How Many Protestant Denominations are there? Really?



I have heard that there are over 20,000 or 30,000 different denominations of Protestants. But I just did a little research and I am afraid it is a distortion. I am a Catholic who converted from a zealous Protestantism. I know there are way too many divisions in the body of Christ but this figure is not accurate b/c the authors from which this figure comes counted a church as a NEW or ANOTHER denomination just because it was in a different country. So the Roman Catholic Church…ONE UNIFIED CHURCH is counted as having over 200 denominations according to the method of counting denominations, just because the Roman Catholic Church is in over 200 different countries, which is just completely inaccurate.

So, if the Southern Baptist Church is found in the USA, Canada, and England it was counted as three denominations when it really should have been counted as one.

The source of this misinformation is the World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett. You can see for yourself by clicking the Link Here.

If anyone has an accurate count of actual denominations of Non-Catholic and Non-Orthodox Protestant Christians I would be interested in knowing how many there really are b/c I don’t want to be repeating misinformation.

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9 Responses

  1. Sorry friend but I think you will have a hard time getting an accurate number because of several reasons:

    1) The number is still growing as we speak.

    2) Protestants churches may split over issues such as same sex marriage thus making them a new denomination (see http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/19/conservative-lutherans-to-leave-synod/ )

    3) With the “Bible alone” mentality, what will prevent two individual to come together and explain the bible the way they want to explain it and form a new denomination.

    This number will grow friend.

    • Bula,

      i agree with you (Even if it is 200 that is still too many). For example when a Protestant leader steps (or is shoved) aside or stumbles, the crowd (or perhaps only a few) will look for the next man or woman to briefly follow and if there is not one, well, we will just form one ourselves. We will use a litle of this a little of that, no not that and so the story goes. To make it worse most Protestants (evangelicals mostly) spend a good portion of their time wandering from church to church, leader to leader. It seems to me that this sort of thing is actually more of a form of psychotherapy than a commitment to Christ and historical Christianity, where there were no denominations.
      Blessings!

  2. Don,
    As a former Protestant I can say that it might look like Protestants wander from one church or leader to another but the do this in search of a biblical teacher and/or church.

    A zealous Protestant really is as committed to Christ and historical Christianity as they know how to be. But, they honestly do not know how cramped their faith is by the sola scriptura mantra and the total lack of knowledge of Christian history after the Nicean Council and before Martin Luther. They trust their teachers and the traditions of Protestantism without realizing they are doing this…at least that is what I did and I thought I was a diligent student.

    • Interesting. I myself was raised Catholic. It seems to me that the most biblically based (by far and away) of all the so-called Protestant denominations are the Seventh-day Adventists. Ironically, they are often harangued over their staunch Biblical stand – such as the 7th-day Sabbath, which is if one is to accept the Bible as their sole rule of faitn, the only day one could honestly conclude to worship on. They are also very versed on history – seemingly far more than any other, or even all the other, Protestant denominations combined.

      I recently ran into presentations by a college Professor who is so intelligent and makes so much common sense regarding the historical, scriptural Jesus Chris and the Bible that I found myself enthralled – and consequently, falling in love with Jesus Christ all over atain. I wonder what you might think of this. I will also add that I have found subsequent presentations of Professor Walter Veith equally as engaging and enlightening.

      It is entitled “Thou Shalt Call His Name Jesus

      • John M: I gave Prof. Veith a listen in good faith. Pretty dry stuff, and quite obviously plain vanilla adventistism. I guess that you forgot to read how the first Christians came together on the Lord’s Day for worship (Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:2, Rev 1:10). So what’s this true sola scripturatist belief in seventh day worship?

  3. It seems like you have gathered yourself a nice little following finally. I’m pleased!

  4. There are not 30,000 denominnations as that is ridiculous and repeating such nonsense makes Catholic look bad. There are too many differences, but let’s be honest. Stop with the lies. There is enough problems already. Catholics and Protestants should really worship our Lord together and stop the fighting.

    • Keith,
      The source for the 33,000 denomination number is NOT the Catholic Church. If you follow the link in the post you will see that an Anglican missionary compiled the information. If you read the whole article you see that there are at least hundreds of denominations if not thousands. Way way more that the ONE desired by Jesus.

      John 17:11 Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are….21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me….23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me

  5. If they counted the actual Catholic Church (one, holy, catholic, apostolic) as 200 denominations, then a conservative estimate would be to divide the 20K-30K protestant denominations by 200. This would give you 100-150 protestant denominations.

    However, counting the US Catholic Church as a denomination and separate somehow theologically from Rome would be an ignorant error. Furthermore, some Protestant churches in different countries may have theologically contradicting beliefs (beyond customs and small traditions) and may not have the level of unity as the Catholic Church. We would need an expert on Catholic and Protestant unity worldwide to clarify and comment. This is a good analysis: http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm

    Now what may be more difficult or impossible to count is when a young man starts a church up in a warehouse down the road with no denominational ties, or a college student starts a church in his dorm room because he disagrees theologically with his local pastor (with real Sunday services and other students that come to worship, true story). These are examples of people with no official theological connections to any other church in the world and have followers that choose these churches over other denominations (i.e., not just a group that meets on the side).

    Examples like this make me think the 30,000 number could be much less than reality.

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