliefs into one house?????? if it could be possible in God’s house, then why can’t we start here, on earth, and unite ourselves under one gigantic house of God?!?

    Christians of the world, let’s get back to the basics and be ONE in CHRIST!!!!!!!

  6. Donald W. Everage January 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    PURE:Free from that which corrupts,pollutes,contaminates,defiles,makes ineffective,is different,inferior.
    ORIGINAL:That which is first before it was copied,imitated,derived from,changed.
    CHRISTIANITY:The way that the creator of heaven and earth, the Almighty God established for all people of every language and tongue everywhere to return to a good,pure,and perfect relationship with Him .through the examples of faith,obedience,righteousness,and truth of His son Jesus Christ,who did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth(1Peter2:22) and through the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles undo the curse brought upon all mankind through the sin(disobedience) of the first man Adam and his wife Eve. PURE ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY.This is absolutely the one and only true
    and sure way to eternal life in heaven.GUARANTEED.Going back to the very beginning,the
    foundation,the ground root,the very first basic teachings of Christianity beginning with ACTS 2:38 which is the key into the kingdom of God or heaven as preached by the apostle Peter given to him in Matthew 16:18-19. AMEN.

  7. Mormonism isn’t a Christian religion/denomination. When you teach that Jesus is a created being, brother of Satan, married to 3 women and was picked over Satan because he had the better plan of salvation, you are not a Christian.

    Mormons teach that their god was once a man but has now been exalted to godhood and runs this planet from another planet near the star Kolob.

    Jesus Christ’s atonement to the Mormon occurs only “after all that we can do”. Once we’ve toiled enough on this earth, atoning for our sin, anything we missed after death is then atoned by the blood of Jesus Christ.

    To that end, Mormons baptise for the dead (Hitler was baptised on the account of another and could be in one of the 3 levels of the mormon heaven).

    the Mormon god is also married and having an endless amount of “spirit babies” from which all those on earth came.

    It’s truly offensive that Mormonism would be considered a Christian denomination when it was started by a freemason (who’s symbols are stitched into the fabric of “the holy undergarments” that all Mormons wear.)

    Not to sound like a fanatic but in all seriousness for a seminary to put that list out is a shame. I’d really consider amending that list because it’s just not appropriate and it is very inaccurate.

  8. @Skylar

    Unfortunately, both Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses are both academically labeled as Christian denominations even though their beliefs are very different from Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox denominations.

    We are highlighting the academic research. The best way to correct this is to try to change it at the academic level of categorizing religions.

  9. I totally understand that academically they are defined as a denomination of Christianity and placed under the same category, but it is entirely false. The question “Where can I find an extensive list of all Christian denominations and what they believe in?” didn’t seem to call for an academic definition but rather one based on the classifications the Bible teaches and the fundamentals of orthodox Christianity.

    If we let an secular institution (or even a seminary) define what makes a Christian denomination with such inaccuracy, it almost becomes a disservice to the reader because now cults are falsely being labeled as part of Christianity.

    I’m just saying that although even a seminary defines a cult as part of Christianity, albeit inaccurately, someone reading could potentially join without realizing what exactly they’re getting into.

  10. @Skylar

    I do understand, Skylar. I am not a fan of it in many ways, but for the sake of learning I think it helps to stick to academic categorization. I always appreciate your tenacity, Skylar. And I mean that in a deeply sincere way.