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It is often said that there are up to 40 thousand Christian denominations.

What is the original source of this claim, and how are the denominations classified?

  • I did find this helpful explanation but it concerns the claim of there being only 33 thousand denominations. – curiousdannii Apr 26 '18 at 0:59
  • I answered a semi-similar question here the number might have came from the handbook of denominations, I think it's been around a while and had several editions. My guess is that if people say 40,000 now it's because they were saying 30,000 twenty years ago and they figure there's gotta be more now. – Peter Turner Apr 26 '18 at 1:44
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    I can't stress enough, the "denominations" of Catholicism are not equal to the "denominations" of Protestantism, all groups of Catholicism are all under one belief and magisterium. Not competing churches with contradicting dogma. – aska123 Apr 26 '18 at 5:47
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    see this answer christianity.stackexchange.com/a/56053/22319 – depperm Apr 26 '18 at 11:44
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    Possible duplicate of How many Christian denominations are there? – depperm Apr 26 '18 at 14:37
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The 40,000 figure comes from a chart that is quoted by the "Best Estimates" web site, the estimation comes from the a chart that is linked below originally provided by Gordon Conwell Edu. It is an estimation of where things stand now in Christianity world wide. This figure is actually off now, and has been surpassed as time has passed. If you go to line 41 of the original chart the figure should now be over 45,000 separate denominations, and should grow to 55K by 2025!

http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/StatusOfGlobalMission.pdf

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    That's an impressive chart.... But it suggests an average denomination membership of 53K when Catholic membership is 1.22B. That would mean a massive number of 100-300 member "denominations." I wonder how the study defines the word? – JBH Apr 28 '18 at 3:13
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    @JBH They divide denominations by countries, such that there are ~200 RCC denominations, not even including the Eastern Catholic denominations. – curiousdannii Apr 30 '18 at 10:18
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    Has nobody considered that some denominations have ceased to exist now? The Shakers are but one example. Why does there seem to be an assumption that the number will keep on rising? – Anne May 3 '18 at 15:28

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