“Christianity is the most extensive monotheistic religion and with the largest number of followers in the world. However, it is not a single homogeneous belief system.”
There are several main branches of Christianity. Let’s see what they are.
The 4 main branches of Christianity
Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, believe that he is the son of God and the messiah who was crucified and rose from the dead to give eternal life to those who believe in him.
Being such a long and ancient religion, many Christian communities have branched out for different reasons giving way to the creation of other religious variants.
1. Protestantism [1517 a.c – ]
It is one of the most important branches of Christianity, with more than 900 million followers worldwide. Born in the sixteenth century when Martin Luther, today considered the father of Protestantism, it is he who officially broke away from the Catholic Church in 1517.
Protestants accept only two sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist. They do not recognize the authority of the Pope because they only recognize Christ as the leader of the church. For them, the Bible is the only text of the teachings of God.
They oppose the sale of indulgences, so they believe that salvation depends on the faith of the people and not on the works that are done. They do not believe in purgatory, in the sacrifice of the mass or in the intercession of the deceased saints. They do not allow the use of religious figures or images.
Because of its size in the world and the number of followers, it is considered one of the most influential branches of Christianity.
2. Orthodox [1000 a.c. – ]
Orthodox churches were separated from the Catholic Church in the eleventh century, although they maintain many similarities with this. It constitutes a community of independent churches, each governed by its own bishop. This branch of Christianity arises from the definitive separation of the Christian Church to find differences and not accept the modifications that the Roman Church proposed. Hence the name “orthodox” which means “right belief”, because they maintain the original creed of the Christian
Church as the source of the holy spirit, deny the existence of purgatory, reject the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary and ignore the concept of sin original that the Roman Church adopted.
The countries with a greater presence of Orthodox Christianity are Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Russia, among other nations.
One of the most notorious differences with the Roman church is that in the Orthodox church married men can be ordained with a woman of good reputation, so there are deacons and married priests. Undoubtedly, the Orthodox Church is one of the most popular in the world.
It is the branch of Christianity formed by the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church in Western Europe. It has its center in the Vatican that recognizes the Pope as its supreme authority. Of the existing branches of Christianity, this is the one with the most followers, with 1214 million faithful.
In addition to the adoration of Jesus, it is characterized by the importance it gives to the Virgin Mary and the saints. The Catholic Church argues that it is the only church founded by Christ that was entrusted to the Apostle Peter, and that is why it is claimed as a “sign and instrument of intimate union with God.”
The doctrine of the Catholic Church has been based on doctrines and concepts that are not present in the Bible and are transmitted through the apostolic tradition, this is one of the main reasons for the separation with Orthodox and Protestant.
Its main rites and sacraments are baptism, communion, eucharist and marriage.
4. Anglican Church [1215 a.c. – ]
It is founded and practiced in England and some places in the United States. It is a broad fraternity of 40 autonomous provinces of mutual dependence that is defined as the faith, practice and spirit of the member churches of the well-known “Anglican Communion” which are the churches that are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is one of the most numerous Christian communions in the world, with 98 million members.
They consider themselves as part of the Christian church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, and reformed. For many it represents a non-papal form of Catholicism or a form of Protestantism without founding figures such as Martin Luther or John Calvin.
Anglican Christianity has deep roots in the centuries before the sixteenth century, the core of the faith of Anglicans is found in the Bible, the 39 articles of the Christian faith and the book of common prayer, which summarizes the teaching of the first five centuries and reject the later evolution of the Catholic Church.
They reject the cult of images and all their bishops have the same rank sharing the leadership of the Church. They accept the Bible but freedom of interpretation is given. Clergy can get married.