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

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?

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