Skip to comments.The Facts and Stats on "33,000 Denominations"
Posted on 01/20/2008 11:18:23 AM PST by markomalley
The Facts and Stats on "33,000 Denominations"
The 20,000 30,000 numbers and David Barrett's statistics Part II
Let's deal with these first, since this is the largest mega-bloc (22000+ "denominations" of the total 33000+). These are broken down into various large groups, and their lists and numbers span from the bottom of page 16, through page 17, and most of page 18. I'm not going to type all of these since the list is quite long -- much longer than any of the groupings in the other mega-blocs which are listed below in full. I will quote a major sampling of these "Independent" Christian groups, and still try to cover the whole list:
While the World Christian Encyclopedia does refer to "only" 9000 or so denominations as "Protestant" the source also includes 22,000 or so denominations as "Independent" and if you look at the names of these "Independent" groups above, you'll see most of them are clearly Protestant (the "Apostolic", the "Charismatic", the "Full Gospel", the house or home churches, the pentecostals, probably all the TV/radio Christians, and all the independents of other Protestant denominations listed, etc). None of these are Catholic or Orthodox, but there appear to be some renegade Orthodox, Anglicans, and schismatic Catholics among the "Independents." The largest of these Independent Christians are "White-led charismatic" (17,478,000 members [year 1995], in 2856 separate denominations [year 2000]), "African independent pentecostal" (18,943,000 members [year 1995], in 5385 separate denominations [year 2000]), and "African neocharismatic of mixed traditions"
(1,500,000 members [year 1995], in 3333 separate denominations [year 2000]). These three are all Protestant (neither Catholic, nor Orthodox) and account for more than half (53%) of the 22,000 "Independent" denominations.
Another section of these "Independents" with a decent number of denominations include (ordered by smallest to largest denominations, year 2000):
Adding up these Independent denominations we get 8,497 which is another 39% of the total of 22,000 "Independents." All of these are clearly "Protestant" in theology as well -- charismatics, pentecostals, evangelicals, methodists, reformed/presbyterians, full gospel, "nondenominational", baptists, and Oneness pentecostals (note that Barrett includes "mainline"
Oneness groups in the Protestant mega-bloc, not in the "Marginal" mega-bloc). So that gives us 92% ( = 53% + 39% ) of these Independent groups accounted for as Protestant. The rest (the remaining 8% of the 22000 denominations) are smaller than the above, and the majority of these are Protestant as well.
The only other large "Catholic" independent group is 435 "denominations" labeled "Conservative Catholic (schism ex Rome)" or those "radical Traditionalist"
Catholics in schism with Rome which I'll admit appears to be a large number (considering there are only 242 total "Roman Catholic denominations" -- see below). However, looking at the total numbers of Roman Catholics in the world (over 1 billion) this dwarfs the relatively small numbers (i.e. 4,518,000 members [year 1995], in 435 "denominations" [year 2000]) in these schismatical groups. And at least Catholics know who is in "schism"
whereas a Protestant evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic or pentecostal (i.e. all the above groups which claim to follow the Bible) can't be in "schism" to the Bible, since the Bible by itself doesn't tell us who is in schism.
Another way to determine the percentage of Protestants/Anglicans in these Independents is to count and exclude the "Catholic" and "Orthodox" ones -- i.e. groups which appear to have come out of or split off from the Catholic Church or Orthodox Churches, and apparently still claim to be in some sense "Catholic" or "Orthodox" and are non-Protestant / non-Anglican. These are, ordered from largest to smallest denominations, year 2000 numbers:
These are all found on page 18. Adding these up we get a whopping 679 which is 3% of the 22,000 "Independent" denominations. That leaves us approximately 97%
of the Independents as Protestant/Anglican, with a tiny number of "Marginal Christians" (i.e. 8 Jehovah's Witnesses breakaway groups, and a couple "mind science" cults). The "Irvingites" on page 17, although called "New Apostolic, Catholic Apostolic, Old Apostolic," are actually an Anglican / Presbyterian / Adventist, i.e. Protestant sect, neither Catholic nor Orthodox.
So we take the 9000
Protestant denominations plus 21,340 (97% of 22,000) plus 168 (Anglicans) =
For a list of individual denominations, here are a couple thousand of these Independents with specific names from "World Christian Database" online.
The second largest group of "denominations" are Protestants. The encyclopedia breaks these down into major groupings like this:
The largest of these out of 318 million total Protestants (year 1995 numbers for members, year 2000 numbers for denominations) are the Lutherans (61 million members, 253 denominations), next are Baptistic-Pentecostal/Keswick (49 million members, 396 denominations), followed by Baptists (48 million members, 322 denominations), Reformed/Presbyterian (44 million members, 300 denominations), Methodists (23 million members, 123 denominations), United church (22 million members, 54
denominations), Lutheran/Reformed united (15 million members, 24 denominations), and various Adventist groups (11 million members, 218 denominations). From these are formed nearly 9000 Protestant Christian denominations. Someone might complain about the "Oneness" groups being included since they reject the Holy Trinity (one God in three distinct Persons) and the historic Creeds, but that's how Barrett's Encyclopedia categorizes them, for whatever reason.
The "Marginal Christian" groups include Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, various "Arian" or pseudo-Christian cults, some Christian science or "mind science" cults, some Unitarian/Universalist groups, and tiny numbers of so-called Christian or Catholic "Gnostics." These break down this way:
From these are formed nearly 1600 "denominations." The largest of these (year 1995 members, year 2000 denominations) are the JWs (11 million members, 226
denominations), next are the Mormons (8 million members, 122 denominations), and far behind are the "metaphysical" science cults (1.1 million members, 59 denominations), etc. I'll agree most of these are very borderline "Christian." They might refer to "Jesus Christ" and use the Bible in their "worship services" but for the most part they reject the historic Creeds and Councils of Christendom (Nicene, Athanasian, Ephesus, Chalcedon, etc). However, the numbers here are small compared with the numbers of Independent and Protestant denominations.
This is an even smaller group of "denominations" and these are broken down as follows:
The largest of these are the Russian Orthodox at 80 million members of the 210 million total members (year 1995 numbers). So it is within these groups, mainly separated by country or nationality, you get 781 Orthodox "denominations" (year 2000 numbers).
Now for the "Roman Catholic" denominations. These appear to be broken down by various rites:
From these western and smaller eastern rites the encyclopedia gets 242 "Roman Catholic denominations" (year 2000 numbers). The largest is by far the Latin-rite (commonly called "Roman Catholics" by non-Catholic Christians) with 976 million members of the 994 million total members (or 98% of the total, year 1995 numbers). However, since virtually all of these western and smaller eastern rites are in union with the Pope (I am not sure of some of them), there is actually one
Catholic Church, not 242 churches or denominations. Based on the encyclopedia's own definition of "denomination" the editors appear to be separating and counting by country which is how you get to 242 (or 238 countries plus 4) "denominations" of Roman Catholics. The Catholic Church in Canada is not a different "denomination" from the Catholic Church in the U.S., which is not a different Catholic Church from the one in England, etc. If you search the available "World Christian Database" online, there is indeed one Catholic Church in the U.S.A., (see also Barrett, Encyclopedia, volume 1, page 783 for the U.S.A.) and in the world there are indeed 238 "Roman Catholic" denominations (for exactly 238 countries), i.e. one Catholic Church for each country. The same "counting by country" seems to be the case with some of the denominations in the other mega-blocs.
When dividing these "denominations" by country as they do, there are definitely some problems in figuring out the true total
"denominations" since many of them are being counted more than once -- and in fact 241 times too much in the case of "Roman Catholic" denominations. Barrett's Encyclopedia states this explicitly:
The smallest "mega-bloc" are the Anglicans. These are broken down in Barrett's Encyclopedia as follows:
Out of these groupings the encyclopedia gets 168 specific Anglican "denominations" (year 2000 numbers).
World Totals (33000+ Denominations)
The grand "World Totals" at the bottom of page 18 of World Christian Encyclopedia, reads as follows:
For the numbers of "Christian Denominations" for all mega-blocs in 238 countries we have:
Here is the current total number of "Christian denominations" as of 2007 according to the "Global Christianity" pages at Gordon-Conwell, and projected for 2025 if present trends continue:
The vast majority of this projected "growth" in denominations are due to Protestants (another 500+
denominations added from 2000 to 2025) and Independents (another 20,000+ denominations added from 2000 to 2025). See Barrett's Encyclopedia, Table 1-5, pages 16-18.
Here is a diagram of Major branches within Christianity (courtesy of Wikipedia) :
see also Part I: How Many Protestant Denominations Are There?
COMPLETED 8/28/2007 -- Feast of St. Augustine -- "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity..."
Email from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary "Global Christianity" to Ms. Shenandoah Brown, SFO (Secular Franciscan Order)
Hello Ms. Brown,
Thank you for your inquiry. I can assure you that the figure of 39,000 is in no way inflated. This number represents our most current, up-to-date data. As we are constantly updating this figure, it is not published in print form. The figure of 33,800 from the year 2000 was printed in our book World Christian Trends, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001). Part 12 of World Christian Trends (WCT), Table 12-1 gives figures of denominational totals for all 238 countries of the world. These figures are also represented graphically in WCT on page 917, Global Map 14. The definition for denominations used in WCT, and also in our publication World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford, 2001) is as follows:
More precise listings of denominations can be found in the World Christian Encyclopedia, under the article for each country. These lists are not exhaustive, as there are too many small denominations to list separately, but they should help give a clearer picture. Furthermore, the Southern Baptist Convention has over 40,000 congregations in the US alone; not to mention the Baptist General Conference, Baptist Bible Fellowship International, etc. So we are definitely not counting each congregation as its own denomination. We are also not lumping all Baptists into a single denomination, but counting each organization separately. I hope this information helps.
Justin J. Evans
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
130 Essex Street #228
World Christian Encyclopedia
Your Total "Christian Denominations" Count for today is 39506
Please pray for Christian unity (John 17; Eph 4:5; Matt 16:18)
Back to Apologetics Articles
Back to Home Page
About | Apologetics | Philosophy
| Spirituality | Books | Audio | Links
Now that I understand the methodology used to arrive at the 30,000 number, I won't use it any more...as it appears to be inflated by the author of the "World Christian Encyclopedia." (I don't agree with his definition for a denomination)
Hopefully you actually read the content of the article and won't just react emotionally...(and that goes for both sides)
And that is just the Episcopalians after the gay mafia is finished with them!
That’s interesting, but I think there are more than 30,000 Protestant denoms. There are probably as many as there are gas stations, which is about 1/4 million in the USA alone. Where do islams fit in or don’t they count heretical sects of Christianity?
I’m so glad you posted this!
PING = 4 LATER REF & RESEARCH
They are not part of Christianity as they deny Christ as God/the Son of God. They deny a Trinitarian God. These are two core beliefs of Christianity.
They are allowed to attend a Christian service if there is no mosque handy. The only problem is the ones among them who are still doing that sacrifice thing.
What two countries don’t have a Roman Catholic “denomination”?
we have been upgraded to “Marginal Christian”
Pope Paul VI addressed this quite succintly in his encyclical Ut unum sint
The unity of all divided humanity is the will of God. For this reason he sent his Son, so that by dying and rising for us he might bestow on us the Spirit of love. On the eve of his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus himself prayed to the Father for his disciples and for all those who believe in him, that they might be one, a living communion. This is the basis not only of the duty, but also of the responsibility before God and his plan, which falls to those who through Baptism become members of the Body of Christ, a Body in which the fullness of reconciliation and communion must be made present. How is it possible to remain divided, if we have been "buried" through Baptism in the Lord's death, in the very act by which God, through the death of his Son, has broken down the walls of division? Division "openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature".
My guess would be something like Brunei and Maldives, or perhaps one of the Himalayan kingdoms.
Yeah you’re ‘probly right. Some teensy countries with tiny populations are perhaps the best bet. I wonder if you only need one church and a priest to be considered a country’s Roman Catholic “denomination”? Would a few nuns or brothers count? What if there is a Catholic but no priest? I wonder if that would be considered a “denomination”...
I checked the source I’d read that suggested my earlier post, and I would pick Maldives and Bhutan. These countries seem to allow absolutely no Christian residents at all. Citizens who convert from Islam and Buddhism, respectively, are expelled.
Worth saving. Have already emailed it to someone.
1 Cor 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
“Denomination” is a term that appeared in the United States during the first half of the 19th Century when theological distinctions were more or less abandoned by the evangelicals.
There is an error The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is not a denomination and never has been!
Matt. 7: 14
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.
(1) Am I right in thinking that all the Catholic Churches who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome (and this would include Melchites, Maronites, Byzantine Catholics, etc.) are under one "jurisdiction"?
(2)If the above is true, are they all under the same Canon Law?
(I vaguely remember hearing that this was somewhat controversial.)
(3)Do we all use the same Catechism?
(Again, I vaguely recall that, while nobody in the Eastern Catholic Churches would reject anything in the Catechism as an error, nevertheless there are some difficulties because of terminology, style, emphasis.)
With respect to your questions:
1) I don’t think all of the Eastern Churches come under “the direct Jurisdiction” of the Pope. The Eastern Churches govern their own Liturgical, devotional, sprituality matters themselves. Usually, the Bishops and Leaders of Religous Communties among the various Eastern Churches elect their own Metropolitan or Patriarch who serves as the leader of those Respective Eastern Churches. Sometimes perhaps, a list of names may be submitted and the Pope may choose a leader from among a group sent from the respective Eastern Church.
2) There is separate Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Pope appoints a Cardinal to the Roman Curia who is specifically charged with working for the strength and welfare of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
3) There is only 1 Universal Catechesim, from which all Catechisms are based. However, I do believe Pope John Paull II wanted local Churches to prepare Catechesims for various Churches. So, the Maronite Catholic Church can perhaps base their local Catechism on the Universal Catechism, but include more of their own specific Eastern Tradition in it.
However, I think the Universal Catechism did an great job of incorporating both the Western and Eastern Traditions.
Anyway, my stab at your questions. Someone may be able to confirm where I am correct, modify where my answer needs some clarification.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for taking the time to track down that information for me. It’s never been quite clear in my mind. Are you Eastern?
No, I am American of Italian ancestry, mostly Sicilian, and my wife, who is of Polish-Irish Ancestry, are both Latin-Rite Catholics. I do teach in the RCIA program at my parish and due spend lots of time with Church History, Doctrine, Liturgy, etc.
I have made an effort over the years to better educate myself on the Eastern Catholic Churches, with the hope that one day, West and East will be fully re-united in communion with the Pope.
I am still unsure about what the best methodology would be to arrive at a number for denominations. Perhaps an historical timeline that tracks the origins of the various denoms and splits while accounting for a genuine break in tradition versus a nominal difference.
By the way, the category listed as marginals could just as easily be labeled nominals.
I believe that all of the "marginals" do likewise and yet are still listed here.
Well, I didn’t make the list. I would not include them if they are denying core tenets of Christianity.
My recollection is that number came from Eichmann at his trial. The actual number of people killed is probably around 11 million, with about half that number (around 5.5 million, give or take a few hundred thousand) being Jews. So '6 million' is a rounding up, but a reasonably accurate number for general discussion of the subject of the extermination of Jews.
Okay, but do you have a source? And why do the other 6 million people not seem to count?
I had previously looked fairly closely at the methodology underlying this report http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE5.HTM , unfortunately, I can’t locate those materials online at this point. Most of the numbers, except for the Soviets, look pretty solid. The Russian numbers don’t break out civilian combat deaths and incidental deaths from intentional extermination to the extent that they should. The 5.2 million given for the Jews is within the range that I would support, and as I recall, is based on the midpoint of legitimate research.
The other way you can get at the numbers is by looking at the impacted countries. Poland, both Jewish and non-Jewish, bore the brunt. (I’ve looked at all this in the past, but I am largely going from memory.) The problem with the Polish numbers is that they generally credit the Nazis for all the deaths in calculating the statistics, when, in fact, a significant number need to be credited to the Soviet occupiers (from both occupations).
From recollection, odds for being killed, for the gentile Poles, was about the same whether from the Nazis or the Reds; odds for being killed, for the Jewish Pole, were much higher at the hands of the Nazis. In any event, almost the entire Jewish population of Poland was liquidated (around 3 million). Only a handful were either able to successfully flee or to blend into the local population for the duration of the war. In Germany, some Jews were able to escape (in some cases facilitated by the Nazis) even as late as shortly after the outbreak of war; a few survived in place, and a few survived the camps. The results varied in the remaining occupied countries
Bump for later to really read this.