Major differences of six main religious branches of Eastern, Western, Protestants, Reformed, and Non-Denominational Catholic churches
The apostles established several churches in various places. Two major groups developed, who both claim apostolic succession—Eastern and Western Catholics.
Six major branches of Christianity today
1. Eastern (Catholicos)
Also called Eastern Orthodox who established themselves in Eastern Europe. Their seat of power was in Constantinople until it fell in 1453. The church remains today and they also have a pope.
2. Western (Catholics)
Roman Catholicism was established when the Roman Empire was about to collapse. The influence of the emperors brought them clout and power. The pagan origin of the Roman papacy is rooted in the empire’s College of Pontiff.
Protestants are not a branch of Roman Catholicism. Although the founding fathers were former priests, they were excommunicated. Their teachings are rooted in scriptures (not Catholic dogma) and assert the fact that it is apostolic preaching.
An unintended breakaway from Roman Catholicism, Martin Luther wanted to reform the Roman Catholic church. His influence was confined in Germany but it sparked the reformation across Europe in the 1600s.
Examples: Several branches (in opposition among themselves) of Lutherans, Anabaptists, Baptists. Anglicans are associated with Protestantism, but rose independently.
4. Calvinist (Protestants)
A breakaway from Roman Catholicism, John Calvin, like Luther, wanted to preach the true Gospel of Jesus. He and Luther agreed on several reformed doctrines.
Today, Calvinists are generally referred to as “reformed protestants.” Calvinism spread from central Europe to North America.
Examples: “Strong Calvinists,” Presbyterian, Reformed tradition.
5. Reformed Tradition
These are independent groups of churches that follow protestant tradition. They were mostly established between 1600 to 1900s.
Today, the popularity of apologists like R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and the late J.J. Packer triggered a resurgence of (strong or weak) Calvinism. They are generally referred to as reformed tradition.
Examples: Calvinist tradition, Arminianism. Although Methodist and Pentecostals are reformed, they are not Calvinists.
Various independent churches were established by a preacher or group whose teachings follow a combination of the protestant tradition and varying interpretations of scriptures by their organization.
Others refer to themselves as part of a Holy Spirit movement. However, many of them have opposing views.
Examples: Evangelicals (Broad description). Charismatic and Pentecostal are “Holy Spirit movements.” The Adventists (Ellen G. White), Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watch Tower), and LDS (Book of Mormon) have extra-Biblical sources for their doctrines.
OTHERS: Liberal, Progressive, and Ecumenical Churches
Generally, these churches claim Christian roots but do not necessarily follow the Bible in its entirety. Also called “progressive churches,” they focus on humanism and universalism. For them, Jesus is one of many ways to reach God.
Although Unitarian and Universalist churches are often associated with Christianity, they are not Christians. Other non-denominational churches like Mormonism, Iglesia Ni Cristo, and a host of other fanatic groups claim a new kind of apostolic revelation.
|Eastern Catholics||Holy Bible|
|Western Roman Catholics||Holy Bible, Catechism, Papacy|
|Reformed Protestants||Holy Bible|
|Others||Holy Bible, Liberal, Humanist, Universalism, Ecumenism, Holy Spirit movement, modern apostles|
|Western Roman Catholics||Yes|
|Others||Yes (With exceptions)|
|Eastern Catholics||Jesus Christ|
|Western Roman Catholics||Jesus Christ, Mary Co-Mediatrix, Sacraments and indulgence.|
|Reformed Protestants||Jesus Christ|
|Non-Denomination||Jesus Christ, (some combined with good works)|
|Others||Good works, character.|
Process of Redemption
|Eastern Catholics||Faith in Jesus, sacraments|
|Western Roman Catholics||Faith in Jesus, confession to a priest, penance (rosary, novena, flagellation), sacraments, indulgence, and purgatory|
|Lutheran||Faith in Jesus|
|Calvinist||Faith in Jesus, repentance|
|Reformed Protestants||Faith in Jesus, repentance|
|Non-Denomination||Faith in Jesus, baptism of Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues|
|Others||Good works, character|