Largest Christian Denominations

The four largest Christian denominations are Roman Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Anglicanism or Episcopalianism. The Roman Catholic Church comprises over a seventh of the human population, with roughly a billion followers worldwide. This also accounts for about half of the world’s Christians.

Though this is not common knowledge, all of the other Christian denominations actually branched off of Catholicism, beginning with the Great Schism (also known as the East-West Schism) in 1054, which produced the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though it was the first to branch off, the Eastern Orthodoxy is only the third largest denomination, with only about 225 million adherents total. The second largest is actually Protestantism, with 500 million who identify as Protestant worldwide. Protestantism is also the largest Christian group in America, with over half of all American citizens identifying as such. Finally, Anglicanism/Episcopalianism is the fourth largest denomination, with only about 85 million adherents.
Largest Christian Churches Wordwide
Roman Catholicism, as stated previously, was the only Christianity for the first thousand years of the religion. It is the only denomination that can be traced back to the Bible’s Apostles. St. Peter was said to have been the first “Pope”, which, today, is the leader of the Roman Catholic church. However, in reality, there was actually no “Pope” or similar hierarchy until several hundred years after the existence of Jesus Christ. Currently, Roman Catholicism is dominant in France, Italy, Spain, and Latin America, and also has a significant following in the United States.

Protestantism came into existence during the Reformation. In the 1500s, this church was born as a reaction directly against traditional Roman Catholicism. A German man named Martin Luther published the 95 theses as the Protestant criticism against the Catholics. It argued against many specific practices and doctrines, but there was one common church practice that the Protestants found particularly distasteful. This practice was the sale of indulgences: that is to say, pardons for one’s sins. With enough money, one could buy oneself out of an eternity in hell using the sale of indulgences, and the Protestants saw this as “buying salvation”. In the modern world, Protestantism is the dominant religion in the United States, Germany, and Scandinavian countries, but it can be found virtually anywhere in the world.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, which is also known simply as Orthodox Christianity or the Eastern Orthodoxy, was the first distinct branch from the Roman Catholic Church to emerge. It arose due to the previously mentioned Great Schism, which was a split between the Greek (east) and the Latin (west) branches of the church. The Greek branch eventually became Orthodox Christianity. This denomination tends to be more philosophical and abstract than its Roman Catholic counterpart. Today, it is primarily found in Russia and Greece, as well as nearby places.

Finally, Anglicanism or Episcopalianism also developed during the 16th century Reformation. This denomination comprises all of the churches that descend from the Church of England. It is also based on the original tradition of the Church of England. This branch is generally thought of as being midway between Catholicism and Protestantism in its practices. They follow a mainly Protestant doctrine, but are quite similar to Catholics in many of their worship practices and in their use of a hierarchy. Anglicanism/Episcopalism is not the majority religion in any nation, but it can be found almost worldwide. Only places such as Northwest Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and most of Asia are not home to any adherents of this denomination.

So, in conclusion, the largest Christian denomination by number of adherents is the Roman Catholic church, which was originally not a denomination at all. The three next largest are its major offshoots, Protestantism, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, which were all produced as protests against the original Catholic doctrines.

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