One God, One Jesus, One Church but over 33,000 plus denominations in Christianity & Catholicism
Posted on March 26th, 2016

Shenali D Waduge

 Barretts World Christian Encyclopaedia claims there Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions having 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. These denominations comprise over 3.4million worship centres, churches and congregations. 33,000 denominations or more is unbelievable. Most Christians/Catholics must not be aware of this number or even what these denominations are and what they stand for. Jesus lived in 1st century AD. There were no denominations in the early years of Christianity.  The conflict obviously arises not because of the teachings of Jesus or the religion he founded but essentially due to the heads of the 33,000 denominations who interpret the religion according to what pleases them and suits their agendas. It is also why Christianity after Jesus is responsible for bloodshed and murders manipulating the name of Christ.

During the early years of Christianity, there weren’t denominations and a church was never identified by a particular tag: Lutheran, Catholic, etc. Each region was led by a Bishop. Over the course of nearly 600 years – this single church divided into two branches: The Roman Catholic branch and the Orthodox branch. When Pope Leo IX excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople (the leader of the Eastern church they separated). Both claiming to be the true church. Both would accuse each other. The term Pope” was not used until the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries to denote the premier Bishop or Father” over all Bishops. All these changes had nothing to do with Jesus or were done by Jesus but by people wanting to hold power over their flocks and use religion for their agendas.

  • World Christian Encyclopedia (David A. Barrett; Oxford University Press, 1982) apparently estimated almost 21,000 denominations
  • updated World Christian Encyclopedia (Barrett, Kurian, Johnson; Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) estimated at least 33,000
  • The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimated 34,000 denominations in 2000, rising to an estimated 43,000 in 2012.
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is formed every 10.5 hours, or 2.3 denominations a day.
  • The one Church of Christ should comprise Christians not churches. People should be led to Christ and not the Church.
  • there are more than 1500 different Christian faith groups in North America
  • An average of 159,960 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2010)
  • approximately 6 million books about Christianity in print today.
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006)
  • Approximately 78.5 million Bibles are distributed globally per year.
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2010)
  • In the unevangelized world, there are 20,500 full-time Christian workers and 10,200 foreign missionaries.
  • In the evangelized non-Christian world, there are 1.31 million full-time Christian workers.
  • In the Christian world, there are 306,000 foreign missionaries to other Christian lands. Also, 4.19 million full-time Christian workers (95%) work within the Christian world.
    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2001)

Over the course of nearly 600 years – this single church divided into two branches: In 1054 AD, a formal split occurred. This division remains in effect today.

  • The Roman Catholic branch and
  • The Orthodox branch – when Pope Leo IX excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople (the leader of the Eastern church they separated).

Both claim to be the true church. Both accuse each other. The term Pope” was not used until the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries to denote the premier Bishop or Father” over all Bishops. All these changes had nothing to do with Jesus or were done by Jesus but by people wanting to hold power over their flocks and use religion for their agendas.

Bible says one thing Catholics say another

  • In the Bible there are no popes or priests to rule over the church. Jesus Christ is the High Priest and all true Christians make up a spiritual priesthood. It is Jesus who sanctified all who believe in him so there is no requirement for priests. Jesus even forbids calling a priest ‘Father’ (Mathew 23:9)
  • The Bible never says Peter was the first Pope though the Catholic Church says so.
  • Bible never exalts Mary. In the Bible Mary prays with the disciples and is not prayed to.
  • Bible never speaks of speeding up purging process by paying money to a priest. The Catholic church teaches otherwise.
  • The Lord’s Supper is a memorial and not a sacrifice as the Catholic church makes out to believe. Jesus made the final sacrifice on Calvary (Hebrews 10:10-12)
  • Catholics claim their priests have the power to change bread and wine into body and blood of Christ but God forbids this throughout the Bible (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11-12)
  • Catholicism is full of symbols, images and relics but Rev 14:11 says image worship in unscriptural. The other WORKS that Catholicism has created include infant baptism, keeping sacraments, church memberships, going to mass, praying to Mary and confession. God’s view is that Christians are saved by grace through faith in Jesus not through Works. Jesus paid for people’s sins by shedding his blood on Calvary.
Birth of Jesus


Buddha (563-483 BC) was born 500 years before Jesus

Muhammad was born 600 years after Jesus and 1000 years after Buddha

§ The Bible does not explicitly give the exact day or even the exact year in which Jesus was born

§ There is also contention that December 25 is not the date/month of Jesus’s birth but June 17 or that he was born in a stable. December 25 was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church because Church wished to replace the pagan festival with a Christian holy day (holiday).–Jesus-born-June-17-say-scientists.html

Branches of Christianity – together they make up more than 33,000 denominations which invariably means over 33,000 different beliefs and practices.


Some estimates place the figure at 43,000


§ Independents (about 22000 denominations)

§ Protestants (about 9000 denominations) –

§ Marginals” (about 1600 denominations)

§ Eastern Orthodox (781 denominations) –

§ Roman Catholics (242 denominations) –

§ Anglicans (168 denominations)

Independents are said to have over 22,000 denominations


There are over 350 independent churches operating in Sri Lanka operating under under the Sri Lankan Chapter of the Indian Apostolic Diocese – See more at:


§ Ethiopian Orthodox Church from 4th century, and was one of the first Christian churches in the world

§ there are 45,000 independent and nondenominational congregations currently with approximately 10,000,000 members in the United States

§ There are over 10,000 independent denomination churches in Africa



Emerged in the 16th century


sub-groups are said to have more than 9000 denominations.

(just a handful of names)


There are approximately 800 million Protestants in the world.


§ African Methodist Episcopal Church (3,000,000*)

§ Amish (250,000)

§ Anabaptism (4,500,000)

§ Assemblies of God (60,000,000)

§ Baptists (100,000,000)

§ Calvary Chapel (25,000,000)

§ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1,000,000)

§ Church of Christ (5,000,000)

§ Church of God in Christ (6,500,000)

§ Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (5,000,000)

§ Foursquare Church (8,000,000)

§ Lutheranism (87,000,000)

§ Mennonites (1,500,000)

§ Methodism (75,000,000)

§ New Apostolic Church (11,200,000)

§ Non-Denominational Evangelical  (40,000,000)

§ Pentecostalism/Charismatic  (612,000,000)

§ Presbyterian Church USA (3,000,000)

§ Reformed Churches (75,000,000)

§ Restorationism (20,000,000)

§ Seventh-day Adventists (17,000,000)

§ Southern Baptist Convention (16,000,000)

§ The Vineyard (15,000,000)

§ United Church of Christ (1,000,000)

§ United Methodist Church (12,000,000)


Marginals § Jehovah’s Witnesses

§ Mormons

§ “metaphysical” science cults

Eastern Orthodoxy § majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians reside in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and the Balkans
Roman Catholicism


§ Roman Emperor Constantine established himself as the head of the church around 313 A.D making this new “Christianity” the official religion of the Roman Empire

§ first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (590-604 A.D.).

§ During “Dark Ages” (500-1500 A.D.). popes, bishops, and priests, Satan ruled Europe, and Biblical Christianity became illegal.




comprising the Church of England and churches which are historically tied to it or hold similar beliefs, worship practices and church structures.

§ began in the sixth century in England

§ 168 denominations

§ 85million members

What is obviously clear is that the powerful ‘church’ movements that exist presently all began after 1800.

  • Plymouth Brethren (1827) in Ireland.
  • Restoration Movement (1820s) in America by Thomas and Alexander Campbell & Barton Stone.
  • Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in 1820s by Joseph Smith
  • Seventh-Day Adventism believed in prophecies of Willaim Miller who said the world would end in 1844.
  • Christian Science – 1860s by Mary Baker Eddy
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses – also Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society started in 1872 with Charles Taze Russel
  • Salvation Army – by William Booth in 1865
  • Pentecostalism/Charismatic Movement
  • International Church of Christ – also known as Boston Movement/Crossroads Movement began in 1979 by Kip McKean.

Transdenominational Movements

  • Evangelicalism – 18thc based on ‘faith only’ belief system – ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine.
  • Ecumenism in 1910 is manifested in the World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches.
  • Fundamentalism as a movement within Evangelicalism began in late 19thc
  • Community Church Movement – 1920s
  • House Church Movement
  • Megachurch Movement – America and ‘Christianized’ countries began to created large churches to develop cults of personalities surrounding popular preachers. These use modern forms of entertainment and other new trends to draw members.
  • Emergent Movement – 21stc seeking to bridge divide between ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ branches of Protestantism.

What is clear is that many of the presently ‘Christian’ denominations are functioning to their own reading and interpretation of Jesus & God. It is these conflicts that engulf the rest of the non-Christian world into turmoil for everyone is in competition to amass their flocks because expansionism, power and wealth is what pushes their existence and ventures.

Christianity has come a long way from the teachings that Jesus first promoted. With over 33,000 denominations across 238 countries and millions of churches and prayer centers no wonder everyone is confused. It is rather odd when Christianity tells non Chritsians to unite and preaches all that Christianity obviously does not practice.

Shenali D Waduge

Further reading

4 Responses to “One God, One Jesus, One Church but over 33,000 plus denominations in Christianity & Catholicism”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


  2. Christie Says:

    What about Hinduism?

  3. mario_perera Says:

    No need to scroll through Encyclopedias and historical records to know this. It is all inscribed in the thinking mind.

    If there is a GOD, He cannot be contained within the human mind. He cannot be understood by human thought. He cannot be expressed by the human word. Such attempts are like the blabbering of infants. It is like trying to conceive the transient wave as being the ocean.

    Human attempts to understand God is like the story of the Tower of Babel. It ends in confusion and chaos.

    Mario Perera

  4. Dham Says:

    Buddha was neither a God nor the God.
    He had a human body and a mind went surpassing all Gods or “the God” = creator God.

    The Buddha dismisses all these claims of God as being due to his own delusions brought about by ignorance. He argues that God is simply another deva, perhaps with greater karmic force than the other gods, but nonetheless a deva and therefore unenlightened and subject to the samsaric process as determined by his karma. In such suttas as the Brahmajala sutta the Buddha refutes the claims of creator God and shows him to be subject to karmic law (i.e. cosmic law). Even though long-lived creator God (Maha Brahma) will be eliminated in each cycle of inevitable world dissolution and re-evolution.

    Creator God came to visit Sriputta Thero ( when nearing his Parinibbaana) to pay homage. This clearly shows the God acknowledges the superiority of the Sariputta Theor let alone Buddha.

    Some people argue Nibbana as an equivalent of creator God but while some dismisses Nibbaana which is Lokotthara ( or beyond the worlds) which cannot be intellectually understood 100% by a worldly mind as an Indian myth are happy to accept the creator God as “something cannot be understood by a human mind”.

    Therefore both “the God” and “Nibbaana” can be categorised as entities cannot be 100% understood by the human mind.
    Here come the catch. Buddhism clearly exposes the path to Nibbana, which can be understood fully at the final liberation, whereas the God theory fall short leaving only the “faith” factor to reach him and a completely illogical , unfair and stupid set of myths as guidance to the seeker.

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