Christian classifications of churches?

Greetings to all,
The last few years as my wife and I travel from ny to fla to visit family I’ve noticed small churches often extremely small buildings the size of a small house. The signs for these churches read things such as >the church of prophecy, the church of the living god< or any number of other things. I’m familiar with major denominations and churches that have signs that read Baptist of some sort or Pentecostal.
I’ve heard that there are 30,000+ denominations of Protestantism in the world. Would these little churches be considered a denom or would they be considered something else?
Thank you for any help clearing this up. Blessings to all-stay safe.

Some may be non-denominational, but the Church of God Prophecy is a Pentecostal denomination. As a general rule, little churches like that with strange names are Pentecostal. One in my area is called “Naked Truth Church of God.” There’s also a church called “Million Bible Church,” but the village it’s in is called Million, so the title is a bit misleading.

Edwin

That 33,000+ is grossly false and even contains many different Catholic “denominations” as well.

Could you explain what you mean by many different Catholic “denominations?”

Actually, from this link:

Now for a few facts and stats from the actual source: World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001).
The source ** does** refer to ** 33000+** total “Christian” denominations, but it defines the word “denomination” as an organized Christian group within a specific country:
Denominations. A denomination is defined in this Encyclopedia as an organized aggregate of worship centers or congregations of similar ecclesiastical tradition within a specific country; i.e. as an organized Christian church or tradition or religious group or community of believers, within a specific country, whose component congregations and members are called by the same denominational name in different areas, regarding themselves as one autonomous Christian church distinct from other denominations, churches and traditions. As defined here, world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries, these denominations themselves being composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches or congregations.” (Barrett et al, volume 1, page 16, Table 1-5, emphasis added)
So we have, according to Barrett’s Encyclopedia:

[LIST]
*]a denomination is defined as existing within a specific country
*]there are 33,000+ total of these “Christian denominations” in 238 total countries
[/LIST]
These 33,000 are subdivided into “6 major ecclesiastico-cultural mega-blocs”, and ordering them by denomination size we have (I am rounding up or down slightly for convenience, using year 2000 figures) :

[LIST]
*]Independents (about 22000)
*]Protestants (about 9000)
*]“Marginals” (about 1600)
]Orthodox (781)
]Roman Catholics (242)
]Anglicans (168)
[/LIST]
So the 33,000 number is from the total of these 6 mega-blocs:
22000 + 9000 + 1600 + 781 + 242 + 168 = 33,000+
That’s where the 33,000 figure comes from. If you count the “mega-bloc” of “Protestants” * only
it is 9000 / 33000 or 27% of the total. However, if you combine Protestants with ** Independents
and Anglicans ( [22000 + 9000 + 168] / 33000) it is 94% of the total or 31,000+ . We will see below that most (about 97%) of the "Independent" churches are indeed Protestants. Now that we have that settled, I will examine what the source says about each of these “mega-blocs.” All of the information below is found on pages 16-18 (volume 1) of the World Christian Encyclopedia (2001, 2nd edition).

From the same link:

Now for the “Roman Catholic” denominations. These appear to be broken down by various rites:

[LIST]
*]Armenian (Eastern-rite Catholic)
*]Bulgarian (Byzantine rite)
*]Byzantine-rite (jurisdiction for more than one ethnic group)
*]Chaldean (Eastern Syrian rite)
*]Coptic (Alexandrian rite)
*]Ethiopic (Alexandrian rite)
*]Greek (Byzantine rite)
*]Hungarian (Byzantine rite)
*]Italo-Albanian (Byzantine rite)
*]Jurisdiction for both Latin-rite and Eastern-rite Catholics
*]Latin-rite Catholic
*]Malankara (Syro-Antiochian, Eastern Syrian), Syro-Malankarese
*]Maronite (Syro-Antiochian, Western Syrian)
*]Melkite (Byzantine, Greek Catholic; Arabic-speaking)
*]plural Oriental (jurisdiction for several Eastern rites)
*]Romanian Byzantine rite
*]Russian (Byzantine rite)
*]Ruthenian (Byzantine rite)
*]Slovak (Byzantine rite)
]Syro-Malabarese (Eastern Syrian)
]Syrian, Syriac-speaking (Syro-Antiochian, West Syrian)
]Ukrainian Byzantine rite
[/LIST]
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:
“As a statistical unit in this Encyclopedia, a ‘denomination’ always refers to one single country. ***Thus the Roman Catholic Church, although a single organization, is described here as consisting of 236 denominations in the world’s 238 countries.
” (Barrett, et al, World Christian Encyclopedia, volume 1, page 27, in the “Glossary” under definition for “Denomination” [later updated to 242], emphasis added)

Do you mean Irish Catholic, Italian Catholic, etc ?

Now for the “Roman Catholic” denominations. These appear to be broken down by various rites:

Armenian (Eastern-rite Catholic)
Bulgarian (Byzantine rite)
Byzantine-rite (jurisdiction for more than one ethnic group)
Chaldean (Eastern Syrian rite)
Coptic (Alexandrian rite)
Ethiopic (Alexandrian rite)
Greek (Byzantine rite)
Hungarian (Byzantine rite)
Italo-Albanian (Byzantine rite)
Jurisdiction for both Latin-rite and Eastern-rite Catholics
Latin-rite Catholic
Malankara (Syro-Antiochian, Eastern Syrian), Syro-Malankarese
Maronite (Syro-Antiochian, Western Syrian)
Melkite (Byzantine, Greek Catholic; Arabic-speaking)
plural Oriental (jurisdiction for several Eastern rites)
Romanian Byzantine rite
Russian (Byzantine rite)
Ruthenian (Byzantine rite)
Slovak (Byzantine rite)
Syro-Malabarese (Eastern Syrian)
Syrian, Syriac-speaking (Syro-Antiochian, West Syrian)

These are NOT denominations, they are Catholic Rites, all under the Pope. Sacraments and beliefs are the same as the Roman Rite. Ask an Apologist ! God Bless, Memaw

Exactly. They count each one as an individual denomination.

Basically there are about 10 schools)of thought. I am a Arminian. Then you have Calvinst, Lutherans, Anabaptist and etc.

I think that’s the point of saying the 33000+ number is overstated. In this case the 21 listed are really the same.

A Calvinist is a Calvinist. Whether they attend Reformed Anglican or Reformed Baptist. They)just have different traditions.

Yes but there is certainly splintering beyond these groups with very different beliefs. The Catholic splits are more practice/liturgical related, not beliefs.

True. Like I stated earlier, there are roughly 10 schools of theology. For the majority of Protestantism you have Calvinism, Lutheranism, Arminianism (what I am), and a small Anabaptist presence. I am sure I have skipped a few. Wesleyan is also another.

More accurately, they are not just rites but in many cases Particular Churches that are in communion with Rome. Their traditions embrace a particular rite. Rites, most notably the Byzantine rite, are often used by multiple Particular Churches.

In any event, one could see the difficulty in quantifying denominations globally when it is challenging to deal with nuance even within the Catholic Church.

That isn’t true at all. The differences over infant baptism are major.

Your position here doesn’t match reality. Just within one Reformed tradition, the Presbyterians, there was the Orthodox Presbyterian vs. Bible Presbyterian split. Not all denominational divisions are real divisions, in my opinion–arguably the PCA and the OPC are essentially one church with each other, though they do have different emphases and there are reasons why they haven’t united. But it’s just not true that all Calvinists are essentially one.

Furthermore, you’re discounting the major divisions between conservatives and liberals. So just within the Presbyterians, and just counting the larger groups, we have

PCUSA (most liberal, many conservatives would say “no longer Reformed or even Christian,” recently accept gay marriage, and of course ordain women)

ECO (recent split from PCUSA over homosexuality, fully accept women’s ordination)

EPC (smaller group, accept women’s ordination but with restrictions, which apparently is why the ECO folks didn’t just join them)

PCA and OPC (the southern and northern expressions respectively of “classical” conservative Presbyterianism–generously let’s count them as one even though there are real differences–neither church ordains women and both insist on confessional Calvinism, though the OPC is more staunch in this regard)

Bible Presbyterians (fundamentalist Calvinists)

All these groups have significant disagreements with all the others (again, counting PCA and OPC as one for this purpose because the differences are minor). It makes no sense to say that they are all really the same. And that’s not counting Baptists or Anglicans or Congregationalists, and not addressing the difficult question of how Reformed churches of other ethnic heritages (in the U.S. the two main ones are the Germans who joined the UCC with the Congregationalists, so can be counted with them, obviously, and the Dutch who have several denominations of their own in the U.S.) relate to the Anglo-Scottish traditions (Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist).

Edwin

And they are not splits, they are Rites, all under the Pope. We need to got our definitions right. God Bless, mMmaw

Conservative and liberal as far as politics, theology or both?

My point Edwin is that they are all from a few schools of thought. Now one will place more weight on a given tradition than another. You are correct in pointing out infant baptism vs believer’s baptism but isnt that merely a giveb tradition? Does it merit a whole new denomination?

Theology, though the issues that most sharply divide these days tend to be gender/sexuality ones.

My point Edwin is that they are all from a few schools of thought. Now one will place more weight on a given tradition than another. You are correct in pointing out infant baptism vs believer’s baptism but isnt that merely a giveb tradition? Does it merit a whole new denomination?

But they are separate denominations. I don’t think Christians need to divide over this, but then I recognize the validity of infant baptism. I don’t think I could join a church that required my wife and daughters (who were all baptized as infants) to be rebaptized. But I’d have no problem belonging to a church that allowed for both believers’ and infant baptism, or even one that refused to baptize infants while acknowledging the baptisms of those who were baptized as infants (my wife would have a problem with the latter, though).

I think we need clearer definitions of “denomination” here. I’m not sure how you’re using the term.

In my usage, a denomination is an organized group of local churches that share heritage, polity, doctrine, etc. They may disagree on things, but there is some kind of accountability or shared organizational structure.

Two denominations may be in “full communion,” and at that point, in my view, there’s no reason to say that they are separate churches.

So I think it can in fact be said that the Catholic Church has multiple denominations–the “sui juris” churches. They aren’t really quite the same as denominations, but there’s a close parallel. Roman and Ruthenian Catholics are in full communion, but they have different polity structures, worship practices, etc. Similarly, there are Protestant churches that are in full communion with each other (TEC and ELCA, for instance). I don’t think it makes sense to say that they are “divided” from each other, even though the patristic ideal of all Christians in a place gathered around one altar is lacking (as it is in the Roman Communion as well).

So to talk about actual divisions in an ecclesiologically troubling way, we need to be talking about groups that don’t fully recognize each other in some way and/or can’t worship together, share clergy, etc. If church A has a statement of faith that members of church B can’t subscribe to, then the two churches are divided even if they get along pretty well.

Edwin

Sadly, the secular beliefs are invading every faith tradition.

But they are separate denominations. I don’t think Christians need to divide over this, but then I recognize the validity of infant baptism. I don’t think I could join a church that required my wife and daughters (who were all baptized as infants) to be rebaptized. But I’d have no problem belonging to a church that allowed for both believers’ and infant baptism, or even one that refused to baptize infants while acknowledging the baptisms of those who were baptized as infants (my wife would have a problem with the latter, though).

Both of my sons were baptized as infants. I have no issue with it. Only tradition I know of that will baptize someone again is Mormonism. Maybe some fundamentalist would do so also but I suspect that would be more because they may have some anti Catholic in their blood.

I think we need clearer definitions of “denomination” here. I’m not sure how you’re using the term.

I attend a Assembly of God congregation. Assembly of God is not a denomination. They are a fellowship of likeminded Pentecostals. Pentecostals are Arminians. For me, a denomination would be like Baptist in the Arminian school)of thought. Now a Freewill Baptist is a Baptist just as much as a Missionary Baptist. Both are Baptist but with a stronger call to a certain tradition. Of course there are a few theological difference but I’m sure their statements of faith are almost exactly the same.

So to talk about actual divisions in an ecclesiologically troubling way, we need to be talking about groups that don’t fully recognize each other in some way and/or can’t worship together, share clergy, etc. If church A has a statement of faith that members of church B can’t subscribe to, then the two churches are divided even if they get along pretty well.

Edwin

Correct. I’m sure an Arminian would not agree with a Calvinst statement of faith.

Protestants do not have churches, they have ecclesial communities, because mainly they lack the priesthood and the Eucharist.

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