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Author Topic: The Barrett Numbers  (Read 6486 times) Average Rating: 0
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Keble
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« on: April 02, 2003, 09:57:30 AM »

I've now seen a physical copy of Barrett et al.'s World Christian Encyclopedia in the 2001 edition. Let's get two things straight right off. First, the word "sect" is not used, at least not in the tables whose numbers are being bandied about. These tables refer to counts of "denominations". Second, the 33,000 number is total Christian denominations, not just Protestants.

All this data comes from Volume I. It is essentially in two parts: a worldwide survey, and a country-by-country analysis. For each country there is a summary table, a nartive analysis, and a detailed listing of raw data by denomination. (The USA data cuts off for denominations with memberships under 1,000 and gives "other X bodies" estimates/counts for the smaller groups.)

Christianity as a whole is broken out into six "megablocs". Three of these are obvious: Orthodox, Anglican, and Roman Catholic. The remaining three are Protestant, Independent, and marginal. The last is just what it sounds like: non-trinitarians and other dubious groups (e.g. Mormons, JWs, Unitarians, but for some reason not the Quakers-- they are counted as Protestant). Protestant, at least in the USA, represents the main large bodies (e.g. ELCA, PCUSA, EMC...).

Independent, however, is full of surprises. It does not mean just unorganized baptist polity groups! In the USA data, all Old Catholics are in thie group, along with splinter Anglicans, Old Calendarists, Old Believers, as well as the independent baptist groups. I think most of the anabaptists are listed here too. I went through the raw data section and by my count there are 20 Orthodox bodies listed as Othodox, another 20 counted as "Other Orthodox", and another 7-9 as independents. They add the first two together in the summary to give a total of 40 Orthodox denominations in the USA. However, only ECUSA is counted as an Anglican body, but the REC and what continuing churches are big enough to make it into the list are all "Independent", and the 20 "Other Anglicans" are also totalled into the "Independent" summary total.

The world totals have another surprise. They list 237 countries total, but if you look under the RC column they count 238 RC denominations-- basically one per country. They apparently count each country with an Anglican presence in the same way, giving 168 Anglican denominations. I'm pretty sure the total number of communion members is somewhat less than that. All the big numbers are being hidden in the Independent megabloc, giving 2/3s of the world total. Africa supplies one third of the total denominations, and 83% of that is Independent. If you look at the USA numbers and compare 1975 to 2000, you find that by their reckoning all the increase in denominations is under Independent. Marginal groups increased by 55%, but they are not all that numerous; Protestant groups actually decreased by nearly 9% (but again, the numbers are relatively small-- essentially 20% of the total in 2000). There's also the problem of lumping together groups which are deliberately separate (e.g. REC or LCMS) with groups that are separate simply because they feel no need for any kind of unification (the various baptists). Counting the latter is problematic, particularly in Africa where a lot of the "division" is nothing more than the results of expensive or poor communication and travel. I would guess that in the USA, for example, a lot of the independent evangelicals do in fact form a single group which, however, is not represented in a political structure.

The raw data appear to be good, but these categorizations are highly misleading.
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2003, 01:32:49 PM »

If one looks at the figures and does the math, subtracting the groups of Non-Protestant origin, the number of Protestant sects still comes to over 33,000.

However thanks for the rather ignoble attempt at obfuscation.

What is your particular affiliation, Keble?
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2003, 02:43:41 PM »

I just looked through my phone book and counted the different denominational headings under which churches were listed.  

I live in Oklahoma City, where most churches and most Christians are Southern Baptist with another sizable chunk being some other kind of Baptist.  

I counted the denominational headings.  Excluding Catholic and Orthodox churches, the total number of denominations in my area is 93.  Including Catholic and Orthodox churches, it is 97, because Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic (traditional) are listed separately, and there are two entries for Orthodox, namely Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox.

The 93 Protestant/Independent sects that my phone book attests to is still a great deal more than the one church that Christ founded.

Perhaps 33,000 is a number that is arrived at through methods and categories that we find unacceptable.  I've heard that it divides the Eastern Orthodox into denominations based on their jurisdictions and as you've said it lists one Anglican denomination for each country in which the Anglican church has a presence.  33,000+ is a high-end estimate, I'm sure.

In my catechumen classes, the subdeacon lists the number at 26,000+ Protestant denominations.  Perhaps this is a middle-ranged number.  

For the sake of argument, let's assume that 13,000+ is a low end estimate.  That's still far too many.  That still speaks of rampant division.  That is still atrocious.
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2003, 05:16:05 PM »

Before Luther died there were already over 200 different Protestant sects, each claiming the Bible as its sole authority.

I believe Keble's analysis is wrong. When I viewed the figures on the internet, I recall the total number of Christian denominations was around 34,000 (I believe it was something like 33,850).

Even if one subtracted an extremely liberal estimate of non-Protestant groups - say, 2,000 - that would still leave about 32,000 different Protestant sects.

If one really wanted to be charitable and cut that figure in half, that would still leave 16,000 different Protestant sects.

Ahhh . . . unity!
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2003, 06:46:36 PM »

As an aside to this conversation, does anyone know of good sites that break down the number of adherents of a particluar denomination in the US? Is there anything that breaks down state by state?
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2003, 06:58:04 PM »

There might be something here

I've got a better link ... gotta find it somewhere ....

Found it

Adherents.com
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2003, 07:36:39 PM »

I've been to adherents.com numerous times in the past.  I can't believe Eastern Orthodoxy isn't listed as one of the top Christian groups in the US.
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Keble
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2003, 07:50:08 PM »

I've been to adherents.com numerous times in the past.  I can't believe Eastern Orthodoxy isn't listed as one of the top Christian groups in the US.  

Ummm, because of organized groups, it's one of the smaller ones?

While I'm passing by the subject, let me address the HartSem numbers. Lots of Orthodox dislike these numbers, but comparison to better statistics kept by the Episcopalians tends to indicate that the numbers are essentially accurate. Genuine statistical techniques consistently show that there are about twice as many Episcopalians as Orthodox in the USA-- spread out over some twenty churches rather than just one.
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2003, 08:05:06 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?
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Keble
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2003, 08:39:01 PM »

Before Luther died there were already over 200 different Protestant sects, each claiming the Bible as its sole authority.

I believe Keble's analysis is wrong. When I viewed the figures on the internet, I recall the total number of Christian denominations was around 34,000 (I believe it was something like 33,850).

Even if one subtracted an extremely liberal estimate of non-Protestant groups - say, 2,000 - that would still leave about 32,000 different Protestant sects.

If one really wanted to be charitable and cut that figure in half, that would still leave 16,000 different Protestant sects.

Ahhh . . . unity!

OK. My "analysis" is simply based on reporting Barrett's numbers and the data he gives from which they are derived. Barrett reports 33,089 Christian denominations worldwide in 2000 (table 1-3 on p. 12 of Vol. I); he may report more now (though without an actual citation I'm not interested in "numbers on the internet"). One can look at the table in which these figures appear and see problems with this number. For instance, 238 RC denominations are counted, but the correct answer, by any standard, is surely 1. I have actually looked at the denominations Barrett lists for the USA, and how he classifies them, and many of those which are categorized as "independent" are clearly not Protestant. (At least seven, for instance, are Orthodox.)

The bigger problem is that, in reality, the big mainline denominations have actually maintained their unity or even increased it. American Orthodoxy, meanwhile, is unable to eliminate the scandal of having to have SCOBA. You are trying to tar all of Protestantism with the brush of that segment which doesn't value political unity (or even mistrusts it). From that very perspective, Orthodoxy is condemned witht rest, because it indeed chooses doctrinal conformity over political unity itself, and therefore sheds schisms as all the rest do.

If you wish to post numbers, do not bother to post them without citations. The numbers which I am critcizing at least come from a standard reference work, not some vague "I saw it on the internet somewhere".
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Keble
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2003, 08:42:24 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?

Since you seem to think it matters, I am an Episcopalian. But I was raised Presbyterian (of the more usual, "liberal" variety).
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2003, 08:44:56 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?

Since you seem to think it matters, I am an Episcopalian. But I was raised Presbyterian (of the more usual, "liberal" variety).

Thanks.

Yeah, it matters.

What's your view of Mohammed and Islam?
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Keble
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2003, 08:58:11 PM »

If one looks at the figures and does the math, subtracting the groups of Non-Protestant origin, the number of Protestant sects still comes to over 33,000.

However thanks for the rather ignoble attempt at obfuscation.

What is your particular affiliation, Keble?

Ignoble? What nobility is there to be won or lost?

You have made a quite bald statement without substance. It would be one thing if you had actually looked at Barrett's book, but it seems plain that you have not. Instead, you keep invoking his numbers from secondary sources whom you fail even to name.

The consequence of accepting Barrett's numbers are first, the admission that Orthodoxy is far more fractured than Anglicanism, and second that indeed, many "Orthodox" groups are actually Protestant by your reckoning-- old established groups such as the Old Believers. Barrett's data is quite interesting, but his summaries are hampered by issues of classification. He lists 40 Orthodox churches in the USA, and one (1) Anglican church. If you don't like that, then you have to come to grips with his classification scheme. Without the work itself, you aren't in a position to do so, because the classification information is only listed denomination by denomination, country by country, scattered across a nine hundred page tome. In somewhat over an hour of analysis I was unable to do more than a cursory scan over the USA data, and at that ignoring nearly everything that wasn't Orthodox or Anglican.

You can't do the math without the numbers.
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Keble
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2003, 09:02:43 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?

Since you seem to think it matters, I am an Episcopalian. But I was raised Presbyterian (of the more usual, "liberal" variety).

Thanks.

Yeah, it matters.

What's your view of Mohammed and Islam?

Oh please. If you think to unmask me as this other person (whose name I forget), Save your effort and answer to the topic. My views on Islam aren't in the least germane.
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2003, 10:12:23 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?

Since you seem to think it matters, I am an Episcopalian. But I was raised Presbyterian (of the more usual, "liberal" variety).

Thanks.

Yeah, it matters.

What's your view of Mohammed and Islam?

Oh please. If you think to unmask me as this other person (whose name I forget), Save your effort and answer to the topic. My views on Islam aren't in the least germane.

You have already unmasked yourself.

Your views on Islam are not germane?  Shocked

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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2003, 11:02:57 PM »

Keble -

What is your religious affiliation?

In other words, what is your religion?

Since you seem to think it matters, I am an Episcopalian. But I was raised Presbyterian (of the more usual, "liberal" variety).

Thanks.

Yeah, it matters.


Why does it matter?  

Ebor
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2003, 11:52:31 PM »

Ebor -

You yourself requested we deal with Protestants as individuals and not generalize, remember?

How can I know what Keble believes unless I ask him?

Isn't what one believes of the utmost import?

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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2003, 12:04:21 AM »

http://www.gem-werc.org/wce2.htm
http://www.gem-werc.org/

CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS        
                  Year: 1900 1970 mid-2000 Trend mid-2003 2025      
44. Denominations 1,900 18,600 33,800 2.48 36,400 63,000
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« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2003, 01:01:40 AM »

Ebor -

You yourself requested we deal with Protestants as individuals and not generalize, remember?

How can I know what Keble believes unless I ask him?

Isn't what one believes of the utmost import?



Well, since he was presenting statistics, I didn't see how what church he belongs to would affect mathematics.  I beg your pardon.

Ebor
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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2003, 01:05:22 AM »

http://www.gem-werc.org/wce2.htm
http://www.gem-werc.org/

CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS        
                  Year: 1900 1970 mid-2000 Trend mid-2003 2025      
44. Denominations 1,900 18,600 33,800 2.48 36,400 63,000


I looked at the page you provided the link to.  The number in bold, 36,400 apprears to be a projected number for mid-2003 based on a growth trend of 2.4 percent.  It isn't a real counted number since the book was published in 2001.

Ebor
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2003, 02:39:26 AM »

Good catch Ebor

Its always good to err on the side of caution when quoting statistics. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics"?

I'll never forget a chart published by the government prior to the elections showing what a wonderful job they were doing with unemployment. Each year showed a steady decrease in numbers until you looked closely and saw that the chart was in reverse chronological order Roll Eyes

Its important to remember that eleven out of ten people don't understand statistics, which could also be related to the fact that two in one people are schizophrenic and I think I had better stop now before somebody hurts me Grin

John.
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« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2003, 09:10:31 AM »

Ebor -

You yourself requested we deal with Protestants as individuals and not generalize, remember?

How can I know what Keble believes unless I ask him?

Isn't what one believes of the utmost import?



In STATISTICS?!? I should hope not!

Indeed, that is part of the problem with religious demographics. People cannot resist exaggerating the numbers of their group even though they should be believing on the basis of faith and not numbers.
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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2003, 09:17:02 AM »

Quote
The number in bold, 36,400 apprears to be a projected number for mid-2003 based on a growth trend of 2.4 percent.  

True.  
Obviously a projected number as we aren't there yet.  Even if the growth rate was in the negative (with the same magnitude), which would be highly unlikely, it would still be huge.

FTR - I simply duplicated the embolding from the referenced site.

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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2003, 01:34:49 PM »

Obviously this thread is more about religious polemics than it is about statistics.

Were there any statistics on Islam in Barrett, Keble?

I am still curious about your stance on Mohammed and his inventions.
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2003, 02:01:51 PM »

Good catch Ebor

Its always good to err on the side of caution when quoting statistics. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics"?

I'll never forget a chart published by the government prior to the elections showing what a wonderful job they were doing with unemployment. Each year showed a steady decrease in numbers until you looked closely and saw that the chart was in reverse chronological order Roll Eyes

Its important to remember that eleven out of ten people don't understand statistics, which could also be related to the fact that two in one people are schizophrenic and I think I had better stop now before somebody hurts me Grin

John.

That sort of thing with the chart is an excellent example of why everyone should read "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrell Huff. It's an older book, but still in print and used copies can be easily found via such places as www.bookfinder.com
The raw data can be spot on true, but can be presented to say something else.  Reverse chrono order is new to me and pretty havey-cavey, imho.  

Ebor
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« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2003, 02:04:33 PM »

Quote
The number in bold, 36,400 apprears to be a projected number for mid-2003 based on a growth trend of 2.4 percent.  

True.  
Obviously a projected number as we aren't there yet.  Even if the growth rate was in the negative (with the same magnitude), which would be highly unlikely, it would still be huge.

FTR - I simply duplicated the embolding from the referenced site.

 

Understood, Oblio. I went to the site and saw exactly what you posted.  I was just making an observation.

Ebor
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« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2003, 02:25:10 PM »

I do not believe I told any "lies" when citing Barrett to support the figure of about 33,000 different Protestant denominations.

I did get the info from a web site many months ago, and I should have saved the url, but did not.

If Keble and others wish to infer from that that I am a liar, so be it.

I can assure you I am not a liar. I sometimes make mistakes, but I am no liar.

Just the same, if one takes the figures and subtracts even an extremely liberal estimate of non-Protestant groups, one is left with an ENORMOUS and in fact staggering number of different Protestant sects.

The number of divisions within Protestantism is clearly without parallel in any other major Christian communion.

Even if one is charitable and cuts the 33,000 figure in HALF, one is left with the incredible figure of about 16,500 different Protestant sects, and certainly there are far more of them than that.

I believe there are probably more than 33,000 Protestant sects.
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« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2003, 02:46:15 PM »

Dear Linus7,

I was by no means and did not intend to say that you or  anyone here was "lying"!!  My deep apologies for giving that impression.  

It was the government chart that Prodromos described with the reverse chronology that was an example I was refering to.  The book I mentioned is an excellent volume about uses of math and numbers.

The links that Oblio provided are interesting. The shorter one is a table of basic data. The 33,800 number from Barrett is the total of ALL Christian groups, btw.  Not just the Protestant.  

Again my apologies for poor writing and causing upset.

Ebor
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2003, 05:12:25 PM »

Ebor -

No harm done.

It seems to me that even an extremely liberal estimate of non-Protestant groups - say 2,000 - would still yield an enormous number of Protestant denominations.

This tendency toward division and re-division among Protestant groups I think stems from the very nature of Protestantism and its origin as a protest or rebellion.

Those sects that have elevated the private interpretation of the Bible to the place of supreme authority in Christianity seem to be especially fissiparous.

I've seen it before: when the pastor's take on the Bible parts company with their own, such sectarians move on down the road to the next "Bible-believing" church.

When a new controversy arises, they will move once again or start their own sect. Thus a new denomination is born.
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« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2003, 05:58:19 PM »

Friends,

Keble has contacted me personally and divulged personal information, and combined with an ip check, I am satisfied that he is not Abdur.

Let's focus on what he is saying and not speculate any further on his identity.

In Christ,

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« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2003, 12:20:20 AM »

Just the same, if one takes the figures and subtracts even an extremely liberal estimate of non-Protestant groups, one is left with an ENORMOUS and in fact staggering number of different Protestant sects.

The number of divisions within Protestantism is clearly without parallel in any other major Christian communion.

The big issue here is the word "communion". Protestantism does not form a communion, but there are communions within Protestantism. Or better still, traditions. What one sees, looking at the various traditions, is that some are like Orthodoxy and Catholicism. There is one overwhelmingly predominant group which encompasses the vast majority of adherents and congregations. There may be a substantial, more or less organized dissident group or groups. And there is a swarm of tiny splinters and pretenders.

Anglicanism is the most extreme case of this. There is one worldwide communion which contains in excess of 95% of Anglicans, and there is no dispute at all over who is and is not in this. All the other groups are tiny in comparison-- only the REC in the USA is of even noticeably size.

The same pattern holds for the other mainline churches. As I recall, there are only seven Lutheran denominations in the USA. ELCA holds the vast majority. There are a fair number of Presbyterian bodies, but PCUSA again hold the vast majority and a couple of conservative groups hold most of the remainder. The UMC dwarfs all other Methodist groups, and I believe that AME and AME Zion account for the majority of the rest. Orthodoxy and Catholicism look just like this, except that the Orthodox in the USA can't solve their polity problems and accomplish the union that the mainline Protestants either always had or have accomplished a decade ago or more.

Once you step away from these groups, the whole issue of unity takes on a totally different color. It is not widely understood that the various baptist conventions do no function as denominations as PCUSA or ECUSA or UMC do. (Or at least they aren't supposed to: the SBC has moved away from classical Baptist polity of late.) Baptist, holiness, pentecostal, charismatic, and most evangelical congregations exist independently because their members don't believe that a union of polity is necessary or even desirable. Therefore it isn't true that the numerous divisions between them always represent theological differences which have caused separation. In many cases they simply represent separate origins which nobody has ever bothered to resolve into a single polity.

Every tradition is beset by issue-driven schism. Orthodoxy is certainly so beset. But it values unity of polity, and thus shares with some Protestant traditions a similar pattern of sectarianism: one main body and a group of smallish dissenters. What the numbers really show is that Baptist polity is innately centripetal, regardless of doctrinal or practice issues, and that it alone accounts for most "denominations" or "sects". Attributing these numbers to Protestantism in general is inaccurate.

And of course there is the issue of national churches in Barrett's numbers. There's something to be said for simply dividing his worldwide numbers by 200 or so.
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« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2003, 08:51:51 AM »

You are kidding, are you not?

The divisions within Protestantism are absolutely without parallel in Christendom and probably without parallel in religion in general.

Denominational polity notwithstanding, the number of different Protestant sects is astronomical.

"Anglicans" themselves present nothing like a united front, especially in the U.S., where a number of conservative groups have arisen and separated themselves from the Protestant Episcopal Church and, sadly, from each other.

To equate the jurisdictional squabbling that plagues American Orthodoxy with the multifarious and fissiparous sectarianism of Protestantism, however obfuscated by a discussion of statistics, is, to put it politely, straining things a bit.
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« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2003, 10:03:38 AM »

You are kidding, are you not?

The divisions within Protestantism are absolutely without parallel in Christendom and probably without parallel in religion in general.

Denominational polity notwithstanding, the number of different Protestant sects is astronomical.

"Anglicans" themselves present nothing like a united front, especially in the U.S., where a number of conservative groups have arisen and separated themselves from the Protestant Episcopal Church and, sadly, from each other.

To equate the jurisdictional squabbling that plagues American Orthodoxy with the multifarious and fissiparous sectarianism of Protestantism, however obfuscated by a discussion of statistics, is, to put it politely, straining things a bit.

But if you are going to say "denominational polity notwithstanding", then (a) I feel I can lay the whole mess at the feet of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, in the first place, for spawning all the divisions, and (b) you cannot refer to Barrett's numbers, because that's the way he counts them!

You are the one who is saying, in essence, that all Protestants are essentially alike. The numbers do not support this, and for that matter, neither do you. You cite the Anglicans, yet by Barrett's count, there are twice as many Orthodox bodies as there are Anglican, and there is only one "legitimate" Anglican body as opposed to the jurisdictional mess represented, in proxy, by SCOBA. And if you want to fold SCOBA together, I would point out that a lot of the "continuing churches" (the Anglican splinter groups) are actually in communion with each other and could be folded up too. Even then, the pattern is still one really huge group that encompasses nearly everyone, plus a bunch of quite tiny splinters. (The REC, for instance, has under 10,000 members, as compared to about 2.5 million for ECUSA.) Or in other words, the same pattern that we see in Orthodoxy or Catholicism.

And again, when it comes to the other organized mainline Protestants, you simply are at variance with the facts. The pattern is unification and resolution of exactly the same sort of polity issues that SCOBA is failing to resolve.

It is those "Protestants" who are essentially without polity which you keep harping on. And their situation is the situation of all other world religions. There is no hierarchy within Islam, nor within Buddhism, nor Hinduism, nor indeed in any religion outside Christianity. Sectarian lines in these religions are blurry, and within the sects there is no real structure at all. It is the hierachical polities of the Orthodox, the Catholics, the Anglicans, and the mainline Protestants which are the exceptional situation.
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« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2003, 03:21:50 PM »

Keble -

Just look in your local phone book and count the number of different Protestant denominations.

I never said all Protestants are the same. Most of them share certain traits, but those very shared traits are the things that guarantee the continued splintering of Protestantism.

Even if one accepts that all the various vagante groups calling themselves "orthodox" are in fact Orthodox (they are not), there is still no parallel in Christendom to the incredible variety of heresy and schism found within Protestantism.

There are untold THOUSANDS of different Protestant sects.

There is but one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

No Protestant body is part of it.
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« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2003, 07:25:44 PM »

Keble -

Just look in your local phone book and count the number of different Protestant denominations.

I never said all Protestants are the same. Most of them share certain traits, but those very shared traits are the things that guarantee the continued splintering of Protestantism.

Even if one accepts that all the various vagante groups calling themselves "orthodox" are in fact Orthodox (they are not), there is still no parallel in Christendom to the incredible variety of heresy and schism found within Protestantism.

There are untold THOUSANDS of different Protestant sects.

There is but one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

No Protestant body is part of it.

As an Anglican I feel compelled to deliver the official response to the last remark: "Sez you."

Also, I would point out that, one church membership back, you were a member of a Protestant body which not only denied the last statement, but declared that one Protestant body alone (namely itself) was the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". Your parochialism is quite excessive here, but the irony of it all is quite delectible.

As an Anglican, I am less than impressed by the constant cries of "heresy!" It is these cries, after all, that create theological schism. Orthodoxy, as you would have it, defines itself by severing all those parts with which it argues. These branches may be dead, or they may be cuttings which may or not grow where they are planted. This is not the place I would argue that point. In any case, you are cheering the pruning process along. You and your ilk are the source of the very problem you decry: the supposed divisiveness of Protestant sects. Attitudes such as yours, expressed in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, create Protestantism; expressed within Protestant bodies, they create more Protestant bodies.

That's the point of my remark about the Moslem observer. To someone who has no investment in the correctness of any group, the attitude you express here is both divisive and authoritarian; it also creates the numerous Protestant sects by spawning them in the first place, through exclusion. Not only that, but it creates the climate of polity mistrust which makes so many groups discard polity entirely.

With luck, on Sunday I will have the time to revisit Barrett and do a detailed analysis of the Canadian data. (There's too much USA data to handle in a reasonable time, and the situations are reasonably parallel.)
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« Reply #35 on: April 04, 2003, 08:01:00 PM »

Keble -

Just look in your local phone book and count the number of different Protestant denominations.

I never said all Protestants are the same. Most of them share certain traits, but those very shared traits are the things that guarantee the continued splintering of Protestantism.

Even if one accepts that all the various vagante groups calling themselves "orthodox" are in fact Orthodox (they are not), there is still no parallel in Christendom to the incredible variety of heresy and schism found within Protestantism.

There are untold THOUSANDS of different Protestant sects.

There is but one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

No Protestant body is part of it.

Response from Keble:

Also, I would point out that, one church membership back, you were a member of a Protestant body which not only denied the last statement, but declared that one Protestant body alone (namely itself) was the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". Your parochialism is quite excessive here, but the irony of it all is quite delectible.

You and your ilk are the source of the very problem you decry: the supposed divisiveness of Protestant sects. Attitudes such as yours, expressed in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, create Protestantism; expressed within Protestant bodies, they create more Protestant bodies.

 


I and my "ilk" are Orthodox Christians.

I recommend you address my arguments and refrain from your personal assessment of my character, including comments about my "parochialism."

Much of what you posted amounts to an ad hominem attack.

One thing I have learned from debating Protestants is that many of them regard such things as "argument," and nastiness as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

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« Reply #36 on: April 04, 2003, 08:32:16 PM »

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Attitudes such as yours, expressed in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, create Protestantism; expressed within Protestant bodies, they create more Protestant bodies.

It no more creates the Protestant bodies than the doctor that removes a tumor creates cancer.  The alternative to declaring these bodies outside the Church, would be allow them to remain, and fester, and infect the faith from within.  Such things as commemorative Eucharist, symbolic Baptism, salvation by Faith alone et. al. have no place in the Church.
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« Reply #37 on: April 04, 2003, 09:08:44 PM »

Let's not forget about the authoritarian antics of the Church of England.

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« Reply #38 on: April 04, 2003, 09:36:40 PM »

Such things as commemorative Eucharist, symbolic Baptism, salvation by Faith alone et. al. have no place in the Church.

So true. Of course, this is not a surprise, since they have no place in Scripture either.
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« Reply #39 on: April 04, 2003, 09:58:04 PM »


Also, I would point out that, one church membership back, you were a member of a Protestant body which not only denied the last statement, but declared that one Protestant body alone (namely itself) was the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". Your parochialism is quite excessive here, but the irony of it all is quite delectible.

You and your ilk are the source of the very problem you decry: the supposed divisiveness of Protestant sects. Attitudes such as yours, expressed in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, create Protestantism; expressed within Protestant bodies, they create more Protestant bodies.


I and my "ilk" are Orthodox Christians.

I recommend you address my arguments and refrain from your personal assessment of my character, including comments about my "parochialism."

Much of what you posted amounts to an ad hominem attack.

One thing I have learned from debating Protestants is that many of them regard such things as "argument," and nastiness as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Well, um, in an Anglican church the opinions you express here would be "nastiness", so I don't think there is any point to pursuing that line of commentary.

Lots of polities assert that they alone are the "one true undivided church". Orthodox bodies assert it, Catholic bodies assert it, and Protestant bodies assert it too. It is an assertion that inevitably creates division, especially between those that compete for this title.

You yourself have moved from a Protestant body which claims this, to an Orthodox body which also claims this. The LCMS remains distinct from other Lutheran bodies in part because it makes this claim; ELCA's unity became possible because the groups which merged to form it did not make this claim. Anglican unity continues because not only does it not make this claim, it tends to dodge theological controversy as a matter of principle. Indeed, this is one of the most common Orthodox complaints about Anglicanism.

It is not an ad hominem argument to point out that you yourself are an exemplar of the presence of the same attitudes within Orthodoxy and within Protestantism (and indeed, they are found in Catholicism as well). Heavy emphasis on unity and doctrinal conformity creates exclusivist polities like Orthodoxy, Catholicism and the LCMS which enforce division between themselves and everyone else. Eliminate the emphasis on conformity and you get polities like Anglicanism from which others divide themselves. Keep the conformity but jettison the unity, and you get the numerous squabbling radical Protestant groups. Eliminate both and you get the vast sea of evangelicals who are not unified in a polity, not because they are forceed apart, but because they are not pulled together.

You keep laying all this on Protestantism, but that's just not accurate. There is no "-ism" there from which it derives. You seem to be trying to argue that Protestantism exists as dispersion from the Truth of Orthodoxy, but a Catholic (or LCMS member, for that matter) can just as well argue that their church is the center from which Orthodoxy is part of the dispersion. If you don't start from the principle that all Protestant bodies are essentially similar, it is easy enough to observe that they aren't all alike, and indeed, that situation of American Orthodoxy is about the same (from a unity perspective) as that of most mainline Protestants some forty years ago: split into a number of overlapping polities whose existence has nothing to do with doctrinal issues, but indeed is rather an accident of secular history.

I suspect, in fact, that the huge multiplication of independent bodies may also have a secular origin. (It's also possible that it's a lot easier to be aware of very small groups now than it was thirty years ago-- these days, everybody has a website, after all.) The sense I get is that it is more acceptable now to participate in a fringy group than it was forty years ago, where there was a definite ethnic and social order to denominations. Since then, however, a huge chunk of Methodist membership has been transferred to fundagelical churches, whose lack of organization has allowed them to grow easily. Orthodoxy has benefited from the same change in attitude, because the notion of joining an Orthodox body has, for Protestants, become less "foreign" (pun intended).
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« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2003, 10:28:38 PM »

Quote
From Keble: Lots of polities assert that they alone are the "one true undivided church". Orthodox bodies assert it, Catholic bodies assert it, and Protestant bodies assert it too. It is an assertion that inevitably creates division, especially between those that compete for this title.

In the case of the Orthodox Church, however, the claim is true.

Begin in the first century and follow the Church forward through history. Do not begin in the 21st century, assume hopeless religious relativism, and work backward expecting to find the same thing.


Quote
From Keble: You yourself have moved from a Protestant body which claims this, to an Orthodox body which also claims this. The LCMS remains distinct from other Lutheran bodies in part because it makes this claim; ELCA's unity became possible because the groups which merged to form it did not make this claim.

I do not recall the LCMS EVER making the claim that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

As I recall, we were taught the typical "invisible Church" ecclesiology common to most Evangelical denominations.

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From Keble: Anglican unity continues because not only does it not make this claim, it tends to dodge theological controversy as a matter of principle. Indeed, this is one of the most common Orthodox complaints about Anglicanism.

Perhaps, if one regards the ordination of women and practicing homosexuals as non-controversial.

It is easy to maintain unity when one is ready to accept as "true for him" whatever anyone else believes; but such unity is not the unity of Christ's Church, which cannot be divided (1 Cor. 1:13), for she is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:22-23).
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« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2003, 08:44:47 AM »

Quote
Attitudes such as yours, expressed in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, create Protestantism; expressed within Protestant bodies, they create more Protestant bodies.

It no more creates the Protestant bodies than the doctor that removes a tumor creates cancer.  The alternative to declaring these bodies outside the Church, would be allow them to remain, and fester, and infect the faith from within.  Such things as commemorative Eucharist, symbolic Baptism, salvation by Faith alone et. al. have no place in the Church.

The problem with your analogy is that a cancer, cut from the body, dies. But the various other churches are quite visibly still with us. Likewise, in 1054 both patriarchates claim to have cut the other off. Which is the cancer, and which is the body?

You have quite missed the point. If one is willing to stand on the principle that differences require separation, then it is inconsistent to complain that others continue to use the same principle. To the degree that protestant bodies experience division over doctrine (and I'm rather tired of explaining how this is exaggerated), they are simply doing what Orthodoxy is doing: standing firm on what they believe.
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« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2003, 09:28:10 AM »

Quote
From Keble: Lots of polities assert that they alone are the "one true undivided church". Orthodox bodies assert it, Catholic bodies assert it, and Protestant bodies assert it too. It is an assertion that inevitably creates division, especially between those that compete for this title.

In the case of the Orthodox Church, however, the claim is true.


Again, I must state, "Sez you." Really, there is no point in pursuing this line of declaration.

Quote
Begin in the first century and follow the Church forward through history. Do not begin in the 21st century, assume hopeless religious relativism, and work backward expecting to find the same thing.

The assumption embedded in this that one must choose between autocracy and relativism is false. Anglicanism rejects both principles.

Also, the assertion that one can actually avoid starting in the 21st century is bogus. If you think that you were able to do so, I must respectfully express my doubts. Indeed, the whole notion of making such an examination is Protestant! When I make this examination, and come a conclusion than differs from yours, then what?

Quote

Quote
From Keble: You yourself have moved from a Protestant body which claims this, to an Orthodox body which also claims this. The LCMS remains distinct from other Lutheran bodies in part because it makes this claim; ELCA's unity became possible because the groups which merged to form it did not make this claim.

I do not recall the LCMS EVER making the claim that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

As I recall, we were taught the typical "invisible Church" ecclesiology common to most Evangelical denominations.

Well, that's not what their website states. They are quite clear about "fellowship" being based in oneness of doctrine, and they list on their website what is, in essence, an exclusive Lutheran communion.

Quote
Quote
From Keble: Anglican unity continues because not only does it not make this claim, it tends to dodge theological controversy as a matter of principle. Indeed, this is one of the most common Orthodox complaints about Anglicanism.

Perhaps, if one regards the ordination of women and practicing homosexuals as non-controversial.

And yet union between the Orthodox and the Anglicans was not possible before these issues came to the fore. (I would point out, by the way, that strictly speaking there cannot be a theological objection to ordaining homosexuals, but merely a disciplinary objection. If you express the former, than you are a Donatist and a heretic.)

Quote
It is easy to maintain unity when one is ready to accept as "true for him" whatever anyone else believes; but such unity is not the unity of Christ's Church, which cannot be divided (1 Cor. 1:13), for she is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:22-23).


And it is easy to fake "unity" by ignoring the fact that you have divided yourself from everyone else! You are being utter hypocritical about this.

It is a principle of argument that any conclusion has to be able to be worked out again if it is set aside. You implicitly accepted the principles of argument when you invited me to reconsider church history. Theoretically you have also committed yourself to the possibility of being swayed by my analysis if it comes to a conclusion contrary to yours (as it indeed already has). To carry thorugh with these commitments, the conclusion about the authority of the Orthodox churches which you wish me to accept has to be set aside, at least temporarily. And as soon as I set this principle aside, I see Orthodoxy as merely another contentious and divisive group in a vast sea of contention. Indeed, I see a group of otherwise similar churches in which there are divisions.

You can blame the various contending Protestant groups for holding to the wrong opinion, but you can hardly blame them for sticking to the opinions they do hold.

There is absolutely no way that I am going to engage in a long drawn-out debate with you over the legitimacy of Orthodox claims to exclusivity. I have other things to do, such as going to an Orthodox church this afternoon and singing its hymns; life is too short to pursue such a discussion. Also, this is treading very closely to a critique of my personal religious experience. I am not going to engage in that with someone who isn't going to put their own experience on the line as well, and in any case I am not willing to engage in so private an exchange in so public a place.
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« Reply #43 on: April 06, 2003, 01:00:41 AM »

Keble -

Regarding the "sez you" remark: Nope. Not "sez me." I am merely expressing the faith of the Holy Orthodox Church.

We are not playing chess here or merely bandying words. I really believe.

How is a historical approach to understanding which church is the true Church a choice between autocracy and relativism?

Frankly, what Anglicanism rejects is of little importance.

The question is really: "What does Christ think of Anglicanism?"

Regarding the LCMS: it may be an exclusive Lutheran communion, but I do not believe the LCMS makes any claim to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I do not object to ordaining repentant, contrite, former homosexuals; it is the ordination of PRACTICING, MILITANT homosexuals to which I object.

The ordination of practicing homosexuals is not merely a disciplinary issue; it is an issue that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

We do not object to the ordination of practicing homosexuals merely because it is preferable to ordain heterosexuals. We do not ordain practicing homosexuals because homosexuality is an abomination in the sight of God.

Such activity is forbidden to all Christians, not merely ordained clergy.

The Donatist reference was unfounded.

The Orthodox Church is the original Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself. She has divided herself from no one. Western Christendom left the Church by a long and tragic process that culminated in 1054.

The Protestant Reformers and their followers left an institution that had already been separated from the Church for about 500 years. Thus the Protestants have never separated themselves from the Church because they were never in it in the first place. They are not in it now.

Their divisions are purely their own, not the responsibility of the Orthodox Church.

Attending an Orthodox church and singing its hymns is a fine thing.

But the Orthodox Church is nothing like the Protestant Episcopal Church. One cannot be an Orthodox Christian and think that everyone else is right or that they even might be right.

An absolutely essential tenet of Orthodoxy is that the Holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

One who rejects that should simply remain what he is.

A Request: Please refrain from overuse of the second person singular in addressing my arguments. It is unnecessarily offensive, whether offense is the intent or not.



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« Reply #44 on: April 06, 2003, 08:25:34 AM »

Keble -

Regarding the "sez you" remark: Nope. Not "sez me." I am merely expressing the faith of the Holy Orthodox Church.

We are not playing chess here or merely bandying words. I really believe.

That's fine, but a confession of faith in the Orthodox Church is not an argument to a person who is not a member of that church. If we are not "playing chess", then presumably you are trying to convince we, through argument. Appeals to the faith of Orthodoxy are appeals to authority, and authorities are only acceptable to those who hold them in common-- that is a rule of argument.

Not that it figures in the discussion of Barrett, but I have had discussions in which I found myself advancing the True Orthodox position against a group of Orthodox who, as it turned out, were arguing a position which the conciliar canons rejected. My understanding of Orthodox polity is that you personally, strictly speaking, do not constitute a proper theological authority, so the time will come when I will ask for citations from the Fathers or even specifically from councils. It is unfortunate, when such issues arise, that languages in general do not distinguish between the second person singular and plural, but circumstances are sure to arise (and indeed, have arisen plenty enough) where I have to refer to what you personally have said in distinction to what Orthodoxy assets. It is true that in the posting to which you responded, there is a certain sloppiness about this, for which I do apologize.

If you are trying to convince me, then you must try to convince me. In the context of trying to do so, simply asserting the authority of Orthodoxy is an act of self-justification, not an attempt to convince me.
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« Reply #45 on: April 06, 2003, 07:42:56 PM »

Keble -

This is difficult for me, but I must ask your forgiveness.

Regarding this statement I made in the Re:Protestant Forum? thread:

Of course, most of them will skeedaddle quick once their cherished notions are skewered, but the more rabid will stick it out.


I am afraid I offended you early on with that remark, which I deeply regret. It was incredibly stupid and arrogant of me. I will go back and edit it out.

Please forgive me.

Of course, I do not believe I am intellectually superior to any and all Protestants. That is not the case. It was simply a stupid remark.

A second point: you were right when you said I picked up the Barrett citation from an internet web site without actually examining Barrett's Encyclopedia for myself.

That was extremely sloppy scholarship on my part, and I should know better.

In pointing this out you have acted as a friend to me.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

You have saved me much embarrassment that I might have experienced were I to continue citing Barrett erroneously and in a less friendly venue.

Thank you.

It is true you have embarrassed me here; but here I am among my brothers, sisters, and friends.

They already know I am a jerk and love me anyway.

I have thought long and hard about this thread and the totality of it.

We disagree on many issues, and I have not changed my mind about them, nor am I likely to.

Yet I should never let my own anger produce a knee-jerk reaction that prevents the Lord from teaching me a good lesson.

Anyway, I hope you can forgive my arrogance and my sloppy scholarship. The latter was not the product of any intentional dishonesty, I assure you. It was the product of laziness, pure and simple.

May God guide you and bless you, and may He forgive me!
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« Reply #46 on: April 07, 2003, 08:50:29 AM »

Thank you for your most gracious apology. I have re-read what I wrote and find that my language is at times excessively strident and combative, for which I must apologize to you and to all others who frequent this place.

I did not make it to the library yesterday. At the last minute I was moved to stay at my son's concert and purchase one of the last remaining tickets. And a good thing too, as it happened. So I have no more detail on Barrett's analysis to present. Not that I am attempting to further refute you; it just seems to me that the information is interesting in its own right. (And eventually you're run into someone who claims that there are 4 million or more moslems in the USA. There aren't; studies indicate that there are probably no more moslems in the USA than Epsicopalians.)
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« Reply #47 on: April 07, 2003, 12:31:23 PM »

Keble -

Thanks for your gracious acceptance.

I am afraid I am the cause of any strident or combative language you may have used, so naturally, you are forgiven automatically.

I agree that the Barrett numbers are interesting in their own right, and I look forward to future installments of whatever you can tell us about them.
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