For 40,000 denominations it only takes 16 issues ...

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Mar 20 2022 5:12 PM

I got to wondering how many theological positions on how many issues exist to create the > 40,000 estimated denominations. Yes, I know that mathematically that a mere 16 yes/no positions is sufficient to reach 40,000 but I also that model is lousy for this case.  Has anyone seen any articles/textbooks that try to estimate how many contentious issues there are in theology? Or the statistical possibility of being correct on all issues? Impetus for my musings is Theological Disagreement: What It Is, and How to Do It - ABC Religion & Ethics

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 7:10 PM

Ok, Mrs Math, 16? I calc'd 99?  I'm admittedly rusty. Squeek, squeek.

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Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 7:18 PM

MJ. Smith:
I got to wondering how many theological positions on how many issues exist to create the > 40,000 estimated denominations.

Interesting research, MJ.

Have you considered the possibility that some of our divisions might be due more to issues of power rather than doctrine? The conflict usually has a theological face, and sometimes that is the main issue, but maybe that's not enough to create all the denominations we've splintered into today.

Posts 666
Roy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 7:47 PM

Something on the order of 65,536 if it is a binary calculation. 2 raised to the 16th power.

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 8:31 PM

MJ. Smith:
I find the following statement to be provocative; extending the argument that Protestants have no body to call "balls and strikes" doctrinally. Speaking of the teaching Church, the author says it relieves the theologian to speculate and do theology saying, "In this way, the theologian is relieved of anxiety about her own rightness and her own influence, at least if she is Catholic; the picture is very different for Protestant theologians, on whose shoulders a heavy weight is placed, one that cannot be borne and that hampers and constrains the properly speculative aspect of theological work." Interesting.  

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

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xnman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 9:32 PM

In my search of different "theological teachings" or "issues"... and I think there are 38,000 different "denominations" but....I believe many such can be wrapped up in the following:

1. Some form of the Catholic teachings.

2. Some form of the teachings of John Calvin.

3. Some form of the teachings of John Wesley.

4. Some form of the teaching of John Smyth.

5. Some form of the teachings of John Knox.

6. To name a few.... and there are others.

Because.... from these teachings we have all kinds of "branching off".

And yet.... if the Bible is right.... and I believe it is.... before 96 AD... there was only one teaching. And that I find amazing!!  Geeked

xn = Christan  man=man -- Acts 11:26 "....and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch".

Barney Fife is my hero!

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Jon | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 9:34 PM

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the country the denomination is located in was one of the factors used in determining the 40,000 denominations statistic.  For example, there are over 200 Roman Catholic denominations listed in that statistic, as the Roman Catholic Church can be found in more than 200 countries (I.e. American Roman Catholicism, Canadian Roman Catholicism, etc).  So there are more than just theological distinctives at play.

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 10:05 PM

James White largely debunked the big number of denominations since so many of them were simply non-denominational churches and the other splits were mostly of insignificant branches determined on non-ecclesial terms. 

I like my French Roast brewed in a French press and served black. The only issue of the church is living out the faith delivered once for all the saints. Jesus detested anything sectarian whatsoever and He didn't mince words. If it's not about the gospel, it's gingerbread.

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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xnman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 20 2022 10:07 PM

Jon:

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the country the denomination is located in was one of the factors used in determining the 40,000 denominations statistic.  For example, there are over 200 Roman Catholic denominations listed in that statistic, as the Roman Catholic Church can be found in more than 200 countries (I.e. American Roman Catholicism, Canadian Roman Catholicism, etc).  So there are more than just theological distinctives at play.

I'll concede to the 40,000 number. My study to 38,000 is 15 years old.

xn = Christan  man=man -- Acts 11:26 "....and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch".

Barney Fife is my hero!

Posts 208
Bill Coley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 12:10 AM

MJ. Smith:

I got to wondering how many theological positions on how many issues exist to create the > 40,000 estimated denominations. Yes, I know that mathematically that a mere 16 yes/no positions is sufficient to reach 40,000 but I also that model is lousy for this case.  Has anyone seen any articles/textbooks that try to estimate how many contentious issues there are in theology? Or the statistical possibility of being correct on all issues? Impetus for my musings is Theological Disagreement: What It Is, and How to Do It - ABC Religion & Ethics

How many contentious issues are there in the Body of Christ? It depends on how many total issues there are. In my experience and to my unscientific assessment of the data, the ratio between total issues and contentious ones is 1-to-1.

What is the statistical possibility of our being "correct" on all issues? Approximately 0.00000%, though you are free to add your favorite twelve digit number of zeroes to the right end of that result.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 1:55 AM

xnman:
1. Some form of the Catholic teachings.

Thanks for your perspective. Someday I hope you learn that there are essentially no uniquely Catholic teachings. Ecumenical discussions with the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches find 0-3 genuine differences in theology after developing theology in different cultures, different languages, with limited communication between them at times, over two millennia "and that I find amazing!!" (repeating your words is intentional). While I agree that the major splits have theological differences, there are times when politics rather than theology or personal charism rather than theology is the basis of a split. There is also the issue that many churches permit a wide range of views on some theological issues.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 1:59 AM

Jon:
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the country the denomination is located in was one of the factors used in determining the 40,000 denominations statistic

Thanks for bringing this up. I was aware of it and remember that I was somewhere between shock and laughter when I first learned it. 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 2:11 AM

mab:
James White largely debunked the big number of denominations since so many of them were simply non-denominational churches and the other splits were mostly of insignificant branches determined on non-ecclesial terms. 

I respect James White's desire to use consistent criteria e.g. ecclesial terms although the count he wants is not quite the same as what I am looking at -- which is groups based on theological differences.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 2:18 AM

mab:
The only issue of the church is living out the faith delivered once for all the saints.

I heartily agree.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 2:25 AM

Bill Coley:
What is the statistical possibility of our being "correct" on all issues? Approximately 0.00000%, though you are free to add your favorite twelve digit number of zeroes to the right end of that result.

You are probably correct and optimistic. I will admit to knowing of a congregation that collapsed/dispersed over mask requirements -- not a theological issue in my book but . . .

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 344
Pater Noster | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 4:15 AM

Just for my edification, how does this discussion relate to these two points in the forum guidelines?

  1. Please keep your discussions focused on Logos Bible Software: our software, products, websites, company, tools, etc.
  2. Please do not discuss biblical, theological, or other controversial topics. Use one of the many web forums intended for these kinds of discussions.
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Gregory Lawhorn | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 4:26 AM

Pater Noster:

Just for my edification, how does this discussion relate to these two points in the forum guidelines?

  1. Please keep your discussions focused on Logos Bible Software: our software, products, websites, company, tools, etc.
  2. Please do not discuss biblical, theological, or other controversial topics. Use one of the many web forums intended for these kinds of discussions.

I was wondering that myself; it seems that the application of the rules (by some) are sometimes . . . oh, let's just say nuanced. 

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 5:18 AM

MJ. Smith:

xnman:
1. Some form of the Catholic teachings.

Thanks for your perspective. Someday I hope you learn that there are essentially no uniquely Catholic teachings. Ecumenical discussions with the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches find 0-3 genuine differences in theology after developing theology in different cultures, different languages, with limited communication between them at times, over two millennia "and that I find amazing!!" (repeating your words is intentional). While I agree that the major splits have theological differences, there are times when politics rather than theology or personal charism rather than theology is the basis of a split. There is also the issue that many churches permit a wide range of views on some theological issues.

Please, pardon my brother. He is only parroting what the COC traditions teach; namely, let’s blame the Catholic Church for everything.  That’s quite awfully incorrect, but he’ll need to study that on his own.
If he only knew we have creeds and it’s not the cliché “No creed but the Bible,” which is not an original or exclusive cliché of the COC’s, then he would reconsider and study more in-depth on his own.  But anyway, don’t hold it against him that he hasn’t studied many issues on his own.  Just pray for him and the church.

DAL

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xnman | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 5:51 AM

DAL:

Please, pardon my brother. He is only parroting what the COC traditions teach; namely, let’s blame the Catholic Church for everything.  That’s quite awfully incorrect, but he’ll need to study that on his own.
If he only knew we have creeds and it’s not the cliché “No creed but the Bible,” which is not an original or exclusive cliché of the COC’s, then he would reconsider and study more in-depth on his own.  But anyway, don’t hold it against him that he hasn’t studied many issues on his own.  Just pray for him and the church.

DAL

Pardon me my brother..... But... I don't need anyone putting their words in my mouth. I was not blaming anyone and find your kind or "twisting my words to mean what you think they mean"... is rude and one of the problems with trying to have discussions like this. I was not "trained" or "brainwashed" by anyone, and was just stating what I have read and learned. As to you wanting to "put down" or "run down" the CoC... welll.,... I think that is something you should stop doing.  I didn't try to run down anyone.... read my post again. And I don't appreciate the way you "twisted" my words to make them appear that way.

Edit: As to the "creeds" you accuse of.... please mention them....

xn = Christan  man=man -- Acts 11:26 "....and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch".

Barney Fife is my hero!

Posts 1262
xnman | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 21 2022 6:32 AM

MJ. Smith:

xnman:
1. Some form of the Catholic teachings.

Thanks for your perspective. Someday I hope you learn that there are essentially no uniquely Catholic teachings. Ecumenical discussions with the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches find 0-3 genuine differences in theology after developing theology in different cultures, different languages, with limited communication between them at times, over two millennia "and that I find amazing!!" (repeating your words is intentional). While I agree that the major splits have theological differences, there are times when politics rather than theology or personal charism rather than theology is the basis of a split. There is also the issue that many churches permit a wide range of views on some theological issues.

No matter what some people say I was not trying to "blame" anyone.... was just stating what I have read and learned. And the list I posted was not to be taken in any particular order... but just as my feeble mind thought about it.  I know some people call it "splintering" where I called it "branching".  But bottom line.... it still has happened. Martin Luther comes to mind as one that caused "branching" for example (right or wrong, I didn't and am not saying). Please note....  I was not blaming...  was just pointing out what has happened.

And I pointed out.... that most of this "branching" occurred after 96 AD... It appears (from all I have read) that before 96 AD... the church was unified in it's teachings and such.

I have come to believe (right or wrong) that most "branching" comes from either some political stance or social stance or someone wanting to make a power play of some kind... and usually comes from outside the "church". Since the church is the people.... and people get influenced by many different things.... then it seems inevitable.

One of the major things that I am noticing now.. is the discussion in many denominations ... over the acceptance/denial of "socially accepted theories" such as the gender issues and the LGBT and such. I know of it causing disruptions even "branching" in the "theological issues" of some denominations..... which, it seems, will cause further "branching". (NOTE: I did not say whether right or wrong, just that it is happening!)

xn = Christan  man=man -- Acts 11:26 "....and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch".

Barney Fife is my hero!

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