A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organisation, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as branches of Christianity or denominational families. Individual Christian groups vary widely in the degree to which they recognize one another, several groups claim to be the direct and sole authentic successor of the church founded by Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD. Others, however, believe in denominationalism, where some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs. Because of this concept, some Christian bodies reject the term denomination to describe themselves, however, the Catholic Church does not view itself as a denomination, but as the original pre-denominational church. This view is rejected by other Christian denominations, Protestant denominations account for approximately 37 percent of Christians worldwide. Together, Catholicism and Protestantism comprise Western Christianity, Western Christian denominations prevail in Western, Northern, Central and Southern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas and Oceania. The Eastern Orthodox Church, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, is the second-largest Christian organization in the world, unlike the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church is itself a communion of fully independent autocephalous churches that mutually recognize each other to the exclusion of others. The Eastern Orthodox Church, together with Oriental Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church of the East, Eastern Christian denominations are represented mostly in Eastern Europe, North Asia, the Middle East and Northeast Africa. Christians have various doctrines about the Church and about how the church corresponds to Christian denominations. Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox hold that their own organizations faithfully represent the One Holy catholic and Apostolic Church to the exclusion of the other, sixteenth-century Protestants separated from the Catholic Church because of theologies and practices that they considered to be in violation of their own interpretation. But some non-denominational Christians do not follow any particular branch, though regarded as Protestants. Each group uses different terminology to discuss their beliefs and this section will discuss the definitions of several terms used throughout the article, before discussing the beliefs themselves in detail in following sections. A denomination within Christianity can be defined as an autonomous branch of the Christian Church, major synonyms include religious group, sect, Church. Some traditional and evangelical Protestants draw a distinction between membership in the church and fellowship within the local church. Becoming a believer in Christ makes one a member of the universal church, a related concept is denominationalism, the belief that some or all Christian groups are legitimate churches of the same religion regardless of their distinguishing labels, beliefs, and practices. Protestant leaders differ greatly from the views of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, each church makes mutually exclusive claims for itself to be the direct continuation of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, from whom other denominations later broke away. These churches, and a few others, reject denominationalism, Christianity can be taxonomically divided into five main groups, the Church of the East, Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism
Christian Schisms and their Councils
Door of the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Wittenberg to which Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses on 31st October 1517, sparking the Reformation.
Major branches and movements within Protestantism.