Classification of Christianity

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For criticism see Criticism of Classification of Christianity

A number of different schemes have been used to classify Christianity. The traditional one, still widely used, is as follows:

  1. (Roman) Catholic
  2. Protestant
  3. (Eastern) Orthodox

An alternative scheme is used in the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Penguin Handbook of Living Religions and the UK Christian Handbook. There are slight variations. Here is the version in the 2nd edition of WCE:

  1. Roman Catholics
  2. Independents [mainly non-white churches]
  3. Protestants
  4. Orthodox
  5. Anglicans
  6. Marginal Christians [Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses etc.]

A third scheme is given at [1], in a website specializing in religious statistics. It is described there as "sociological".

  1. Catholic
  2. Orthodox/Eastern Christian
  3. Conservative Protestant
  4. Liberal Protestant
  5. African indigenous sects (AISs)
  6. Pentecostal
  7. Anglican
  8. Jehovah's Witnesses
  9. Latter Day Saints [Mormons]
  10. New Thought (Unity, Christian Science, etc.)
  11. Friends (Quakers)

A different type of classification cuts across denominational boundaries, classifying individual Christians by what they treat as the main sources of authority:[1]

  • Orthodox: church, tradition, liturgy
  • conservative Catholic: church, tradition, Pope
  • Protestant, formerly: scripture, church
  • liberal (Catholic and Protestant): reason, experience
  • charismatic (Catholic and Protestant): Holy Spirit, scripture
  • evangelical Protestant: scripture
  1. Woodhead, Religions in the Modern World, Routledge, 2002, page 157