Here is the final part to this looooooooong (but hopefully enjoyable and informative) series. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that it has a part A and a part B. This is part A.
Thought I forgot about it, didnâ€™t you?
Well, I didnâ€™t. I just couldnâ€™t quite figure out how to keep it short. In fact, in the end I decided that I could not so Iâ€™ve opted to point you all in the right direction if you need to know more.
To begin, I recommend you go back and read parts 1â€“3. At the very least, read part 3 here.
We left off discussing the â€œdark sideâ€ of denomination proliferation (yes, I made that up, but it works). I concluded that the absolute explosion of denominations over the last several hundred years has only served to muddy the waters. True, some arose out of necessity as this teaching or that teaching drifted into heresy and a breakaway group led the charge back to center, but I donâ€™t see how this was ever the best way to keep folks honestâ€”to keep teaching orthodox.
How bad is it? Maybe the following will help (or hurt, depending on your perspective). Better remove all sharp objects from the room. This is pretty depressing.
How many different denominations of Christianity are there?
ANSWER According to the World Christian Encyclopedia (year 2000 version), global Christianity had 33,820 denominations with 3,445,000 congregations/churches composed of 1,888 million affiliated Christians.
Here are only a few offshoots of Christianity:
Religion # of members
Catholic 1,050,000,000 Orthodox/Eastern Christian 240,000,000 African indigenous sects (AICs) 110,000,000 Pentecostal 105,000,000 Reformed/Presbyterian/Congregational/United 75,000,000 Anglican 73,000,000 Baptist 70,000,000 Methodist 70,000,000 Lutheran 64,000,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses 14,800,000 Adventist 12,000,000 Latter Day Saints 12,500,000 Apostolic/New Apostolic 10,000,000 Stone-Campbell (“Restoration Movement”) 5,400,000 New Thought (Unity, Christian Science, etc.) 1,500,000 Brethren (incl. Plymouth) 1,500,000 Mennonite 1,250,000 Friends (Quakers) 300,000
There are really too many to count because even for the main groups there are smaller offshoots but some of the major ones:
Catholic Orthodox Lutheran Baptist Charismatic Episcopal Mormon Jehovah Witnesses Protestants
This is a complex question. There are several Classes of Christians with many sub groups, and denominations.
The primary classes of Christians are:
- Churches without sacramental Ordination
- ** Protestant
- *** Lutheran (Minor Exception)
- *** Baptists
- *** Universalists
- ** Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons)
- Jehovahs Witnesses
- ** Anglicans, Episcopal churches, etc
- ** “Roman” Catholic (Western Rite Catholicism)
- *** Sedevacantists
- Those who follow Anti-popes
- Old Catholics
- Catholics who Follow the Pope
- Eastern Orthodox (under the Patriarch of constantinople)
- *** Greek Orthodox
- Russian Orthodox
- Serbian Orthodox
- et cetera
- Coptic (Under pope
- Gnostic or Esoteric Christianity
The differences between these groups are vast, and the list of denominations that I have provided is by no means complete. There were at one time believed to be near 100,000 different denominations of Christianity, each of which fell mostly into one of these groups.
What can I add to that? Is this what Jesus intended from His followers? Hardly. Yet there is good news. There is one constantâ€”one Northstarâ€”one unchanging source of truth that could be the deciding factor.
If this were truly the final authority for believers everywhere a few things would immediately happen to that list.
First, the â€œCultsâ€ wouldnâ€™t even be on it. Iâ€™m referring to Mormons (sorry, Romney) and Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses. These 2 arenâ€™t denominations and do not belong on the list. The reason they are on it is because wikapedia isnâ€™t coming from a biblical perspective so what can you expect?
From there youâ€™d see others fade away that came about more for emotional reasons then biblical ones. After that several thousand more would disappear once it was exposed that their humble beginnings werenâ€™t really humble at all, but rather the result of bruised egos and competition.
Iâ€™m telling you, by the time you get everyone moving back to the Bible, youâ€™d only have a handful left.
Wouldnâ€™t that be nice?
In fact, the idea of using the Bible itself as the ultimate gauge isnâ€™t new. The apostle Paul suggested we do this several times. You can read about one of them right here.
Thatâ€™s all for now. Iâ€™ll try to wrap this one up in the next day or twoâ€¦And tell how I believe our structure works best for us.