History of Christian divisions:
Christianity has gone through many transformations since the execution of Jesus circa 30 CE. Except for its first few half decade (circa 30 to 35 CE), Christianity has never been a single, unified religion:
Current divisions within Christianity:
Christianity remains seriously fragmented in the North America and elsewhere. There are over 1,500 Christian organizations in the United States alone. Some view Christianity as being composed of two or more quite different religions, each sharing the same name and each being based on a different interpretation of the Bible. Others view Christianity as being divided into three wings: conservative, mainline and liberal.
This division is reflected in the multiplicity of Christian associations in the U.S. at the national level, representing Pentecostal/Charismatic, other conservative Christian denominations, mainline/liberal denominations, Eastern Orthodox churches and Roman Catholicism.
Divisions within Christianity are also reflected at the local level. Many urban areas have one organization for Evangelical pastors, and a second group for the remaining Protestant clergy.
Theological differences remain within Christian denominations. Hot button items like access to abortion, status of women, equal rights to homosexuals, same-sex marriage, etc. have been largely resolved within liberal denominations. However, they are increasing polarization within mainline denominations and may lead to schisms.
Meanwhile, there are attempts at overcoming past divisions. Many conservative Christian groups are working together on social matters, such as opposing access to abortion, opposing equal rights for gays and lesbians, promoting prayer in public schools, preventing same-sex marriage, etc. Some Protestant denominations are reaching full communion with each other. Merger talks continue, without significant progress, between the Roman Catholic church and many other faith groups.
Ecumenism and inter-faith activities:
Ecumenism is a term that refers to intra-faith activities, i.e. within a single religion. It is most commonly used to refer to groups of Christians from diverse denominations cooperating together to work on projects of common interest, and/or to reduce barriers between faith groups. The World Council of Churches is a typical example.
Ecumenical organizations appear to be organized primarily by liberal, mainstream, and Roman Catholic individuals and groups. A random sampling by a Internet search engine of 18 ecumenical groups on the Internet showed:
Inter-Faith is a term that normally refers to a cooperative group that include representatives of a number of different religions. The United Communities of Spirit, an interfaith network with roots in the Parliament of World Religions, is one example.
We have prepared a list of hyperlinks to interfaith groups.
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