33,000+ denominations of Protestantism
I was at the library one day researching something, and I saw the much talked about Protestant reference, the World Christian Encyclopedia by David B. Barrt, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson (2001 edition). I thought I’d see for myself what it says. This is what I found …
David Barrett, et al, does indeed refer to “over 33,000 denominations in 238 countries.” (Table 1-5, Vol 1, pg 16). This refers to his unique definition of a “Christian denomination”, but does not include small ones (congregations of a couple hundred or less), which would dramatically increase this number beyond all imagination.
Barrett states there are 242 total Roman Catholic denominations (year 2000 numbers). So I looked into what he believed these denominations were.
Barrett breaks down his encyclopedic reference by country. So I looked up how many Roman Catholic denominations are within the U.S. according to Barrett. Much to my suprise, Barret shows ONLY ONE Roman Catholic denomination for the Unites States.
So I wondered where the heck the 242 denominations were? I looked in Barrett’s reference for Britain, and again he listed ONLY ONE Roman Catholic denomination. I thought surely that of the 238 countries within his encyclopedic reference there must be a country that had more than ONE Roman Catholic denomination. There wasn’t. I could not find one country listed by Barrett that had more than ONE Roman Catholic denomination.
So, what does Barrett mean when he states there are 242 Roman Catholic denominations? It seems Barrett is counting each country as it’s own denomination. So, for Barrett, the Roman Catholic Church of the USA is a different denomination than the Roman Catholic Church of Canada. I don’t no how he got 242 denomination from 238 countries listed, however.
Some numbers from Barrett’s …
Under U.S. Country Table 2, of the 6,222 US denominations, there’s only ONE Roman Catholic denomination listed,, there’s 60 Orthodox denominations. Barrett labels the rest of the denominations, Protestant, Anglican, Independent, & Marginal. The more commonly accepted classification of Christianity used even by Protestant scholars, such as Leslie Dunstan in his book Protestantism, Christianity consists of: 1) Catholic, 2) Orthodox, & 3) Protestant. So, using this more commonly understood classification …
# of US Denominations
Remember, the above numbers are derived using Protestant sources only. Barrett differs from other Protestants such as Dunstan as to what constitutes a Protestant denomination.
What Dunstan would call Protestant, Barrett describes as:
That’s just for the U.S. Yet, there’s but ONE Catholic denomination in the U.S., either by Dunstan or Barrett’s standard.
Another way of looking at it is not to use Barrett’s fuzzy understanding of denominations at all. What does Webster call a denomination?
Let’s see … Webster calls a ‘denomination’ a “a religious organization uniting local congregations in a single legal and administrative body”
The category called “Protestantism,” since it does not actually “unite” any local congregation into a “single legal and administrative body” , is more accurately a grouping of denominations rather than a denomination, according to Webster’s definition.
to be continued…