We Need to Stop Saying That There Are 33,000 Protestant Denominations
#1
Valid points here, I thought:

:comp:


Quote:http://www.ncregister.com/blog/scotteric...ominations
We Need to Stop Saying That There Are 33,000 Protestant Denominations
by Scott Eric Alt

Recently—because read­ers can’t seem to stop telling me what to write about—someone sent me a link with the note, “Here’s some­thing for you to refute.” Some­how along the way I have become Mr. Refu­ta­tion. I can’t say how that hap­pened.

Any­way, the link was to an arti­cle writ­ten all the way back in 2007 by some­one named Dr. Glenn Andrew Peo­ples, whom I have never heard of. Dr. Peo­ples dis­putes the com­mon myth—for myth it is—that there are 33,000 Protes­tant denom­i­na­tions.

So appar­ently this par­tic­u­lar reader thinks Dr. Peo­ples needs to be taken to school—and I am just the one to do that—and shown that there really are 33,000 denom­i­na­tions; or what­ever the num­ber has esca­lated to today—possibly 51,314 as of this writ­ing. (For there is a for­mula to cal­cu­late these things.)

I regret to say that is not going to hap­pen here. There are not—repeat with me—there are not 33,000 Protes­tant denom­i­na­tions. There are not any­where close to it. It is a myth that has taken hold by force of rep­e­ti­tion, and it gets cited and recited by reflex; but it is based on a source that, even Catholics will have to con­cede, relies on too loose a def­i­n­i­tion of the word “denom­i­na­tion.”

The source is the two-volume World Chris­t­ian Ency­clo­pe­dia (Bar­rett, Kurian, and John­son; Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press). Take note of the pas­sage where the 33,000 fig­ure comes up:

World Chris­tian­ity con­sists of 6 major ecclesiastico-​cultural blocs, divided into 300 major eccle­si­as­ti­cal tra­di­tions, com­posed [sic] of over 33,000 dis­tinct denom­i­na­tions in 238 coun­tries (Vol. I, p. 16).

So accord­ing to the WCE, the 33,000 fig­ure rep­re­sents “world Chris­tian­ity.” Now unless a Catholic wants to sup­pose that “world Chris­tian­ity” means Protes­tantism, the num­ber would have to be some­thing less. 33,000, accord­ing to the source from which the num­ber comes, means the whole of Chris­tian­ity, not Protes­tantism specif­i­cally.

The WCE then goes on to break down “world Chris­tian­ity” into the fol­low­ing broad cat­e­gories:

    Inde­pen­dents: 22,000 denom­i­na­tions
    Protes­tants: 9000 denom­i­na­tions
    Mar­gin­als: 1600 denom­i­na­tions
    Ortho­dox: 781 denom­i­na­tions
    Catholics: 242 denom­i­na­tions
    Angli­cans: 168 denom­i­na­tions

Thus the imme­di­ate prob­lem is that the WCE only clas­si­fies 9000 denom­i­na­tions (27% of the whole) as Protes­tant. To get to 33,000, one must add in the Inde­pen­dents, Mar­gin­als, Angli­cans, and 232 of the Ortho­dox.

Among the 23,600 “Inde­pen­dents” and “Mar­gin­als” (70% of the whole) are large num­bers of groups one would have a hard time call­ing Protes­tant. They include Mor­mons (122 denom­i­na­tions), Jehovah’s Wit­nesses (229 denom­i­na­tions), Masons (28 denom­i­na­tions), Chris­tadel­phi­ans (21 denom­i­na­tions) Uni­tar­i­ans (29 denom­i­na­tions), Chris­t­ian Sci­ence (59 denom­i­na­tions), Theosophists (3 more denom­i­na­tions), British Israelites (8 denom­i­na­tions), Pros­per­ity Gospel groups (27 denom­i­na­tions), One­ness Pen­te­costals (680 denom­i­na­tions), “Hid­den Bud­dhist Believ­ers in Christ” (9 denom­i­na­tions), wan­der­ing bish­ops (12 denom­i­na­tions), Inde­pen­dent Nesto­ri­ans (5 denom­i­na­tions), occultists (3 denom­i­na­tions), spiri­tists (20 denom­i­na­tions), Zion­ists (159 denom­i­na­tions), even “Arab radio/​TV net­work” (19 denom­i­na­tions), “gay/​homosexual tra­di­tion” (2 denom­i­na­tions), and schis­matic Catholics (435 denom­i­na­tions). It is a strange and eclec­tic list. (See here and here.)

How­ever strong the temp­ta­tion some may have to char­ac­ter­ize any­thing not Catholic or Ortho­dox as “Protes­tant,” you can’t do that. All that tells Protes­tant apol­o­gists is that you don’t know what Protes­tantism is, or what its dis­tinc­tives are—and they would be right. And why would they take any­thing you say seri­ously after that? If you don’t know what Protes­tantism is, who are you to be talk­ing about its errors? Not only are Mor­mons, Jehovah’s Wit­nesses, One­ness Pen­te­costals, Uni­tar­i­ans, Pros­per­ity Gospel believ­ers (included among 23,600 Inde­pen­dents and Mar­gin­als) not Protes­tant, they are not even Chris­t­ian; they adhere to a false Chris­tol­ogy. Protes­tants and Catholics are in agree­ment about who Christ is; these other groups have other ideas.

And then the WCE some­how comes up with 242 Catholic denom­i­na­tions. That should be a big glar­ing red flag that it has been a bit—how shall we say?—free and loose with the word “denom­i­na­tion.”

In fact, if you check the break­down of these 242 sup­posed denom­i­na­tions, here is what you will find: Latin Rite Catholics, Byzan­tine Rite Catholics, Melkites, Copts, Maronites. That is to say, the WCE clas­si­fies dif­fer­ent rites as though they are dif­fer­ent denom­i­na­tions, in spite of the fact that all of them are in union with Rome. There is not a Catholic who labors under the sun who should not be sus­pi­cious of a work­ing def­i­n­i­tion of “denom­i­na­tion” that would per­mit this. The result­ing total has to be inflated—by 24,100% in this case. Why not say Domini­cans and Jesuits are their own denom­i­na­tions? Some­one who would say Byzan­tine Catholics are their own denom­i­na­tion does not know what a denom­i­na­tion is, or Catholi­cism. So how is it a reli­able source to tell us how many Protes­tant denom­i­na­tions there are?

The WCE defines “denom­i­na­tion” thus:

an orga­nized aggre­gate of wor­ship cen­ters or con­gre­ga­tions of sim­i­lar eccle­si­as­ti­cal tra­di­tion 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.

That is a mouth­ful. It seems to be defin­ing a denom­i­na­tion as any Chris­t­ian entity that is eccle­sially inde­pen­dent, which is fine as far as it goes. But did you notice that the def­i­n­i­tion lim­its a denomination’s reach to “within a spe­cific coun­try”? In other words, you can­not have a sin­gle denom­i­na­tion exist­ing in the United States and Eng­land at the same time. They may both be Pres­byter­ian, but they are two dif­fer­ent denom­i­na­tions, even if noth­ing else divides them. So the WCE comes up with 438 Pres­by­ter­ian denom­i­na­tions and 647 Methodist and 1017 Bap­tist.

I think the num­ber is inflated.

More­over, Inde­pen­dent Bap­tist con­gre­ga­tions, who have a high doc­trine of the local church and gov­ern them­selves, are each counted as sep­a­rate denom­i­na­tions, even though they may all believe the same doc­trine. There are 8,142 such con­gre­ga­tions named by the WCE, whether Bap­tist or not, whether Protes­tant or not.

I think the num­ber is inflated.

Many Catholics like to cite the 33,000 fig­ure because the num­ber is so out­ra­geously large they assume it is a par­tic­u­lar embar­rass­ment to Protes­tants. Look at all this divi­sion in your ranks! But the result has been that Protes­tants con­sult the source, take note of the prob­lems with it, claim a few thou­sand denom­i­na­tions at most, and scoff at the wild exag­ger­a­tion. Catholics look fool­ish for insist­ing on a ridicu­lously high and easily-​refuted num­ber, and Protes­tants imag­ine they can sleep the sleep of the just because the real num­ber is nowhere close. See! they say. No denom­i­na­tion prob­lem here! Thus the real issue gets lost.

Catholics need to stop cit­ing this num­ber, not only because it is out­landishly false but because it is not the point how many Protes­tant denom­i­na­tions there are. The point is the scan­dal of divi­sion and the love of pri­vate judg­ment that has caused so much of it. The scan­dal would be no less if there were two denom­i­na­tions, and no greater if there were two mil­lion. Any divi­sion in the body of Christ is a scan­dal. To argue over how many is a red her­ring. It is an argu­ment about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The real point is St. Paul’s words in Eph­esians 4:4–6:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one bap­tism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

By “one body,” St. Paul means “one Church,” as is evi­dent when you com­pare Eph­esians 1:22-23a and Colos­sians 1:18, 24. Protes­tants don’t need to answer to an Ency­clo­pe­dia; they need to answer to St. Paul. That is the only dis­cus­sion worth hav­ing. We make a mis­take in allow­ing them to avoid the dis­cus­sion by fix­at­ing upon the dubi­ous num­ber 33,000.
Reply
#2
So...do all those who profess Jesus as Messiah constitute One Church and there just happens to be more than one way of manifesting that?  Or...does the soteriological exclusivity of the Catholic Church (the one with a pope in Rome, that is) make it the only Church?  (By the way, soteriological exclusivity isn't solely a Catholic claim  :).)
Reply
#3
Once a baptist told me that baptists are not Protestants. I was a bit amazed, but I suppose he was right, in that they were rejected by Luther et al. Then he went on saying that baptists trace their roots to John the Baptist  :eyeroll:

But at the end of the day even Luther lived to see the out-of-control proliferation of « denominations ». There might indeed be six or seven proper denominations, but still every Prot thinks what he wills (especially if said Prot is a baptist, whose only common doctrine is adult baptism and full body).

Reply
#4
(02-11-2016, 04:28 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Once a baptist told me that baptists are not Protestants. I was a bit amazed, but I suppose he was right, in that they were rejected by Luther et al. Then he went on saying that baptists trace their roots to John the Baptist  :eyeroll:

But at the end of the day even Luther lived to see the out-of-control proliferation of « denominations ». There might indeed be six or seven proper denominations, but still every Prot thinks what he wills (especially if said Prot is a baptist, whose only common doctrine is adult baptism and full body).

Not terribly unlike so-called "Cafeteria Catholics" or "Cafeteria Orthodox", etc., eh? :)
Reply
#5
(02-11-2016, 05:17 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(02-11-2016, 04:28 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Once a baptist told me that baptists are not Protestants. I was a bit amazed, but I suppose he was right, in that they were rejected by Luther et al. Then he went on saying that baptists trace their roots to John the Baptist  :eyeroll:

But at the end of the day even Luther lived to see the out-of-control proliferation of « denominations ». There might indeed be six or seven proper denominations, but still every Prot thinks what he wills (especially if said Prot is a baptist, whose only common doctrine is adult baptism and full body).

Not terribly unlike so-called "Cafeteria Catholics" or "Cafeteria Orthodox", etc., eh? :)

It would be the same thing if the cafeteria Catholics were to go out and form their own Church  :)
Reply
#6
(02-11-2016, 05:19 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(02-11-2016, 05:17 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(02-11-2016, 04:28 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Once a baptist told me that baptists are not Protestants. I was a bit amazed, but I suppose he was right, in that they were rejected by Luther et al. Then he went on saying that baptists trace their roots to John the Baptist  :eyeroll:

But at the end of the day even Luther lived to see the out-of-control proliferation of « denominations ». There might indeed be six or seven proper denominations, but still every Prot thinks what he wills (especially if said Prot is a baptist, whose only common doctrine is adult baptism and full body).

Not terribly unlike so-called "Cafeteria Catholics" or "Cafeteria Orthodox", etc., eh? :)

It would be the same thing if the cafeteria Catholics were to go out and form their own Church  :)

Well, you do have a point there...Nonetheless, there is a kind of similarity, which is the point I was trying to make.  One can only wonder how many Catholics form their own Church in their minds  :LOL:.
Reply
#7
(02-11-2016, 04:28 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Once a baptist told me that baptists are not Protestants. I was a bit amazed, but I suppose he was right, in that they were rejected by Luther et al. Then he went on saying that baptists trace their roots to John the Baptist  :eyeroll:

But at the end of the day even Luther lived to see the out-of-control proliferation of « denominations ». There might indeed be six or seven proper denominations, but still every Prot thinks what he wills (especially if said Prot is a baptist, whose only common doctrine is adult baptism and full body).

Fact is that they can only trace their roots back to a disgruntled Anglican priest, who, along with 18 of his compatriots, performed an act of blasphemy, (baptizing himself) as the first act as a new religion. He then baptized the others and so it went in their line of succession.
Reply
#8
Thank you to the Original Poster. You have made the internet a slightly more intelligent place.  :)
Reply
#9
(02-11-2016, 03:05 PM)J Michael Wrote: So...do all those who profess Jesus as Messiah constitute One Church and there just happens to be more than one way of manifesting that?  Or...does the soteriological exclusivity of the Catholic Church (the one with a pope in Rome, that is) make it the only Church?  (By the way, soteriological exclusivity isn't solely a Catholic claim  :).)

No, not all those who profess Jesus as Messiah constitute the Church.  Not even close. Although, false ecumenists in the clergy have certainly done a great job muddling this issue. 

For one thing, anyone who truly accepts Christ as the Messiah will accept the Teaching Authority Christ gave to his Apostles, who passed that on to their successors (bishops), as well as recognize the primacy of St. Peter (Matthew 16) as the chief shepherd of Christ's Flock. ( Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.-John 21:17)

Speaking to the Apostles (whose successors are the Bishops of the Church), Christ says in Luke 10:16- “He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me…”,

Just a later invented Catholic bias? No.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (35 A.D.-107 A.D., Disciple of St. John the Apostle and Successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch): See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery (priests) as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.... "(—Letter to the Smyrnaeans)"

The Catholic Church is the only one true Church of Christ.  Any others (as well as their poor members they have deceived) are pretenders.  Egregious ones. 

Pope St. Clement I, A.D. 88-97: "Heretical teachers pervert Scripture and try to get into Heaven with a false key, for they have formed their human assemblies later than the Catholic Church.  From this previously-existing and most true Church, it is very clear that these later heresies, and others which have come into being since then, are counterfeit and novel inventions." (Epistle to the Corinthians). *St. Paul mentions Clement in Philippians Chapter 4, Verse 3.

Saint Cyprian (died A.D. 258): "He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.' Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ." (On the Unity of the Catholic Church)

"... If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith?  If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?" "Can the power of baptism be greater or of more avail than confession, than suffering, when one confesses Christ before men and is baptized in his own blood?  And yet even this baptism does not benefit a heretic.... Not even the baptism of a public confession and blood can profit a heretic, because there is no salvation outside the Church." (Epistle LXXII)(On the Unity of the Catholic Church)

"He is no Christian who is not in Christ's Church." (Epistle to Antonianus," 52)

Saint Ambrose, Doctor (died A.D. 397): "Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church. Where the Church is there is not death but life eternal. ...Although many call themselves Christians, they usurp the name and do not have the reward." (The Fathers of the Church)

Pope Pius XII: .....they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely "spiritual" as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond. [...]"Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith...  "We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church." #57:"Finally, while by His grace He provides for the continual growth of the Church, He [ the Holy Spirit] yet refuses to dwell through sanctifying grace in those members that are wholly severed from the Body." (Mystici Corporis (on the Mystical Body of Christ)

Purporting to profess Christ as the Messiah while believing heresies and remaining outside the Catholic Church profits one nothing and is an exercise in self-delusion. 



Reply
#10
The author is right. There aren't 33,000 Protestant denominations. There are, in fact, as many Protestant denominations as there are Protestants! And this is proven by the simple fact that Protestants as a general rule lack those conditions necessary which can give them any meaningful, supernatural unity as in a Church because they cut themselves off from the true Church. Hence, each Protestant, whether he likes it or admits it or not, is his own final authority on God's revelation.

I agree with BC. Just because a Protestant can speak and write out everything (and not even that) that a Catholic can profess of Christ does not at all mean the Protestant and Catholic confess the same faith. This is confusing the material and formal orders. We can all materially say the same thing, but our profession springs from an entirely different principle, one purely natural and truly degenerate for Protestants (again, as a rule), and one truly supernatural for Catholics in a state of grace, in union with the Church.

And, finally, to not be so flippant, the author is not really doing a service to anyone to say that the figure is exaggerated. The point at the end of the day isn't what the actual number is. The point is that there can be no real unity among Protestants, and the figure, whether given in a statistic or anecdotally, is indicative of the division that lies at the heart of all Protestantism. Yes, division is at the heart of all Protestantism. So they need our prayers and apostolic efforts.
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)