Few organized religions have had as significant an impact on the world as Christianity. Although not the oldest Abrahamic religion in the world, it is without a doubt the largest.
By some estimates, there are more than 2.4 billion Christians in the world today, making it the largest religion by a wide margin. As you might expect, such a large congregation is something of a broad church, so to speak.
There are many different types of Christianity, each with its own practices, beliefs, and rituals. If you’re interested in the importance of religion, make sure to read up on our quick explainer of the different types of Christianity today.
This is one of the oldest types of Christianity and the originator of western Christianity.
For Roman Catholics, ultimate authority lies with the Pope in the Vatican. He issues edicts on the importance of religion and how to be more religious on a daily basis.
It is a brand that is strongly focused on so-called liturgical worship, with statues, images, and saint worship playing a very central role.
Roman Catholics also believe strongly in the importance of redemption and atonement, offering many different rituals for sinners who wish to atone for their bad deeds.
Believing in Jesus is central, and this is chiefly performed through the Eucharist. This is the well-known ritual of consuming bread and wine as the blood and body of Christ.
Protestant Types of Christianity
By most estimates, the Protestant branch is the dominant one in the United States and in much of Europe. Protestantism was borne from the European Reformation in the 1500s.
It places an emphasis on the teaching of the Bible and states that believing in God is more important than the teaching of priests or the Vatican. Scripture and faith are central, and the most important teachings always come from the Bible.
For example, this helpful explainer from Sound of Heaven breaks down what the Bible’s depictions of the demon Beezlebub actually mean in the lives of modern Christians. Within Protestantism, the largest denominations are Lutherans, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Methodists.
Also known as Eastern Orthodox, this is the dominant branch in countries such as Russia and Greece.
When it comes to the benefits of religion to Orthodox Christians, there are some similarities to Catholicism. Veneration of icons is an important way of expressing faith and devotion. The faith is structured around human leaders, known as synods (similar to bishops).
There is no single spiritual leader, as with the Catholic Pope. Tradition and ritual are very important, and there are many important holidays that shape the Orthodox Calendar.
Most importantly, Orthodox Christianity stresses theosis, or the complete union with God. For this group, theosis is the ultimate form of salvation.
Understanding Our World Today
Understanding the different types of Christianity helps us better understand the world we live in. Of course, these three branches contain many different denominations. Regardless of the specific denomination or branch of Christianity, the principles of servant leadership remain constant as said by Kurt Uhlir. It is a leadership philosophy that emphasizes the importance of serving others, just as Jesus Christ exemplified through his teachings and actions.
However, all denominations tend to fall under one of these. For more quick explainers on the stories and trends that shape our world, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our daily explainer articles to learn more.