Monday, August 27, 2007

It’s Fun to be Catholic – New Radio Production!

by Steve Ray on August 27, 2007

Fun-to-be-Catholic.jpgI wanted to let you know about a new music/comedy Catholic radio special we produced by some friends of mine at Ave Maria Radio. The show is called IT'S FUN TO BE CATHOLIC, and it will be broadcast seven times over five days this week…

- Wednesday, August 29, 7:00 p.m.
- Friday, August 31, 7:00 p.m.
- Saturday, September 1, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday, September 2, 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
- Monday, September 3 (Labor Day), 2:00 p.m.

It can be heard on WDEO (990 AM, Detroit/Ann Arbor MI area) or online at, or

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33,000 Denominations – Steve’s Apology :-)

by Steve Ray on August 27, 2007

Before I apologize  Smile  let's first look at the data from the source in question.

It may be the way one wants to read the data, but to call people liars because they read the data the way it is presented by the source is quite disingenuous. There may be a difference of opinion with reading the data, but that doesn't make one a liar — as has been charged. I have copied the chart covering three pages from the World Christian Encyclopedia. I think everyone invovled with apologetics should have a copy of this set. This chart is what all the hubbub is all about.

Now you can see the data for yourself — and you can be the judge whose numbers are right and who's are wrong. You can see who is trying to be fair and who is being disingenuous.

 You can see the Chart for yourself. It is entitled: "Organized Christianity: global membership ranked by 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural megablocs and 300 major traditions AD 1970-2025." This chart is found on pages 16-18 of the World Christian Encyclopedia published by Oxford University Press.

Page one, page two, page three. Page three is very significant because it has the total numbers along the bottom.

What do you see on the Chart?
When you look at the chart you will see the 6 megablocs are 1) Orthodox, 2) Roman Catholic, 3) Aanglican, 4) Protestant, 5) Independent, 6) Marginal Christian.  Together these groups made up 33,909 "denominations" (their word, not mine) in 2000 AD.

1) Orthodox broke with Rome around 1000 AD. They are a schism and in 2000 AD made up 764 of this number.

2) Roman Catholics make up 242 of this number but they are almost all in union with Rome just with names like Melkite, Maronite, etc.

3) Anglicans made up 168 "denominations." Though listed in a separate category than "Protestant" they can certainly be seen as "protestant" having broke from Rome in the same century as the followers of Luther and Calvin. However, their numbers are insignificant.

4) Protestants make up 8,973 "denominations." This catagory includes mainline Protestant groups like Baptists, Adventists, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.

5) Independent Christian groups made up 22,148 "denominations'' and included groups like Independent Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, Independent Methodist, Independent Lutheran, Apostolic Congregations, Charismatic denominations, Pentecostal, other Adventists, Reformed Anglicans, Independent Reformed Presbyterian, Old Catholic, and many more (see the chart). Now, if you cut these out and say they are not "protestant" then my numbers are false. But even though they are listed as "Independent" they are every bit "protestant denominations." Even if you knock off a few bizarre, questionable ones it still is a huge number. To say that one who counts these as "protestant denominations" are liars is quite disingenuous. 

6) Marginal Christian groups make up only 1,596. These include Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Liberal Catholic, Gnostic, Swedenborgian, etc. These are not "protestant" but certainly fall within the pale of appearing as "Christian" to an uneducated observer.

My Sincere Apology:
So, what do we have? Cut out the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Marginal Christian groups and you end up with 31,121 Protestant and Independent Protestant denominations. So, I sincerely apologize for being 1,879 too high when I said the number was 33,000. That works out to 5.6% in error. You all have my sincere apology (tongue in cheek)   :-) 

By now, 7 years beyond 2,000 AD used by World Christian Encyclopedia, I suspect my number is now too low and maybe I should raise it to 39,000, the number listed on the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary site.

Now what do we find projected for 2025? 
Here are the projections which you can also see on the Chart.

Catholics will go from 242 in 2000 to 245 in 2025. More rites loyal to Rome will be added. Hurrah!
Anglicans will go from 168 to 169. 
Protestants Mainline denominations will go from 8,973 to 9,490.
Independent "protestant" churches will go from 22,148 to a whopping 49,431. 
Marginals will go from 1,596 to 2,030.

Looking at these numbers – with the charts provided so you can see for yourself – if someone wants to call me and the other Catholic apologists liars, then I would be very careful about anything else they tell you. And we may ask who really owes who an apology?

Now I put this to an end for I have more important things to do. I will let the opponent have the last word word since he'll take it anyway. Catholic apologists can continue to use 33,000+ as the number of denominations with confidence.


I am rushing to get packed — my wife and I leave Wednesday for Israel and Egypt with a group fo 55 excited pilgrims. You will be able to join us by video for a Virtual Pilgrimage right here on this blog. Each night, Lord willing, I will upload video clips from the day.

WorldChristianEncyclopedia.jpgIn the meantime, this morning I post here my response to the discussion on the number of denominations in the world today and how sola Scriptura has been a huge factor in causing, or at least, facilitating this scandalous situation. Accusing me of "spinning," the issue, James White has already started the real spin to make it sound like denominationalism and schisms and factions are just fine and to remove the onus from Protestants to stop the factions, infighting — to stop the scandal.

(World Christian Encyclopedia from which Protestant and other groups outside the Catholic Church are listed and numbered. In the attached article I provide links to the pages and numbers in question.)

The naysayer "knows" he's in the right sect and as long as he can be his own petty pope, he's seems as happy as a pig in mud. He has responded exactly as I predicted and continues to be thoroughly predictable — still reminding me of a rabid dog poked with a stick — angry and fighting and nipping at everyone. Just look at his blog if you don't think so. If you like videos featuring James White arguing, you've got a lot to choose from.

But instead of answering my 30-page response to the Assumption and Queenship of Mary, he diverted attention by getting fixated on the denominational numbers used by Catholics and others alike. It was a smokescreen and a red herring. In the attacthed response I explain the numbers, sources and usage of large numbers related to denominations, paradenominations, sects, schisms, and cults.

SheepFlock.jpgNow in his fixation on the number of denominations, he is ignoring the REAL scandal — the divisions and factions in the Body of Christ. He is majoring on the minors. He doesn't want to admit that sola Scriptura is an unbiblical and destructive doctrine — and how Jesus wants Christians to be one, with a visible unity so the world can see it and proclaim, "Ah, see the Christians? Their unity demonstrates visibly that the Father has certainly sent the Son" (John 17).

The great number of denominations (whether its White's accepted 9,000 or the often claimed 20,00 or 33,000) has done great damage to the reputation and credibility of Christianity. Whether it is 33,000 or whatever large number, it is grossly wrong and instead of getting obsessed on the number, Christians ought to fix it by rallying around the shepherd Jesus appointed on the Sea of Galilee after his resurrection (at the exact point where we will celebrate Mass on the shore this coming Saturday evening) (Jn 21:15-17; Matt 16:18-19).

"Do you love Me? Shepherd My sheep, tend My lambs." If there is a command that the Shepherd lead, there is an implicit command for the sheep to follow and obey.

How many denominations equals more than one. Jesus wants ONE flock. How many does it take to cause Jesus pain?

Sheep scatter easily, I know because I have rented flocks of sheep twice in Bethlehem. And because sheep scatter easily Jesus appointed shepherds and, through apostolic succession they are still pastoring the sheep today with a flock that is larger than all other Christian schisms, sects and factions combined. It is not by chance nor accident. It is by design.

But sheep are still quite willing at times to wander away and gather in little groups outside the fold — to their own detriment. And it is no surprise why many wandering sheep have come back to the fold and many others like me — born outside the true sheepfold of the Catholic Church — have entered the fold with great joy once we discovered it.

Now, one question that comes up. Aren't there 242 "Catholic denominations"? I am not sure of the actual number, but there are a good number of Catholic schisms that have broke with Rome and set up their own popes and continue to call themselves Catholics. So, yes, you can say there are a lot of Catholic schisms, or if you prefer, denominations, along with Orthodox, Copts and others. It is a shame on all counts. There are also many rites loyal to Rome which may be considered different "denominations" even though in their case it would be questionable as to whether it would be correct to label them as such. There are groups like the Maronites, Melkites, Greek Catholics, etc. who have separate names but are all Catholic and in union with Rome.

Like I've said before, I would never waste my time responding to White for the sake of responding to White. It would be useless – like talking to a telephone pole. I write these responses like I write a lot of things — to encourage the faithful and to defend the faith and those who love the faith.

FastFoodResaurants.jpgMy paper begins: "The other day I drove through town and on one side of the street there was McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Macaroni Grill, Arby’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Big Boy’s and Taco Bell. 

"On the other side of the street I saw church buildings: Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Methodist, Reformed Baptist, Free Will Baptist, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Progressive Missionary Baptist and . . . 

"We live in a consumer society and unhappily too many people choose a “church” along Main Street the same way their appetites and tastes dictate which fast food joint they go to. And just like people jump from one restaurant to another, many Christians jump from one church to another. It is often called “church hopping” from the pews, or “sheep stealing” from the pulpit." . . .

Click here for the rest of the story :-)