45,000 Denominations

Christians have been splitting hairs for 2000 years. :sunglasses: That is why there are over 45,000 denominations of Christians. :sunglasses:


That’s what happens when a single movements spreads to reach across the globe, touching every tribe, tongue and nation!

1 Like

yes the movements evolves! Some new denominations/ideas/interpretations grow, some go extinct. Very Darwinian. :sunglasses:


I agree that splitting hairs is a common phenomenon—although many denominations are actually dropping the “hairs” from their doctrinal statements. I could cite many examples but one of the most recent was the Evangelical Free Church of America announcing that it had dropped Pre-Millennialism from its Statement of Faith. It is not the first such group to do so.

No. That is not the reason. That is a popular misconception. (By the way, people often cite the 45,000 figure without bothering to look for a source in the peer-reviewed literature. If they did, it wouldn’t be a popular factoid that is so often challenged.)

Firstly, defining “denomination” is not an easy task. (For example, what distinguishes a very large church with many satellite congregations from a denomination?) If one simply thinks through the representation and administrative issues across national, cultural, linguistic, economic, and many other kinds of boundaries, it is easy to understand why such numbers grow over time. Secondly, separate administrative structures do not mean that there is definitely conflict or significant doctrinal differences between church fellowships, associations, and denominations. In a country like the USA, the migration routes of early pioneers played major roles in creating various denominations and traditions—even while one finds few doctrinal differences between some of them today. Thirdly, it is totally natural for humans to affiliate with other humans with very similar ideas and preferences. For example, I know of a church which grew to where it split into two congregations which eventually had their own separate elder boards, pastors, and budgets—and the division occurred quite amicably along the lines of music styles. (One group preferred contemporary worship music and the other preferred traditional music.) Are they now two different denominations? It depends on your definition.

In my own family lineages, various denominations had virtually identical beliefs but were split according to the dialects of German represented by the migrating refugees from harsh economic conditions and centuries of European turmoil. (Swiss German versus Palatinate German versus High German come to mind. Palatinate German can be further divided into Westpfälzisch and Vorderpfälzisch dialects and their respective origins in the eastern and western Palatinate regions. And my German relatives which came much later to the Dakotas, seeking the last available homesteading opportunities in America in the late 1800’s, came from Bessarabia, now consisting largely of Moldova. To this day their descendants still have their own denomination of churches sharing that common geographical heritage.)

I know of many different atheist organizations—but I don’t know of anyone who is much bothered by that. Some atheist organizations like to sponsor special speakers and pickup trash along adopted highways. Some atheist organizations like to organize cruises and coffee round-tables. Many of them are totally independent from well-known national and international organizations. Does that mean that they are splitting hairs over what it means to call oneself an atheist? Does that mean that there are hundreds of atheist denominations?