Archive August 6, 2021

Why does Christianity have so many denominations?

According to a recent report published by the LiveScience portal, there are currently more than 2 billion Christians spread across the world. Interestingly, this body of believers is segregated into different denominations, such as Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Apostolic, Methodist, etc.

According to new estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Christianity today proliferates in 45,000 denominations – more than 200 in the United States alone.

Faced with this reality, the intriguing question arises: why does Christianity have so many ramifications? Initially, it is believed that the answer lies in differences in belief and in the achievements of power – but, obviously, the essence of all this segregation has more foundations.

As Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor emeritus of Church History at Oxford University, UK, explains, differentiation and variety have been, to a certain extent, markers of Christianity since the beginning of the religion’s presence. For the professional, “there was never a united Christianity”.

Initial divisions

The early Church, which spans from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry between 27 CE and 325 CE, was divided on the basis of geography. “Worship styles and interpretations of Jesus’ teachings vary according to regional cultures and customs,” reports Bruce Gordon, professor of church history at Yale Divinity School.

At the time, Christian theology underwent major ruptures – or, if you prefer, schisms. One of the most notable early schisms was the Aryan controversy, which, at the beginning of the fourth century, divided the church based on the materialization of the figure of Jesus. But how? Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, vehemently claimed that Jesus had been “begotten” – or created – by God, while Athanasius, an Alexandrian theologian, brought up the fact that Jesus was the incarnation of God.

“It caused a huge revolution in the Roman Empire,” said Christopher West, a doctoral candidate in ancient Christianity and medieval studies at Yale University. “This basically split the Christians of the Roman Empire in half, as the Council of Nicea – a group of theologians and scholars brought together by Emperor Constantine I in 325 AD – ended up against Arius. But despite the official view of the Church, Christians remained divided for more than a century.”

Nevertheless, these denominations continued to flow in parallel with time. In 1054, for example, Eastern Orthodox Christians split from Western Roman Catholics – a break that became known as the Great Schism. The two groups, meanwhile, disagreed about taking the sacraments—religious symbols believed to convey divine grace to those who believe. Furthermore, Eastern Orthodox Christians disagreed with Roman beliefs that priests should remain celibate and that the Roman pope had authority over the head of the Eastern church.

In 1378, Christianity is faced with another new schism – even if temporary – entitled the Western Schism. Here, the case gains traction when fervent believers come to claim that they are the true papal heirs. The intrigue, imposed within the Church itself, lasted for about 40 years and by the time it was resolved, specifically in 1417, the popes had significantly damaged the reputation of the papal office.

Despite these and countless other schisms, the Catholic Church successfully suppressed other potential Christian offshoots, in part through persecution, sustained by royal military expeditions against heretics, and inquisitions.


After the Protestant Reformation in 1517, the number of denominations began to multiply. The ramifications come with the Reformation – instigated by a series of events, specifically Martin Luther’s 95 theses – which emphasized intimate faith and consequently generated a reaction to the fact that the Bible was the final authority, not the Church hierarchy.

In the 17th century, as Protestants began using scriptures to criticize the Roman Catholic Church, claiming that any believer could read the documents and have a personal relationship with God, the churches began to divide.

These divisions, therefore, start to consolidate based on the myriad of biblical interpretations, forms of worship and organizational structures – thus emerging the denominations we already know – Presbyterians, Mennonites, Baptists and Quakers, among others.

Why have crocodiles barely changed over millions of years?

Regarding evolution, recent scientific researches that focus on the stop-go pattern indicate that the crocodiles we know today are relatively which lived alongside dinosaurs in the Cretaceous and Jurassic period – there are almost 200 million, at one time where humans were not yet on the scene.

And what has changed then? According to scientists at the University of Bristol, England, the difference involves two parameters: size and variety of species – crocodiles were much larger than those that currently exist and, according to fossil records, prehistory encompassed a greater variety in compared to the present.

Based on analysis, it is believed that some of them were giants, the size of some dinosaurs; others were serpentine and, nevertheless, even herbivores – which is quite different now, mainly because of the species diversity, which is very small compared to many other animal species.

The evolution of crocodiles

To find out that there is a certain similarity between crocodiles and their ancestors and the stop-go evolutionary pattern of these reptiles, Max Stockdale, one of the researchers at the University of Bristol, analyzed a learning algorithm – which ultimately determined how well the crocodiles have changed within this span of time.

Relevant measures for the research were animal size, structure change, food intake needs and probability of extinction. After sifting through the results, the researchers found that the crocodiles achieved a body type that was versatile and efficient enough not to require further changes for survival purposes.

Thus, it was determined that crocodiles follow a pattern called ‘punctuated equilibrium’, that is, they evolve quickly only when the environment changes significantly enough to meet a new adaptation process – which explains why these animals have survived to the event that caused the extinction.

Scientists now intend to conduct further research to understand why some species of crocodiles have been lost over time while others remained active.

Living fossils

As experts explain, modern crocodiles are part of the Archosauria lineage, a group that basically involves endothermic pterosaurs, dinosaurs and birds. “The clues to this relationship are found in their anatomy,” explains Roger Seymour, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

“Since crocodilians have adopted straighter limbs than other reptiles, they have gizzards, a four-chambered heart and a bird-like respiratory system,” there is no doubt that today’s crocodiles are a relic of the cold-blooded reptile transition. for endothermic dinosaurs and birds.

According to Christopher Brochu, a paleontologist at the University of Iowa, the same characteristics cited above suggest not only that animals “moved more quickly than their living relatives – which implies a slightly higher metabolic rate and possibly a position in the more distant spectrum. of cold-blooded lineage than modern crocodilians – as well as returned to water during the Mesozoic Era .

“This transition from active land animals to semi-aquatic predators is probably the reason why modern crocodiles have developed a lifestyle that is more cold-blooded,” reveals a publication by the Gauchazh portal.