August 21, 2019


Spiritual work of Mercy: Instruct the Ignorant:

The Facts and Stats on “33,000 Denominations”
The 20,000 30,000 numbers and David Barrett’s statistics Part II

The Facts and Stats on “33,000 Denominations” by P


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: 1) a denomination is defined as existing within a specific country 2)there are 33,000+ total of these “Christian denominations” in 238 total countries. 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) : Independents (about 22000) ; Protestants (about 9000) ; “Marginals” (about 1600)
Orthodox (781) ;Roman Catholics (242) ; Anglicans (168)

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 Richard N. Ostling, Associated Press, 19 May 2001 Since adding a religion doctorate from Columbia University to his technical background, he has spent 40 years systematizing information on world religions, a calling he discovered while assigned as an Anglican missionary in Africa.

Now 73, Barrett recently culminated his oddly remarkable career with publication of the second edition of his global accounting of faiths and the faithful — trends, details and his best estimated count of believers of all religions in each of 238 nations and territories Never has there been such a thorough reference as the two large volumes, running 1,699 pages, of the World Christian Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press. Barrett has doggedly visited most of the lands in person, collecting raw material, including national census figures and United Nations data, and recruiting the 444 specialists who feed him material. Among them: Vatican missions librarian Willi Henkel and editor J. Gordon Melton of the Encyclopedia of American Religions. Barrett’s encyclopedia sought to count each human being in each religion and religious subcategory in each country as of 1900, 1970, 1990, 1995 and 2000, with projections to 2025. Barrett also calculates religious populations for the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, standard estimates that are used in turn by the World Almanac and innumerable journalists. Such numbers are always debatable, but they’re the best available. “We don’t really have any rivals,” Barrett says. “That’s the problem.”

Title: World Christian Encyclopedia : a comparative survey of churches and religions in the modern world
Authors: David B. Barrett, George T. Kurian, Todd M. Johnson.
Edition: 2nd ed.
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Description: 2 v. : ill., col. maps ; 32 cm.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references and indexes.Contents:v. 1. The world by countries : religionists, churches, ministries
v. 2. The world by segments : religions, peoples, languages, cities, topics.

Independents (about 22,000 denominations)

Let’s deal with these first, since this is the largest mega-bloc (22000+ “denominations” of the total 33000+). These are broken down into various large groups, and their lists and numbers span from the bottom of page 16, through page 17, and most of page 18. I’m not going to type all of these since the list is quite long — much longer than any of the groupings in the other mega-blocs which are listed below in full. I will quote a major sampling of these “Independent” Christian groups, and still try to cover the whole list:

African Independent Apostolic ; Black American Apostolic; Filipino Apostolic; Indian Apostolic ; another 8 groups have “Apostolic”

African Independent Charismatic; Black American Charismatic; Chinese Charismatic; another 14 groups have “Charismatic” or “Neocharismatic”; another 14 groups have “Charismatic” or “Neo-charismatic; another 14 are something-“Neo-charismatic ” ; another 12 are something-“Oneness Pentecostal” ; another 18 are something-“Pentecostal” then we have a couple deliverance/Pentecostal groups; independent evangelicals (dispensationalist); Non-denominational (no church or anti-church groups)

African Independent Full Gospel ; Black American Full Gospel ; Chinese Full Gospel; another 10 groups have “Full Gospel” ; three have something-“grassroots” ; another 20 groups have “house-church network” or “cell-based network” ; Five have “Messianic”- something ; British-Israelites. Another 12 are something-“radio/TV believers [or “network”]” (i.e. the “pastor” for these independent Christians is some personality on radio or TV) ;final 2 on page 17 are something-“Spiritual”; Word of Faith / Prosperity groups ; a couple of “mixed traditions” ;some “Zionist” groups; Messianic, Jewish-Christian congregations ; Hidden Buddhist believers in Christ; Hidden Hindu believers in Christ; Hidden Muslim believers in Christ

Independent Anglicans or Anglo-Catholic groups in both Catholic and Protestant directions; Independent Adventists Apocalyptic or eschatological (“end times”) groups ; Independent Baptists ; some Independent Orthodox groups; Independent Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) ; Independent Congregational, Congregationalists ; Independent Disciple, Restorationist, Christian ; Independent Dunkers (Tunker, Dipper) ; Independent Exclusive Brethren (Closed, Strict) ; Independent Estonian Orthodox ; Independent Anglican Evangelical ; Independent Fundamentalist ; Independent Friends (Quakers) ; Independent Greek Orthodox ; Independent Hungarian Orthodox ;Independent “Latin-rite” Catholics ; Independent Assyrian or Nestorian ; Independent Ukrainian Orthodox ; three indy “Reformed” groups (Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox) ; another seven Independent Protestant or Orthodox churches ; marginal independent Christian (Black / Third-World) ; more Independent Reformed or Orthodox

True Orthodox (Conservative Russian Orthodox) ; ; schismatic Conservative Catholics; Traditionalist Anglicans; Old Catholics (i.e. split from Rome after Vatican Council I); Orthodox sect/sectarian;

Miscellanious: Holiness or Conservative Methodist (non-Pentecostal) ; Old Believer, Old Ritualist; ; Old Calendarist (Authentic Orthodox) ; various schisms from Orthodoxy, in Protestant directions; United church (various united bodies) ; IndependentJehovah’s Witnesses ; Independent Spiritualist, spiritists, occultists ;community church or union congregation ;ethnic or monoethnic denominations ; No-Church Movement ; isolated radio churches (unorganized) ; episcopi vagantes (“wandering” bishops-at-large, very small under 100 members); single autonomous congregations

Another section of these “Independents” with a decent number of denominations include (ordered by smallest to largest denominations, year 2000): 65 Filipino Charismatic ;70 Chinese neocharismatic ; 71 Chinese Charismatic ; 78 Black American pentecostal ;82 Holiness (Conservative Methodist, non-pentecostal); 86 Afro-Caribbean Oneness Pentecostal ; 92 Latin American Charismatic ;92 Anglican/Independent Evangelical; 92 Independent Methodist; 95 Indian Pentecostal ;96 African Oneness Pentecostal; 96 marginal independent (Black/Third World); 99 White-led Oneness Pentecostal ; 102 Arab Charismatic ; 133 Black American Oneness pentecostal; 133 Independent Disciple, Restorationist, Christian ; 136 Independent Reformed, Presbyterian ;158 Zionist African Independent ;167 Korean Pentecostal (mixed traditions); 177 Indonesian Pentecostal ;208 New/Old Apostolic, Catholic Apostolic (Irvingite, an Anglican / Presbyterian / Adventist sect); 221 Brazilian/Portuguese Pentecostal; 225 ethnic or monoethnic denomination; 226 White-led Full Gospel ; 236 Nondenominational (no church or anti-church); & 271 Independent Baptist ; 281 Latin American grassroots 281 Filipino neocharismatic ;300 Brazilian grassroots ; 343 Afro-Caribbean pentecostal ; 439 African Independent Spiritual; 475 Indian Charismatic; 609 African Independent Charismatic; 644 Latin American pentecostal ; 805 single autonomous congregations; 813 White-led pentecostal ;

Adding up these Independent denominations we get 8,497 which is another 39% of the total of 22,000 “Independents.” All of these are clearly “Protestant” in theology as well — charismatics, pentecostals, evangelicals, methodists, reformed/presbyterians, full gospel, “nondenominational”, baptists, and Oneness pentecostals (note that Barrett includes “mainline” Oneness groups in the Protestant mega-bloc, not in the “Marginal” mega-bloc). So that gives us 92% ( = 53% + 39% ) of these Independent groups accounted for as Protestant. The rest (the remaining 8% of the 22000 denominations) are smaller than the above, and the majority of these are Protestant as well.

he only other large “Catholic” independent group is 435 “denominations” labeled “Conservative Catholic (schism ex Rome)” or those “radical Traditionalist” Catholics in schism with Rome which I’ll admit appears to be a large number (considering there are only 242 total “Roman Catholic denominations” — see below). However, looking at the total numbers of Roman Catholics in the world (over 1 billion) this dwarfs the relatively small numbers (i.e. 4,518,000 members [year 1995], in 435 “denominations” [year 2000]) in these schismatical groups. And at least Catholics know who is in “schism” whereas a Protestant evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic or pentecostal (i.e. all the above groups which claim to follow the Bible) can’t be in “schism” to the Bible, since the Bible by itself doesn’t tell us who is in schism. (Mk3:24-29) And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation

Another way to determine the percentage of Protestants/Anglicans in these Independents is to count and exclude the “Catholic” and “Orthodox” ones — i.e. groups which appear to have come out of or split off from the Catholic Church or Orthodox Churches, and apparently still claim to be in some sense “Catholic” or “Orthodox” and are non-Protestant / non-Anglican. These are, ordered from largest to smallest denominations, year 2000 numbers:

  • 435 Conservative Catholic (schism ex-Rome), the biggest group of these already mentioned
  • 32 Independent Russian Orthodox, second largest
  • 30 Orthodox sect/sectarian
  • 27 Liberal Catholic (Theosophical, Masonic, Gnostic), questionable what this means, but I’ll include them
  • 26 Old Catholic (i.e. split with Rome after Vatican Council I)
  • 25 Old Believer, Old Ritualist (the “Old Believers” are a Russian Orthodox sect)
  • 24 Independent Ukrainian Orthodox
  • 23 Reformed Orthodox (uncanonical)
  • 16 Reformed Catholic (retaining Roman Catholic claims)
  • 8 Old Calendarist (Authentic Orthodox)
  • 6 True Orthodox (conservative Russian Orthodox)
  • 5 Independent Serbian Orthodox
  • 5 Latin-rite Catholic
  • 5 Independent Assyrian or Nestorian
  • 3 Independent Romanian Orthodox
  • 2 Independent Estonian Orthodox
  • 2 Independent Greek Orthodox
  • 1 Independent Bulgarian Orthodox
  • 1 Independent Byzantine rite
  • 1 Independent Hungarian Orthodox
  • 1 Independent Macedonian Orthodox
  • 1 Independent Moldavian Orthodox

These are all found on page 18. Adding these up we get a whopping 679 which is 3% of the 22,000 “Independent” denominations. That leaves us approximately 97% of the Independents as Protestant/Anglican, with a tiny number of “Marginal Christians” (i.e. 8 Jehovah’s Witnesses breakaway groups, and a couple “mind science” cults). The “Irvingites” on page 17, although called “New Apostolic, Catholic Apostolic, Old Apostolic,” are actually an Anglican / Presbyterian / Adventist, i.e. Protestant sect, neither Catholic nor Orthodox.

So we take the 9000 Protestant denominations plus 21,340 (97% of 22,000) plus 168 (Anglicans) =
30,000+ total Protestant/Anglican denominations.

For a list of individual denominations, here are a couple thousand of these Independents with specific names from “World Christian Database” online.

see also Part I: How Many Protestant Denominations Are There?

COMPLETED 8/28/2007 — Feast of St. Augustine — “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity…”

Your Total “Christian Denominations” Count for today is 49,394 [11/14/2018] BUT for the Grace of God go I?

Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.
Please pray for Christian unity (Christ prayer in John 17; Eph 4:5; Matt 16:18)

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