Denominationalism is the division of one religion into separate groups, sects, schools of thought or denominations. Denominationalism as an ideology which views some or all Christian groups as being, in some sense, versions of the same thing regardless of their distinguishing labels, is not accepted by all Christian churches. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches do not use this term as its implication of interchangeability does not agree with their theological teachings. Denominationalism is a largely Protestant concept among Christians.
in English-speaking countries
Denominational families include:
- Bible Study Movement
- Catholicism, although the Roman Catholic Church considers itself the original Church (and as such, "pre-denominational"), not a denomination;
- Mormonism or Latter Day Saints, a very special type within the restoration movement, although most of other Christian denominations and churches do not consider Mormons to be Christians at all;
- Eastern Orthodoxy, although the Orthodox and Apostolic churches consider themselves the original churches and not denominations;
- Reformed churches
These families of churches can be further sub-divided.
Individual denominations or communions include:
- The Anglican Communion (Anglican family)
- The Continuing Anglican churches (Anglican family)
- The Southern Baptist Convention (Baptist family)
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Lutheran family)
- The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (Lutheran family)
- The United Methodist Church (Methodist family)
- The Free Methodist Church (Methodist family)
- The Christian Reformed Church (Reformed family)
- The Reformed Church in America (Reformed family)
- The Roman Catholic Church (Catholic family)
- The Old Catholic churches (Catholic family)
- The Disciples of Christ (Restorationist family)
- The Churches of Christ (Restorationist family)
- The Jehova's Witnesses (Bible Students Movement family)
Some Christians view denominationalism as a regrettable fact. As of 2011 divisions are becoming less sharp, and there is increasing cooperation between denominations (See denomination for a distinction between denomination and association in religious governance), although relations between Liberal Christians and Conservative Christians remain tense.
Theological denominationalism ultimately denies reality to any apparent doctrinal differences among the "denominations", reducing all differences to mere matters de nomina ("of names").
A denomination in this sense is created when part of a church no longer feel they can accept the leadership of that church as a spiritual leadership due to a different view of doctrine or what they see as immoral behaviour, but the schism does not in any way reflect either group leaving the Church as a theoretical whole.
This particular doctrine is, of course, unacceptable to those Christian groups that see themselves as being the "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" as a whole. This includes Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism and the Oriental Orthodoxy, each of which claims to be the subsistence of the exclusive "Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church". In these churches, it is not possible to have a separation over doctrinal or leadership issues, and any such attempts automatically are a type of schism.
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