"Take up your cross and follow me," Jesus Christ said to the young man who asked what he should do.
Later, at the Last Supper, Christ said to his disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 1
At the time Jesus Christ began his mission upon the earth, the term "Christian" was applied to his followers. It was often a derisive term and in many times throughout history it has been extremely dangerous to be called a Christian. The Romans crucified Christians and set them on fire. And many eras of bloodshed and danger were yet to come for the followers of Christ. Historians estimate only ten thousand Christians existed in the world at the end of the first century A.D. Now there are more than one billion Christians around the world and 126 million in the United States. They have taken up their cross and followed the living example of Jesus Christ. Throughout the centuries they have endeavored to go forth into all the lands preaching the Christ, His life and message.
How Many Christians Are There?
There are eighty-five main Christian denominations. These denominations make a distinction between Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians. There are 1,026,501,000 Roman Catholics and 316,445,000 2 Protestants in the world. Most Catholics are Roman Catholics; there are 60,018,436 3 in the United States. Protestants in the U.S. number 42,513,059 as of 1997. 4
What is the second largest Christian denomination in the United States? The Baptist Church is the leader with 23,929,356 members. 5 Next in numbers are the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church.
Christian denominations are many and diverse. Some churches proclaim Christianity is the only true religion. Other churches emphasize that only their own denomination — or, perhaps, denominations closely affiliated with them — practice true Christianity. However, many denominations hold that all other Christian churches, in addition to their own, are also valid. Further, many Christians today state their recognition that religions outside of Christianity are also God-given and true.
Beauty and Truth of Diversity
According to Dr. Fred Register, a minister of the Southern California Conference of the United Church of Christ:
Enjoy these chapters!First, the Baptists — the largest Protestant is denomination in the U.S. And, then, Roman Catholicism. Catholics are by far the largest church in America, and in the world.
1 The Holy Bible, Matthew 28:19.
2 According to Britannica Book of the Year, 1999.
3 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 2000.
4 The Religious Landscape of the United States, United States Information Agency, US Society and Values magazine, 1997-MAR.
5 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 2000.
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