Dictionary Definition



1 a narrow-minded adherence to a particular sect or party or denomination; "he condemned religious sectarianism" [syn: sectarianism]
2 the tendency, in Protestantism, to separate into religious denominations or to advocate such separations

Extensive Definition

Denominationalism is the division of one religion into separate groups.

Denominations and Denominational Families

Christianitiy and other religions have denominational families (or movements) and individual denominations (or communions). The terms are particularly used in reference to the various Protestant bodies and schools of thought. Some such denominational families and movements are:
Within these denominational families and movements are (often further denominational families and) various individual denominations or communions. The difference between a denomination and a denominational family is sometimes fuzzy. Some individual denominations or communions include:

Is Denominationalism Bad?

Some Christians view denominationalism as a regrettable fact. The current trend as of 2005 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.)
For an American example, despite historically deep differences in their respective theologies, few lay members of the United Methodist Church and the United Presbyterian Church could give an account of what those differences are. It is likely that laypeople from one denomination who attended a worship service of the other would find themselves in a mostly familiar environment. A far deeper divide, one that encompasses theological, cultural, and language differences, divides the evangelical members of the Confessing Church movement in either denomination from the adherents of liberal Christianity. This division, though, exists in both denominations; and it is likely that members on either side of the inter-denominational line would have more in common with their counterparts in the other than they do with those on the other side of that line within the same denomination.

Theological Denominationalism

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 particular 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, the Oriental Orthodox Communion, and the Anglican Communion each of which claims to be the exclusive "Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church". In these denominations, it is not possible to have a separation over doctrinal or leadership issues, and any such attempts automatically are a type of schism.
denominationalism in Portuguese: Denominacionalismo
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