The number of Protestant denominations

Sspx, I would say could be considered a denomination. It’s certainly not a Sect.

There are three Christian Sects. Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.

Since by definition Catholics are in union with the Bishop of Rome, SSPX (although closely affiliated and working toward full communion) for purposes of census would have to be considered a Protestant denomination.

Further Lutheran synods are most definitely different denominations. By the way you are classifying denominations you may as well say everyone is catholic and there is one denomination since we have the same core belief that Jesus is God and died for our sins.

That doesn’t address the problem of do many churches.

Going back to Lutherans, you have done supporting homosexual marriage and some not, things like that make for fundamentally different theologies.

Of course one must also ask how to classify Evangelicals and non denominationalism.

Some non denominationalism churches have thousands of members and for all practical purposes are their own denomination.

Other Evangelical Free Churches are similar.

One can do a google search for church in a major metropolitan area and get thousands of results of vastly different churches with vastly different beliefs.

This is a common hope. Unfortunately, that’s all it is…a hope.

The number of Protestant denominations is huge…well into the thousands…and here is why the reasoning you and many, many, many…well into the thousands…of Protestants are simply wrong on this math:

The underlying assumption is that the World Christian Encyclopedia reports 242 Catholic Churches and since there is really only one (think long about that!), the number of Protestant churches must be divided by 242, also.

However, this is incorrect. The Catholic Church EXISTS in every country on earth with a few possible exceptions (North Korea and Saudi Arabia, etc.). Therefore, it would be correct to divide the Catholic number by 242. However, all of the little, no-name Protestant churches found all over the planet do NOT exist in every country - they may only have congregations in a single country…or a few dozen at most.

Using PURELY HYPOTHETICAL examples for illustation only, suppose that the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has offices and churches in half a dozen countries and the Presbyterian Church in America in two, and the Worldwide Church of God in Jesus Christ of God of Prophecy might have a single congregation in a storefront in Cleveland (TN). Clearly, you can’t divide each of these by 242, can you?

Consequently, while it is readily apparent that there is only one Catholic Church headquartered in Rome and led by the successor of Peter, Pope Francis, there are more Protestant churches than you can shake a stick at. Just open the yellow pages of your phone book (or Google it, if you’re under 30).

One more point: How is it that although the Holy Spirit is leading all of these Bible Christians into all truth, they have not consolidated after 500 years of “rightly dividing the Word of God”? Instead, the number of fragments keeps growing…

Never heard the SSPX being called that. I guess if we view Protestant as simply protesting Rome then I can see that.

Further Lutheran synods are most definitely different denominations. By the way you are classifying denominations you may as well say everyone is catholic and there is one denomination since we have the same core belief that Jesus is God and died for our sins.

I guess one could say we are all "c"atholic and Christian but not all Catholic.

My beef is with the 33,000 number. There are many non Catholic Christians faiths out there. I still believe we can condence them all into 7 branches.

Going back to Lutherans, you have done supporting homosexual marriage and some not, things like that make for fundamentally different theologies.

Those social issues are usually what divides, but they are still under the Lutheranism. Correct?

Of course one must also ask how to classify Evangelicals and non denominationalism.

You would go by their statement of faith. There are Evangelical Methodist and Episcopalians.

Some non denominationalism churches have thousands of members and for all practical purposes are their own denomination.

They are their own congregation but one would still need to look at their statement of faith. Chip Ingram’s congregation in CA has a statement of faith that is exactly like the First Baptist Church of Fargo. Chip’s congregation states that are Evangelical Christians, yet their core is of the Baptist tradition.

One can do a google search for church in a major metropolitan area and get thousands of results of vastly different churches with vastly different beliefs.

Very true. Fargo being the largest city in ND, has that issue as well. If we look closely we could still group them in the 7 traditions I stated above.

I do not wish to argue about the “500” years or all the other apologetic lines…All I am saying is that the 33,000 number being thrown around also includes Catholic “denominations” in that number.

I do not claim that there are not many different “churches” out there. However, I do claim that all of them stem back to 7 as far as a faith tradition.

I would say Protestantism is the fruit of corrupt men who were running the Church at
the time of Luther, but very soon the Church was back on track, while Protestantism
simply journeyed further and further and further . . . then Mormonism came up, which
I highly doubt would have arisen had one not separated and try to become better than
the Roman Catholic Church.

Your logic is absolutely correct. Without a lot more information, you can’t get anything definitive out of those numbers. Except I do conclude that whatever number of countries there might be, that will be the reported number of Catholic “denominations”.

GKC

I would maybe agree with you that there are ten or so denominational families in Protestantism. That is different than denominations though.

Denominations result out of church conflict and disagreement and one becomes two. Or one just begins out of distaste for all available.

Baptist themselves will admit there are hundreds of baptists DENOMINATIONS in the US alone.

Despite their similarities, their differences are enough to separate them, just as the SSPX and Roman Catholics are separated.

As a baptist flavored evangelical I would never have gone to a southern baptist church for example. Nor would they have gone to mine.

Here is a list of defined baptist denominations.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Baptist_denominations

Coming from a data science perspective, categorization is useful for a given reason. Counting “denominations” for tax purposes gives you one number, for accounting square footage of church buildings gives you another, for assessing specific doctrinal divides yet another, etc.

It may be most useful, to frame it in terms of the original question (“number of Protestant denominations”) to use these criteria:

  • Adhere to a Protestant self-definition.
  • Have a creed
  • Two churches are counted as separate if they do not share the same ultimate human or institutional authority

Now even within this, there’s problems of definition. For example, Protestants may say they:

  • Recognize some personal authority other than that of Pope Francis I. This would throw everyone not in communion with Rome into the Protestant definition, including Greek Orthodox.
  • Recognize an ecclesial structure other than a presiding leader who is elected by a central council of church leaders. Arguably, this would exempt Anglican Communion and LCMS churches from being Protestant.
  • Adhere to, at least, sola scripture and sola fide.
  • or - Don’t have Catholic somewhere on the church marquee.

So it goes back to - what constitutes a separate church, and to answer that begs the question “what are we counting them for?”

Some posts are confusing two different concepts, church and faith.
“Catholic” church means in union with the Pope. Maronite rite Catholics and Latin Rite Catholics are in union with the Pope. Polish National Catholic Church, Old Catholics and other churches are not. Many aspects of their Faith are compatible with Catholic faith, for instance sacraments.

The SSPX is not a “church”. They have no laypeople of their own. Only clergy and religious enroll. Individual Catholic laity attend services, more or less frequently. Their enrolled clergy and religious are in a gray area. It may depend on the individual whether they are still “in” or “out” of the Catholic Faith. If part or all of the SSPX decides to set up a different church, with their own laity, it would not be under the pope, so it wouldn’t be the Catholic Church. There is only one.

I could put up a sign by my garage, “Improved Catholic Church, est 33 AD”, and seek a tax exemption, and enroll my neighbors, and my sermons would be my internet rants. So what? There still would be only one Catholic Church, those in union with the Pope. My church would still be “Protestant” by my definition. So would the SSPX, if they set up a church. They would use lots of Catholic tradition and practice (as all Protestants do). The EO are not Protestant. By my definition the PNCC is a Protestant church.

I think we all agree it is uncharitable for Catholics to keep boasting how many Protestant denominations are supposedly started each week, and equally ridiculous for Protestants to respond in kind. “See, you Catholics are divided too, so THERE!”

You hit the nail on the head, side, back and feet.

I think the real point behind the number, whether it’s 1000 or 3000 is that in Protestantism, you can find a church to meet your needs.

You church shop till you find the one that fits your preconceived theology. And if it doesn’t work you find another or start your own.

In such a model there is no need for moral certainty and relativism flourishes. There is tremendous disconnect from the faith the apostles handed down and most importantly.

There is little call to true conversion. Because when the call to do something hard comes from the pulpit, you are free to go somewhere else less challenging.

That doesn’t exist in Catholicism. They claim the same teachings as 2000 years ago and to be catholic you are told to conform to the church rather than the church conform to its audience.

There is something fundamentally different in these world views that must be examined. It is this difference in world views Catholics try to present by pointing to the many Protestant denominations.

Maybe some do.

Frankly that there’s one split between Catholic and Orthodox is one split too many, let alone the cambrian explosion in the 16th century.

We have a lot of work to do…

…to gather you all in Him in the Lutheran church :slight_smile:

Sadly, this happens in Seattle among Catholics - some parishes are woefully secular and attract those who like to call themselves Catholic without ever being confronted by Catholic teaching.

I think Part I of the article should be read as well as it makes some insightful points. As for the actual number, I think the fact that no one can provide an actual number speaks just as loudly, if not more so, than the 33,000 number. The point is, once you remove the central authority of the pope as the representative of Christ on Earth, the fractures in the body of Christ continue to multiply.

Maybe…maybe not…depends on whom you ask

No, it’s a fact.
The Church which Christ established is a single community, but Lutheranism is
not the same community as the Catholic community, nor are the Episcopalians
of the same community as either of Lutherans or Catholics, Baptists still distin-
guish themselves from the Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Catholics . . .

One God, One King, One Law, One Faith, One Church.

Once again…maybe, maybe not…depends on whom you ask.

I appreciate your starting this thread - I have not previously understood the error in the “33,000 denominations” information.

I will look for more appropriate/accurate ways to reflect the reality that a church in absence of a God given authority is a church without authority to teach anything. Through my Protestant friends, I’m able to watch the process happen directly. Once the local pastor teaches something that enough people find problematic, the church will split. Those that like the local pastor, they stay. Those that don’t, they leave.

Why else would there be multiple Baptist sects within the “Baptist family”?

Can you help me see where people practice obedience within Protestant churches? I see obedience as doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily desire to do on your own, and you might not see the point or agree with it, but an obedient person makes the choice to be obedient because of their recognition of authority. This happens routinely in a work environment, for example.

Guess so, but doesn’t the Bible warn us against
private interpretation and laying the Scriptures to
our own destruction?

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