Varieties of non-Catholic Christianity

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Because non-Catholics disagree with each other as much or more than they disagree with the Catholic Church, there is only one true statement that can be made about all of them as a group: whatever they have kept from the Catholic Tradition unites them with Catholics; whatever they have rejected from or added to the Catholic Tradition separates them from Catholics.

There isn't even a convenient label for all of the kinds of non-Catholic Christianities; neither the ancient Eastern schismatics nor many of the recent non-denominational Christians want to be identified as "Protestants"; I still tend to lump all of the Western schismatics together as Protestants because it is a handier term than "non-Catholic Christian," but I have seen that this makes some of the more recent schismatics unhappy; they do not want to be associated with any other form of Christianity from history or from some other part of the world. Since they still do meet as a group, they have not yet reached the logical conclusion of one person per Church, but they come as close as they can to the ideal of "just me and my Bible."

A technical distinction is made by some between schismatics and heretics. The "schismatics" are those such as the Eastern Orthodox who retain the basic doctrine and sacraments of Catholicism but reject the jurisdiction of the Pope. "Heretics" reject part of the tradition and keep part of the tradition. For my purposes, "schismatic" is the better general category for all who splinter away from Mother Church, regardless of whether they accept much or little of the Deposit of Faith, including the recent "Catholic" Schisms in the West.

The schisms in Christianity date to different times and places:

Association of Religion Data Archives--Denominational Profiles in the U.S.
Denominational Family Trees in the U.S.
Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
1054 Schism between Roman Catholicism and Eastern, Orthodox Catholicism
October 31, 1517 Martin Luther inaugurates the classical, mainline Protestant schisms
19th-20th century New "Catholic" schisms
20th century Rise of non-denominationalism; thousands or tens of thousands of independent Christian groups that do not want to be called "Protestant" or be identified with any kind of Christianity other than their local church.

All it takes to launch a new version of Christianity is a Bible and a collection basket. The essence of Protestantism is private judgment. There is no Pope of Protestantism. No Protestant can tell another Protestant what to believe. This is a formula for more splintering. In the end, there are logically as many different kinds of Protestantism as their are Protestants, each one saying: "Leave me alone. I've got my God, my Bible, and my way of life. That's all I need or want."

The Moral of the Story:
Schism breeds schism.

Some identifiable groups

  • Adventists
  • Anabaptist
  • Anglican / Episcopalian
  • Baptist
  • Calvinist
  • Congregational
  • Gospel Hall Brethren
  • Lutheran
  • Methodist / Wesleyan
  • Non-denominational
  • Pentecostal (Charismatic)
  • Presbyterian
  • Quakers
  • Reformed
  • Restoration movement
  • Unitarian
  • Waldensians


  • Orthodox
  • "High Church" Anglicans and Lutherans


  • Shakers (?)
  • Mennonites
  • Hutterites
  • Amish


  • Revivalist
  • Wesleyan Methodists
  • Baptists?



  • Feminist
  • Secularized
    • Bultmann
    • Tillich
    • Harvey Cox
    • Gregory Baum
  • Syncretistic--New Age
    • Matthew Fox, The dancing bear
    • Hindu/Buddhist Christianity
    • Neo-pagan (Druids, witches, warlocks; really, anti-christians, so perhaps they don't belong here at all.


  • Dispensationalists

Pacifist (cuts across other categories?)

  • Quakers

Different methods of grouping:

  • Date of schism from Catholicism or from another schism
  • Ecclesiology
    • Church organization
    • Relation to other Christian bodies (connected or disconnected)
  • Dogmatic theology (creeds of the churches)
  • Sacramental theology (liturgy)
  • Relationship to society (established or free)
  • Biblical hermeneutics
  • patristic, neo-patristic
  • monastic
  • scholastic, Thomist
  • idealist, Kantian, Hegelian, transcendental
  • positivist, rationalist
  • existentialist
  • evangelical, Pentecostal
  • socialist, liberationist, Marxist
  • secularist, atheistic
  • Catholic vs. Protestant?
  • mystical (gnostic?)
  • Scriptural, Biblical
  • fundamentalist


  • Barthian


  • Kierkegaardian

ARDA Families (U.S.)

  • Adventist Family
  • Anglicanism Family
  • Baptist Family
  • Christian Science Family
  • Communal Family
  • Eastern Liturgical Family (Orthodox)
  • European Free-Church Family (Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers, Amish)
  • Holiness Family
  • Independent Fundamentalist Family
  • Judaism Family
  • Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism)
  • Liberal Family
  • Lutheran Family
  • Methodist/Pietist Family
  • Other Groups
  • Pentecostal Family
  • Presbyterian-Reformed Family
  • Spiritualist Family
  • Western Liturgical Family (Catholicism)

Possible methods of representation

  • Genealogy
  • Timeline
  • Decision tree
  • Cartesian grid
  • YAML or JSON
  • Spreadsheet
  • HTML table
  • Nested list
    • second level
      • third level
        • fourth level
          • fifth level
            • sixth level
              • seventh level
                • eighth level

Derivatives of the Catholic Church

This table comes from from the chart, "Derivation of Protestant Denominations," in Catholicism: The Faith of our Fathers by Albert J. Nevins (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1995).

I've reorganized this table chronologically in an outline of Christian schisms.

Small Church
Old Church
Catholic Apostolic of France
Gallican Catholic
French Catholic
Old Catholic
Primitive Catholic
Polish National
         English Methodist or Wesleyan
         Calvinist Methodist
Methodist New Connection
Primitive Methodist
Primitive Christians
Free Methodists
Salvation Army
American Methodist (Methodist Episcopal)
         Reformed Methodist
African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Union African
                 African Union Methodist Episcopal
Union American
Protestant Methodist
African Methodist Episcopal Church
         Reformed Union
Independent African Methodist Episcopal
Wesleyan Connection
Pentecostal or Assembly of God
         Revival Union
First Century Pentecostal
Evangelist Revival
Christian Decision
Missionary Revival
Free Pentecostal
Independent Pentecostal
Pentecostal Holiness
Pentecostal Assembly
French-Swiss Pentecostal
Gospel Mission
Friends of Revival
Pentecostal Alliance
Independent Pentecostal
Apostolic Church
United Pentecostal
Calvary Pentecostal
Voice of Healing
Assembly of Christian Evangel.
Methodist Episcopal
         Free Methodist
Holiness Methodist
Congregational Methodist
Reformed Zion
Colored Methodist Episcopal Church
New Congregational
English Baptist
German Baptist
American Baptist
         Seventh Day Adventists
         Church of God
Reformed Adventists
Life and Advent
Primitive Adventists
Bible Students
         Jehovah's Witnesses
Friends of Man
Disciples of Christ
Independent Baptists
Free Will Baptists
Primitive Baptists
Evangelical Baptists
Apostolic or Irvingites
         Neo-Apostolic Church
         New Neo-Apostolic Church
Plymouth Brethren
         Closed Brethren
Open Brethren
Brethren-Eight Groups
Protestant Episcopal
         Primitive Friends

Christian Science

         New Christian Science
Free Christian Science
Reformed Christian Science