Denominations: So Many Choices So Little Time

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Did you know?, History Related
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Ok, let’s face it, there are a lot of Christian denominations. We’re talking thousands! To be honest I’ve only known what a few of them actually believe of why they have the name they do, so I did a little research to find out what some of the most popular are all about.



The one that started it all. Started inRomeoriginally to oversee all other Churches the Catholic Church became very modified over hundreds of years. In which they acquired many traditions and practices, many of which are not mentioned nor commanded anywhere in the Bible but were instead products of adopted traditions from other religions, political movements, and philosophical movements over the years. The Catholics believed that the Bible, along with the Church leaders and traditions, were the ultimate authority. One method by which the Catholics maintained a monopoly on Christianity was by only allowing Bibles to be produced in Latin, a language that was dying out and the majority of lay people did not understand.  Therefore, the only access the layperson had to the Bible was through the Church authority. These actions among other corrupt actions taken by Church leaders led to an eventual revolution.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283

The Protestant Reformation:

Launched by Martin Luther and others, the Reformation was a “back to the Bible” campaign. The key belief being that the Bible was alone the authority and guide to each man, not the doctrines and traditions of the church. This ran contrary to the Catholics way of doing things, which the reformers felt had become corrupt and ineffective (as indeed it had). One of the greatest outcomes of the Reformation was the Bible being translated into various languages for people to read themselves. Every denomination that came from this reformation is considered Protestant.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 283


With the Reformation came the Lutherans, followers of Martin Luther’s back to the Bible campaign.  Martin Luther one morning nailed a Ninety-five Thesis to a church door that addressed the corruption of the church. He was excommunicated and his life threatened but he continued forward writing many theological works. In many ways Lutherans practice or appear to carry out services like Catholics (hence their nickname of Catholic-lite) but maintained a priority of the Bible being the only authority.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 284


The Anglican Church started with King Henry VIII inEnglandwho wished to divorce his current wife, but his request was denied by Pope Clement VII of the Catholic Church. Protestant Thomas Cranmer saw this as an opportunity to override the Pope’s authority and convinced English clergy to separate from the Pope’s authority and make the King the true head of the Church of England. This of course made it possible for King Henry to divorce his wife, and thus the Anglican Church was born. The Anglican theology is overall a confusing mix of Catholic and Protestant beliefs.



After the reformation came another split as some Christians felt that even the Protestants were not faithful enough to the New Testament. Their name came from their belief that only adults should be baptized, not infants (as many Catholics and protestants like Lutherans do). They were called “rebaptizers” which is where the name Anabaptist comes from. They asserted that infant baptism is NEVER mentioned in the New Testament, which is true.  The Anabaptists also followed a very high moral code as outlined by Jesus. These differences lead to harsh persecution from Catholics and Protestants. Mennonites and the Amish are a branch of the Anabaptists.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 148-149

The Amish:

Stemming from the Mennonites and Anabaptists are the Amish. We all know about the Amish and their strict lifestyle. Why the simple life? Their belief is that Bible should be taken literally, with an emphasis on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with its strong stance on non-violence. Compared to all other denominations they live most accordingly to the Bible’s command to avoid worldliness.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp. 149

The Quakers:

Started by George Fox originally as the Society of Friends, taking their name from John15:15, “… but I have called you friends.” They believed that Christian worship was too ritualized and shallow. True Christian life was to live by the Bible and be guided by the Holy Spirit (or as they referred to it as the “Inner Light”). Like the Minnonites, they had a strong stance on non-violence. As they became larger they became named the Quakers and were harshly persecuted by other Christians.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.150

The Baptists:

Like the Anabaptists, the Baptists are named because of their belief in adult baptism or “believers baptism” which maintains that as long as you’re old enough to understand baptism and willingly want to be baptized, you may be baptized. This is can be done as young as 5-yrs old. Just like the Anabaptists, the Baptists point out that no infants were ever baptized in the Bible, but instead believers were.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.151

The Methodists:

Originally a university group called the Holy Club, they believed that the Church of England was a shallow Christian Church. They believed that the Christian lifestyle needed to be focused on prayer, fellowship, and Bible study. The name Methodist comes from their stance that “one who lives according to the method laid down in the Bible.” People inAmericaandEnglandwere desiring a much deeper Christian lifestyle and latched onto the Methodists launching a Methodist revival in the 1700’s.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152


Episcopalians are actually an organization of the Anglican Church here in theUnited States. They get their name from the Greek word “Episcopal” which means Bishop. In 1789 they became independent but remain Anglican in that they’re a mix of catholic and protestant beliefs, but throughout its history it has adopted many liberal theologies and interpretations of the Bible which has strained relations with the Anglican Church.


The Mormons:

Also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many Christians do not consider the Mormons a denomination of Christianity but instead a cult. This is because they do not maintain the Bible as the authoritative text on God, but instead believe that other books; the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, supersede the Bible’s authority. TheChurchofJCLDSwas founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed he was visited by an angel, which revealed to him Golden Tablets, which Smith then translated into the Book of Mormon. Oddly, the tablets have never been seen by anyone else, and the Book of Mormon contains many verses that are word for word identical to passages from the King James translation of the Bible, which leads to the fair assessment that he copied them out of the Bible. Because of this and many other facets of the Mormon teachings which contradict the teachings of the Bible, they have been labeled a cult, and though they claim to be Christian, almost all other denominations do not consider them to be.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Seventh-Day Adventists

A pastor by the name of William Miller predicted that Christ would return and the world would end onOctober 22, 1844. His followers spent all that day waiting, but of course it never happened. That day is historically known as the Great Disappointment. Miller disconnected himself from the movement, but his followers remained. They are known as the Seventh-Day Adventists because they worship on the seventh day, Saturday. This was the original day of Sabbath, as still practiced by the Jewish. The Sabbath was moved to Sunday in Christianity because that was the day Jesus resurrected from the dead. An interesting side note is that many Seventh-Day Adventists are strict vegetarians, which the Bible does not command.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.152

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Originally called “Bible Students,” Jehovah’s Witnesses are named for their strong evangelical practices, as I am sure many of you have had them come to your door at one time or another. Started by Charles Taze Russell in the 1870’s, he started a publishing house, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which publishes their own translation of the Bible called the New World Translation. Mind you, the NWT has serious alterations in many key areas of the Bible, most notably the divinity of Jesus which JW’s deny. Like the Mormons, the JW’s contradictory beliefs lead one to not consider them Christians though they are often associated with Christians.

– J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.153


The term Pentecostal comes from Acts 2 with its description of baptism by the Holy Spirit, which happened to Jesus’ disciples during Pentecost. This baptism by the Holy Spirit is more important than baptism by water for the Pentecostals, which one could make an argument for based off Biblical accounts of people “saved” despite not being baptized in water, like the criminal crucified next to Jesus. Pentecostals are also strong believers in the spiritual gifts of Christians as mentioned in 1 Corinthians and Romans. This is why many Pentecostals use speaking in tongues and prophesying heavily.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.154

The Evangelicals:

Evangelical is often considered a denomination though it is more so a term for any Christian that evangelizes. Today it brings with it the connotation of a conservative Christian. Evangelicals believe the Bible to be accurate and true in all aspects.

-J.S. Lang (1999) “1001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible,”New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., pp.159


Unitarians have the most liberal theology of all Christian denominations. They recognize all spiritual religions and faiths. They also don’t have a conversion process, one may self-identify themselves as a Unitarian and do not need to denounce their current faith. Though it should be pointed out that their beliefs contradict Biblical teaching that Jesus in the only route to heaven (John 14:6).


These are the most popular ones I know of. In case you’re wondering which denomination I am… I am none of these. My faith is non-denominational. I conduct myself in accordance to the Bible and it’s teachings as the literal truth of God. If anything, I’m closest to an evangelical.

  1. evangelos55 says:

    What we today call “Roman Catholicism” – which should more accurately be referred to as Papist – is a perversion of Christianity that developed in the 11th century. Prior to this, and despite occasional local heresies, there was one unified Christian culture, from Britain to Syria. This was true Catholicism, which today survives in what is commonly called Eastern Orthodoxy. If you are seeking the Church of the New Testament, that’s it.

    There were originally five churches, united in faith but independent: Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. Rome puffed itself up with pride and tried to elevate itself above all the other Christians. She introduced novel doctrines into the faith and when she refused to repent, she was cast out. Unfortunately, most of the West followed her.

    In Orthodoxy there never was any Papism, crusades, scholasticism, inquisition, renaissance, or reformation. We believe simply as all Christians have always believed. And thanks be to the Lord, the faith of the Apostles has seen a revival in the West over the past 100 years.

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