Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Denominationalism is an attempt to reconcile the division of the original Christian church into separate factions, called a denomination. The term is particularly used about the various Protestant schools of thought. Examples of such denominations are Many Christians view denominationalism as a regrettable fact. The current trend as of 2003 is that the divisions are becoming less sharp, and there is an increasing cooperation between denominations. (See denomination for a distinction between denomination and association in religious governance.)

Theological denominationalism ultimately denies reality to any apparent doctrinal differences among the "denominations", reducing all differences to mere matters de nomina--"of names".

A denomination in this sense is created when part of a church no longer feel they can accept the leadership of that church as a spiritual leadership due to a different view of doctrine or what they see as immoral behaviour, but the schism does not in any way reflect either group leaving the Church as a theoretical whole.

This doctrine is, of course, unacceptable to those Christian groups that see themselves as being the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" as a whole. This includes the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, and the Oriental Orthodox Communion, each of which claims to be the exclusive "Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church". In these "denominations", it is not possible to have a "purely administrative" separation, and any such attempts automatically are a type of schism.